Damian Abraham is many things to many people. He is the vocalist for Polaris Prize-winning hardcore art weirdos Fucked Up, the host of a recently relaunched The Wedge on MuchMusic, an MC who dropped his first verse on D-Sisive's Jonestown 2, and one of the most fanatical record collectors and wrestling aficionados in the country. As the terrifying force of nature at the front of Fucked Up's sonic assault, he has developed a theatrical style of performance to match the genre-pushing power behind him, frequently disrobing, "blading" (wrestling terminology for cutting the forehead), and smashing pint glasses into his face. While Fucked Up's roots are firmly planted in the traditions of '80s hardcore, they continue to push outward into territories that are both more psychedelic and more conventionally pop. It's an ambitious mixture that won them the 2009 Polaris Music Prize for The Chemistry of Common Life, and led them to their latest record, David Comes To Life. The closest thing to a rock opera ever written by a hardcore band, it's an epic, twisted tale of love and light bulbs, and another confusing high water mark in Abraham's career.
What are you up to?
We're just releasing our third LP called David Comes To Life. It's our attempt at a "rock opera." I'm also hosting The Wedge on MuchMusic and on some sort of wrestling podcast with some friends that has yet to fully take shape.
What are your current fixations?
I'm in my second year of being a dad so I am still fairly fixated on being a dad. Every stage of being a parent is different and awesome. Watching this little baby turn into a little person really makes the nuisances of punk music I'd spend hours agonizing over seem almost insignificant by comparison... almost. I miss him so much when we are on tour. I really don't think I will be able to maintain being in this band too much longer because missing him is getting too hard.
Why do you live where you do?
This probably won't endear me to my fellow Canadians, but I live in Toronto because I honestly can't imagine living anywhere else. It's a very walk-able city, with tons of great food, lots of green space and it's a big city where everyone seems to know everyone. This isn't to say there aren't tons of other great cities in Canada that I love visiting but Toronto is my home.
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art:
Samoa Joe vs. Necro Butcher (the first one). This is not so much a wrestling match as it is brutal performance art. This match illustrates why wrestling fans hate it when non-fans call it "fake." There is no way to fake someone getting dropped on their face on the concrete.
What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
The most inspirational gig I've been to was probably Andrew WK at Lee's Palace [in Toronto]. It was about a year or so after we had started Fucked Up and I was on a whole "a good show has to be violent and confrontational" tip and that show really showed me that a good show can have people smiling and not fearing for their lives. It was a philosophical 180 degree switch.
What have been your career highs and lows?
We've been really lucky and had our fair share of highs (Juno nomination, winning the Polaris, etc.) but one that really stands out was when we got to play Glastonbury on the John Peel stage and after our set the gentleman that was serving as the stage MC, who had been a friend of John Peel, told us that John would have loved us. That meant a ton to me.
We have also had our fair share of lows, most recently it would be playing a show in Italy on one of the days off we had on the tour we did opening for the Arcade Fire. It was a 12 hour drive in a freezing cold van so we could play to a room containing a handful of disinterested people. Those are the kind of nights where you begin to ask yourself: what's the point?
What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
People can say whatever they want; I grew up fat, so I have taken a lot of shit in my lifetime. It's more when they throw bottles or worse, simply leave that I get hurt.
What should everyone shut up about?
Self-esteem pop. It is like diet soda: it is only pretending to be good for you but really it is worse for you than the normal stuff. Pop music is pop music. Somehow when Katy Perry starts telling kids that they're fireworks we are supposed to forget all the other lame stuff she has said and done?
What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
Like: I think I'm fairly creative and I can think on my feet.
Dislike: I'm weak willed and I tend to overreact.
What's your idea of a perfect Sunday?
It turning into a Saturday.
What advice should you have taken, but did not?
Apply yourself more in your studies. If I had followed through with my education my livelihood wouldn't be tied to a band with a swear word for a name.
What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?
Being sketchy. Sketchy people are exciting propositions in both cases but in the end they are never worth it.
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
I think of health care, masses of people with very little in common and a flawed but good place to live in the relative scheme of things... and DOA.
What was the first LP/cassette/CD/eight track you ever bought with your own money?
I bought a cassette of Run DMC's Raising Hell when I was five or six.
What was your most memorable day job?
The last job I had before we started doing the band full time was working in the mailroom of Unilever. I loved it. I would do my work very quickly and have time to read a couple papers and magazines. I think it was the most well-versed I have ever been on current events. I wound up writing a ton of lyrics for Chemistry Of Common Life there. Did I mention the free ice cream I would get?
How do you spoil yourself?
When Lauren and Holden are away I like to download some wrestling podcasts, smoke some weed and draw in my sketch book.
If I wasn't playing music I would be…
Still straight edge.
What do you fear most?
I hate the thought of swimming in deep water and looking down and seeing a whale swimming underneath me. I also have reoccurring nightmares about getting hit by cars and going to sleepover camps so add them to the list too.
What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
A good record collection and a 2L bottle of Pepsi.
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
We played a show once in New York and I looked out in the crowd and saw Jeffrey Wright moshing. Not really the type of thing I normally see.
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
I'd love to have Johan Kugelberg. He's a music historian and record collector's record collector. I simultaneously hate his guts and respect the shit out of him. I would feed him sushi... because I love sushi and I would kill to have some right now.
What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
I think I am really lucky because my mom has always been really supportive of the choices I've made. That being said I'm sure she would prefer I was a dentist or a vet.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
"The Secret Of Immortality" by the Hot Nasties.
Published May 29, 2011 by Sam Sutherland