Matador is gearing up for the June 3 release of “Glass Boys,” the fourth full-length album from one of its most promising bands. The Toronto-based rockers’ 2008 LP “The Chemistry of Common Life” won Canada’s prestigious Polaris Prize, and 2011’s “David Comes to Life” peaked at No. 83 on the Billboard 200. With “Glass Boys,” the group is poised for its best showing yet. Just one problem: Its name is considered indecent by the Federal Communication Commission. So how the f— do you market a band called F—ed Up?
The group’s uncompromising nomenclature and sound have generated enviable word-of-(foul)-mouth attention through the years. And Matador has faced this sort of challenge before. In the 1990s it released two albums by Bay Area rock band F—. “[The name] was a big deal back then,” says Matador publicity director Nils Bernstein. “But people are more inured to it now.” Still, the hurdles are obvious. “Other bands of their stature might be getting promotion or placement at Amazon and iTunes that they’re not,” says Bernstein. F—ed Up’s music is available – with its name uncensored – from those outlets, as well as Spotify and other services, but is not promoted.
Matador has devised a number of work-arounds. The label creates clean and uncensored versions of virtually everything. For many outlets, “you can’t use the word and you can’t use asterisks either,” says Beggars Group retail/marketing director Blake Thomas. “So we use their logo, which is recognized by fans. [On Spotify], we promote playlists but can’t use the band’s name, so we use the album name,” says Thomas. Radio is simpler; DJs simply say “Effed Up.” Print media generally just uses dashes.
The New York Times restricts itself to phrases like a “punk band from Toronto with an unpublishable name.” That amuses the group. “Years ago, [guitarist Mike Haliechuk] would joke in interviews, ‘We’re going to take F—ed Up to a point where it’s a cultural debate,’ ” says lead singer Damian Abraham, 34. “The New York Times had to have meetings about how they would print our band’s name. It’s like we somehow accomplished our joke.”