I was lucky enough to be invited to the recent Festival of the Fuck Bands, led in a ceremonious fashion by Fucked Up's very own Father Damian. The festival is a chance for bands worldwide to get together, discuss music and politics, and chat about how awesome they are for having the word "fuck" in their band names. The festival took place this past November in — appropriately enough — Fucking, Austria.
Father Damian and his band have been attending the festival, which began in 2000, for the past three years. He explained to me that it is a great way to meet musicians with a similar passion for the word "fuck." His band led the North American contingency — along with Toronto's Holy Fuck, Portland's Starfucker, and Oakland's Fuck. The three-day festival featured sets from some of the bands, a silent auction to benefit freedom of speech, and seminars on the value of the word "fuck." Mostly, though, the festival served as a perfect environment for the bands to cut loose, be themselves, and, as Father Damian explained to me, "do whatever the fuck they want."
There were a few new bands at this year's festival, including British electronic duo Fuck Buttons (who won the award for "Fresh New Fuck Band") and Dutch rockers Fuck The Writer, whose name is rather provocative yet eerily accurate. Most of the bands at the festival recognize that having the word "fuck" in your band name is a cheap way to garner attention and to easily offend. "There is an art form to properly using 'fuck' in your band's name," explained Fucked Up's lead guitarist 10,000 Marbles. "A lot of kids these days just use 'fuck' for shock value. I think it properly represents what it is we do on stage. Seeing Father Damian take off all his clothes and open a wound on his forehead is, in my opinion, pretty fucked up."
I can't argue with Mr. Marbles about that particular sentiment, and it left me quite bewildered about everything happening at the festival. I went into it thinking it would be a shit show, for lack of a better term, of bands that just want to get cheap thrills by having an obscenity like "fuck" plastered all over their album covers and concert posters. What I found was a group of like-minded musicians who all take their craft very seriously despite all having "fuck" names. 2008's Festival of the Fuck Bands proved the point that a band's name shouldn't matter, as long as that band plays good, respectable music devoid of some sort of kitsch or gimmick based on the "fuck" in their name. Plenty of bands have normal, non-obscene names and yet play shitty music — bands like The Killers, Fall Out Boy, and Nickelback. It really is a fucking tragedy. And no, you may not pardon my French.