I can admit I’m a bit of a patriot when it comes to Canadian music. It’s hard not to be when my home and native land has exported some of the best, and most innovative music I’ve ever heard. Gorguts, Voivod, Cryptopsy, Blasphemy, Obliveon, Martyr, and Mitochondrion are just a few of the luminaries I could name drop on the metallic end of the extremity spectrum. Then there’s the lesser known but just as vibrant grind/powerviolence side that boasts the likes of Malefaction, Swallowing Shit, Dahmer, The Endless Blockade, Axed Up Conformist, Massgrave, Iskra and a million more. What’s not to be proud of? Naturally, when I heard that a band who had boldly encompassed the entirety of the aforementioned spectrum since the late nineties, and the first band any grinder will mention if you say you’re Canadian, was playing OEF this year, I put them on my preview list.
The year I started working for an independent music magazine and really digging into the underground was the year ‘Backstabber Etiquette’ was released and my first exposure to Topon Das’ completely unhindered idea of music. I’ll never forget thinking ‘what the actual fuck?’ – the good way! It made enough of an impression for me to keep an eye out for future releases and their always eclectic, chameleonic brand of grind has been a mainstay in my playlist for a decade solid. They’re back on this side of the Atlantic in mere weeks – 26 days ’til Obscene Extreme – and once again you’re getting lucky if you’re not making the pilgrimage this year. They’ll be celebrating the release of ‘Amer’ (out June 18) and playing from July 7-11 in Brighton, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, and London. Founder and perpetual motion machine Topon Das lets us in on bits of the past, present, and future.
ZT: When you started out what, what were you looking to accomplish as a band and as musicians? How has that changed in the past 15 years getting to know the harsh realities of actually making it happen?
TD: It’s all started as a solo recording project and my main purpose was to record and release music. I just wanted to put out tapes and split tapes and have songs on cassette compilations (this was a long time ago in case you can’t tell). There were also a lot of musical (and non-musical) ideas I wanted to try that I wasn’t able to do in the bands I was playing with at the time, so FTF was kind of my outlet for everything I wanted to do. When the actual band started, we just wanted to add playing shows and touring to all that. Over the years, it’s mainly been about getting better at what we do, trying new things and touring new places. If as a band you’re smart with your time and money, you can accomplish quite a lot without losing your shirt and/or shit.
ZT: You guys have always done almost everything (recording, art, business aspect) yourselves and have mentioned that this is an integral part of the FTF ‘ethos’ if you will – why is this important to you? Have you ever run into any obstacles with labels or other bands on splits in regards to certain aspects of creative control?
TD: It’s kind of DIY by necessity, but I do love it, probably just cause that’s how we’ve always done it and that’s how we’re comfortable. It would be great to be able to just play my guitar and write music, but someone has to do the booking, general management of the band, mail out orders, assemble DIY releases, etc…so we do it, because we know what we want to do and have a decent idea of how to go about it. Even if we don’t know what we’re doing and fuck it up, we’ll learn from that and try to do it better next time. It’s a lot of work, but in some ways less bullshit to deal with and at the end of the day we’ve created something that is 100% Fuck The Facts.
ZT: You’ve built your own studio at home now which one can imagine gives you a lot of freedom to work when it suits you, but do you ever find yourself wanting to kind of distance yourself from this aspect of your life or is FTF a 24/7 sort of endeavour? How do you find balance with the rest of your life/day jobs/family?
TD: Having the studio is great and has been helpful for the band. The only real downfall is that when you have this kind of freedom, things can tend to drag out longer than they should. I do my best to work with self-imposed deadlines to make sure things are actually getting done. It’s been about 15 years now that I wake up everyday and the main thing going on in my head is this band. It can be amazing at times and also has given me some of the most stressful times in my life. When something means this much to you it can really take over your life and Fuck The Facts has definitely taken over my life, for better and for worse. I try to do other things to distance myself from the band once in awhile, but it’s always in the back of my head jabbing at me because I still have a lot of work to do.
ZT: Why did you decide to split the ‘Die Miserable’ album and ‘Misery’ EP?
TD: We wrote way more songs than we needed to for Die Miserable. We put Die Miserable together how we thought it worked best as a full-length album. Misery is sort of the leftovers, not because we didn’t like the songs, but because they just didn’t seem to work in the album. There are actually 3 other songs that we also wrote during that period still sitting on a hard drive just waiting to get mixed.
ZT: You’ve gone through many different stages of this band and initially the more punky/noisy stuff had a light-hearted comedy about it (discoing the dead – vagina dancer – mullet fever) but now it all seems pretty serious and you’ve said it is about actually expressing something more personal. What instigated this change? Was it just a matter of ageing, wanting to be taken seriously? Do you ever see yourselves getting silly again?
TD: It’s all just a gradual development of the band and of us as people as well. We didn’t sit down and decide it was time to be taken seriously or anything. We just do what we do and how it comes out is how it comes out. Obviously in the 12+ years FTF has been a band there’s been a decent amount of line-up changes, which makes a big difference because everyone in the band is always involved in the writing. Also, Mel got way better at writing lyrics and perhaps this has a noticeable effect on the lack of silliness. When she joined the band she could barely speak English, and lyrics came pretty secondary to the music. Over the years Mel has put more and more work in the lyrics and visuals of the band, and we’ve put more time into the music we create, so this also probably leads to us seeming a bit more serious. As people, we’re still pretty silly though. We joke a lot and there’s a lot of inside jokes that often find their way into what we do. Maybe not so much into the music, but definitely into things we do within the band. It’s not about being silly or serious or angry or sad, it’s all about expression and art.
ZT: In the interviews I’ve done over the years many Canadian artists have mentioned how hard it is to tour such a large country and to actually get out of Canada to tour elsewhere. Took you guys years to get into Europe despite having loads of releases on labels over here, and if I’m not mistaken this is just your second time. Do you think it’s harder to ‘break out’ being a band from Canada than the US or countries in Europe? What do you think makes a major difference for Canadian bands, if anything?
TD: Actually, this is going to be our 4th European tour. It took us awhile mainly because it’s expensive to fly over, and we wanted to make sure we were able to have a proper tour booked before making that sort of investment. I’m glad we did it when we did and so far every time has been better than the last. As for touring Canada, I have no complaints. Sure there’s some long drives, but there’s long drives when touring the US as well. Canada is held in pretty high regard in the metal/grind scene, so any band that is complaining about the difficulties of being a Canadian band really needs to take the thumb out of there ass.
ZT: What have you heard about OEF in Canada and who are you looking forward to seeing?
TD: It’s been years that we’ve thought about playing OE and we have a lot of friends that have already played there tell us great things about the experience. Every time we’ve toured Europe it’s been in March/April, so this time around we wanted to do something different and go during the summer. Honestly, I’m mainly just looking forward seeing a lot of friends from all over the world in one place. For me that’s usually the best part of these bigger festivals. If I can catch Antigama & Exhumed sets that would be rad as well.
ZT: You’re a band that works pretty much incessantly. What are you working on now and are there any signs of slowing down?
TD: We’re just about to release a new EP called “Amer”. When we get back from Europe in August I’m going to be mixing those 3 unreleased songs from the Die Miserable era that I mentioned. We also have a full-length album that’s nearing completion and we’ve been working on some new material for a split 7”. I’ve been hit by a bit of a renewed inspiration for the band recently, so the ideas and motivation are flowing smoothly and I want to take full advantage of it.