The Fuck The Facts guitarist and founder speaks to Zombitrol ahead of their show at Rivoli this Friday.

After 8 years, the Juno-nominated grindcore icons Fuck The Facts will be returning to Toronto on Friday, May 10th at Rivoli. It will be the first chance for many to hear songs from their 2020 comeback/reunion album Pleine Noirceur. It was their first output since the unannounced hiatus that began after extensively touring for their previous aptly-named album, 2015’s Desire Will Rot. After a year with no band activity they casually got back together to jam, and the music that would form a new album developed slowly. The last thing on their minds was getting back to playing live.

“When we started jamming again, it was just working on new music,” explains guitarist and band founder Topon Das.

“We didn’t even talk about playing shows, because even after a year of not doing it, everyone was still burnt out. Now after we put out the album, after the pandemic, we’re just like ‘Let’s do it before we’re really too fuckin’ old!’ (laughs) We basically looked at a number. 6 shows a year, we think, is a comfortable amount of shows for us. I still love doing this. Like just the band, being with my friends. Getting to play some shows once in a while, getting to be creative. I still love this stuff. Which is why I can’t totally escape it, even though it might be smart for me to. I still have the drive to do it for whatever reason.”

Fuck The Facts 2024

The Toronto concert will be Fuck The Facts’ 4th show since resuming playing live. The legacy lineup of Das on guitar, vocalist Melanie Mongeon, and drummer Mathieu “Vil” Vilandre, are joined by new guitarist Adam Pell and bassist Seb Choquette. The band did have shows lined up before the pandemic hit. But once shows came back, the circumstances had changed, including Vilandre having opened up a microbrewery pub just south of Sherbrooke, Québec.

“This is something that’s kind of been his dream for countless years, even when we were touring machines,” says Das.

“He basically opened it with his uncle. They bought the place, they founded the place. Mel has a full-time job, we have kids, I have my studio business. It’s really hard for us to manage the few shows a year that we do. It is a bummer. We put out Pleine Noirceur in 2020, but now is like the first time that we’re getting to play these songs live. But we’ve been a band together for so long. Mel and I since 2002, and Vil since 2005. There’s not a point where it’s like ‘Too bad for you, we’re going to find another drummer.’”

The band hopes to play as many tracks as possible from Pleine Noirceur at their shows this year, and so the Toronto set will feature songs not performed anywhere else. This naturally leads to thoughts of even more new music from Fuck The Facts someday. The good news is that according to Das, new music is probably in the band’s future, but some questions remain.

“That’s tricky because it’s my day job, and I spend so much time working on other people’s music,” he says.

“It’s tricky for to kind of flip the switch and start working on my own. We’ve put a lot of work into making sure we’ve prepared for these shows. But we have been working on a bunch of new music and we have a bunch of new songs written, and at least some of it partially recorded. Definitely something I’d like to get out sooner than later. But there’s no real plan at the moment. We’ll see.”

Topon Das - October 2023 (Photo by Nick Shaw)

Early in their career Fuck The Facts began to catch fire in Ontario in places like Peterborough and Oshawa. In Toronto they played shows at venues like the Kathedral and other more random locations. Word of their frantic and energetic sets grew each time they came through town, as did appreciation for their unique doom-influenced style of grindcore. In the years that followed, Toronto served as the location of some of the band’s most memorable performances.

“I’m really stoked to play the show in Toronto because it has been so long, and I feel like the last couple of times that we went there were definitely highlights for us,” says Das excitedly.

“When we started out I would just write to anyone and everyone, like ‘Hey man can you book a show for us?’ We’d trade shows with bands, even if it wasn’t very related to us sound-wise. Especially in the early 2000’s, we did shows with indie rock bands. Whatever would work, that was totally our thing. We wanted to be on the road. Basically the complete opposite of what we’re doing now. The shows we’ve done so far were very good shows, and they were fun, and we were there. We get to put on the best show possible. This is kind of what we always wanted to do. I don’t think we’ll ever tour again.”

Fuck The Facts play Toronto on Friday, May 10th at Rivoli, along with special guests Holy Grinder and Ischemic. Advance tickets are available. You can read my previous interview with Fuck The Facts from 2020 here. Watch some recent rehearsal room footage of the track “Aube” below.



Photos provided by Chipster PR

The latest release from legendary Canadian punk band Teenage Head, Performance: Live At Heatwave, is a comprehensive package documenting one of the most iconic events in their career. They were scheduled to headline a festival at Exhibition Stadium on Toronto’s lakeshore in late August 1980. But those plans were waylaid by a gentleman by the name of Alice Cooper, who incited a riot at the venue after bailing on his own concert.

