Red 7

Punk band Fucked Up comes to Austin

Fucked Up, one of the most intense and critically acclaimed punk bands of the last decade, are playing at Red 7 on Tuesday the 28th. It’s been almost three years since the Toronto band released their critically acclaimed album David Comes To Life, and the band is currently hard at work finishing up the follow up.

“Right now we’re in Michigan at Key Club Studio mixing it with the aim to finish by early February,” lead guitarist Mike Haliechuk said.

The new album won’t have an overarching story behind the songs the way David did, and Haliechuck described the tone of the new songs as a bit more open sounding than that record. According to him, the sound is more in line with their 2008 release Chemistry of Common Life, and while the lyrics might be a bit of a bummer at points, the tone of the music will be less tense.

For this Texas tour, the band wanted a short break from the studio as well as a trip to a warmer part of the country as opposed to Toronto, where it is -20 F.

“We hadn’t been to Texas in a while, and other than Austin, I don’t think we’ve done Dallas or Houston in four years or so,” Haliechuk said.

This will be the first time Fucked Up has played a show in Texas that isn’t a part of a larger music festival since 2009. Looking back, Haliechuck has many fond memories of playing at SXSW.

“We’ve done like four SXSWs and they’ve all had nutty shows," Haliechuck said. "The bridge show we did with No Age was mental, lying to NME on the phone about it at 4 a.m. afterwards. I took the train to Austin from Chicago a few years ago and had to stay the night at one of the Matador guy’s houses with his crazy dog that was trying to attack me all night. Playing on the roof of some restaurant at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday. The first Jay Reatard show. Texas is crazy.”

The band is playing some new songs at these shows, but what’s most exciting is the fact that they are happening at all. After touring behind David Comes To Life, there were many reports that the band might call it quits. 

“I mean that comes up every record because it’s hard to think about following up your last thing," Haliechuck said. "Fucked Up is this bigger thing now and it’s starting to get a bit of its own momentum. By the time this record comes out, we’ll have been a band for like 14 years or something crazy, and at that point get over the bullshit of trying to 'make it' and you just settle in and get comfortable with where you are at."

Part of that has to do with the band members each having projects they work on besides Fucked Up. Many members have different bands, singer Damian Abraham hosts a Canadian television show called The Wedge, and many of the members collaborate on an artistic project in Toronto entitled Long Winter. For Haliechuk, he spends time running a record label called One Big Silence, who has upcoming plans to release music from bands like Absolutely Free, Elsa, and other Toronto bands.

For Fucked Up though, Haliechuk says the most rewarding aspect of this long-running band has to do with the sense of creating your own destiny and not having a boss or schedule.

“It’s hectic to never really know what’s coming next but it’s also really exciting," Haliechuck said. "You wake up and get an email about a show in Japan or South America or something, the little opportunities you get. It’s like winning the lottery. Knowing that what you do is resonating with people is really cool.” 

Fucked Up are playing inside at Red 7 on Tuesday, January 28.

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Hadidi | Daily Texan Staff

While many people stand in the audiences at the more than 250 music venues in Austin, few know the ins and outs that make Austin’s famous live music happen. The Daily Texan spoke with Red 7 club manager Joaquin Ramirez, stage manager Rob Glynn and sound engineer Joey Hook to understand how they prepare for a typical concert. 

Prior to the day of the show

Transmission Entertainment handles most of the booking at Red 7, and a show is typically booked one to two months in advance. Once the band is booked, a promoter works on making all the arrangements with Red 7’s booking agent. The promoter works with the band to figure out the band’s payment, catering and set times. The stage plot is one of the most important steps of this process because it indicates how the band will be arranged on stage and what instruments the band will use.

6:30 — Two and a Half Hours Before Doors

Bartender MC Young stocks liquor bottles as he prepares for the show. Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

Ramirez and the bartenders begin stocking the bar with cases of beer and liquor. MC Young, one of Red 7’s bartenders, says the bar takes anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to set up and that his shift lasts anywhere from five to 10 hours, depending on the night. Tending bar at Red 7 differs from other venues because, as Young puts it, “the music changes everything.” Glynn types the set list for the night and the headlining band usually arrives at this time.

7:00 — Two Hours Before Doors

Glynn begins to set up the green room and cleaning the outdoor area, which can hold up to 500 people. First, Glynn checks all the lights. He gestures to the carpet on stage. “See those red stains?” Glynn asks. He turns down the red lights so the stains become more noticeable. “That’s pig’s blood.” The Swedish black metal band Watain was there in October, and their show included a pyrotechnic display as well as pouring pig’s blood everywhere. 

