“We’re trying to do a lot of things where we actually use the room as an instrument,” says Mike Haliechuk, guitarist for indie-punks Fucked Up. Coming from anyone else, that statement would seem like the ramblings of a lunatic. But when Haliechuk says it, in his calm, matter-of-fact demeanor, playing four walls and a ceiling instead of say, a guitar or drums, seems like a perfectly normal, sensible thing to do.
As to how someone actually does play a room, Haliechuk explains, “We did a lot of recordings by just recording the room by itself without playing anything, so it’s sort of a feedback loop of just the room.”
Fucked Up is about a quarter of the way through the recording of their new album at Steve Albini’s famous Electric Audio Studios and the music will be the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2011 album, David Comes to Life.
After the success of David, the band, who in the past had been notoriously combative with each other, went on a reduced schedule to get some space from each other. Haliechuk formed a power pop band called Smartboys with Fucked Up’s drummer, Jonah Falco. “Jonah and I filled each other in,” Haliechuk explains why he chose to work with someone in the band during its cooling off period. “Jonah’s parents are jazz teachers and he reads music and does some stuff that I can’t do. But, I have a more intuitive way of writing and fitting in a way that they wouldn’t be able to.”
Now the “vacation” has ended and the band finds themselves facing the monumental task of following up the album that they themselves constructed to deconstructed the band. Haliechuk, who never veers from his unflappable poise doesn’t seem too concerned. He says, “I don’t really feel any pressure. When you’re producing something, if you’re an artist, you raise your own bar. By the time you put something out, everyone has sort of forgotten what you did, so the only expectations come from yourself. I feel like the writing and narration of David was pretty tight, but the guitar sounds weren’t amazing. We’re really trying to work on the ‘sounds’ of this record.”
Because David was so massive, and because the b-side to their latest 12-inch single was a 20 minute drone track called “Onno,” the band seem to be pushing their experimental side. “‘Onno’ was kind of an experiment,” he says. “It’s all built on a four bar drum loop that we built on pro-tools. The new record will have elements of that, but it will be built on typical pop structures. We all listen to pop music.”
While at Electric Audio, the band opted not to work with Albini, but with studio builder, Bill Skibbe. “This record will be looser than the last record,” Haliechuk says. “It will be a bit more open. I think Fucked Up’s sound until this point has been really tight. On this record, we’re trying to open it up and make it bigger. We never considered ourselves musicians, so a central theme on the record sort of gives us a task to write for.”
“A lot of us have just chilled out as people, “ Haliechuk continues.”We went through his period where people were changing on different speeds. We have different perspectives and just understand each other more.”