Fuck the Facts are a band that should be bigger than they are, they’re Juno nominated heroes in their native Canada and in the grindcore scene. Earlier this year they finished the touring cycle for their excellent Desire Will Rot album and are part of the recently released Helmet Meantime compilation. To catch up with the band, I spoke to guitarist and founding member, Topon Das.
Jack: Hey, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you doing?
Topon Das (Guitar): Very well, thank you. I haven’t done an interview in a few months, so I’m actually not dreading this.
Jack: You completed a European tour in March, how did the tour go?
Topon: It was good. No one died from alcohol poisoning or lost a limb along the way, so I would say it was a resounding success on a health & safety level at least. At this point, we pretty much know what to expect when it comes to touring. Everything is usually about the same. Sometimes the shows are a bit better than the previous time or hopefully not much worse.
Jack: You did a few UK dates with Svalbard and Dysteria in March – how did they go?
Topon: Great! I love both those bands. Super talented each in their own way, and some of the nicest blokes (That’s what British people say, right?) that I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. In general, the UK has been very welcoming to us since we first played there a couple years back. London especially is one of those places that we play that makes us feel like we’re actually a real band. It’s nice.
Jack: As a DIY Canadian band, is touring Europe a challenge to organise or has it got easier once you’ve built up contacts?
Topon: We’ve done 4 or 5 European tours now, and someone else has booked each of them. I’ll jump in to help if we’re having problems filling a date, but if I don’t have to; I rather someone else handle it. The guys that booked our last few Euro tours run a punk label in Italy called Agi Punk, I think for them sometimes it can be a bit tricky because their usual contacts don’t want to have anything to do with us. Actually, the UK was one of those places. For months they told us “No one wants to book you in the UK”, so I wrote to Jill Mikkelson (Dysteria) and a week or so later all five shows were booked.
I feel like our name carries a bit of weight in the scene and it can definitely make things easier in some ways, but we’re still very much a small underground band. We’ve never come close to making money on a European tour. At best we’ll cover a chunk of our plane tickets, but it’s never even been enough to cover the whole trip and come back with a profit, after all the other expenses involved. We cut corners wherever we can and do it as cheap as possible, but it can be frustrating sometimes knowing that we can’t put on the same show in Europe as we do in Canada or even the US.
Jack: Desire Will Rot has been released for a while, are you happy with the response?
Topon: I’m happy with the response because my basement isn’t clogged with boxes of CDs & records. We put out the album last year, pressed the amount that we thought we would be able to sell, and luckily enough we were right. I think I have a box of 50 CDs left, but everything else is gone. For me that’s success on the business side. As for musically, people seem to enjoy the album and that’s great, but I think like a lot of bands in our scene, we write and create music pretty selfishly. We put out albums that we want to listen to. Having other people also enjoy it is just a bonus.
Jack: What was the recording process like? Did writing and recording in your own studio add any challenges to the process?
Topon: Most of the writing starts with demos that each of us write at home or with Vil and I jamming. No matter what, it all ends up in the hands of Vil and I, and together we’ll work on the structures, change things, add things, etc… From there we’ll do a pre-production demo and then hand the music over to Mel to write her lyrics and vocal patterns. Things are always open to change, and since we record ourselves, there is a lot of experimentation in the studio. We recorded the whole thing over the month of December back in 2013, everyone would come in and do their parts and hang out for a bit, but I was down there everyday, even when the record was basically done, just trying shit out and experimenting (different leads, weird sounds, etc…) 90% of the ideas usually get scrapped or end up being too much, but once in awhile we’ll come up with something that really adds to the song. I just want to keep trying things until it’s time to call it. What we do live and what we do in the studio, is definitely connected, but I don’t want to put any sort of limitation on myself when it comes to making a good album. Some songs are meant to be “studio songs” and most likely we’ll never play them live.
Jack: Did releasing the album on your own label make the creation easier at all?
Topon: Nope. No difference at all. All the years that we spent on Relapse, they had zero input on how the band sounded or the music we wrote. Which is the way it should be. They signed us because they liked what we did. We basically ended up on our own because they didn’t want to renew our contract and no other label was interested in picking us up. Writing and recording-wise, it was business as usual.
Jack: Fuck the Facts has been a band since 1997, did you ever think you’d last this long?
