Hard­core band F--ked Up re­leases an epic dou­ble-al­bum ‘rock opera’

Now they have to learn to play as a band again

StarMetro Vancouver - - THE FEED - Ben Rayner

F--ked Up has spent more than 15 years push­ing the lim­its of what it means to iden­tify as a “punk” or “hard­core” band. The log­i­cal next step was to oblit­er­ate the very idea of what F--ked Up it­self means as a band.

It wasn’t com­pletely in­ten­tional, per­haps, but that’s how it worked out dur­ing the mak­ing of the ac­claimed Toronto sex­tet’s lu­di­crously am­bi­tious new dou­ble-lp “rock opera,” Dose Your Dreams.

It’s some of the best work the band has ever pro­duced, even if they were rarely in the same room to­gether dur­ing its long pro­duc­tion. F--ked Up has a well-doc­u­mented rep­u­ta­tion for frac­tious in­ter­nal dy­nam­ics, yet it is still a band in the tra­di­tional sense, one that will re­unite for a home­town show on Oct. 19 be­fore hit­ting the road in earnest in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Europe and Aus­tralia.

The old gang has got a lot of re­hears­ing to do be­fore then. Front­man Damian Abra­ham, who’s notably ab­sent from about one-third of this 90minute epic’s 18 songs, barely touched down in the stu­dio while the opus was be­ing made. Gui­tarist and res­i­dent mad ge­nius Mike Haliechuk and drum­mer Jonah Falco spent a good year in and out of record­ing ses­sions fig­ur­ing out what this thing was go­ing to be on their own be­fore any­one else joined the party.

Even then, Haliechuk says, Abra­ham would only come in to do his vo­cals “ev­ery cou­ple of weeks,” while gui­tarist Ben Cook sings just one song and con­trib­utes back­ing vox on a cou­ple of oth­ers; bassist Sandy Mi­randa recorded her parts in her own home stu­dio; and “we re­al­ized very late” that gui­tarist Josh Zucker “didn’t play on it at all,” de­spite 11th-hour pleas that he “come in and play one tri­an­gle note just so you can be on it.”

Be­yond that, it took a vastly ex­panded cast of char­ac­ters to bring Haliechuk’s widescreen vi­sion for Dose Your Dreams to life, in­clud­ing fel­low past Po­laris Mu­sic Prize win­ners Lido Pimienta and Owen Pal­lett; idio­syn­cratic lo­cal singer/song­writ­ers Jen­nifer Cas­tle, John South­worth and Mary Mar­garet O’hara; J Mas­cis of Di­nosaur Jr.; Cal­i­for­nia singer/ song­writer Miya Folick; and fel­low Toronto punk Ryan Tong.

“For the first year, it was just me and Jonah,” con­firms Haliechuk. “He lives in Eng­land now, but ev­ery three or four months he would have to come over for some rea­son and we’d book a week in the stu­dio. The first session was two weeks and we wrote close to 20 songs — with no plans, just a cheque for the stu­dio, ba­si­cally — and they all sounded dif­fer­ent.

“And we were tak­ing Mike Haliechuk, third from right, took the lead role on F--ked Up’s am­bi­tious new dou­ble al­bum Dose Your Dreams.

breaks from writ­ing punk songs just be­cause I record gui­tar in a space that’s like this big, maybe” — he spreads his arms to rep­re­sent the width of a walk-in closet, ba­si­cally — “and I’m in there by

my­self, with huge amps every­where on ev­ery wall, and it’s just phys­i­cally ex­haust­ing. So I would try to find a way to write in our con­trol room and hook a bass up right to the com­puter or play with a drum

ma­chine just to give my­self a lit­tle place to breathe, and then we just started writ­ing dif­fer­ently.”

Learn more of the story be­hind the band’s new work at thes­tar.com/mu­sic

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