Fucked Up and The Bronx in interview: New World, Same Shredded Faces

The Bronx's <b>Joby J. Ford</b> and Fucked Up's <b>Damien 'Pink Eyes' Abraham</b> get political, financial, and discuss why hardcore is quite like a Scotch Egg, with <b>Jason Morton</b>.

Feature by Jason Morton | 25 Mar 2009

It’s a cliché – especially in a music feature – to say The Times They Are A-Changin’, but things are certainly different since hardcore powerhouses Fucked Up and The Bronx graduated from blips on the punk-rock radar to full-on threats. But, even amidst shifting political landscapes and a dire global economic outlook, the tourmates believe hardcore will persist, and continue to adapt.

“The thing about punk and ‘angry’ music is that there’s a hope,” says Fucked Up’s frontman Damien ‘Pink Eyes’ Abraham. “I think it was Ian Mackaye saying that punk says ‘there is no future’ and hardcore is ‘…but we can build our own.’ That’s the thing about punk and hardcore, there’s always this undying youthful optimism. The world is fucked, we’re all gonna die, but we’re gonna try to make it as good as possible while we’re still here. There’s an optimism that’s always there.”

One positive change over the past year, both Abraham and The Bronx guitarist Joby J. Ford agree, has been global leadership. About a certain November night, Ford recounts, “I was shaky, like ‘There’s no way, there’s no way.” He further admits it was “one of the most nerve-wracking nights” of his life. In the morning, though, history had been made, which Abraham believes will positively affect the global punk community. Ford though, cracking wise, says “certain groups are gonna have to retool their whole approach, mainly Anti-Flag. Nah, those guys’ll find something to be mad at Obama about.”

Despite this momentous development, other factors continue to afflict the music community, namely a drying up of financial support from fans during the economic crisis. But again, the pair stay proactive. “I look at the positives,” Ford says. “I’m not getting laid off from my job, I’m not part of this huge, massive corporate restructuring happening every single day. We’re still cheating life by being a band.” The guitarist laughs, though he admits it’s affected touring expenditures and, most of all, the fans. “People don’t come out to shows as much,” he laments.

Pink Eyes, on the other hand, thinks his crew may be able to play it on their own terms. “I’m sure bands who have one hundred dollar tickets are a little nervous. The super-poor and super-rich always seem to exist below an economy. So hopefully Fucked Up can just transition to super-rich – then we got nothing to worry about!” But, just as blues was begat from tough times in the past century, they believe their music can and will continue to thrive, and that perhaps it could be a good stretch for aggressive music. Ford thinks those hurting most will be the suits at major mega-labels. His condolences? “Fuck ‘em. We used to be on a major label and the amount of money that the company would spend on taking us, and all of their friends, out to dinner, they could’ve made three records. It was ridiculous. I think the underlying thing is that they wanted to preserve their way of life. And now it’s gone. And that’s why they’re like ‘Don’t steal mp3s or file-share or whatever’ – because it’s killing their lifestyle." Abraham agrees: "What we’re seeing is the water evaporating to all of these small ponds. Punk or hardcore are now looking really big. That’s why I think a lot more mainstream attention is focused on it.”

While he assumes hardcore songs will never be used to promote mp3 players or other products, Abraham believes this is why music from Fucked Up, The Bronx and fellow face-shredders Rolo Tomassi will have a longer shelf life. “We’re for a more complex palette. It’s not candy, but if you give it awhile and acquire a taste for it, you’ll start to enjoy it.” “Like Tex-Mex,” Ford agrees. “Or a Scotch Egg.”

Such mainstream attention facilitates enterprises such as the Shred Yr Face tour, the tagline binding the three bands' sure-to-be devastating tour of the United Kingdom. Previously featuring the likes of No Age, Times New Viking and Los Campesinos!, Abraham credits Shred Yr Face as a “less tacky package tour.” “I hope it becomes an annual thing – a response to Taste of Chaos and all those other ones – or a quarterly thing.” “This is probably how those big tours start,” Ford says. “Like a Warped Tour or Sounds of the Underground, just like this. …We’re probably at the beginning of what’s gonna turn into a really annoying tour in about five years.” The tour also promotes the bands through a limited split seven-inch, and itself through various mediums – “T-shirts, posters… toothpaste, socks,” Ford jokes – but the bands are happy not to have a corporate sponsor breathing down their necks.

“The thing about this tour that’s unique to punk music is that you have three bands from three different countries, where you can see a free interchange of ideas and across borders,” Abraham says. “That’s what I think is so awesome about punk rock: it’s like a global movement.”

And despite changes happening all over the world – for better or for worse – bands like Fucked Up, The Bronx and Rolo Tomassi seem poised to push that movement forward.

The Shred Yr Face 2 limited edition seven-inch is available now from local record shops.