Squalor My World: Punk Purists G.F.U. Toast Life Among The “Rats”

It’s a proud tradition for punk bands to pay tribute to the absolute disaster area they live in. Fear did it with “I Love Livin’ in the City,” and Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom followed suit with “New York, New York.” To that list, add the York Region, Ontario, quartet G.F.U., who immortalize their life of filth on “Rats,” the latest track pulled from their 2023 four–song debut ep, Grand Slam.

Over a classic amphetamine rhythm and guitar riffs Cheetah Chrome might envy, the band peel off an anthem to a neighborhood where the garbage is piled as high as your knees and “the stink is rising high.” (It probably has something to do with those “fishbones in the trash can.”) And of course, there’s that titular infestation they chant about on the chorus, with all the nihilistic bravado of a young Black Flag:

Rats in the streets
We got rats in the streets

Bassist/vocalist Thomas “Tommy Boy” Miliband wrote the song about some living conditions he had to endure back when he was a member of a group called Tomcats. But a chance meeting at a rehearsal revealed the true destiny of the song—and of its author too. One room over from where Tomcats were woodshedding, guitarist/singer Matt “Mad Matty” Bergman was producing some tracks for the singer Jeremy “Jayboe” Cibirka. In the veritable wink of an eye, the latter two had conscripted Millband to form a new group with them—one they knew could deliver the authenticity they were missing in today’s punk.

Christening themselves G.F.U. (you get three guesses what the name stands for, one for each initial), they embarked on a frenzied burst of pandemic-era activity. They recorded Grand Slam at The Hive Studios in York Region, relying on the production expertise Bergman had built up working with the likes of the award-winning surf-punk band King Beez and the Grammy-nominated Green Jelly. He even played drums on the record, their first choice of Dan Felushko being initially unavailable. In their first year as a group, they not only released the record but played more than 60 live shows, including high-profile gigs with legends like Forgotten Rebels, Ripcordz, Chris Murray and Random Killing. (Friend of the band Billy Briggs filled in on drums until Felushko could finally take his rightful spot.)

G.F.U.’s high-impact playing style and novel three-vocalist format have since won them plenty of fans of their own, a rabid cult following that call themselves The Wrecking Crew. The band are proud of their combined weight of over 1,000 pounds and their collective height of more than 25 feet tall, which they feel give them the look of pro wrestlers working a side hustle. But they can show a sensitive side too, reveling in the diversity of having an Indigenous guitarist/producer and an autistic lead singer.

In spring 2024, the band is embarking on a big cross-Ontario tour that’ll include a March 23 appearance with Forgotten Rebels and Random Killing at Lee’s Palace in Toronto. Dates are as follows:

March 16: Newmarket – The Lion
March 17: Newmarket – The OV (covers show)
March 23: Toronto – Lee’s Palace
March 28: Hamilton – Casbah
April 5: Barrie – CW Coops
April 6: Meaford – Ted’s Diner
April 12: Toronto – Seescape
April 13: Newmarket – The OV (covers show)
April 19: Windsor – Villains
April 20: London – Palasad Socialbowl
April 27: Richmond Hill – Archibalds
May 3: Oshawa – Simcoe Restrobar
May 4: Guelph – Red Papaya
May 10: Waterloo – Dive Bar
May 11: Niagara Falls – Taps Brewery
May 24: Barrie – CW Coops
May 31: Newmarket – The Lion
June 1: Toronto – Bovine Sex Club
June 22: Barrie – CW Coops
June 29: Newmarket – The OV (covers show)

In the midst of all that live activity, G.F.U. will be releasing another three-song EP in April. And they promise that plenty more shows are coming in the summer and fall, including the second annual Punk Rock BBQ and the third annual West Queen West Punk Fest, both to be held in Toronto with some legendary bands TBA at the top of the bill. Knee-high garbage and fishbone stink for everybody!