7:30 — Hour & a Half Before Doors

Audio engineer Andrew McCalla works at the sound booth while the stage is set up for the evening's performers. Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

Hook arrives to work on the sound. He undoes the previous show’s set-up and plugs in all of the microphones and cables. At the back of the venue is the sound booth where Hook monitors levels during the show. He tests the speakers with his iPod and describes the process as “a waiting game” until the bands are ready. He realizes one of the sound monitors is broken and explains that a big part of the job is fixing technical difficulties on the fly.

8:30 — Half an hour before doors

Hook begins sound check, during which they iron out problems or deal with unusual instruments such as harps or ukuleles. Glynn says the ideal set-up for Red 7 is a traditional rock band, but it depends how prepared the bands are. Hook says it is tempting to call hip-hop or electronic shows easier to set up, but challenges often arise. Rappers may want the monitor levels turned up loudly, and as they move, there can be high levels of feedback to monitor. 

During the show

Mel Parsonz, frontwoman and bassist of the band Royal Thunder, plays guitar during stage set-up. Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

Hook listens closely to the music. But he’s listening for problems, not for enjoyment. Glynn keeps an eye on the microphones while also watching the crowd to make sure no one spills anything on equipment, which could be disastrous. When something does go wrong, Glynn must move swiftly to avoid interruption the set. Once, while running across the stage to fix a problem, Glynn got stuck behind the guitarist who sat on top of him for a while. Between sets, Hook and Glynn have only 15 minutes to break down and set up equipment, which both agree is barely enough time.

Cleanup

The cleanup process at Red 7 is fairly easy. By law, the venue has to close at 2 a.m. every night. The biggest issue for Glynn is to make sure the stage is clean and all the gear is accounted for. He takes inventory to make sure none of the bands left anything behind. The staff usually leaves around 3 a.m., closing down for the night. If they’ve succeeded, the audience will have no idea they were there. 

Alternative punk band Title Fight will come to Austin this Wednesday to promote their new album Floral Green. The band has found a way to attract both mainstream and underground fans to their brand of punk. Photo courtesy of Manny Mares.

Pennsylvanian band Title Fight will bring their alternative punk sound to Red 7 Wednesday. The band is currently on tour with Pianos Become the Teeth and Single Mothers to promote their third album, Floral Green. Title Fight’s latest release exemplifies a common struggle that many hardcore bands face: evolve out of the genre or stay the same? If a punk band changes, they can risk being labeled as “sell-outs,” alienating the fan base. In the punk world, there can be a stigmatizing association of musical evolution with appealing to the masses.

Floral Green sees Title Fight abrasively chisel their way between the two. Having begun playing unabashed pop-punk, their sound has steadily changed since their first album, The Last Thing You Forget in 2009. Their transition, while certainly retaining punk influences, is notably marked by an almost complete drop of their poppier aspects in favor of grungy alternative rock. Proving to be true ’90s kids, they cite bands like Nirvana and Sonic Youth as inspirations for their recent sound, and drummer Ben Russin couldn’t be happier.

“We’ve had a good reception, but we didn’t know what to expect. It wasn’t a departure but a progression from previous material,” Ben Russin said, “Sales-wise it’s been better, not that it mattered, and we charted on Billboard, which is very surreal.”

The founding three members have been friends since childhood, forming the band in 2003 when they were only in sixth grade. Ben is the brother of bassist Ned Russin, who also shares vocal responsibilities with guitarist Jamie Rhoden. They added guitarist Shane Moran in 2005 and have stayed intact ever since.

“We see all these other bands that constantly change members and replace people, but we’ve always loved just being friends,” Ben Russin said. “I think being friends is just more important.”

Nine years after humbly beginning with Blink-182 covers, Title Fight now frequently opens for big acts like Rise Against, A Day To Remember and New Found Glory. They joined the 2012 Vans Warped Tour, playing for thousands of people at a time in huge arenas, a far cry from the small town crowds they were used to.

“This past year we were doing really big support tours that put us out of our comfort zone,” Russin said. “Intimacy and connection with the fans is much more important.”

Title Fight is known for their dedicated fan base. If there was a Guinness Book World Record for stage dives during a show, they would probably set it, or at least be an honorable mention. An impressive mass of bodies often piles up in front of the stage from fans aspiring to grab the microphone to recite Title Fight’s lyrics. 

“I don’t even really know why I play music anymore. At this point its just that we’ve been listening and playing all our lives,” Ben Russin said, “It’s so gratifying ­— if anybody comes to see your music it’s just really cool.”

Printed on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 as: Title Fight progresses punk sound in release