Pushing Buttons

Experimental U.K. duo Fuck Buttons could care less about commercial viability—or intelligence, really

Benjamin Power, half of the U.K. experimental duo Fuck Buttons, doesn't really seem concerned by the fact that his band's name could cause consternation among radio programmers—and, surely, others both inside and outside of the music industry.

"I suppose some people are put off by the name," Power says, speaking from the phone in his London apartment. "[But] that's why we decided never to change it."

Still, others have been forced to do so: British DJs have adopted the moniker "F. Buttons" when introducing "Colours Move," the band's most recent single. And while Power says he doesn't mind the name reduction, he thinks it's time everyone moved beyond such petty concerns.

At least Power and Hung are having fun...
Judy Miller
At least Power and Hung are having fun...

"In an ideal world, everyone could just say Fuck Buttons," he says. "But look, if an old lady in the supermarket asks about my band's name, I'm probably going to say F. Buttons, as well."

For a little more than four years, Power and his partner in musical experimentation, Andrew Hung, have been creating sonically dense collages of sound that mix industrial droning with progressive, ambient trance. Yet despite the supposed inaccessibility of such a sound, Fuck Buttons' debut full-length, Street Horrrsing, has received positive press on both sides of the Atlantic. And the band's fan base appears to be continuously growing.

Not that any of that means anything to Power.

"We make music for ourselves," he says. "If other people enjoy it, which they seem to be doing, then that's just a bonus."

Enjoying a Fuck Buttons record can be an arduous task. Part Sonic Youth and part Soft Cell, Street Horrrsing is not for the faint of heart. And though portions of the record are undeniably beautiful, the overall effect can be disorienting. No doubt that makes the live performance of such songs a bit of a daunting task. "I wouldn't say there are many acts like us," explains Power. "I find it difficult to explain us in terms of sound, and I definitely think we stand alone in what we do."

Some of that difficulty comes in part because neither Power nor Hung actually play traditional instruments. Instead, they prefer using found objects for their percussion instruments, and using tape loops and computer programs to create the melodies of their sound. In the end, the Fuck Buttons' sound comes across as a very heavy and heady concoction; one London paper describes the duo's sound as "a new wave of intelligent, literate British pop." Power laughs at the notion that Fuck Buttons can be considered a pop act, though—and he's even more dubious about the other descriptors.

"That's funny to be called intelligent," says Power, "especially since both Andy and I dropped out of school when we were 12."

And yet the duo has managed to turn its Fuck Buttons work into a full-time gig through constant touring throughout Europe and, now, for the third time, coming to the States.

"We never expected to be doing this as full-on as we are now," Power says. "We never expected this to be our career."

Well, sometimes, things just fucking happen.

 
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