Fuming Mouth’s Mark Whelan on Touring in Canada and Last Day of Sun

“Halloween is fucking over!” screamed Fuming Mouth frontman Mark Whelan as he threw a plush Jack Skellington doll onto the stage floor. While the singer/guitarist shouldn’t need an excuse to curb-stomp Halloween decorations that overstay their welcome, the Nov. 3 concert at Foufounes Électriques marks a new era for the group with the release of their sophomore album Last Day of Sun.

I saw the Milford, Massachusetts death/crust act play their first show in Montreal back in 2019. It was the archetypal DIY gig – 50 people packed into the very well-lit basement of a clothing store;  raucous noise elevating fans swinging from the rafters above. Four years later, Fuming Mouth have molted into a new beast – breaking in Foufs’ new Cabaret stage in style (this time there were 100 people there to see them).

Fuming Mouth are currently on the first leg of their North American tour with Final Gasp and Devil Master, burning through 25 cities in 34 days. Despite running larger numbers these days, the band still plays a lot off the cuff. “It’s day four and we’ve changed our setlist three times,” Whelan said with a chuckle. “Last Day of Sun came out today but I wanted to play some songs off The Grand Descent, and it just felt lame next to a song like ‘Out of Time.’” Although still fierce as ever, Whelan works in some melodic Katatonia-esque clean singing on Fuming Mouth’s new record, marking a more mature sound since their 2013 demo. “A lot of our music has just been slamming you against the wall. [...] I think this album having dynamics, no matter how slight they might be, really just gives that impression about how there’s different things going on in the live set now.”

Those singing parts are a real palate cleanser. When the frontman isn’t tuning into his engaging yet punkishly-monotone clean singing voice, he’s bombarding the audience with hellish screams while his eyes widen like some kind of possessed guitar-slinging demon (Last Day of Sun was recorded in Salem, Massachusetts). The stage persona pairs well with the band’s style, cranking out breakdown riffs in a true wall of sound. “It’s my one moment of letting loose and going crazy and just being very aggressive.”

Whelan’s stage energy became infinitely more impressive when he told me about his recent health issues. “I had cancer two years ago, and I did not know.” The 33-year-old frontman was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, which required a bone marrow transplant to be treated – a procedure Whelan made sound metal as hell. “They basically make it so you have no blood in your body and you’re kinda just like a skeleton, and they put new blood in you.”

“Kill the Disease” off Last Day of Sun touches on Whelan’s battle with cancer, featuring the lyrics “Fear can’t stop me now. I must persevere through all of this sickness. Plague, famine, cancer can’t kill me.” But in a cruel twist of fate, the song was more of a foreshadowing. “I did write the record before I got diagnosed,” Whelan said. “It was supposed to be fictional. And then it kinda just became real where it was the last day of sun, I literally couldn’t go outside because it would reactivate the cancer. [...] I could go out at night and be a vampire, but that’s about it.”

Whelan expressed gratitude for his treatment’s success, enough so that he’s back terrorizing audiences on stage, especially up here in Canada. “I love being able to play shows in cities like this,” he said after raving about the iconic Foufounes Électriques, given the venue’s early role in alt/punk history, hosting hallmark bands like Nirvana and Green Day before their respective pop culture explosions. “That’s the cool thing about Montreal, so many great venues have survived, and there’s a lot across the world that haven’t.”

Last Day of Sun is out now on Nuclear Blast. Make sure to check Fuming Mouth’s tour schedule so you don’t miss out on a date near you.