“We were supposed to play the next night,” explains Teenage Head bassist Steve Mahon.

“I think I remember seeing the news on CityTV of people actually throwing metal chairs at the stage. It became pretty obvious that there wasn’t going to be anything happening that night, and obviously the next night as well. So that show never happened.”

At the time, Teenage Head were having a bit of a moment. So much so that they had even had their own riot just two months earlier. They were offered the last minute opportunity to open the Heatwave Festival in Bowmanville, Ontario just a few days after their cancelled show was to take place. The festival had an eclectic lineup of acts including The B-52s, Talking Heads, The Pretenders, and Elvis Costello.

“We’d come off a high,” explains Mahon.

“We’d just played Ontario Place in June, and you know what happened down there. That was another riot. We had some momentum built up from playing at Ontario Place and playing a whole bunch of different high schools in Southern Ontario. One thing you have to remember is that we were on real early. I think it was probably about 10 o’clock in the morning. But there was still maybe 40,000 people there. I think a lot of people had camped overnight. We were added on last minute, so we weren’t part of the advertising for Heatwave. So I think a few people were surprised when we hit the stage, pleasantly surprised! It just worked out really well when we played Heatwave. Really, really good response.”

After their set the band headed out to Kitchener to play a show and didn’t get to rub elbows with any of the Heatwave headliners. But their set that day lived on as Toronto radio station Q107 recorded it for broadcast. A broadcast which was re-taped by enthusiastic fans and went on to become a legendary bootleg.

“It was done on an analog tape machine, obviously,” explains Mahon.

“Someone was set up there, I think they were supposed to record the whole festival. From what I understand, a lot of the bands didn’t agree to be recorded, it was just us. We said ‘go ahead, film us, records us, no problem.’ But a few weeks after, we went in and mixed it, because it was getting aired on Q107 for a Halloween broadcast. So we may have never done anything with that tape, other than for the fact that we needed it, because (guitarist) Gord (Lewis) got really hurt up bad in a car accident a couple weeks after playing Heatwave. It’s funny how all these different events factor in to why things happen.”

The car accident put a dent in the band’s momentum. So the Heatwave set serves as a record of a very special time in their history. Mahon started looking into getting it a proper release around 2016-2017. There were a few labels interested in the project, but they all went into a holding pattern once the Covid pandemic hit. Things weren’t looking good until Seattle company Sing Media got involved. Having a physical product to release is something that means a lot to Mahon, especially when it comes to a recording that has been bootlegged multiple times over four decades.

“In the back of my mind I always felt this recording needed to be released,” he says.

“We’ve probably got dozens and dozens of live shows that had been taped through the years. Some just on cassettes at the soundboard, others we did for broadcast for radio stations, and they were ok. But there was just something about this one that made me realize (that) I had to do something with it, to try and get it out there some way. I would have been happy if it could have just been in the streaming services. But to see it come out on vinyl it’s… it’s worthy of that. You drop that needle on the vinyl, it’s a really nice way of listening to music and I think that’s why vinyl has never left.”

The Heatwave recording was remastered by Peter Moore at the E-Room studio in Toronto. The package also sees a proper release for the documentary Picture My Face – The Story of Teenage Head that was previously only aired on the TVO network. 2024 marks the 50th anniversary of Teenage Head, and the band played a celebratory show in their home town of Hamilton last month. The current lineup includes Mahon on bass, Gene Champagne on drums, Dave “Rave” DesRoches on vocals, and new guitarist Trent Carr from The Headstones. The tragic passing of original guitarist Gord Lewis in 2022 still looms large in the hearts and minds of many fans. But Mahon points out that many classic bands have lost members over the years, and cites a recent album by one of his favourites as a good example.

“Dave, our singer, gave me a copy of the new Stones album, Hackneyed Diamonds, and I was like ‘really, another Stones album?’” he says with a bit of a laugh.

“Believe it or not it’s a really good album, a really good album. So go figure, you start feeling old and you start thinking about ‘Well are we gonna keep going, are we gonna write songs?’ and then the Stones put a new album out. It really comes down to whether you’re having fun or not, and it is really fun now. We’ve got Trent Carr playing guitar, and he’s just having such a good time. He told me that when he started to learn how to play guitar he listened to our first album. So it’s just an honour to have someone like him even in the band right now. So we’ve got a really good band and I mean, look at the Stones, they’ve lost so many members.”

