Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Open head wounds are not matters to build a long-spanning musical career around. Neither is public nudity, flopping one's wanker out of the pants in front of a captivated audience. Griping amongst your bandmates just leads to acrimony and an inevitable implosion of who-gives-a-shit proportions, owing to them not having been around to have made any dent of any substance. Mythology can be a band's best friend for some good flashing in the pan, but to actually be cooked into a completed meal or to become a coveted recipe or template that others can look to for guidance takes more than weiners and hocking loogies and bleeding all over stages.
It's very principal then that Toronto hardcore band Fucked Up are not at all about the blood, the guts, the controversy, the crying mothers, the glass in the forehead, the vomiting, the destruction, the dick-dangling and the encouraged mayhem - despite what everyone wants to tell you. They might be a terminal band with only a few weeks left to live, but they may also be a band that is going to make sure that it is nothing short of being epically monumental, a group that lives on as a valuable and coveted icon of underground madness.
The point of all of this is the very real understanding that Fucked Up is considerably more than it gets credit for in this sweeping rush of bite-sized, sound-bit morsels that make for simple journalism and instant splashings. The music and/or noise that this group is using to batter the world with is laden with immensely philosophical trappings and darkened by some of the most brutally honest and lost poetry (most definitely the right word for it no matter the violence in cadence or the firestorm that it pounds in on) that has been written in some time. Lead singer/hail provider Damian Abraham (aka Pink Eyes and Father Damian) has been the focal point of the large majority of the press surrounding the band that has been determinedly storming the world with 7-inches and albums for over seven years now, ripping through the do-it-yourself scene and leaving a mess of secretions, bruises and some form of demented or stoned out enlightenment in its wake.
We've all seen his pasty rotundity from every angle that photographic paper can hit and reach and it's all been bared, leaving nothing to the imagination - perhaps the better for the music or perhaps its bane. The actual music (designed and dished out by guitarist Mike Haliechuk, drummer Jonah Falco, bassist Sandy Miranda, guitarist Josh Zucker and guitarist Ben Cook) and the dense and in-your-face words (primarily written by Haliechuk/10,000 Marbles and Abraham) leave everything up to the imagination, a rarity when it comes to most hardcore music, which can typically be boiled down to pissed off grumblings, political disagreeability and some sort of you'll be sorry moral of the story.
Everything about Fucked Up's actual art is a pleasant challenge and The Chemistry of Common Life - a different look at some of the things that Jarvis Cocker explored in the 90s and Aleister Crowley and Aldous Huxley did much longer ago, not to mention all the times Vonnegut and even a Walt Whitman dipped into the chemical waters of nature or the naturally muddied waters of chemistry - is easily one of the finest and most provoking records of the year. It surpasses anger and lights out into an onslaught of the meanings of living and the unexplainable oddities of religion and being born into your one particular body, your one particular life and your one particular family ("It's hard enough being born in the first place/Who would ever want to be born again?") or what have you.
The lines that Abraham thunders out in an over-sized growl and scrape are a labyrinth of meaning and confusion, letting us all be the judge of whatever we'd like and follow it wherever it takes us. The pull quote that the band chose to use inside the record, from the song "Magic Word," reads, "Chemistry is just a word we use to describe what occurs when subtle changes in our minds make energy from common lives," and it's a thought that is extrapolated upon continuously throughout the album, getting additions and being shaped into a presiding theory that makes everything that's being wailed, everything that's being amplified and projected in almost a Led Zeppelin-y sort of sonic brilliance seem like the most important kind of poignancy. We're all here. Like it or not. This should be interesting. Period.
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