The Flatliners (24 septembre 2007)

Interview with The Flatliners //

[DAVE]: First off, can you give me some information on your transition between Stomp and Fat Wreck (on the internationnal side of things)?

[FLATLINERS]: About a year ago this time, we weren’t locked into any contract with any label, but we had almost an entire new record written. We’d met the head of Fat Canada at a LAGWAGON show in Toronto last July, who mentioned that her then-assistant was a huge fan of ours and never really shut up about us. Once we’d recorded a few demos for the new record, we sent them to Melanie (Fat Canada). We heard back from her almost immediately, her saying she really dug the songs and that she’d send them off to Fat Mike to see what he thought. That resonated deeply with us, that she would even consider doing something like that for us, but we really didn’t expect to hear anything back from Fat Mike. About two weeks later Mike called us directly and told us he liked what he heard, and asked for more songs. We then demoed every song we’d written for the new record, so about 16 songs, and sent them off to him. He listened to them right away and called us back. That conversation went something like this:
FAT MIKE: I really want to do this. I really want to put out your new record.
US: (grinning like idiots) Fuck yeah!
And then Union came into the picture to put the record out in Canada, which made perfect sense since we already had a sense of home with them from the last record. Things worked out perfectly for us, and we couldn’t be happier.

[DAVE]:Do you feel privileged to be on the same label as some of the biggest legends in the punk world (LAGWAGON, NUFAN, SCREACHING WEASEL)? What were your reactions when you got the news?

[FLATLINERS]: It’s a complete mindfuck to be honest. The four of us have always held Fat Wreck in such high regard our entire lives, so to be on their roster now just blows our minds. They’re a great label, with some amazing bands, and that combination with the inclusion of our band really makes us feel like we’ve accomplished something. Not to say that because our new record is coming out on Fat we can stop working hard at our band, because I don’t think we’ll ever stop working hard at it, but it does make everything we’ve done up to this point count for something more. When I heard the news from Paul, I thought he was playing some sick joke. I don’t think anyone believed him when he called us all individually. It took a while to sink in.

[DAVE]:You guys just released a new album called The Great Awake. Where does the title come from?

[FLATLINERS]: Once we’d written the new record in its entirety, we started going through all the themes of what each song was about and it all meshed together really well. The subject matter found on Awake makes for a much darker and more personal record than Destroy. It essentially, chronicles everything that happened to the band, and in our personal lives between 2004 and 2007. This is because most of the songs on Destroy were already 2 years old by the time it was released, making Destroy kind of a discography of re-recorded versions of most of our catalog at that point, with a few new ones thrown into the mix. And a lot can happen in 3 years, especially if you go out on tour for the first time between those years, and you do it again and again and again. Like I said before, there’s a dark overtone to the record, dealing with the death of a feeling, the death of friends and family members, and the death of hope in something you truly believe in, but at the same time there’s an optimistic and uplifting undertone. Through a lot of shit comes a great light I guess. Everything will go wrong before it goes right, which is a sobering feeling. And that’s what The Great Awake means.

[DAVE]:The cover art of your album is quite splendid. Can you tell us what the concept was?

[FLATLINERS]: We’re so glad our friend Bobby Bourbon, who did the art for Destroy was involved again this time around. With the subject matter of the record being some really heavy shit, for lack of a better way to put it, and since Steve Rizun excels at making big sounding records, we knew we needed something that looked big and ultimately badass, and I think we achieved that through working with Bourbon. It almost looks like the cover to a horror-movie, and that kind of imagery fascinates me.

[DAVE]:When you began writing for The Great Awake, in which direction were you going, what were your objectives?

