Published Jun 03, 2015Adventurous Toronto punks Fucked Up are continuing their Zodiac series of 12-inches with Year of the Hare, and with that record due out on June 16 through Deathwish Inc., they have now shared a video for title cut "Year of the Hare."
The song is a sprawling 21-minute epic that mixes the band's signature heavy sounds with ornate experimental soundscapes. The accompanying visuals were made by the band along with Trevor Blumas.
The interactive clip is hosted at its own special website. To start, click on the background. You will then see snippets of a bored-looking office worker living out his daily life and seeing rabbits as he goes. Each segment of the clip plays out in a continuous loop (even parts of the song itself loop); to skip to the next section, you must figure out how to navigate the video using your keyboard. The instructions on the page read only, "Use your keyboard to escape the loops."
Dive into the rabbit hole here.
Fucked Up guitarist Mike Haliechuk sent Exclaim! an exclusive interview about the song and video. You can read his full conversation below.
Why did you decide to release Year of the Hare as an interactive series of video loops?
The song itself we tried to structure like you would a film or a book — there are little musical symbols that run through the course of the song, parts skip back and forth in an effort to make it a bit confusing and less structured that a normal FU song, and it has these blips of noise within the quiet parts that we tried to make like foreshadowing that you'd use in a medium or art other than music. We tried to invert that saying "all art aspires to the condition of music" and make a song that wanted to be a TV show. So the loops are meant to be a way to unveil the song as a tribute to how it was written as a piece of music — scattered around and hard to navigate through. The lyrics use rabbits as a symbol for how little tasks and stresses seem to overpopulate our senses in daily life, so the treatment is about this guy who is just trying to wake up and go to work but is met with all these trials — some very banal and some very surreal. It's kind of a day in the life of this guy who can't escape the worst day of his life and keeps getting send back to the beginning a la Groundhog Day.
The song starts with like five minutes of noise — what is that?
We recorded this song at the same time as Glass Boys — when we were sick of doing guitar overdubs on the LP we would switch over and work on Hare. I was reading all these books about sound to prepare for Glass Boys — Perfecting Sound Forever and This Is Your Brain on Music and all that and we were trying to come up with interesting ways to lay down music to tape. One of the big things was about how sound and everything else is subjective at the atomic level, just like colour and taste and all that — sound waves don't have "pitch" just like light waves aren't actually coloured — it's all just these neutral fields of potential that gets filled in by your brain, so we got these ideas to make the album this very subjective thing — you'd be able to remix it, there'd be all these different versions of it to choose from, etc. The only thing that stuck was the half time version we released, and this also speaks to how the video for Hare was done — I think the direction music is going in is kinda "a la carte" where there aren't really gonna be albums, just songs, then hopefully pieces of songs, like you can buy a few of your favourite chorus parts or bridges or breaks, and then one day certain big labels will just end up owning certain pitches or keys and you can just sign up for your favourite key and just get sent a stream of sounds in A minus every month or whatever. Anyways so the video is trying to cater to that — you can just settle on one of the loops and just listen to it for a few minutes if you like it without having to slog through an entire song just because the six of us in the band decided that how those notes should be experienced. So anyways the noise — another thing we tried was to use the actual room as an instrument, which is not a new idea really but there you go. It just seemed weird to me that we live in this world filled with sound but we've got these sort of arbitrary handful of machines that are responsible for most of the sounds we consume as music. Like, everything makes noise — a bus, a human body, etc but "music" mostly just is made inside a computer and a handful of instruments. There is that infographic that came out a few weeks ago about how the highest grossing 100 songs of the last 40 or 50 years were all done with like 20 different instruments tops. There is a track on Hare that is just me in the booth thinking a lyric — you can decide if you can hear it or not, I think you can. Or I can hear it when I listen to the song, which speak to how the whole thing is just a subjective experience anyways. So the noise bit is the sound of the actual room looped. We just turned on the microphones and recorded the room itself. Then we took what we'd recorded and then played it back into the room and recorded that, and again and again until what we got was this gnarly sounding industrial hum, which im sure it was just the accumulation of these tiny noises that were actually there, but it's fun for me to think of it as just an emergent sound that came from nothing and we like synthesized sound from nothing just by recording it.
And then the guitar and piano and all that stuff.
Yeah then we just sent Jonah into the room to start riffing. You can hear him walk into the room and put his glass down and then walk out when he's done. I think it's weird that recorded music is all about trying to be this thing that stands apart from it's creation. I mean, thats why it can sound so special but at the same time it's weird to forget that for every piece of music you listen to, there were all these humans in the room doing various jobs to make it. Obviously music is transcendent because it's able to leave our grasp on it, but also music is one of the most human things that exists so it's also fun for me to think of ways to make it sound as human as possible. So yeah Jonah is an instrument master and I try and actual use him as my own instrument sometimes because I can't play anything as well as he can — I'll come up with an idea or a pitch or like a range and then he will just go smash it out. The piano bit was maybe done very late at night. The piece itself is very obviously being manipulated by pro-tools — it goes down in pitch, slows down, it's just Bill who engineered it just sitting there toggling it up and down after Jonah played it. This goes back to the film thing — it's like how many you add some extra gravitas or drama to a scene by slowing it down or putting it in black and white or whatever. It sounds better but like like "better" like in the sense that it's this virtuoso performance. It's a better sounding sound. The same piano piece comes back later to introduce the final act in the song and it's slowed down and fucked with again. For a band like Fucked Up, it's less important to me that we have great sounding takes or are amazing at our instruments — it's all about the end result. The stuff we do in the studio has everything to do with the machines I was talking about before. Us actually playing the music in the room is such a small part of what we end up with, which is how music is made now. There are lots of bands that will all go into a room together and their power comes from the kinetic energy that comes from them all playing off of each other, but I don't really like music that sounds like that and I don't want our music to sound like that, I think it's out dated. Most of writing music for us is coming up with a few loops of music and then a year later spending a few days in the studio turning 15 seconds of written music into a 15 minute song.
Again with these loops.
Yeah its all about the loops. So much interesting shit has come from repetition. Obviously like the Disintegration Loops, Remain in Light was all just tiny loops turned into insanely good songs, etc. Loops are useful also I think because that's how everyone experiences life. The video for the song is obviously a stretch and very surreal but it's not really far for some people I don't think. Wake up, make eggs, take the train, have a few suits you wear during the week, etc. I mean everything good is just the result of someone doing something really boring the same way for a long time and then having it transcend. That movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi — just these poor guys who've been rolling rice into a ball in their hand for 50 years straight and then before you know it they're making the best sushi on earth because they've devoted themselves to this life of utter repetition. Or that guy who makes every pizza at Di Fara in New York — it's easily the best pizza I've had in my life, because that guy has made every single pizza the same way in these little daily loops for his whole life. That's how evolution works, everything. You just do something the same way forever and each time it becomes a little bit better until 5 million times later its perfected or whatever. Thats how birds grow beaks, how we get food, money, etc. Loops are everything. So its kind of this depressing thing where all the best things in life come from a ceaseless drudgery for some poor guy. You can have nice things but they are all made from someone else's headaches.