Pissed off at a failing system, pissed off at mass complacency, pissed off at a society that champions ‘me’ over ‘we’. In a world where we’re told to sit back and swallow, FUBAR is a passionate proclamation, an assurance that not everyone is ready to smile and get in line.
Long time veterans of the European undergrind scene, the band originally formed in 2002 as I: Scream Protest!, a side project of Suppository vocalist Boris Cornelissen and guitarist Mark Verkuijlen with Last Days Of Humanity bassist/guitarist Bas Van Geffen. After Boris joined fellow Dutchmen Leng Tch’e and had to step down, the group changed their name and enlisted the talents of Maggots frontman Luc Favié and drummer Paul Niessen. They say you can judge a person by the company they keep and if their back catalogue, including splits with Catheter, Sylvester Staline, and Splitter (among others), says anything, it’s that FUBAR are to be counted amongst the upper echelons of the modern extreme music collective. Their lean, mean, socially conscious grinding machine has a palpable rage that could be likened to the caustic roar of American protesters Phobia combined with a healthy dose of Nasum’s penchant for thunderous metallics, rounded off by a furious vocal triptych that helps place the band at the front of the pack. I’ve been spinning their latest full-length ‘Lead Us To War’ at least twice daily for the past week and lucky for this new fan girl, vocalist Luc took time out from a hectic schedule to indulge madame morbid angle (don’t ask) and Zero Tolerance.
ZT: Your song titles are both apocalyptic and suggestive social commentary. How would you say you’re politically oriented as a band and are there any specific topics you address more than others from this perspective?
L: Our ground rule for FUBAR is music comes first then the lyrics. We don’t want to sing about hacked up people and other filth. There’s enough daily frustration to sing about. We write the lyrics with 3 people in the band, so 1 chooses the complete apocalyptic paths we choose, the other incorporate the daily frustration. Right now there’s an atmosphere to spread fear against people who are different based on religion. In every country you can feel it, especially in the Netherlands.
ZT: One of my favourite bits about you guys is the triple vocal attack. Are the lyrics a group project or a personal project when it comes to writing them? How do you negotiate between differing opinions on a certain subject matter if that does come up?
L: The lyrics are a group process. First we write new songs – 1 new song every week. When we have 5 songs, Bas, Mark and myself sit down and create the vocal lines. We adjust the lyrics and divide the parts. We know who’s better for certain parts and once in a while we try to create some different then we did before.
ZT: The very first song on the new one is called ‘Everything Is Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition’ (not to mention it’s your band name), which, in the context of everything else on the record, I’m assuming is a observation of the modern social/political/economic landscape. As someone who has grown up since after 1970, isn’t greed, corruption, a dysfunctional political machine, etc. all we as younger people have ever known in western society? What is it that’s now unrecognisable?
L: When you grow older you get more involved into society, but also gain more anger against society. In your first years it’s more happy happy joy joy, but when you become a teenager you start to form your own point of view next to the indoctrination from school, media and so on. More and more you see this corrupt system that we call democracy. Of course we are happy to live free in a country where you can achieve almost anything you want. We have a roof over our heads, food and money, so what else could you wish for? But again, you see the cracks of a doomed system. This is nothing new, and been around for ages, where there’s money, there’s greed and power. You see it and live with it, so let’s write about it. The unrecognisable shows itself in how we deal with it and how others do. I’ve seen footage from 20-30 years ago, when people had no money, they protested, even in the Netherlands. Right now we are at a point, when it’s bad, nobody gives a damn about it. That’s unrecognisable, and the complete bottom of western society and the “I” culture. That’s fucked up.
ZT: In the past ten years, protest has become increasingly prevalent as the poverty and disenfranchisement we’ve kept hidden is spreading and becoming all too obvious, and as people have increased access to information and the means of disseminating it. Many punk and grind bands which are closely aligned to political movements have factions within them as to whether peaceful campaigns or black bloc tactics are the most effective. What do you see as the most effective means of protest?
L: The most effective means of protest is the kind of protest you think is needed at that moment. It can be marching, it can be singing. It can be your personal protest by blocking the pavement with your container. The disturbing thing at this moment is we shout a big hooray for the Middle Eastern protests but Dutch people will never get together any more to protest, no matter what this government does. They know it, that’s why they can waste our money and time for the last couple of years.
ZT: With the pace of change accelerating at a seemingly exponential rate, where do you think we’re headed in the next few years as problems in the western world spread? Is there any hope for mankind or have we dug our collective grave too deep already?
L: I think less will be more in the future. The ones who can survive with less will survive because the system will never change. For every problem they find a “solution” that brings a new problem. This is how mankind has been working for ages and will continue to work. I don’t believe in total self destruction, more in surviving. Mankind will survive, we are the leeches of the earth.
ZT: Something else mentioned in a song title that I’m also really interested in is the idea of a collective conscience, in that everyone has a different idea about what this means, whether it be some cosmic connection or a shared history, etc. etc… What does it mean to you?
L: Survival, trying to enjoy life and trying to get to a place where you can enjoy life. The song is about a new chapter, will you reach it…?
ZT: How do you see music changing the world? Especially that of an aggressive nature?
L: We don’t think music will change the world, but music is a way to release your anger, happiness, frustration. To create a light in darkness. Just like art. It can be good and evil. But it will never change the world by itself. It takes people to create music and art, it takes people to change the world. Music is just a form, and you can interpret it the way you want, and be and feel what you want at the moment you listen to it or see it.
ZT: Being a veteran of many festivals as a band, what is it about Obscene Extreme you like coming back to?
L: OEF is a respected festival and every year it’s a great combination of different styles in the underground. Every year you meet so many friends. That’s the power of OEF. I like festivals that are not that big and you can just relax and hang out. Not just a stage, a bar, drinking beers, watching the band and fucking off, like almost all the mainstream festivals. I like OEF, Play Fast Or Don’t and many others. That’s where you see what the music is about, friends.
ZT: How did working with JB (Herder, Atrocity, Dr Doom, among others), who has played with a whole load of different types of bands from death metal to stoner, influence the outcome of this record?
L:JB is our grindmaster! His power is that he loves music from stoner, to grind, to death metal, and everything he does, he does perfect! He listens to what you want and fits to you, but he also is very precise. We worked hard on the songs, and we know when we have somebody who understands our songs and music, and knows how to turn it into a brutal sound but still keep our identity. We are very happy with the result, and we just want to give a big thank you to JB.
ZT: You guys have been going for over a decade, what’s been the most rewarding part of doing FUBAR? As someone who is actively working in many different sides of the industry (band, booking agency, stall holder, anything else I’m missing?) Have you seen it get any easier or harder over the years or has it remaining relatively stable considering underground grind bands have never had anything handed to them on a silver platter?
L: The most rewarding part is just playing cool grind shows, getting on stage to rage. Visiting new and old friends all over the world. The scene is small, but so motivated. I love it. It’s not getting harder, it is as hard as you make it yourself. If you want to be a non stop grind musician and tour the whole year, yeah then it can be hard, as grind is not a money making business. You should do hip hop or emocore and be so lucky. If you want something, work for it, if you just want to enjoy what you have, do it.We are enjoying it 100%!
You can catch them at the greatest festival EVER, Obscene Extreme, taking place from July 11-14 in Trutnov, Czech Republic or at the equally awesome Bloodshed Fest from 12-13th October in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Their freshly pressed and hotly-anticipated second full-length ‘Lead Us To War’ is out on Hammerheart Records now! http://hammerheartrecords.bigcartel.com/