[FLATLINERS]: When we got together and started jamming new songs, we really didn’t think about what we’d done before. I know every time a band puts out a new record, everyone hopes for it to be exactly like the one before it, but to me that’s just kind of monotonous. It’s fun to play different kinds of songs sometimes, and its fun to just jam. Almost every single song on Awake was written out of a jam, which is something we’d never really done before. Before, one person would pretty much write an entire song, bring it to the rest of the band and everyone would put their tiny little spin on it, but for the most part it remained the same as it came in. This time, the four of us wrote almost every single song together, so our musicianship improved in a big way, and the songs sounded tighter. We wanted to write some punk rock songs, we wanted to write some heavier songs, we wanted to write some straight-up ska/reggae songs, and we wanted to write some ska/punk songs. And that’s what we came up with… a bit of a more variety in style. And the best part about it was that none of it was pre-conceived. Those feelings and those intentions just came out in the most natural way while we played and wrote together.

[DAVE]:How did recording go?

[FLATLINERS]: Recording Awake was a lot of fun. It was a new experience for us too. It was our first time in an actual recording studio, and our first time being able to devote all of our time to recording a record without intense time constraints. We recorded Destroy over the span of half a year, when we weren’t in school or at work, and mainly on weekends, so it was a long process. This time, we’d record all day, watch a movie late at night, fall asleep, and wake up and do it all again the next day. The days were so long usually that I’d never make it through an entire movie at the end of the day.

[DAVE]:On your first song, you sing What do you do when doing what you love gets you nothing, gets you nowhere. Do you feel it's still that hard for you guys even though you've come this far?

[FLATLINERS]: Definitely. Being in a band is an amazing way to live, but it’s also one of the most alienating things you can do to yourself. You spend countless weeks on the road away from friends, family, girlfriends, etc. You meet a lot of people who only want to take advantage of you, especially if you’re a young band like us. There are a lot of bad things to be said about it, which gives you this feeling, this thought that no matter what you do, no matter how far you come with your music, you can still be left with nothing; whether it be no money to live, no one to share your life with, or something like that. The only way to make it being in a band is to never give up, and always hope for the best. That’s the already-jaded guy inside of me talking, and I’m young as hell. That song is all about that side of being in a band. I’m definitely not saying that’s the only side to being in a band, because some of my favourite memories and best friends I’ve made have been through playing in this band. I wouldn’t trade it for the world… It just fucks with your head sometimes.

[DAVE]:The sound on the album is much punk rock than on Destroy. What were your influences while writing The Great Awake?

[FLATLINERS]: Because so much time passed between writing each record, a lot of our influences expanded to much more than we listened to a few years ago. The four of us are all into a million different types of music, but collectively find common ground with punk rock. It’s hard to cite certain bands that we were listening to a lot while writing Awake because we’re all music dorks and all we do it listen to music really… But I can say, and I’m confident that this is the most ironic thing ever; we did listen to a lot of Fat bands while jamming together.

[DAVE]:The emotion level on the record is just overwhelming. Was it important for you guys to have that kind of intensity? How do you manage to achieve it?

[FLATLINERS]: While Destroy was an overtly politically driven record, it wasn’t pre- conceived to be that way. It just came out like that. The detrimental state of everything was what frustrated me most about the world at that point in time. And this time around, there were a lot of things brewing up inside of me while we were writing Awake. But it wasn’t like I sat down before we wrote a note to Awake and told myself that this record would consist of some of the most personal subject matter I’ve ever written. I tend to not write lyrics when I’m feeling great. I always find my most energetic and passionate outlet to be when something terrible has happened, and a lot happened in those 3 years between records, and a lot was written, so you can imagine what kind of things happened.

[DAVE]:The lyrics on the album seem even more committed and emotionnal than on the last album. Is it due to the fact that you hadn't released anything in years so you had a lot of things to say?

[FLATLINERS]: Definitely. Although I’m a young guy, the period of time between records saw my longest and most serious relationship come to a very long, drawn-out end. The four of us lost too many family members, and we lost some dear (and young) friends. I’d given up all hope in the music industry at times, thinking that it was just full of people who trampled on the dreams of those who supply it with the art it needs to survive. I saw it as a monster, and it still is in lots of ways. Being on tour so much, I’d sometimes feel alienated once I was home. I’d think I don’t have to drive somewhere 6 hours away today? I can just hang out at home and see my friends I haven’t seen in months? Weird… A lot happened in those years, so I definitely had a lot of things to write about.

