Fucked Up formed in Toronto, Ontario, in 2001; the group members, who initially used pseudonyms as well as their real names, were Damian Abraham (aka Pink Eyes and Father Damien) on lead vocals, Mike Haliechuk (aka 10,000 Marbles) on lead guitar, Josh Zucker (aka Concentration Camp and Gulag) on rhythm guitar, Sandy Miranda (aka Mustard Gas) on bass, and Jonah Falco (aka Mr. Jo and Guinea Beat) on drums. In 2002, the band released its first record, a vinyl 7" called No Parasan distributed by Deranged Records. Over the next four years, Fucked Up would release a steady stream of singles, EPs, and cassettes, most notably the infamous Looking for Gold vinyl 12", which featured the epic-length title song (which incorporates massive guitar overdubs, extended drum solos, and a whistled coda); rather than deal with the expense of the EP's elaborate package, the band eventually opted to post the record online rather than go into a third pressing.
The purposefully obscure and cryptic lyrical concerns of Fucked Up's early work led some music journalists to suggest the band was playing a bit too lightly with fascist ideology, an accusation the group seemed to cite when it featured a photo of a Hitler Youth rally on the sleeve of a split single with Haymaker. However, the group embraced a more direct and focused lyrical perspective as they began creating longer works. (The bandmembers also frequently cited one David Eliade as a key lyrical influence; he was initially credited as the group's manager, but later he became a character in the ongoing narrative of their songs.)
In 2006, Fucked Up released their much-anticipated full-length album, Hidden World, through Jade Tree, a musically ambitious collection that featured 13 songs in 72 minutes, though its release didn't stop their ongoing parade of singles and EPs, eight of which appeared the same year as the album. By 2008, the band had nearly 40 records to its name, mostly limited-vinyl singles, and a third guitarist had been added to the lineup, going by the name of Young Governor, L'il Bitey, and/or Bad Kid; his real name is Ben Cook. In March, a chaotic performance on a pedestrian bridge at South by Southwest added to the hype for Year of the Pig, the second in their series of 12" Zodiac EPs celebrating the Chinese New Year, which was released in mid-July that year.
Just three months later, the band released its first full-length for Matador, The Chemistry of Common Life, which earned the band the Polaris Music Prize, an award given to the year's outstanding Canadian album. The 2011 follow-up, David Comes to Life, was a highly conceptual beast of a double album, nearly 80 minutes in length, ushered in by several accompanying singles and a limited Record Store Day vinyl companion piece titled David's Town. While not as conceptually daring, the band's fourth album, 2014's Glass Boys, found Fucked Up continuing to evolve their sprawling sound with an album of personal and self-reflective material. In 2015, they released yet another EP, Year of the Hare, their seventh Zodiac series installment, and an eighth, Year of the Snake, appeared in 2017. In 2018, Fucked Up delivered their most adventurous effort to date, Dose Your Dreams, a two-disc set that continued the story of David, the protagonist of David Comes to Life, as the band dipped their toes into electronics, dance music and psychedelia along with their singular brand of punk. The ninth volume in the Zodiac series, Year of the Horse, was initially released as a series of four downloads which debuted between February and May 2021, with the physical edition following in September 2021. It was a sprawling 93-minute suite, with each episode showing the diversity and density of a full album. By the end of 2021, it was revealed that guitarist Ben Cook had dropped out of the band. In March 2022, Matador Records issued Do All Words Can Do, a collection that brought together tracks from a handful of out-of-print singles released in 2011 that were meant to expand and clarify the story of David Comes to Life. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
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