FUCKED UP with GORILLA BISCUITS , MURPHY'S LAW and COMEBACK KID at the Phoenix (410 Sherbourne), Wednesday (August 9), doors 6 pm. $20, all ages. www.ticketweb.ca. Rating: NNNNN
When Father Damian informs our waitress he's going for the all-you-can-eat sushi special, his bass-playing bandmate, Laundry, shoots him a sideways glare.
"I thought you said you were a vegetarian," she says accusingly.
"I don't eat beef, pork or chicken," singer Damian protests. "But fish are the Nazis of the sea, so I'm just doing my part."
That's Fucked Up five Toronto punk 'n' rollers whose MO is laced with layers of contradiction, playful misinterpretation, sardonic wit and belligerence toward everything expected of them as a band. Their only definitive rules are that they'll only play by their own, and if you're dismissing them as a joke band, you're clearly not getting the punchline.
Not that they expect you to get it. They really don't give a shit either way.
"This band is serious, but we want to do it in a way where we're having fun," Damian explains between mouthfuls of spicy tuna roll. "If it's not fun there's no point."
"People expect bullshit from us," adds 10,000 Marbles, FU's lead guitarist, founder and main songwriter. "So we have this licence to do anything we want. But I don't think people also get that there's a lot of fucking work involved here."
In its six-year existence, the band has yet to release a proper full-length. Lazy punks, you say? Wrong. Fucked Up, also including Concentration Camp (second guitar) and Guinea Beat (drums), are actually pretty diligent in the product output department. Their discography is currently 12 records deep (with two singles in the works), consisting mainly of 7-inch releases on various indie labels in the U.S. and Europe.
And it's not uncommon for their out-of-press wax to fetch cult-status dollars in punk circuits around the world.
"Putting a single out is more conducive to distilling one idea, which has always been part of our aesthetic," explains Marbles of the band's preference for mini-sides."It's easier for the listener to focus."
True to form, now that everyone's expecting short 'n' snappy 7-inches, Fucked Up are determined to do the exact opposite. After a protracted delay, they're finally putting out a full-length album Hidden World, out on Jade Tree this October and it's a 72-minute magnum opus.
A subversive mix of intellectual concepts and guttural punk primitivism, the disc will likely polarize FU fans, who'll either dig its ambition or cringe at the self-indulgent length. But if they made everyone happy all the time, Fucked Up would feel like they'd somehow failed.
"We've always had the same outlook on the band, but it seems like people are now taking us more seriously," says Marbles, nicking a maki from Laundry's plate. "Like wanting to do interviews and shit. One thing that pisses me off is that people complain about not knowing whether Fucked Up are for real. They want everything we do explained to them."
One song that needs no interpretation is the recently cut The Line, a hiphop-style battle call to the boys in Billy Talent, on whom Fucked Up recently declared a beef.
They're responding to Where's The Line, a track from Billy Talent's new record that's supposedly directed at FU and other "scenester bands who diss [Billy Talent]." The imbroglio stems from an over-capacity FU show that Talent's entourage crashed, which killed any hope of potential entry for the plebes waiting in line.
Billy Talent's diatribe was supposedly prompted by disparaging comments about the incident that Marbles made in the press. But those remarks pale in comparison to The Line's lyrical assault.
"It's more symbolic than specifically about those guys," says Marbles diplomatically.
"It caught like wildfire on the Internet," laughs Damian about the heavily downloaded song. "Next thing I know I'm getting hate mail from 14-year-old kids. I hear they're the nicest dudes, so I feel kinda bad, but they fired the first shot.
"And musically they're the worst band I could imagine. If they ignore it nothing will happen, but if they retaliate we've got a whole arsenal of fire ready."
Guitarist Concentration Camp (who's been quiet until this point) sagely weighs in: "It's another one of those things that's serious and a joke at the same time."