TORONTO — Damian Abraham’s resume of live TV appearances isn’t the sort of thing that would typically excite network execs.
There was the time he and his hardcore band performed in — and completely trashed — a bathroom during a spot on MTV Live. Or the memorable performance the group put in after claiming the Polaris Music Prize in 2009, which streamed online before it aired on TV — perhaps fortunate, since Abraham finished the short set stripped to a pair of snug underwear.
Abraham is the frontman for the provocatively named F—– Up.
On Monday, he was named the host of MuchMusic’s revamped version of the venerable alternative-music showcase The Wedge, which will launch alongside a new edition of RapCity (to be hosted by Tyrone Edwards) later this month. Both will air in primetime.
Abraham says he wants his new version of The Wedge to be unpredictable, though he might not be quite as wild as he has been in the past.
“I’m definitely not going to pull my pants down and run around on live TV, but I want it to be a fun show,” the affable Abraham said. “The thing with the craziness live TV has afforded our band . . . I’ve always thought that it should be fun to watch even if you don’t necessarily know what they’re talking about.
“I want this show to be fun. I want people to tune in and see an interesting side of this kind of music . . . . (But) yeah, there’s gonna be some weirdness. You can’t have me on TV without it being weird.”
The Wedge launched in the early ’90s as a showcase for edgy, outside-the-mainstream music that might otherwise not receive the Much spotlight.
The show became a beloved cultural touchstone for many Canadians, some of whom relied upon The Wedge to break interesting bands who weren’t getting radio play. Abraham was one of those viewers.
“It was a huge part of my daily watching regime,” he said.
But over the past few years, “The Wedge” and “RapCity” were relegated to the margins of MuchMusic’s programming, being aired without hosts during inconvenient time slots.
With Much still pushing the CRTC to ease the network’s obligation to air music videos in favour of teen-oriented “lifestyle” programming, some fans have been cynical about the channel’s devotion to music.
But Abraham says the network has been supportive of the new version of “The Wedge.”
“The fact that they went to someone like me, who is not conventionally attractive and maybe not (with) the best reputation for what happens on live television when I’m on it … it shows that they’re kind of committed to getting people who are involved in these worlds to talk about these worlds, which is great,” he said.
“I’m not saying there’s not room for (’New.Music.Live’) and ’Pretty Little Liars’ and ’Gossip Girl,’ but it’s good that we’re gonna find a home amongst that and this way, when people tune in for the new Stereos video, maybe they’ll stick around and see the new Sadies video too.”
The new version of “The Wedge,” launching Jan. 26, will feature music videos, live performances and interview segments, with Abraham also promising some informative segments (for instance, a piece on silk-screening). He says the show will attempt to expose music from a variety of genres, including alternative, punk, even dance and hip-hop.
“RapCity,” meanwhile, will launch Jan. 20 with a visit to Toronto rapper Drake’s studio. The new version of show will also feature a mix of videos, performances and interviews, alongside classic moments from the vault.
For Abraham’s part, he says he’s long harboured dreams of being a VJ — he once even created a demo tape after a chance run-in with Much co-founder Moses Znaimer (“it is unwatchable,” he laments with a laugh).
And he says Much has been willing to work around his schedule. His band is touring in February and they’re in the studio right now crafting “David Comes to Life,” a ’70s-set rock opera about a young employee at a lightbulb factory and his ill-fated romance with a political activist.
“They have been, right from the get-go, really supportive of the band,” he said. “It’s so weird, because I had all these preconceived notions about what it would be like being at MuchMusic. And then all of a sudden you’re in here and you’re like: ’Oh wait, human beings work here, and we’re all having a great time and everyone loves music.’
“This is kind of the ideal of what I thought it was going to be like, being here.”