Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Greta Van Susteren and Pink Eyes?
It's hard to believe, but Pink Eyes — a.k.a. Damian Abraham, the notoriously manic lead singer of Toronto hardcore band F---ed Up — has joined the ranks of Fox News commentators.
After two guest appearances on the ultra-conservative cable news network's early-morning show Red Eye, Abraham has been asked to come on the show more regularly.
And yes, he realizes exactly how strange this seems to fans of the band.
"I think this probably seems weirder to me being in this situation than for people outside looking in," the always-cordial Abraham said in a telephone interview.
So, how exactly did Abraham — 300 pounds, with a shaved head and a reputation for drawing his own blood during his band's berserk live shows — become courted by an American network known for its almost outlandish conservatism?
It started with Greg Gutfeld, the embattled host of Red Eye who created a stir north of the border earlier this year when he made derogatory comments about the Canadian military.
Gutfeld's favourite album
In an end-of-2008 wrap-up, Gutfeld mentioned Abraham's band's album, The Chemistry of Common Life, as his favourite disc of the year.
Abraham got wind of this through the owner of his band's label, Matador Records. "I thought it was a joke," he notes, then emailed Gutfeld to thank him.
Soon after, Gutfeld invited Abraham onto the show. Abraham was reluctant, but Gutfeld persuaded him by naming some of the punk legends who had appeared previously, including Buzz Osborne of the Melvins and John Lydon of the Sex Pistols.
In introducing Abraham, Gutfeld gleefully uttered the band's unprintable name on-air (it was bleeped by Fox), compared them to the Beatles — "if the Beatles were any good," he added — and again called The Chemistry of Common Life the best album of 2008.
Abraham, wearing an Obama T-shirt, impressed in his five-minute appearance and was asked back.
In his subsequent appearance, Abraham shocked producers by presenting Gutfeld with a "Support Our Canadian Troops" T-shirt he'd bought at a Royal Canadian Legion hall in Calgary.
He said Gutfeld took the joke in stride, but the producers had a "look of terror on their faces."
"I was like in the heart of the Death Star — I'm on Fox News, in their corporate headquarters, there's no way out if they decide to sic Bill O'Reilly and Hannity on me," he recalled.
Abraham calls Gutfeld a "great guy" and says his comments on the Canadian military, though definitely out of line, were borne more out of ignorance than malice.
He admits he is concerned with associating himself with a network that he is "definitely not a fan of, in any capacity really."
"It's one of those things where do you take this ridiculous opportunity as it's presented to you, or do you avoid it and just continue on with your life?" Abraham said. "That's sort of the internal struggle I'm dealing with."
Turns down role as 'gender expert'
Abraham, who says Fox wants him to make at least one appearance per month and perhaps as many as three, says producers hoped to make him a gender expert because he majored in women's studies in university.
"I pointed out that there'd probably be something problematic in having a white male be an expert on gender issues," he said.
So the self-described moderate will instead be a general leftist pundit, his hulking physical presence providing a stark contrast to the usually meek commentators the network brings in to argue from the left.
Of course, before he can argue about anything, he might have to fully wrap his head around the fact that he really is going to have a standing date with Fox News.
"The idea of being in New York City and walking into the Fox News building was like, something that even last year would have been out of the question — unless I had some other agenda going in there," he said with a laugh. "Here I am as an invited guest sitting down at Fox News. It's just so bizarre."