As a band, Fucked Up operates outside the parameters of traditional society. No one in the band (comprised of Pink Eyes- vocals, Concentration Camp- guitar, Mr. Jo- drums, Mustard Gas- bass, 10,000 Marbles- guitar) owns a cell phone or can legally operate a vehicle. Relationships between band mates are often strained (Pink Eyes has even avoided a European tour because, "The prospect of sitting in a van with those dudes made me sick to my stomach"). 3/5 of the band is plagued by bouts of mental illness ("Pink Eyes has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Concentration Camp and I have been depressed for good parts of our adult lives," says guitarist 10,000 Marbles.) The band has been accused of championing fascism ("Mixing fascist imagery with a leftist anarchist punk band is like a bomb going off," according to the band.) With this kind of press, SPB had no choice but to get their side of the story.
Scene Point Blank: One of my questions was going to be if you had any plans to make Looking For Gold more widely available, but you recently made it available online. Why did you decide to release it online rather than re-pressing it on vinyl or releasing it in some other format?
10,000 Marbles: We didn't release it as a record because we didn't want people to have to pay for it. The original 12" became such an economic fiasco that we just figured fuck it, why put effort and money into releasing a record that people are just going to flip for more cash anyhow. The song fits thematically with Hidden World, so we want it to act as a companion piece, but one you don't have you pay more money for. Regardless, music isn't really about physical objects anymore anyhow, so why waste the petrol if people are going to listen to it on the computer anyhow? I can't tell you i haven't listened to an actually record in a long fucking time. The song is available online here.
Scene Point Blank: Your website takes a different form than most bands. I can't bring myself to say its more than just a blog since it is more engaging than a lot of the band websites that are just boilerplate templates. How self-conscious a choice was this?
10,000 Marbles: People want to give us a lot of credit for being different because we have a blog and not a website, but it's honestly only because I don't know HTML and I wanted to have a website where I could update it whenever i wanted without relying on someone who knows how to program.
Scene Point Blank: I've heard it said that you will pay for any Fucked Up tattoos your fan base getsâ?¹is there any truth to this?
10,000 Marbles: Not true. We may have told a few friends that, but we don't have that amount of paper to be paying for so many tattoos.
Scene Point Blank: It seems like a lot of your lyrics use a classic rhetorical strategy where you talk over an audience's head in hopes that they'll educate themselves. This is fairly uncommon in the broad world of punk, which is usually much more didactic; what's the rationale behind this and what kind of responses have you seen?
10,000 Marbles: I just write how I'd like lyrics to appear. We don't want to tell anyone what to think, really, I just like my lyrics to rhyme, use interesting imagery and words, and be about interesting topics. I'm not in this to spread any particular worldview. And yeah, when we do have particularly objective topics, they're usually tucked inside a metaphor, so the song is more interesting and you aren't hit upside the head with rhetoric. I had militarism in mind when I wrote "Triumph of Life," and smoking when I did "Dance of Death," but i like being discreet, you know?
Scene Point Blank: By being called Fucked Up you've sort of precluded a certain level of popular successâ?¹how interested is Fucked Up in capturing a broader audience?
10,000 Marbles: We're sort of toying with it now. The record got reviewed in Spin, and our ethos when it comes to mainstream press is "whatever makes my life more interesting". We've been doing some radio and TV interviews, and we think it's fucking hilarious. We're playing on MTV in a few weeks.
Scene Point Blank: One of the most interesting developments I've noticed in hardcore in recent years is a slight relaxation of some of the compartmentalizing that goes onâ?¹the boundaries between the different subsets of punk look more blurry. Fucked Up seems to be part of this, since for example at your record release shows youÂ¹re playing with both Cold World and Dropdead (not to single them out as archetypal). Is this a real phenomenon or am I just making it up?
10,000 Marbles: I think what's going on is that the relaxation is becoming its own compartment. You have bands like Gorilla Angreb and shit, and I think part of why bands like this get attention is because people take real pride in not being pigeonholed into whatever fraction of the culture they've escaped from. What happened of course is that all these people did the same thing and ended up in the same place, and now you have all these middle of the road bands that only created a new niche. I like GA a lot though, don't get me wrong. You can bet that the people watching Dropdead and The Fest aren't going to be the same ones watching Cold World.
Scene Point Blank: In past interviews, as a band you've expressed mixed feelings about playing live. Has that changed at all?
10,000 Marbles: Nah. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it aint. I always get real curious when I read dudes saying "playing live is a real release for me" - I'm like, are you lying? It definitely is no release for us, it's just more stress. Playing is fun sometimes when i get to fuck with people standing near me, but a lot of times it's just put your head down for half and hour and then go back to reading a book in the van. I'm more into recording shit in the studio.
Scene Point Blank: Some of the recent Fucked Up material seems to be pushing in a bit more of an aestheticized direction in terms of contentâ?¹with songs like "Teenage Problem" referencing AndrÃ© Gide and "Vivian Girls" with Henry Darger. What kind of artistic traditions do you see yourself engaging with or inhabiting (if any), beyond punk rock?
