Today on Sludgelord it is my great honor to be interviewing one of my all-time fave musicians from the extreme underground – Topon Das – who is part of legendary grindcore crew – FUCK THE FACTS.
I have been a fan on Topon's music mainly through Fuck The Facts since 2003 where I discovered Discoing The Dead and Mullet Fever. Fuck The Facts have released an incredible body of work that some bands can only dream of.
They have had a long varied career so far and are one of the most brutal, loudest and heaviest bands I have ever came across. Though Topon has other talents as well. His Drone/Noise/Doom Project - Merdarahta – who we have featured a few times now.
Topon has also mixed and mastered some great bands we have featured on the blog as well mainly Alaskan, Biipiigwan and Collider.
So let's get started with one of the coolest musicians around.
Q1 – Hi Topon, Thanks for doing this. How are things with you Today.
Good man, real good. The sun is shinning and I'm outside drinking coffee, getting shit done.
Q2 – For people not in the know can you give them a brief history of how you became involved with music.
My older brother used to play in punk bands when were kids. I got Metallica's ..."and Justice for All" from him one day and that started my obsession with music. When I was 15 I borrowed his bass and started jamming with my best friend and his dad, before long I was starting to play in local metal bands.
Q3 – Most people like myself know you from FUCK THE FACTS. Now that started as a solo project. Did you have any expectations that this “Project” would turn out the way it has.
Yes and no. I knew that making FTF an actual band was the next logical step, but I never could have predicted the way the music would change and evolve over the years. That's kind of the beauty of it; we never really know what's going to happen until it starts to come together.
Q4 – Fuck The Facts has had a few lineup changes through it's history. But your musical output has always been awesome. You always seem to be releasing music. How do you find the time.
The line-up changes just comes with the territory of being in an active touring band, especially an extreme "no money in this shit" active touring band. But I do feel very lucky that it's been about 5 years now that we've had the same 5 people in the band. As for the musical output, it's definitely slowed down over the years, but it's just been how it is. We've never felt rushed or any sort of pressure to release as much music as possible. Maybe one year we'll release 3 albums and then not release an album for another 5 years. It doesn't really matter.
Q5 – Is being a musician your full time job or do you have a regular job as well to help pay the bills.
When I'm not playing I'm usually recording and mixing other bands, and that's where my current income comes from. I live a pretty simple life, and besides having way too much music gear, I don't really have much else. This allows me to get by with my studio work and a few other odd jobs when they come up.
Q6 – You have been involved with a lot of bands in your career. What have been the highs and lows through out your musical career.
The highs and lows usually comes with the people I surround myself with. I can handle playing in front of 5 people, having a bad night, breaking down in the middle of nowhere, being told that I suck, etc... As long as I'm having a blast with my bandmates life is good. Some of the best times I've had is playing in a small sweaty basement with 4 of my best friends. We spend so much time together and in many ways live in our own little world, so whatever happens around us is just scenery. All that really matters is that we're all doing something that we enjoy and having a blast doing it.
Mel from FTF in action.
Q7 –You have a brilliant lead singer (Melanie) for FUCK THE FACTS who is one of the most fiercest vocalists I have ever heard. Is that a hard dynamic to contend with having your partner being in the same band as yourself. Does it cause any extra stress at times.
Stress!? Oh yes, we've definitely had our moments. But it's bound to happen when you spend almost everyday of your life with someone for 10+ years. Even though we've been doing this band thing together for about 11 years now, we still have some pretty different ideas from each other sometimes.
It's really all about compromise and that goes for the band as a whole. If FTF was just my solo project still, it would definitely be very different from what it is now. This band is really about being a representation of the 5 people in it.
Q8 – What bands and artists have infleunced you on your music. - Then again I know a few people who have said you have influenced them a great deal.
The band and artists that influence me aren't necessarily the bands I listen to regularly. Like, I really enjoy listening to Cannibal Corspe, but that's not really the kind of band I want FTF to be. It doesn't have anything to do with music, I like the music and I've drawn influence from CC in some of the FTF songs I've written, but I get more stoked seeing a band do different things, even if it doesn't always work out. I get inspired by bands that have a long history and don't just work around the typical album/tour cycles. It's exciting and scary, and that's how I think creating art should be.
Q9 – You have also produced, mixed and mastered albums and EP's for some brilliant Canadian Sludge/Stoner/Post-metal bands we have featured such as Alaskan and Collider. How did you get involved with producing other peoples work.
When FTF was recording the album "Die Miserable" we set-up our own little "studio" in my mom's basement. Just as we were wrapping things up my buddies in Biipiigwan asked me to record them. I had recorded them before at their jam space, but since everything was already set-up here, they brought their stuff over.
The drummer in Biipiigwan also played in Alaskan, so he asked me to record them next, and then his band Motivator, and the guitarist in Alaskan played in a band called Hamilton that I ended up recording as well, and so on. The word started to get out and people seemed to like what I was doing, so I started to get more people contacting me to record and eventually even just to mix. I never really expected it to happen, but it's been 3 years since it started and I'm still constantly busy with studio work.
Q10 – What is the Canadian metal scene like at the moment. Is there a scene for Grindcore/Sludge/Stoner Metal or do you have to rely on the overseas markets such as Europe.
