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The F-Ups – Tame But F-ing Dedicated: – The Van’s Warped Tour

Travis Allen – lead vocals, guitar, songwriting
Andy Collett – bass, backup vocals
Chris deWard – guitar, backup vocals
Taylor Nogo – drums

To understand The F-Ups is to recognize two important facts:

1. They’re 18 years old
2. They’re straight out of high school

To appreciate The F-Ups is to be their peers. We’re talking about a band that considers Anti-Flag to be punk veterans. If that doesn’t give you some perspective about how fresh their faces are, then you probably find yourself attending the same keggers as they do.

To make matters worse, The F-Ups play a watered-down brand of punk that is quickly becoming obsolete thanks to the overexposure of Good Charlotte and others of their ilk. Even their name has been censored and diluted to ensure potential record buyers (nay, their parents) aren’t turned away, which is more than a tad ironic for a punk band.

Yet, here’s the part where they convince you to cut them some slack—they’ve been together for five years. FIVE YEARS!?!? Okay, so it’s not exactly a record. But at 18 years old today, that translates to a band that formed when they were no more than 13. They’ve already been together half as long as The Beatles were, and they can’t even legally drink yet. It’s an impressive feat when you consider they went through puberty, junior high, and high school together. Hell, no one does anything for five years at that age.

And now they find themselves staring down the barrel of a self-titled debut on Capital Records and their first lengthy nationwide tour—on the Vans Warped Tour no less—with everybody waiting to tear them apart. Pressure? Not at all, according to The F-Ups’ vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Travis Allen.

Allen admits it’s not so much pressure the band is feeling, but nerves. It’s their first time away from home on a full-blown tour. Their only concern is performing well on stage and pulling in some new fans as a result of the tour. Despite The F-Ups’ young age, they’ve already had a taste of what it means to live on modest means.

“When we recorded our album, we spent about a month and a half in the studio, basically eating just ramen. The funny thing is when we went home in between dates in the tour, my parents bought me a bunch of ramen, and I was like ‘Gee, thanks.’”

And what about those who would attack their character and legitimacy in the punk world?

“We don’t really worry about stuff like that,” Allen said. “We’re just out there doing our thing. I mean, look at what happened with Green Day. Some people might think like ‘Oh, Capitol Records, major label’. But they’re not like that at all. We have a great team over there that supports us, so we’re really pleased with things.”

The F-Ups also deserve credit for using the Web as a medium for drumming up and maintaining a loyal fan base. Like AFI before them, they’ve discovered how valuable different Web tools can be. From almost-daily updates and an active message board to photos and audio messages from the band members, The F-Ups have assembled all the right tools in hopes that its ‘Lazy Generation’ fan club will become as key to their success as their youth-oriented pop punk.

Perhaps the next time around, Allen & Co. will mature from all that they’re bound to experience this summer and produce a follow-up that demonstrates the lessons they’ve learned. Then again, as Allen would say, they are who they are and they don’t apologize for that. Regardless, fans will likely have to wait until late 2004/early 2005 to find out.

“To be honest, I haven’t done all that much writing while we’ve been on the road. I’ve just been too busy and more interested in soaking it all up. I have to start bringing the guitar on the bus with me, so I can do more than I’ve been doing though [laughs].”

No, the pressure won’t start until their sophomore album. They’re fans will have grown with them and will undoubtedly expect more. Given the level of dedication The F-Ups have displayed to date, don’t bet against their ability to transcend the stagnating pop-punk culture to deliver something a little more befitting of their bitterly cold Minnesota roots.


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