Topon: Yes. That was actually the plan. I started FTF as a project where I could do anything I wanted and not have the constraints that I had in all the other bands I played in at the time. FTF was created with the intention of always being an evolving and changing band/project. It’s funny to look back now and see that I’m still doing it, but I think if I hadn’t started this band I probably would have given up on playing music years ago.
Jack: Do you have any plans for the 20th anniversary?
Topon: Thanks for reminding me. I didn’t even realise that it’s been basically 20 years since I started doing this. I usually count the age of the band from when the first actual line-up started, which was back in January 2001. I did the first recording that would be released as FTF back in 1997, but I didn’t actually release anything under the name “Fuck The Facts” until 1999. So yeah, no plans, it’s just really confusing about when the band/project actually started. I’ll probably just post something on the Internet like “Look how long I’ve been doing this shit!”
Jack: What has been a career highlight?
Topon: Signing to Relapse back in 2006 was a big one for me. The albums they released in the 90s to the early 00s had a big influence on what I was doing with Fuck The Facts. Getting to put out not just one, but three albums on that label was a huge accomplishment.
Jack: What was it like getting nominated for a Juno?
Topon: Both times we got nominated it was really cool, but the first time was like “Wow! Bands like us can get nominated for that?”. Turns out it was the first year they actually started a “Metal” category. In the eyes of the media and your family it definitely makes you seem like a more legit band, but the impact is minimal in actually bringing people out to shows or selling more music.
Jack: You’ve stuck to the DIY route this whole time, has it been challenging fitting the band around day jobs given your extensive tour schedule?
Topon: Yeah, well, the tour schedule gets less extensive as the years go on. There was a time when the band took priority over everything, but as time goes on, the band is something we do when we can and want to. I feel like we’ve done a lot of sacrifices for this and it’s paid off in many ways, but I’m at point in my life that I’m not willing to make the same sacrifices to tour and get my music out there, and if that means less people listen to or care about my band, so be it.
Jack: You recently contributed to the Helmet MEANTIME [Redux] compilation, how did you become involved with this?
Topon: Mike from Magnetic Eye wrote to me and asked us if we wanted to be a part of it. He offered us money for the recording, so we said yes.
Jack: You covered ‘Role Model’ for the compilation, why did you pick this song?
Topon: We didn’t pick it. I think it might have been the only song left, or at least one of the only songs left. Initially we picked the song that KEN Mode ended up doing, I don’t even remember what song it is, but that’s the one we felt we could best put our own little twist on. I’m sure you’ve heard our cover, so you know it doesn’t sound anything like the original. We basically just took the general idea of the song, used some of the same notes and wrote our own song.
Jack: How did you discover Helmet’s music?
Topon: I remember seeing the video for ‘Meantime’ on Much Music when I was a kid. I also remember seeing posters for the album Betty, but I never listened to Helmet before, actually none of us had. We all come from fairly different musical background, but Helmet is a band that none of us ever listened to before we decided to be a part of this tribute album.
Jack: Have Helmet ever contacted you about the cover at all?
Topon: [Laughs] No…. If he did listen to it, hopefully he had a quick little chuckle and moved on with his day.
Jack: What are the upcoming plans for Fuck the Facts?
Topon: The European tour that ended back in April was the end of our touring cycle for “Desire Will Rot”. The plan since the release of the album was to take a break once it was all done, so we haven’t really done much band stuff since then. I bought a new BBQ this past summer, so that took a lot of my time, but now that BBQ season is coming to an end, perhaps it’s time to sit down and start working on a new Fuck the Facts album.
Jack: Finally, due to the vulgarity of your band’s name, has this ever caused problems for the band at all?
Topon: Definitely. Especially back in the early 00s. I was recently reminded about a show that was cancelled because of our band name. It’s become less of an issue with time, as now there are way more popular bands with the word “Fuck” in their name, but it still comes up once in a while. There was a time back when the band was initially starting to pick up steam that I thought about changing the name, but I’m glad that I didn’t. Let’s face it “Fuck The Facts” is a stupid band name, but it’s my stupid band name, and I feel that changing it to please others or to reach a larger audience, would go against the reason I started and still love this project.
Jack: Thanks very much for your time, come back to the UK soon!
Topon: Thank you! Definitely hope to head back some day. Cheers!