You can get your own copy of Performance: Live At Heatwave from Sing Media here

Photo by Errefotografia

The avant-garde musical duo of hackedepicciotto, Alexander Hacke of Einstürzende Neubauten and Danielle de Picciotto, co-founder of the Love Parade festival, are currently in Canada on a short tour in support of their new album Keepsakes. The nine-track album is dedicated to the concept of friendship, with each song inspired by a different person who has affected Hacke and De Picciotto’s lives.

“All nine of them influenced us deeply,” says De Picciotto via phone with Hacke ahead of their show at the Tap Centre in London, Ontario.

“Alexander and (I have) known each other, basically since I moved to Berlin, which was in ’87. Although we weren’t a couple until 2001, we basically had the same background. So the interesting thing is that we know quite a few of these people from different perspectives. We knew them from before we were together. A lot of them are musicians, or they’re just characters. They’re a very eclectic collection of people. They’ve definitely influenced everything we do in a way.”

With most of the subjects of Keepsakes being musicians, Hacke and De Picciotto sought to incorporate their friends’ musical styles as well as their personalities into the songs. This presented a challenge for even these two well-seasoned avant-garde musicians, and forced them to explore new styles like jazz. This was particularly true on the album’s centrepiece, the prog-punk opus “La Femme Sauvage,” dedicated to the late Françoise Cactus of the electro garage-punk band Stereo Total.

“That was the most difficult song we’ve ever done,” says De Picciotto.

“We really wrestled with it, we usually don’t wrestle a lot with songs, they usually come quite naturally. But with this song we at one point thought ‘This is not gonna work out.’ Then all of a sudden it clicked and now we love it, we absolutely love it. That was an example of trying to somehow represent her but at the same time keep our key sound which really wasn’t easy.”

“It was hard because she has a very specific sense of humour and a very specific sense of sound,” adds Hacke.

"Her sense of irony was very defined."

It’s interesting to hear two musicians known for their eclectic output speak about their musical challenges. Something that seems to be an essential part of hackedepicciotto is how their conflicting influences come together and somehow find common ground. When they begin to compose music they usually start with a general concept of where they want to go, but that’s when things get interesting.

“A lot happens because of the friction between our different backgrounds and our different approaches,” says Hacke amusedly.  

“Danielle, being a classically trained musician that plays quiet acoustic instruments, and me, growing up in this industrial noise kind of scene. Having these elements collide with each other is basically what makes our music happen. The good thing and the magical thing about any artform I suppose is that at one point the work takes over and becomes its own entity and then dictates what you are supposed to do. Even though we have shared or different ambitions about what we wanted to do about a certain piece, in the end the music would always say like ‘No. That might be a good idea. That might be a noble thought. But that’s not what I need.’”

There are many electronic elements on Keepsakes, so I was curious to know in this context how Hacke felt about industrial music’s progression from DIY and found object instruments to modern technology.

“When I refer to industrial music I mean the original, old school, as in Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire-kind of industrial music,” he clarifies.

“Not metal with samples. (But) I like some of those bands.”


The theme of friendship that inspired Keepsakes doesn’t just come from the loss of a friend like Cactus, but also the loss of friendship in general. Hacke and Picciotto, who have been married since 2006, like many in recent years have dealt with fractured friendships because of political disagreements.

“In Germany you have the feeling that nobody can really speak anymore without getting into a heated argument about either climate change or the pandemic or the war,” says De Picciotto.

“Everybody is polarized, it’s terrible. We just wanted to put emphasis on how important (friendship) actually is, because it’s one of those things that you can’t buy in life. But it’s actually one of the most important things. We thought it would be important for us to dedicate our album to people that were especially important to us, and really influenced our lives. It was a very interesting experiment to do that, because it’s very intense.”

As much as the world could use art that is a call to action, motivation to speak up, or inspiration to live your truth, perhaps there’s room for the simple idea that your friends, and friendship in general is important. That may sound trite to some, but maybe that's why Hacke and De Picciotto made Keepsakes, as a reminder to a cynical world that it’s not.

“That’s also an aim of what we did with this album, because the whole society and our group of friends also is polarized because of the pandemic, but then also in general,” says Hacke passionately.

“It’s just a zeitgeist thing the way society is polarized. (The album) is an homage to people who have informed our development, in respective ways but also together. That also needs to be emphasized we think, how important it actually is to have people in your life while you are developing, while you are evolving. You don’t evolve on your own, you evolve with people and by people. That’s such a gift and that’s such a treasure, and that’s what the album is about. Even more than to the original friends, it is an homage to the feeling of gratitude, of being happy and thankful for knowing these people. People need to be reminded of how lucky we are to have each other.”

hackedepicciotto’s new album Keepsakes is available this Friday, July 28th from Mute Records. That night they play as part of the Wavelength series in Toronto, followed by a performance at the Electric Eclectics festival in Meaford, Ontario on August 5th. You can check out the video for “Schwarze Milch” and listen to “La Femme Sauvage” below.

