In the ’90s, the post-hardcore band the Jesus Lizard earned a reputation for fierce live shows that featured the unpredictable antics of frontman David Yow. The group never sold many albums but it did have a loyal cult following. Toronto’s Fucked Up, which plays the Beachland Ballroom tonight, has much in common with the Jesus Lizard. Singer Damian Abraham is the band’s wild card. And like the Jesus Lizard, the band hasn’t sold a ton of albums or gotten any significant radio airplay (the band’s moniker might have something to do with that). But it’s a great live band, even though guitarist Mike Haliechuk admits the live show has taken some time to develop.
“Our first ever U.S. show was in Cleveland,” he recalls in a phone interview. “There was this festival called Chicago has a Hardcore Fest and we were invited to play that. We played Cleveland on the way. It was really bad. I don’t remember where we played. We were nervous and screwed up. We played a few other times and they have been good. The first show was memorable.”
The band’s always had a good following here in town and Haliechuk even cites now defunct local acts such as Nine Shocks Terror and H100s as influences. But when the group formed in 2001, it hadn’t quite honed its noisy, post-hardcore sound.
“We were a lot different band back then,” Haliechuk says. “We were a DIY anarchist punk band. We didn’t have any aspirations to do anything other than put a couple of singles out, which we did. As things go, it kept going and steamrolled and you wake up ten years later and here we were now.”
The initial line-up didn’t include Abraham.
“I can’t remember how we first met,” Haliechuk admits. “We had mutual friends, I guess. We met when we were 16 or 17 years old so we just knew each other through going to shows in Toronto. I used to come downtown from the west end of Toronto where I lived with my parents. It’s easy to make friends back then because you share interests. He was a straight edge kid and I was a straight edge kid. We liked collecting records and had the same interests. We hit it off right away.”
The band’s apex to date is 2011’s David Comes to Life, a concept album about a character living in England in the 1970s. It distilled the band’s noisy tendencies into something almost palatable. So what was it like trying to follow it up?
“We didn’t really have it in mind when we were writing [the songs on the new album Glass Boys],” Haliechuk says. “We went with the way things were going. There was such a long period between records that you don’t have the last thing in mind. We were just writing and followed how the new stuff was sounding. We wanted it to be a bit more drum-based and have the rhythm section happening We have a guitar focused sound but we wanted to make the drums come out this time. There’s kind of a theme. It’s about growing up and getting older as a band and as people.”
He says the Husker Du-like lead single “Sun Glass” is “about becoming an older person and being involved in your business that involves people who are younger than you.” The song's loud-to-quite tendencies make it a compelling.
“Being a 35-year-old in a band is like working in a toy store,” he says. “It’s that weird fascination/fear you with the new youth and the energetic kids that you don’t understand who are still part of your life because for the most part, that’s who comes to see your band. It’s about not quite understanding what the deal is.”
So what does Haliechuk imagine the next album will be like?
“I don’t know.” He admits. “We’ll give it a couple of years. We want to tour on this one and then take a breather.”
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