10,000 Marbles: None. This is what a punk band does - borrow, steal, etc. We're just a patchwork of a million other things. I don't think we have a defined or central aesthetic or ideology, we just know how to pick parts from other ones really well. I don't even read or like poetry, and I didn't really like Dargers book, but I do understand the power the things we use hold to other people. Recently I guess we're into illegalism, but that's not really art, and we can't really get arrested anymore. In fact - fuck art, it's the biggest scam racket going.
Scene Point Blank: "Neat Parts" seems like an account of being disillusioned with certain varieties of politics ("empty slogans they just fall on my left and deaf ear"). The question of Fucked Up and politics has always been fairly complex and uncomfortable for some; how does this fit in?
10,000 Marbles: Pink Eyes wrote "Neat Parts" about girls, I'm pretty sure. "Neat Parts" and "Reset the Ride" - that shit is about women.
Pink Eyes: "Neat Parts" really is two different songs in one, I guess. The first verse is defiantly meant to be an attack on the sloganeering of punk. Where bands talk about being anti-racist only to turn around and have totally misogynistic views (or homophobic and classist) there by totally ignoring the intersectionality of systems of oppression. Or most of the time they do talk about being anti-oppression it is on a very surface level; like I'm anti-Nazi therefore I'm anti-racist, totally ignoring how deep these problems truly go. And it totally boils down to some idiot with a microphone telling us how to live so they can feel that they have somehow had a positive effect on the world. The other half of the song is about people subverting science to re-enforce systems of oppression. For me these two things are linked because they are both examples of people taking things and twisting them to serve their will. Both are totally different but both are equally self-serving.
Scene Point Blank: "Carried Out to the Sea" attacks naÃ¯ve postmodernism, but it seems to me that an argument could be made that the broad theme of Hidden World is a kind of deconstructionâ?¹the way that totalizing, Manichean oppositions are unstable and create a "hidden world" that overcomes them. Is this just a misreading?
10,000 Marbles: Pink Eyes has this lyric cycle going on lately where his songs are about this constant awning of change that is just a recycling of old parts.
Pink Eyes: "Carried Out to the Sea" is more about being frustrated that we live in an era where nothing is new and every time something comes into existence that looks as though it may turn into something worth while it is immediately jumped on before it has a chance to fully develop. There will never be another Seattle because nothing will ever develop to that point going unnoticed.
Scene Point Blank: What's "David Comes to Life" about?
Pink Eyes: David is about a kid who figures out that everyday he lives his life he is just going to commit more sin and thus take him further away from heaven. So instead of waiting in this horrible life like the rest of us to simply die one day riddled with sin and have to then try to get into heaven, he is going to just kill himself, sin free, to get to heaven and plead his case.
Scene Point Blank: You've made a lot of references to David Eliade; how did you come into contact with him and what kind of effect has he had on Fucked Up?
10,000 Marbles: We met him at a show in NYC once. It's like how they say in the Kabbalah tradition - you can't seek a teacher, but one will appear in your life when you are ready. He showed up at the right time for us. He's like an invisible hand, we don't have much contact with him but he influences us a lot. I chat with him on the phone sometimes, but we only see him in person every six months or so, and we'll do a lot of heavy chatting and planning when we're together. He gives us a lot of influence; I don't really want to say a lot more than that.
Scene Point Blank: Jade Tree seems like an odd but appropriate choice of label for Fucked Up. What was it that made you decide to release Hidden World with them? I could be way off here, but you guys don't really strike me as Lifetime or Promise Ring fans.
10,000 Marbles: Jade Tree is diversifying, you know. They threw a lot of money at the record, more than a smaller label could have afforded. They did it for the ages - if we had of stuck with Deranged, Hidden World would have been ten minutes long. Honestly who gives a shit what bands a label has put out in the past, it's more about how they are able to deal, you know? They are fair dudes and they seem to be into soccer from what I can tell, so what the fuck.
Scene Point Blank: What are you listening to lately, and are there any recent records that have really impressed you?
10,000 Marbles: I like those Uffie 12"'s for some reason. I'm really into the new Cassie record, how they use the synth under her voice, I'm really glad someone finally did that shit. I liked that Lily Allen record a lot until I saw her live. Also that new Justice track "Waters of Nazareth" I listen to basically everyday. At work we listened to the new Camera Obscura all day. I like stupid music.
Scene Point Blank: Fucked Up has always seemed to be a band with ambitious plans for the futureâ?¹so what's on your agenda in the days to come?
10,000 Marbles: "David Comes to Life" soundtrack LP, "David Comes to Life" musical, Nation 12", another double LP, Army of Goldfaces, "Triumph" movie soundtrack (directed by David Eliade), split 12" with Mind Eraser, Black Sun side project (collaboration with Wyrd Visions), and Cassie remix 12".
Interview by Jon
Fucked Up's Official Website: http://lookingforgold.blogspot.com
Jade Tree: http://www.jadetree.com