Interview: Fucked Up Relive Their Most Fucked-Up Concerts. Fuuuuucccckkk!!!!!
Since 2001, Toronto-based hardcore group Fucked Up have proven to be one of rock’s most unpredictable live acts. Bloody foreheads, hairy butt cracks, puddles of vomit—there’s very little that’s off limits at Fucked Up concerts, and as a result, more than a few have ended after two or three songs. As exciting as such instability sounds, though, it’s also sometimes a shame since the band’s gritty punk rock is well worth hearing in more than a few, short blasts. Frontchunk Pink Eyes (Fucked Up’s members go by aliases) growls like Fear vocalist Lee Ving with throat cancer; the band’s three(!) guitarists—10,000 Marbles, Gulag, and the group’s newest edition, Young Governor—build distorted monoliths of noise; bassist Mustard Gas, the group’s feminine faction, somehow keeps the momentum going; and drummer Mr. Jo has a harder task—getting the band to stop occasionally.
Fucked Up’s latest album, The Chemistry of Common Life (Matador), is a bit of a departure, but not to the point that it will alienate their fans. The album recalls Pink Floyd as much as Pink Flag (the seminal album by post-punks Wire), and some of the songs devolve into psychedelic jams. But knowing Fucked Up, if they’ve become (slightly) mellower in the studio, they’ll likely become something far more threatening live. With that in mind, Revolver caught up with the band members at their label’s New York headquarters and asked them to retell stories of their most fucked-up concerts. In the interview setting, the band isn’t nearly as intimidating as they are on onstage (they are Canadian, after all); Pink Eyes is even dressed way down in a hip-hop-like tracksuit. But the pictures they paint (indexed below by fucked-uppitude), tell another story.
ANOTHER KICK IN THE WALL (HAMILTON, CANADA)
MUSTARD GAS There’s this band called Haymaker from Hamilton, which is just outside of Toronto. They’re a heavy band and they tend to bring with them… psychos. Oftentimes they’ll light off fireworks inside the clubs. Including the kinds that twirl up from the ground. At the show, they started playing and within a few minutes you hear a crack. Firecrackers are going off. There was a fire that started on a chair.
MR. JO They built a pyre in the middle of the room from all the chairs at the bar. And they were ripping the lighting fixtures out of the wall, which caused an electrical fire to spark up. Everybody was dancing around and shooting roman candles into it to try and ignite it. And the police showed up. And nobody in the band wanted to go out the front door and get confronted by the cops. There’s also a side-door exit, but it was locked from the outside. The drummer, who is a huge tank of a guy—he’s all muscle—he picks up his drum kit and basically takes the entire thing with two hands and kicks through the wall, Kool-Aid style. Busts open the door and loads into his van and drives off.
MUSTARD GAS Like everyone’s running with their amps. Like, “Go! Go!” I remember this huge sense of urgency. It was pretty thrilling.
HEADBANGER’S BULB (TEXAS)
YOUNG GOVERNOR A guy smashed a fluorescent light bulb over his had and shards of it unluckily hit 10,000 Marbles and slit his face. It was the shortest Fucked Up set I’ve ever seen.
PINK EYES We stopped after that.
YOUNG GOVERNOR It was literally like 45 seconds and they were done.
PINK EYES Luckily, he was OK, so now we can look back and laugh.
LEGENDS OF THE FALL (PITTSBURGH & VANCOUVER)
PINK EYES I climbed up on top of this speaker stack…
YOUNG GOVERNOR And had a nervous breakdown onstage.
PINK EYES I was like, “I can’t get off it.”
YOUNG GOVERNOR He just lied there like a depresso madman.
PINK EYES I told everyone. I was like, “I’m not coming down. I’m just going to lie up here for a little bit.”
YOUNG GOVERNOR And if he tries, he will fall, like in Vancouver. At our last show, he fell off the stage. Before we even hit the first note, he just fucking fell off the stage.
PINK EYES I went to jump on the monitors, because we’re so used to playing these festivals with these huge monitors. So I jump on the monitor, and the monitor really can’t hold my weight. So as soon as I jump on it, it’s over. And the front of the stage wasn’t attached to the rest of the stage. So once I started to tip over, I just fell right over into the crowd. Kind of humiliating.
REVOLVER Do fans typically catch you?
PINK EYES Because of my size, I’m surprised at how ready people are. When we played at Leeds and Reading, the front row is full of people literally about a third of my size. And they carried me around.
MUSTARD GAS They held him at shoulder-height.
PINK EYES It was insane. I’ve never been crowdsurfing like that before.
MR. JO That was like Iggy Pop in Detroit in 1970.
PINK EYES If Iggy had eaten a hundred years of Big Macs.
BLOOD, SWEAT, AND BEERS (CALGARY)
PINK EYES Somebody handed me a pint glass and I smashed it into my head. And as soon as I did, I was like, Fuck, something went wrong.
MR. JO I just look over, and it’s like gushing.
PINK EYES Yeah, blood ended up getting everywhere. So I wrapped my head up and we played two more songs and I went to the hospital. We had three more left in the set list. And I went to the walk-in clinic. I still have glass in my forehead, because they didn’t get it all out when they stitched me up.
REVOLVER What did the doctor say?
PINK EYES They were like, “How did this happen?” I’m like, “Funny story. I was walking to the bar after our set and I tripped and turned around and someone hit a pint glass into my head.” You don’t want to say, “Oh, I smashed a pint glass,” because they’ll put you in an institution.
ROOM WITH A SPEW (BOSTON)
YOUNG GOVERNOR I used to puke at every show we played. Just from adrenaline. And I guess I forgot, and I ate a bunch of chili fries once. And as soon as we started playing, I just started puking them up all over the stage. At every corner on every side. And people were stage-diving, and obviously the band is trying to get into it. And it just smelled so bad. And everyone’s tripping in puke. Our guitar players are slipping, and one guitar player slipped in the puke and actually puked himself. [All laugh] It was completely disgusting. And then shortly after, we played a show and I puked again onstage. But I puked in someone’s mouth. Some kid was singing along, and he got a mouthful of puke. And after the show, I was like, “Yo, I’m sorry I puked in your mouth.” He was like, “No, it was amazing. It made me go crazy. I loved it.”
RAINING BLOOD (MTV)
PINK EYES When we played on MTV, I must have hit a vein. There was so much blood. I’ve never bled like that. And kids were passing the mic, singing along, and I was bleeding into their mouths as they were singing along. I’ve been tested and everything, but it was still pretty fucked up to see.
Interview by Kory Grow