“FUCKED UP” An artist profile


by Andrew Clarke

Fucked Up is the Great Canadian Punk Band.  Like Neil Young, Arcade Fire and Justin Bieber, they have transcended the small Canadian music scene to capture giant audiences all over the world.  Fast, driving punk-rock guitar with well-written poetry hollered on top, Fucked Up has come a long, long way to be where they are.  I had the chance to see them play in London, Ont. some time ago, before SPIN Magazine named their newest album, the punk opera David Comes to Life, the album of the year.  I only started listening to them last year but the band is so infectious that I saw them three times within two months.  I have some history with Fucked Up … while interviewing him, I shared a smoothie with singer/frontman/host of the Wedge on MuchMusic, “Father” Damian Abraham before their NXNE set at Yonge and Dundas Square in Toronto.  He’s a perfect gentleman to talk to but a wild man to experience live. 
Though Velvet Rope is mainly for local independent acts to be showcased, I found this interview I conducted and wanted to share it.  Throughout the conversation we talk about ripping off Europeans, Nardwuar interviews and being brought together through injuries in punk rock, among other things.   I’m just so excited these days that so many Canadian artists are taking centre stage all over the world!
This is my interview with Fucked Up’s Damian and Ben “Young Governor” Cook, the guitarist, formerly the vocalist of No Warning – who toured with Linkin Park, among other big name nu-metal acts.  I still wasn’t paying attention when he told me he was the singer!  During this interview, I should note that there is blood streaming out of a lightning shaped cut on my forehead; that happened because I hit my forehead on a monitor freaking.  What???  I really love punk music!!!

DAMIAN: Yes sir!
VR: If Fucked Up was stranded on an island, who would be the first member to eat the rest of the band?

DAMIAN: I think the answer should be obvious.  (Awkward pause)  Go with the 300-pound man on that question.
VR: Hey man, what’s going through your head now?  You’re about to play here at Call the Office – Blink-182 played here man! 

DAMIAN: Uhh, that I hope we can one day live up to Blink-182.  I saw (pointing to the poster I speak of) that show in Toronto that same tour.  (Unrecognizable band name), Blink-182 and Ten Days Late. 
VR: How was it?

DAMIAN: (Pauses) Mediocre, if I remember correctly. 
VR: Man, I saw Blink-182 play recently, a video, and…

DAMIAN: I LIKE Blink-182!
VR: … I love that band to death, it’s the reason I’m here, but meh.

DAMIAN: That show was NOT my favourite …
VR: They gotta reinvent themselves, make a rap album.  The Blink-182 rap album, that’d be alright.

BEN “YOUNG GUV” COOK:  Where did you hear that I used to rip people off for records?
VR:  (laughing) My friend Steve from Kitchener-Waterloo!

BEN: His first question was, “I heard you used to rip people off for records?” 
VR: I heard from my friend Steve ’cause he was talking about No Warning and he was like “yeah, the guitarist in that band man, he did that,” Like really?  You seem like such a wholesome band.

BEN: I was the vocalist. 
DAMIAN: (incredulously) No Warning seemed like a wholesome band??
VR: No I never heard that band man, but Fucked Up …

BEN: Well, there you go.  I only ripped off Europeans. 
VR: Yo, no worries, I’m just really excited to see you guys play tonight aaand…

BEN: Have fun!

VR:…Doot doot doo loot doo … Have you guys met Nardwuar?
BEN:  Yeah, we’ve been interviewed by him before. 
VR: How was THAT, man? 

BEN: It was awesome. It was a good interview. 
VR: Did he bring up anything about the records though?

BEN: No no, you went deeper than Nardwuar!


BEN: You trumped Nardwuar. 

VR: Hey Damian?

DAMIAN: Yo buddy.

VR: K, one more question.  How is it hosting the Wedge?  How did that happen and how do you feel about it?

DAMIAN: Ahhhh, it happened because I was really lucky … um, I wish I had more control over what I play, but, maybe it’s better that I don’t, ’cause I don’t really have popular tastes in music. 
VR: If you had your way, what would you play on the Wedge all the time? 

DAMIAN: I’d probably play most of the stuff we play currently, but I’d probably find a way to play… a little more punk-heavy-hardcore stuff, but, ya know …
VR: Get on the Punk Show man, George isn’t on that no more!!!

DAMIAN: There’s no more Punk Show!
VR: What??

DAMIAN: I think they might just show videos. 
DAMIAN: Yeah, but I still love the Wedge, I love the people I work with …

VR: That show got me into SO MUCH MUSIC when I was a kid, I’d turn it on on an 11 o’clock on a Friday and be like “There’s nothing else like this on TV around!”

DAMIAN: Yeah, absolutely, me too, The Wedge!
VR: Yo, I can’t wait for your set man!

DAMIAN: Watch your head man … watch it.  I’ve done that too, you know …
VR: I know, man, you …when I was bleeding I was just like, “this guy’s already done this, he already knows …”

DAMIAN:  Yeah but the one thing you gotta watch is, you gotta make sure it doesn’t open up again, like if you need stitches.  I got stitches on (my head) too. 
VR:  Yo man, me and you have the SAME SCAR! 

DAMIAN:  We do.  Boom!  Scarbuddies!  (We high-five)
VR:  Yo!!!  F— YEAH!!!  EXCELSIOR!

DAMIAN: (chuckles as he walks off to play the set.)

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