Words by Peter Tanski
Fucked Up are the Hardcore Punk band that Indie Kids and College Professors dig. For all of their brevity and unabashedly “heavy, fast rules” beginnings, they soon found themselves on a path to forging something that is fully their own, perfecting the art of having “a sound” and not “a style”.
Central to the naturally amorphous output of the Canadian freak out train is Mike Haliechuk, a sonic architect by way of the guitar and some vocals, ideas and excursions, pedals and persistence. It’s little wonder that the latest album, “One Day” (on Merge Records) is named most aptly, as it was written and recorded in the same 24 hour period.
Off Shelf: After having made some of the most genre shifting and redefining records in the Punk sphere, how did the notion of writing and recording an album in 24 hours come to pass?
Mike Haliechuk: I was just tired of every album feeling like it had to be an odyssey, and was starting to feel like creatively I was hiding behind the process of producing music that way. Instead of our albums being defined by the writing and the feeling, they were defined by the years of tinkering with them. So I wanted an album that got closer to showcasing what our music sounded like in a more raw form.
OS: Within the context of a body of work that is decidedly more Punk in spirit than most, what keeps it all immediate and exciting for you?
MH: I just really like writing music a lot. I don’t know how to do anything else, and I get bored of certain forms, which keeps my own writing fresh. Punk music is a more open canvas than people like to admit. Fucked Up has a fairly defined sound even though the only constants sonically over a twenty year period are loud guitars and Damian’s vocals. We’ve been able to switch almost everything else up with our music.
OS: As I’d mentioned, your work is always challenging forms and daring the listener to take the journey with you. What is the kernel of divine inspiration that keeps you so creative?
MH: I have no idea, some people just get lucky. I want to be able to keep making music, so inside I know that I have to keep it interesting.
OS: Having been a band for as long as you all have, how do you keep the love alive between yourselves?
MH: We’re just all very stubborn.
OS: Which of your discography is your baby? Your first love and absolute favorite child?
MH: It’s an unanswerable question for me. Once a record is released it isn’t mine anymore. My favorite album is always the one thats just about to come out.
OS: Have you reached a point where you yourself are taken aback by what you’ve accomplished?
MH: No, because I’m not yet at the point where I’m only looking back. We’re sitting on more unreleased music now than at any point in our career, so the future of the band is a lot broader than our past at the moment.
OS: “Nothing’s Immortal” has become my new favorite of your songs. Was there something special brewing in the studio with this song?
MH: I really have no idea. I don’t have a lot of specific memories from that session, being that it was more than 3 years ago but also because it was such an intense period of creating. I finished like 15 songs or something which is essentially a fully written/recorded/played/arranged song every 90 minutes.
OS: It’s difficult to imagine that there is joy to be felt in our dizzying era, but do you feel that you have contributed something of a light in the existential cloud that is 2023?
MH: That isn’t my intention but I hope so. I can say that writing these records is something that gives me joy personally, so even if not one person heard them, it would still be a net positive
OS: Fucked Up, no doubt, still has some tricks up its collective sleeve if history is any indication. Is there anything musically that you’ve yet to explore that yearn to?
MH: I like writing more long form stuff, operas, delving more into traditional forms. Maybe a 24 hour album that is actually 24 hours long.