Interview with Career Suicide: Punk is never just a hobby
When Career Suicide formed ten years ago as an ode to early-’80s American hardcore, no one in the band thought it would last.
Yet it, along with other vets like Cursed (defunct) and Fucked up is now considered a gem of sorts for hardcore punks in Canada and abroad – their now-classic Attempted Suicide LP can be found anywhere in the world, embraced as far away as Japan (thanks to Forward, the “Don Corleone” of their scene), even influencing youngster Slovakians to cover them at their grade school assembly.
Not bad for what is considered a ’side career’ for guitarist Jonah Falco (drummer of critic darlings Fucked Up), bassist Matthew Miller (in Ottawa working as a truck driver), vocalist Martin Farkas (in Toronto working for a Canadian Real Estate Co.), and drummer Dave Brown (in Nova Scotia working in a plastics factory, going to school).
“We started Career Suicide for fun, just for ourselves,” says Farkas of the early basement fourtrack demo days. “Next thing some guy in California is asking when we’re going on tour…Basically we’ve been really fortunate to make music we love so much and have a licence to ride on free plane tickets anytime we want to go on vacation and do a tour… We’re the good-luck story of hardcore.”
That’s right, such humility and gratefulness coming from the same mouth that screams such snarky anthems as “M M M M M M M M Moron” and “Bored Bored Bored.”
“A lot of people will criticize that playing in a band is not a hobby, going on tour is not a hobby, but Career Suicide really is a labour of love for us. Luckily we’ve been able to tour and make friends all over the world. People will always make us food and give us a place to stay, so we’ve been treated like royalty.”
There was a point CS was everyone’s main priority (2006 tours of U.S., Europe, Japan, and release of Attempted Suicide) but since then the band has intentionally slowed down and that’s lead to other projects, namely drummer Dave Brown’s band and label, while Johah Falco’s been touring almost full time with Fucked Up.
“Even with Fucked Up taking a bit of a lighter tour schedule, I can tell you right now, Career Suicide is not going to be Jonah’s first priority. Not because there’s a more important musical project, I just think the poor guy deserves a break.”
And there has been a break, judging from the two-and-a-half years it took to record a proper version of Cherry Beach EP (a Ramones-esque ode to Toronto’s infamous Cherry Beach Express). The EP, including the UK ‘08 tour version tracks plus two new ones, drops in March/April on Oregon’s Dirtnap.
This leads us to the question, are the folks in Career Suicide slowing down, getting older, or both?
“This is the first time anyone’s brought that up with me before, and I just turned 30, so it’s about time somebody did. I guess there’s a bit of a double life that goes on with being a punk rocker at 30 years old. It was my life when I was 15. I wouldn’t say punk is my life now but I still love the music for its own merits. The spirit of the music is still something that resonates with me.”
“I’m really grateful to have been involved with punk from such a young age, whereas a lot of people I’ve know have fallen into some of the pitfalls of punk.”
Though formerly many-a-punk would be dead by 30, there are always those prolific, self-aware Henry Rollins types.
“I was talking to an older punk the other day who I’ve known for years, one of these punk rock lawyers, and I was saying to him when we were 15 years old, a lot of the people we were surrounded by came off as sort of casualties as opposed to people who made something out of the movement they were apart of, whereas a lot of the kids who come to the shows these days, the attitude is much different. They’re so positive about punk,” he says, aware he may quickly be turning into an old man of punk, one who remembers the day getting 100 kids to a hardcore show was the show of the year, a regular occurrence now even for a local band.
“There’s still that outsider aspect to it, like they don’t fit in anywhere else. I don’t know if it’s a generational thing or the climate, but there’s a great crop of kids coming out to shows these days who seem like there going to come out of it with something positive.”
Turns out hardcore scenesters may be coming away with more than a penchant for writing snotty, angry, sarcastic music – something out of which may stem a living or (gasp) career: a sense of DIY.
“Even if its just from dealing with the business aspects of the band, like booking tours, meeting people in far off places, etc., it’s all stuff I’d use in the future in the sense that hey, if I want to do something, I can just do it. There’s nothing stopping me. The best lessons for me came in punk.”
- Marsha Casselman
Martin hooked us up with some live recordings to tide us over:
Martin explains Disneyland: “A cover version of a song called ‘Disneyland’ by an old LA punk band called the Eyes, which they originally released on the ‘Yes LA’ compilation (1978). A local label from Hamilton released a version of this compilation last year and called it ‘No TO’. It featured covers of all the songs from the original compilation and they actually matched the silk-screened, one-sided, clear vinyl design of the original release, which is part of what makes that record such a collectors item – other than featuring the Germs, Bags, X, etc. Anyway, for our version instead of making the song even faster and “hardcore” as anyone would have expected us to do, we decided to go the opposite route and actually got Jonah (our guitarist)’s dad to lay down a piano track as our “bed track” … and we recorded all the music on top of that.”