How does a revered hardcore outfit follow up an ambitious, all-encompassing rock opera? After the 2011 release ofDavid Comes To Life, it seemed like the answer for Fucked Up was a simple, “They don’t.” Despite fears the band would not be seen again, at least with the same lead vocalist, the Canadians have returned as we have always known them, this time with the more personal LP,Glass Boys.
Speaking from his Toronto home shortly after putting his kids to bed, frontman Damian Abraham ruminates on what happens when punks grow up. For one, Glass Boys cherry picks elements from the preceding rock opera, but is overall a more focused effort. “I think for Mike [Haliechuk, guitar] it was a reaction to how big David Comes To Life was, I think maybe for Jonah [Falco, drums] too, when they were arranging how big this record was going to be in terms of the number of songs.
“With David Comes To Life, it was just so many songs by the end of it. All the seven-inches, all the companion singles, the David’s Town compilation we did – it was too much. I think the reaction to that was us trying to scale it back so we could focus a lot more, and make individual songs… bring that epicness to the individual songs. Pulling back the curtain to extend the rock opera metaphor to its most sickening point. Pulling back the curtain to reveal us. Mike and I were writing lyrics about us, who we are as people, rather than hiding behind characters to articulate our feelings.”
Speculation regarding Fucked Up’s demise, or the prospect of touring with a replacement vocalist, was primarily fuelled by Abraham’s comments following the release of David Comes To Life. To create Glass Boys, a turnaround of mentality was needed.
“There’s a change of mindset, definitely,” he says. “I was more aware of decisions I’ve made in the band, and the decisions the band has made as a band, and what those are and where those have led, both positively and negatively. I think it’s also a change of mindset in recognising that you’re older. There was a lot of resistance to feeling older prior to this record.”
The dilemma as a parent and musician, particularly in a climate where extensive touring is the primary method of income, is finding a balance between providing for a family and allowing time to spend with that family.
“My eldest at least likes the music I make, so at the end of the day I know he at least likes what I’m doing,” says Abraham. “Going away, that’s the worst part – even though you’re making money, all you hope that money will do is buy you more time with your kids. You’re pursuing that money at the expense of spending time with your family. I knew if I got a job in Toronto it might not be as glamorous and it certainly wouldn’t be as fun, but I could find a job that pays the bills and be home every night after school and never worry about missing anything.
“Then I start thinking that maybe I’m just addicted to the celebrity of it all – and it’s definitely minor celebrity in our case, I’m not pretending that I’m getting mobbed in the streets. But that celebrity of people coming to see you play, or taking the time to interview you, or buying your records. Maybe I’m not making the best decisions for my family, I’m only making the best decisions for myself, keeping this 15-year-old fantasy that I’m living. There’s always that in the back of my mind. It’s a constant inner struggle.”