Photo courtesy of Danielle Nemet
Jonah Falco is one of the major reasons that Fucked Up had such an epic career span, and he's now stepping into the solo role with a new project under the name Lonely Wholesome. His debut 12" Savage, Lovely, Lonely will be released in the winter of 2016 under Bad Actos, a label run by his former bandmate Ben Cook. Jonah has worked behind the scenes in almost every teenage hardcore and punk band from Toronto for the last 10 years, and is a legend on the drums. However when it comes to his solo work, he's curiously shy. Because Ben Cook is such a huge fan of his former bandmate—and in the hopes of putting to rest any rumours that the band doesn't get along—we decided to have the Fucked Up members interview each other about Jonah's new career path.
Noisey: Ok, so here we are: Two members of Fucked Up supporting each other. I'm releasing your record, and you let me. It's gonna sell millions. I thought Fucked Up members were suppose to hate each other, as per all that dumb press a few years back. What gives, mate?
Jonah Falco: The love bridge and the hate ladder balance each other out in our band. I sincerely hope this sells millions.
So you record every single little punk and hardcore band in Toronto and they pay you in dog food or whatever. What's it like recording so many little shits who can't play their instruments and only communicate by mumbling? Like, what have you learned about music by doing this? What have you learned about yourself, younger generations of punks, and the Toronto community as a whole ? And don't give me a huge long answer because no one actually cares that much.
I started doing it to learn how to record and get some perspective on making music from the ground up again. I did it for free because I didn't feel like I was good enough to charge money. Now that i'm better at it, I charge money (to buy more dog food to eat...with a stick), but I also think that giving young and inexperienced musicians a chance to express what they want out of their music (without me necessarily telling them what to do)—that ends up sounding relatively slick—is a leg up toward fostering creativity in the long run. Sike! I just do it cause i'm old and want to seem relevant to impressionable people.
Can you talk a little bit about your current obsession with making bread? Don't you have enough creative expression in your life? Aren't you over doing it by all this creativity in your kitchen life? Just eat a Big Mac.
I'm half Italian and was raised with the idea that really good bread was more important than, and a representative of, life itself. I once watched my Nonno mash an entire loaf of Wonderbread into a single slice between his two bare hands while laughing maniacally to prove his point that it, and other similarly pathetic wheat products, basically aren't food. I think deep down I got into it because of some cultural mirroring and the satisfaction of making something so simple yet endlessly satisfying. But he just tells me that I'm an idiot for trying to do something myself which the world has already perfected.
When you listen to these songs on the Lonely Wholesome Savage, Lovely, Lonely 12" due out Winter 2016 on Bad Actors Inc—the only label that matters in Toronto—do you realize that you are one of the best living song writers on the planet Earth? Or are you actually this nice and humble that you just listen and think "oh, thats cool but i could probably do better next time." Whats your honest reaction to listening to your own music? I know most people pretend to hate themselves as a reaction to their art cause its cool to be self deprecating but secretly they are obsessed with themselves... Whats up with you though?
I obsess over my own music and get so excited when it turns out well. At those moments I truly believe I might be talented. Then I hear something, anything else, and just tell myself how much better planned, produced, or performed than mine it is, and assume I've missed something so crucial to making music that everyone else realizes except me. Then everyone will hear this music and say: "hm....neat.....why so many notes?" or "Uh these lyrics are weird" or "wow, that's so something you'd write." "I'm bearing my soul!" I say, but it's kind of over with and they're all listening to Thee Oh Sees or some guy's neo-synth interpretation of "A Swedish Love Story" or an outrageous acid house track. I live entirely in my own typhoon-like whirlpool of self reference and fantasy where you can still dress like the set of Alphaville or Le Mepris, and I have good enough hair to be like Alain Delon, write timeless pop songs, and sing in tune.
Remember when we made a Thurston Moore diss track and released it on cassette? That guy's such a wasteman. I'm so glad we did that.
I listened to that really recently and started laughing uncontrollably. I might have air guitarred.
Ok, so this project is about Lonely Jonah. Can you tell me a bit about how Psycho Jonah would feel if he knew that Lonely Jonah was writing songs about him?
Psycho Jonah is what you all call me when you start lovingly riffing on my weird only-child-needs-a-special-section-of-the-sandbox vibes and I try and laugh it off, but you know those laughs are actually deflecting some kind of increasingly repressed anger which I in turn take out on the drum kit or song tempos or treadmill or sourdough starter. Lonely Jonah is replacing that rage with a hefty word count and some juicy chord stacks. Psycho Jonah would be like: "Ha! Great job dude! Ha! No, totally!"
Can you tell me about the acid experience you had in Australia this year but keep the story under 45 minutes?
See: Side B, track 1 of this record.
Since year end lists are about to invade the internerd waves: how about we get a jump on 'em? Go!
I liked Diat, Total Control, Rixe, Barcelona, the Darto cassette, the show "1992," Deutschland 83, Bitter Lake, and the board game "Billionaire."
You, Mike and Josh just did something with an Opera or something. Why didn't you invite SANDY, ME AND DAMIAN to be involved?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?
There's only room for one spaghetti bender up there on the conductor's podium. At a restaurant I have trouble not ordering the dish you all think I'm going to order (even if you haven't told me what you think it is) at a table because of how much of a pushover/impressionable I am. How am I supposed to write the great Canadian fake amateur opera with all that outside influence? I'd basically have ended up only loading gear and getting you guys waters if you were there.
Why do you guys think you are so bougie? Just because Damian's a pothead, I'm east end white trash, and Sandy rules doesn't mean we can't appreciate a beautiful opera. C'mon dude. Lets air it out.
Probably about 12 years ago I internally reinvented myself as an outdated, less aggressive European playboy. Like Vittorio Gassman in Il Sorpasso if he hosted Reading Rainbow or if Alain Delon in the Sicilian Clan was on Today's Special. Gotta keep that development happening. I want to be sitting in a beautiful garden unironically wearing linen and thinking about chord voicings, eating obscure meat and drinking egregiously smelly wine in the dappled shade of my tomato plants, reading a copy of Gramsci's "Prison Notebooks" in a language I don't understand but concentrating really hard on it in case i start understanding that language by the end of a chapter, and checking the time on my beautiful vintage wristwatch that probably stopped like an hour ago. It's just destiny, man. I still like you guys. I'm nothing without you.
Thanks for the interview, i hope you have a great day and congrats on a great record.
Thanks Ben, and thanks for being there for this project since day one. I won't forget it. I'll be waiting in total terror and self doubt for this interview to go live. Bye!
Ben Cook is east end white trash. Follow him on Twitter.