Fuck the Facts is a name grind fans and people interested in the mortified reactions of mainstream society have probably heard bandied about for years. Originally a solo project of guitarist Topon Das, FtF has existed in some form since 1998 with countless releases under its sweaty belt. Inarguably, the line-up currently comprising the “fucking” Ottawa-based band (although bassist Marc Bourgon and guitarist Johnny Ibay live six hours from Topon, vocalist Melanie Mongeon and drummer Mathieu Vilandré. Actually, Ibay lives around the corner from yours truly. Unlucky him.) is the best of its history and upcoming ninth (!) full-length, Die Miserable is the best of its long list of recordings. Not only that, but they are five of the most kick-ass people to ever roam the face of this stress ball planet of ours, a fact I can back up having spent a few weeks earlier this year in ridiculously close proximity to them while on tour with KEN Mode (read about that adventure-less adventure here and here).
I caught up with Topon and Marc a couple days ago for an internet grilling in order to celebrate the upcoming October 11th release of Die Miserable courtesy the fine folks at Relapse.
After the interview, check out new track “A Coward’s Existence” and a live video of said tune, shot in New York City. Feel free to do a crusty waltz with your significant other during the song’s second half.
What challenges have you guys faced in having half the members of the band living six or so hours apart?
Topon Das: It’s definitely not the ideal situation, but it’s something we do our best to work around. For one thing, we play more shows than we ever actually rehearse as a full band, but that’s pretty much the way it’s been for us for almost 4 years now. Vil, Mel & I get together pretty regularly to practice and work on new material. Then, a couple of days before a tour or recording the other guys will come down and we’ll practice as a full band. It’s awesome to finally hear it all together, the way it should be. We’re a band that’s constantly active, so even when we’re not on tour or recording, we’re constantly in touch and sending shit back and forth.
Marc Bourgon: It would definitely be great to live closer to the action for both Johnny and myself, but for me, right now, it’s not even close to being a reality. I live at my Mom’s house for next to nothing and even still I can barely afford to buy bus tickets to get to work. If I were to move to Ottawa now I would probably have to live at the homeless shelter. I get by practicing everyday and keeping on top of the set. I never find that it makes a huge difference going a long time in between practices. I think we’ve just gotten used to it.
You’ve traditionally recorded yourselves. How has the process become easier over the years and how was it putting Die Miserable together?
Topon: When we started, it never really seemed like an option to go elsewhere. I had been recording everything since it was just my solo project, so it was a natural transition to keep going when the band started. For Stigmata High-Five and Disgorge Mexico I felt like we needed to step it up and get something a bit more professional done, and I can say that I’m really happy with how both those albums turned out. But when we were planning Die Miserable, we decided to think more long term and slowly worked on making our own studio. We spent a full month recording that album, driving ourselves crazy and trying to get everything just right. That’s part of what led to the delayed release, we were just so burnt out on it that when the tracking was finished, we had to take a few steps back. But in the end I think it’s easily the best sounding release we’ve ever had. Basically, with every recording we learn more and we just try and make it better than the last. I don’t want to say that we’ll never record somewhere else again, but we’re slowly building up the studio, so that we’ll at least have a good place to get shit done when we need to.
How long was the writing then recording process for the new album? Was there something you had in mind with regards to what you wanted to accomplish with the song writing?
Topon: Our writing always starts as soon as we’re done the previous album, so after Disgorge Mexico we did a split with Leng Tch’e in the fall of 2008 and then we started writing for Die Miserable right after that. In November 2009, we recorded the Unnamed EP which was three songs that didn’t make the cut for the new album, and it was in January 2010 when we laid down the tracks for Die Miserable. We had a few other leftover songs that didn’t make the cut and we recorded those in November 2010. That recording will end up being the Misery EP, which we’re self-releasing at the same time as the album. So the whole writing and recording process for Die Miserable was about 3 years. We never really set out with any goals or specific ideas when we start writing, we just write and try to make it better than last time. We’ve already started working on new material for the next album after Die Miserable, so it’s really a never-ending cycle.
Marc: For this album as well, we wrote an insane amount of music and did our best to pick the best of the best. Grindcore Darwinism at its finest. When it was all said and done, we had even more material than we thought we would have and most of it was stuff that we wanted to release, hence the bonus Misery EP. It’s the best Fuck the Facts value you’ll get all year, we promise.
What does the album’s title refer and what is its significance?
Topon: It’s about letting life pass you by because you’re too afraid of change or an uncertain future. It’s about staying in a shitty relationship because you don’t want to be alone. It’s about working at a job you hate because you’re comfortable. It’s about not being happy and not doing anything to try and change your situation.
Marc: I also think that it’s a pretty good synopsis for the album and the time we were recording it. It was an intense writing and recording process and when Topon mentioned calling the album Die Miserable we were all pretty much on board right off the bat.
What the hell is going on in the cover art?
Topon: It’s a painting that Mel did of an upper body of a figure. I’m actually surprised that people don’t see it, ‘cause it’s what I see right away. But I guess I’ve seen it since the beginning stages.
Marc: I didn’t really see it at first until Mel pointed it out. It’s pretty cool though. The inside art is rad as well.
A lot of people who aren’t in bands go on about the death of record companies and their usefulness. While Fuck the Facts isn’t swimming in stripper juice and shooting guns with Gilbert Arenas and Charlton Heston, you have made a step up from wrestling hobos for change since singing to Relapse. How has Relapse helped in areas you needed help?
Topon: I’m very realistic about our relationship with Relapse. We’re an extremely small fish in their pond and it really doesn’t makes sense for them to invest the same amount of time and money into us as they would a band that actually makes them money. For them, it’s a business and I can understand that. So, instead of whining about what our label doesn’t do for us, we graciously take what we do get from them; which is having our music delivered to a larger audience and a wider visibility, and work on everything else ourselves. For us, this band is much more than a business; the most important thing for us is making music and getting it out there. When it comes to the business side of the band, I never think about actually making any money, it’s all just about sustaining what we do and not putting ourselves in a situation where we have to stop because we can’t afford to live. I want to keep doing this for a very long time.
What’s the most classic reaction you’ve received after telling someone the name of your band is Fuck the Facts?
Topon: I don’t tell anyone that I even play music. The only people that know are my friends and people that know the band. I can only imagine the horrible conversations I would have if I told someone I just met what I actually do with my life.
Marc: Most people say: “Fuck the Fags?”, and I have to quickly correct them and tell them it’s “Facts”. Then, they shake their head.
New song: “A Coward’s Existence”
Live in NYC:
And don’t forget this little gem:
Die Miserable is out October 11th on Relapse Records
Pre-order the CD & LP here: http://www.relapse.com/die-miserable.html