Talking weed punk and Alberta with Fucked Up’s frontman
Anyone who’s interviewed Damian Abraham Fucked Up’s singer and The Wedge ’s successor to Sook-Yin Lee knows that the dude’s as entertaining as he is informative. Accordingly we elect to stay away from the easy touchstones. We don’t talk about their two-year-old epic David Comes to Life nor do we address Fucked Up’s much-anticipated Long Winter concert series in Toronto which is curated by guitarists Mike Haliechuk and Josh Zucker. Instead we get into lesser-discussed territories like Abraham’s take on Calgary.
In typical Abraham fashion dude has stories. “I had relatives there and I remember driving by the Hart mansion when I was a kid” he says. “And I love wrestling. Some people look up to the Crosbys of the world but me I’m a geek about wrestling. Teddy Hart [who resides in Edmonton] he’s such a hero to me — he’s a medical marijuana advocate and he’s like the G.G. Allin or Jay Reatard of wrestling. To me the Harts are sports royalty.”
But Abraham’s ties to Alberta go deeper than his fascination with wrestling. “My stepfather’s family was there and I bought my first Circle Jerks CD and the Violent Femmes greatest hits in a Calgary mall. Both have been seminal records to my career in a weird way.” And the city would leave yet another immutable imprint on Abraham: After smashing a glass into his face during a Sled Island show at The Legion he left with a shard of glass permanently embedded in his forehead.
But that piece of glass isn’t even Abraham’s most cherished Calgary artifact. “I want the Hot Nasties played at my funeral” he says noting his fondness for “The Secret of Immortality” from their seminal Invasion of the Tribbles 7-inch. “I’m picking my own songs because you don’t want to be stuck with like ‘I Will Remember You.’ And I also have to get my hands on that Riot .303 7-inch [ Crowd Control ].”
Before he gets into even more Alberta anecdotes — like the time Moe Berg came to Abraham’s work to hand him an envelope stuffed with Modern Minds records — we stop to talk about Fucked Up’s future plans. Beyond adding to their Zodiac series ( Year of the Hare is reportedly completed set for release on Tank Crimes) the band is also close to completing the followup to David Comes to Life .
Earlier this year drummer Jonah Falco revealed that the band was at Electrical Audio in Chicago and in an interview with AUX he promised the band would continue to “shift people’s perceptions in how to read the band.” When we push Abraham on the topic he reveals even more about the band’s plans: Fucked Up’s yet-titled forthcoming album won’t be a sequential narrative like David Comes to Life ; rather it’ll be split into two 12-inch halves one commandeered by Abraham the other helmed by Haliechuk.
“It’s about looking at the band and realizing that [in our history] we’ve made compromises and we’ve made decisions that have altered our lives” he says.
“Now we have money coming in from a lot of places and that’s not all bad — I’m not putting a huge dark cloud over the music industry. But we still wonder are we working for ourselves or the thing that gave us opportunities?”
So we ask Abraham: Is the new material about reconciling the forces — individuals industry artistic intent — that threaten to pull the band apart? “It’s very convoluted” he says laughing. “Part of it is about getting older and trying to reconcile who you were as a younger person with what’s happening as an adult. The record is reflective of us as people but this band has become our lives. It was once a small aspect our lives but it has completely changed us.”