Photo Courtesy of Freeman Promotions

Tonight, Monday November 8th, Gwar returns to Toronto with UK legends Napalm Death for a sold-out show at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, marking the first larger-scale metal show in the city since the start of pandemic. The added bonus is that the tour is in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Gwar’s 1990 sophomore splatterpiece, Scumdogs of the Universe. I recently had a chance to speak with vocalist Michael Bishop, otherwise known as The Berzerker Blóthar. Bishop played bass on Scumdogs as the original incarnation of the Beefcake The Mighty character, and returned to the band as lead singer after the untimely passing of Dave Brockie aka Oderus Urungus in 2014.

The other exciting news from the world of Gwar is that the band’s ultimate behind-the-scenes documentary, This Is GWAR, has now entered the final editing stages, with a preliminary cut already having been screened for select audiences. For me, Gwar has always been the truest representation of live theatre and practical special effects in all of music, and so a film that takes us deeper into the non-fictional aspects of the band really intrigues me.

“I always knew that the story behind it, is something that people would like to know,” says Bishop.

“This is pretty much that, there’s no silliness to it, there’s no… it’s… it’s kind of a hard watch, man. It’s emotional, this band has been through a lot of trauma. I’ve played in other rock bands that had success and were touring, and Gwar is by far, the most difficult band to be in, in the world. I’m convinced of that. Maybe if you’re trying to do death metal in some Islamic country, (laughs) I’m sure that’s difficult! (But) as far as what you have to do every night to make that show happen, it’s fuckin’ hard! I think this movie is about the commitment that we all made to one another to participate in this kind of art project. It is a co-operative effort at producing musical theatre that involves visual artists, costuming, set design, (and) narratives. As an academic, I taught at the University of Virginia, we’re trained to (be like), if you’re looking at something and you want to understand it, well let’s find other things that are like that. How can you understand the Straight Edge movement? It’s kind of like the Boy Scouts, right! (laughs) With Gwar, I can’t find an analogy, there isn’t one. There isn’t something that Gwar is like, other than musical theatre, but then it’s really not like that because it’s a rock band. It’s unique, man. I’m very happy with the film, I think it does a good job in evoking, and ultimately I think that’s what art is supposed to do. It evokes the sense of Gwar. You definitely learn a lot about what makes this band tick, and really what makes it tick is this very serious artistic and emotional commitment to one another and to the project, and that’s really what that film’s about.”

As the film is being completed, the Scumdogs tour is chugging along nicely, and while Bishop and the rest of the band and crew don’t have as much freedom as they’re used to on this trek, they are back on the road bringing the full Gwar experience to a new generation of fans, many who might be hearing this classic material (and getting hosed with intergalactic fluids) for the first time.

“For us, doing Scumdogs has an almost spiritual feel at times,” he says.

“The songs (don’t) feel dated though, which is great because the crowd really knows these tunes. That’s probably what’s the most moving thing about it. I’ll look out in the crowd, and there’s some 14-year-old girl and she knows every damn word. We’re enjoying it. It’s been a while since we’ve been on the road. Things are very different because of covid. There’s some different procedures around it, and we don’t get to see a lot of old friends just because there’s rules about being backstage and stuff like that. Other than that it’s the same old, same old (laughs), and it’s good to be back out again, and be doing it again. All of that is positive. I always like to see big empty parking lots across the country! (laughs) We immediately head to the worst part of town in every city we show up at and sit around in the parking lot. Probably the biggest difference is that everybody’s on the bus all the time cause of covid. We’re not out, hangin’ around, partying, or anything like that. But it’s going great. The shows are packed, people are loving it. Lot of sell-outs on the tour, it’s great.”

“We were a punk band playing our idea of metal.”

To me, the Gwar of 2021 has a lot in common with the Scumdogs era, because for a time the band focused on more comedy/parody-style songs, and now they have a far more metallic sound. Scumdogs was arguably their first “serious” album musically, featuring their most cohesive lineup up to that point

“(On) Scumdogs, we were really trying to establish ourselves as a metal band, but we didn’t really know how to play metal,” says Bishop with a giggle.