[DAVE]:Information vs Entertainnment. Which is most important to you in music and why?

[FLATLINERS]: I think the can both stand on their own two feet, both when you can find a band that has the perfect balance between the two, that’s a cool thing. That’s not to say that bands without a political or at-all-informative stance are unimportant and shouldn’t be given a chance. I just love it when I see a band onstage who conveys a message while entertaining people, and they do it well, and they don’t waste too much time between songs talking about how it’s up to us to change the whole world.

[DAVE]:Montreal is at the top of the list in your myspace contest which will determine where you play. How do you explain the popularity you have in Montreal?

[FLATLINERS]: It’s because kids in Montreal fucking rule. The punk rock scene is massive in Quebec, and it probably holds its ground as one of the strongest punk rock scenes in all of North America. Montreal kids just go off, and they’re there to enjoy the show. Some of the best shows we’ve ever played have been in Montreal, so something good must be happening. I think the fact that Union/Stomp is based out of Montreal has helped us build a kind of home- away-from-home there as well. We love Montreal.

[DAVE]:What is your most memorable show?

[FLATLINERS]: Personally, I’d say one of them has got to be when we opened for ANTI-FLAG and BAG RELIGION at Metropolis. That was an amazing show, and everyone was so into it. That was when we first started realizing that we could keep coming back to Montreal and play to a crowd full of awesome kids. Playing in San Francisco for the first time was a good one too. Its always fun playing for the people who are putting out your new record for the first time, and them not being disappointed after the set! Haha. Lastly, our record release show in Toronto earlier this month was unforgettable I think. We surrounded ourselves with friends’ bands that night, and played one of the longest sets we’ve ever played. It was a sweaty party.

[DAVE]:Can you give a funny anecdote from your last tour?

[FLATLINERS]: We played a show in Chicago in July, and then drove across the U.S. to start a tour on the West Coast. My cousin, who just moved to Sacramento, put us up for a few days, and we foolishly drove way out of our way to San Jose to play the first show on the tour. While on our way, we realized we weren’t actually playing that show. That’s not really as funny as it is sad though. A classic tour story I can tell is the time Scott slept in the van one night in Michigan. Our van and trailer were parked in an Eye Doctor’s parking lot, so this Doctor calls every towing company in town until he can find one that will tow our rig. Scott slept through our van and trailer being towed onto a flatbed tow truck, and woke up in an impound lot. We had to pay $200 to get our van and Scott back.

[DAVE]:You guys will be playing at The Fest in Florida. Is it your first time there? What bands are you looking to see there?

[FLATLINERS]: It’s our first time at The Fest, and we’re absolutely fucking stoked. It seems to me this is the best weekend around these days for a festival. Fuck Leeds and Reading, go to The Fest and drink all the Pabst you want. Haha! I’m excited to see almost every single band playing, so it’s going to be a busy few days, but some I definitely can’t miss are DILLINGER 4, SUNDOWNER, THE SHOOK ONES, THE DRAFT. It will be good to see some friends we haven’t seen in quite a while too. It’s going to be a crazy weekend.

[DAVE]:If you had to put up a benefit show, what would it be for and who would you invite?

[FLATLINERS]: I would somehow arrogantly try to top Live8 and invite Bob Geldhoff to bask in his own defeat.

[DAVE]:What’s coming up for you guys in the months ahead?

[FLATLINERS]: We’re on tour until (almost) the rest of the year. Then we’ll take a quick break for the holidays, and then go on tour some more. We’ll be everywhere! We’ve got some other things in the works too, but those won’t be revealed for quite some time, so for now we’ll keep everyone on their toes.

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