By Mathieu Pierre Youdan
VANCOUVER — When Fucked Up released their fourth album, Glass Boys, on Arts and Crafts in June, fans seemed most excited by the guest vocal contributions of Gord Downie on “The Art of Patrons,” and J Mascis on “Led By Hand.” But look a bit further and it turns out Glass Boys also features the first large body of work written by stage shy guitarist Mike Haliechuk. “Haliechuk isn’t performing anything on the record but the guitar, but him and Damian (Abraham) split up the lyrics,” longtime drummer and touring fanatic Jonah Falco explains. “He’s kind of a wallflower when it comes to being in the spotlight, which is kind of insane because he is the central figure in the band. He’s the prime mover.”
Glass Boys is both a brilliant and violent departure from their previous material. Dealing efficiently with the feelings of aging in a punk scene, the tracks sound more collaborative due to the aforementioned shared songwriting. It’s held together with thick, anthemic instruments, tight drums and Abraham’s trademark gutteral howls.
The band has been on the West Coast since the Pemberton Festival in July, and the natural beauties of Canada are anything but lost on them. “We were looking forward to seeing nothing but hordes of people taking swims in crystalline, beautiful, clean looking lakes,” Falco recalls. “Beautiful views of mountains, climbing trees, all that good stuff… Toronto is this Canadian city that gets a lot of attention, because it’s the biggest city and blah blah blah, but it’s not quintessentially Canadian.”
As a band that tours relentlessly, this will be the second time they return to Vancouver in under a year. “It’s kind of bad when you forget your own show dates,” Falco admits, “but I remember we played this large and spacious concrete building… the Rickshaw! When we got to Vancouver it really felt like quite the home environment.” Not to say they weren’t wary of bringing old material, “Back in October before Glass Boys came out, we were playing the same material for so long that it worried me that we might be trying their patience,” shares Falco. “But the great difference is in this West Coast tour, the places we’ve been going to since 2004, we’re coming back completely fresh.”
But that tour also came at the cost of some cultural dissonance. ”It’s quite funny with that tour, Terror and PowerTrip are both our very good friends, but after that tour we couldn’t help but feel slightly out of place musically,” Falco comments. “The people who were really packing the shows out were interested in all three of the bands… and in Vancouver, it was quite the mixed audience. It was really memorable.”
Their last show at the Rickshaw Theatre was unforgettable for their audience, with Abraham mounting a speaker set, jumping in to the mosh pit and moving an already-riled audience over the top on more than one occasion. “The good thing is, once you’ve gone [across the country] the distances seem to shrink,” Falco comments of their anticipated return, “and eventually you get what I like to call civilian status. After 12 years of going to the same town, it’s like getting a small piece of a really big picture. There’s people we only see on tour and it’s like a continuation of the same conversation.” Like the auditory fragments they’ve combined on Glass Boys, Fucked Up’s Vancouver puzzle can only get more complete.
Fucked Up play Fortune Sound Club on August 15th.BC, British Columbia, Fortune Sound Club, Fucked Up, Glass Boys