“Brockie tried to kind of pretend like this wasn’t true, but Gwar is a punk band. We were a punk band playing our idea of metal. At the time, bands like Slayer were pretty new, we hadn’t grasped on to that. The way that record was written, (laughs) is the way punk musicians would try to write a Celtic Frost song. By the time we did Hell-O (in 1988), that was a group of musicians that we thought was gonna stick around. But we made the change and we got me, Mike Derks (aka Balsac The Jaws of Death – guitar), and Brad Roberts (aka Jizmak Da Gusha -drums). I was on the first record, and Dave was on the first record, (but) once we got Mike and Brad in the band it really did congeal into what Gwar was. Through the years Gwar definitely has changed a lot musically. It’s weird to play Scumdogs every night. It’s actually a challenge because Dave was a much more varied performer on the earlier records. He was still sort of messing around with a bunch of different voices. Almost like Tom Waits, he’d adopt different characters for different songs. No matter what era, when I’m singing Brockie’s stuff it’s always challenging. He was a very dynamic singer, there’s a lot to his voice. I do my own thing, but I always try to keep that level of variation in the performance.”

 Dr. Michael Bishop - Ted Talk - GWAR and Regional Identity in Richmond, VA - 2015

Dave Brockie’s presence undeniably hangs heavy over Gwar’s legacy, with Bishop also academically comparing his vocal style to Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols. There’s something to be said for Oderus’ image having been synonymous with the band. He was the frontman after all and did the vast majority of the singing. According to Bishop there are some long-time hardcore fans who don’t like the band without Brockie, but he is quick to point out that there are a few fan theories that go way too far.

“It is kinda funny that Brockie died before the Trump era,” he says.

“I never realized how facile Gwar is, so you can assign whatever meaning you want to it. Punk rock’s kind of the same way. Punk rock is a term that can contain Skrewdriver and The Dead Kennedys! Gwar is very similar. You get people that look at this and they are 100% convinced that Brockie would have been a Trump guy, and you hear people say that! You hear people say ‘The band has changed. You guys have changed. You’re different now.’ We’re not! We’re just the fucking same! The world has changed. What people are willing to abide has changed. We have the exact same politics as we’ve always had: murky, confusing, (and) we try to leave room for people to interpret. But I can tell you right now, if Brockie was anything, it was a libertarian with a sort of liberal slant. He most definitely would not have been a fucking Trump supporter! (laughs hysterically)”

“That ability to handle pressure, it’s just something that’s fucking hard to do, and he was Dave Brockie for a long time”

Outside of tributes, the band has barely spoken about Brockie’s tragic passing. In my final question to Bishop I referenced the last interview I did with Brockie, where he stated that he wanted the band to outlive him. I then asked Bishop what he sees as the future of Gwar. For Bishop, making the band more successful means making different decisions than they’ve made in the past. Even if that means doing something different than what Brockie would have done.

“When you have success, you have pressure,” he says seriously.

“The will to accept that pressure, is what drives a lot of people to die, and that’s what Dave did, he died. That’s shit that happens again and again in show business, man. That ability to handle pressure, it’s just something that’s fucking hard to do, and he was Dave Brockie for a long time. It was not easy being that person, and that pressure, I think it took it out of him, man. Gwar having more and more success, (would also mean) more and more pressure. I think that in some ways whether he realized it or not, that Dave took steps to make sure that that didn’t happen. Even though they might have been very subtle. Ultimately, now the band is able to put ourselves in a position where we can be more successful. That’s a challenging thing to say in an interview, because people hear it as being negative but I’m really not, it’s just actually the fucking truth.”

The current Scumdogs tour is, by default, a living tribute to Brockie, as is arguably Gwar itself at this point. In our last interview, Brockie also spoke about how hoped that eventually everyone involved with Gwar would be able to be taken care of by the band, and that it would become even more successful than what it already was. I like to think that’s because he knew that, much like the fabled Cuttlefish of Cthulhu, it was destined to become the biggest of its kind.

“He wanted (the band) to have what they deserve,” says Bishop

“If there’s one thing about this life that we all know is that you don’t get what you fucking deserve. Like, nobody does. (laughs) So a lot of people, the things they get they do not deserve. Dave wanted, and deserved a tremendous amount of success. I think Dave was an incredibly successful guy. We just did an interview that was primarily about him. That’s because he was a huge figure in the lives of a lot of people. By any measure, that’s success. Brockie would have wanted this band to carry on and to do well, and to have success, and for the people that are in it to be happy.”

The Scumdogs 30th Anniversary Tour continues tonight in Toronto. You check out the rest of the tour dates here, and grab your own copy of the remixed Scumdogs of the Universe 30th Anniversary Edition or the Scumdogs XXX Live album. You can also stream Gwar’s most recent full-length album, 2017’s The Blood of Gods below.