The Canadian scene is great and my hometown Ottawa has a really booming scene for all music. For us there isn't really a holy grail of places to play. Some cities are usually pretty good and the ones that usually suck, we've stopped going to years ago. For us touring is mostly about traveling and getting to see different places. So we don't really play locally very often and mostly aim to play new places and travel as far out as we can. Every time we book a tour we're looking to see what new places we can visit. This Euro tour we have coming up will be the first time we play the UK, Spain and we have a few different cities as well.
Q11 – Obviously being with a band like FTF can be a very expensive business. How do you cope with the daily struggles of being a musician in today's scene.
You just have to be smart with your time and money. Whenever we're planning any release, recording, tour, etc... we always think about what we can afford and what's realistic. We have a 10+ year history and Mel has been awesome of keeping track of it, so we know when we go on tour how much merch we'll need and what the expenses for the van will be, etc...
Same for recording, and that's why we started recording ourselves. We felt like it was a better investment to buy gear and learn how to do it ourselves. I'm not saying we're never going to record else where, but having our own studio set-up now really makes things easier for us and we always have the option of doing it ourselves. We know we're never going to sell a ton of records, but that doesn't mean we're going to stop making music. We're going to find ways to keep doing what we do and make it work. I feel very lucky that I get to make music, travel the world and still come home to a comfortable life.
Q12 - Do you ever feel down-hearted when you see what passes as music for today. I know I do when generic pop/rock music appears all over the place.
Nah, that shit doesn't get to me. I just do what I do and don't really pay much attention to what's happening on the radio and TV.
Q13 – What are your views of blogs such as Sludgelord featuring and reviewing your records as opposed to mainstream magazines.
I love it! Creating something you're proud of is the most important thing, but once you've created it, you want to show the world. Obviously, since I'm doing this interview I want people to know about what I'm up to and it's a great feeling that people are interested in the stuff I do. I'm not against the mainstream media, but I'm a firm believer that sites like yours and other underground blogs are the ones that are really getting the music like ours out there to people that are actually interested.
Q14 - When you started in music what were your original hopes and dreams. And have they been fully met.
All I really wanted to do was make music, play shows and tour. Everything I've done with FTF has way passed my original expectations. I'm still blown away sometimes at the things we do and have done. Now it's really about trying to improve on what we do, trying new things and traveling to new places.
Q15 - What words of wisdom would you give to a band starting out or some friends wanting to start a band of their own.
Fucking practice and take the time to make something awesome. Have fun, but treat others with respect. Learn from your mistakes and learn the unwritten rules of touring, playing shows and basically being in a band. There's a quote I always think about, and I think it was James Plotkin that said it "If you're going to do something, do it really well or really shitty, just don't do it half-assed."
Q16 – Now you have a new musical project on the go. Merdarahta which I am big fan of. How did that project come up. Did you want something less chaotic than Fuck The Facts. Love your recent live video. Creepy as hell.
There's a bonus track on Die Miserable called "Oct 26th", that's pretty much the basis of the Merdarahta project. The Snake Charmer/Towers recording was something that I had that I wanted to use, but it seemed too weird to use as a FTF release, so we decided to give the project a different name and put as side B of the "Die Miserable" cassette.
The approach is very different from Fuck The Facts. I see Merdarahta as our vacation away from FTF. We started Fuck The Facts as a place where we could have complete artistic freedom, and I don’t think anything will ever replace FTF for me. So to do something else there had to be a very different method and frame of mind to how we would create.
In Merdarahta the music we make is based mainly on improvisation sessions that we record. Nothing is perfect, but it really captures the moments when everything starts to come together. There’s no going back and trying it again, what you hear is the idea being played as it was coming out. We end up with something that I don’t think we ever would have, if we had sat down to try and “write” it. It’s an unbroken flow of ideas and sense of simply being submerged in the moment.
Q17 – Can we expect a full length record of that project or are you busy with other things.
I don't think in albums or EP with this project. It really depends on the session. Every different session is a potential different release. So far I've combined sessions (fault of air/breathe & snake charmer/towers), but I'm not sure if that's a trend that will continue or not.
Q18 – Obviously you have performed a lot of gigs with all your musical projects. Do the fans treat you guys differently in other parts of the world. Are some fans wilder than others.
We've played some pretty crazy shows and I've met some really rad people that probably know more about FTF than I do, but I can't say there's one specific place that strikes me as extra crazy or really that different. If there is one, I haven't been there yet.
Q19 – Do you have any exciting plans over the next 12 months that you can tell us about.
Fuck The Facts is just about to release a new EP called "Amer". We've been working on a lot of new music over the past couple of years so this should be the start of a busy schedule of releases from FTF.
We have another EP sitting around just waiting to be mixed, an album that we just need to record vocals for and a batch of new songs that we've been writing for an upcoming split. in July we head to Europe for a 3 week tour and have a bunch of regional dates as well as a tour out east booked for late summer. For the studio,
I should be recording the new Alaskan album around August/September. I'm also working on finishing two different Merdarahta releases. I hope to get them both done soon, but that project takes a back seat to FTF and my studio work.
Q20 - Finally, Do you have anything to say your fans
Just that I hate the term "fans". If you come to my shows and enjoy my music then I consider you a friend. Cheers!
Well Topon thanks for talking to me. It's been a real honor for me doing this. I hope you produce many more brilliant albums to come.
All the best from Sludgelord.
Check Fuck The Facts from the links below
WEB-STORE | FACEBOOK | YOUTUBE | REVERBNATION | BANDCAMP
Check Merdarahta from the links below
Facebook | BandCamp