The Flatliners (23 avril 2010)
Entrevue de Isa avec Chris
La formation candienne THE FLATLINERS vient de lancer son tout nouvel album sur Fat Wreck Chords et nous avons eu une longue discussion avec elle où elle nous dévoile quelques secrets...
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[ISA]: You recently got back from a tour in Australia. How did that tour go?
[CHRIS]: It was unreal. To be on the other side of the world and have kids singing along to our songs is an incredible feeling. After trying to get to Australia a few times before and it never panning out, we finally made it thanks to our new friend Ben Neilsen. This guy is a legend and treated us like kings while we were there. The shows were great, the kids that came out were super-stoked and really great to meet, and that country in general is just amazing. PLUS we got to feed kangaroos and swim in the Indian Ocean. None of us wanted to leave when it was time to go.
[ISA]: Let’s talk a little about the beginnings of THE FLATLINERS. You got together eight years ago and you toured around the world several times. Are there any experiences that you feel like you missed out and wish you could do in the future?
[CHRIS]: I can’t think of anything we’ve missed out on really. I mean we never went to college or anything, but I honestly don’t feel like I missed out on that experience. We were never cut out for that kind of thing anyways. The four of us share a passion to play music and do nothing else. We’re so lucky to be able to do what we do simply because we’re friends and write music together. We’ve been able to see most of the world we never thought we would, so rather than toil over what we may have missed out on in life, we just think of the new exciting places we’d like to go to.
[ISA]: Would you like to be making music all your life or is there any other profession you would want to try?
[CHRIS]: Again, if we weren’t in this band I couldn’t see any of us doing anything outside of music really. Even things like working for bands or at venues I could see us doing when we’re older. But for now, we’re gonna play music for as long as we can. Cause we love it. Although if you want to make any money in the music business, do not start a band hahaha.
[ISA]: Do you have any solo projects or are you involved in other bands?
[CHRIS]: A few of us have filled in for bands here and there but we’re so busy with THE FLATLINERS that even if we had other ideas that wouldn’t fit with this band, there’s just no time really. Paul has filled in for THE SWELLERS’ drummer Jonathon Deiner, I’ve filled in on guitar for my girlfriend’s band CAVALIERS and for CATCH 22’s guitarist Pat Kalpan, Jon has filled in on bass for KEEPIN'6 and Scott has filled in for Patrick Mathers of the late, great HOSTAGE LIFE. But among the four of us there is a pretty eclectic taste in music, so when we get together to write songs there’s definitely a cool mix of ideas and I think we each achieve what we want from the process.
[ISA]: You are touring almost non-stop all year. Is being far from home, your families and friends ever been an issue that left you uncertain about pursuing the path you have chosen?
[CHRIS]: I mean everyone has their bad days on tour where you think man I’d love to be home right now, spending time with the people in my life back home and sleeping in my own bed – but it’s in those moments you need to stop and realize how fucking lucky you are to be wherever you are and the reason you’re there. Even if you’re in Nowheresville and it’s a bummer of a night, there’s a good chance that tomorrow will do the trick to cheer you up. Not everyone gets the chance to do what we do, and not every night on tour can be the best night of your life. You’ve just gotta keep a positive mental attitude.
[ISA]: When it all started, did you ever think you would end up being part of the Fat Wreck family? And how is it to be working along with Fat Mike and all the crew?
[CHRIS]: We never expected this at all. We dreamed about it when we were growing up in the punk rock scene, on bands like NOFX, NO USE FOR A NAME, LAGWAGON and so many more. Most of the bands that got us into punk rock music are the flagship Fat Wreck bands. So when Paul called on a cold January night in 2007 saying that Fat Mike wanted to put out The Great Awake I did not believe him at first. I thought he was fucking with me, straight up. It took a while to sink in, but once we met Mike and everyone at the office I really started to believe it. This was after we’d signed with them hahaha. Fat Mike has been so incredible to our band. NOFX has taken us out on tour 4 or 5 times in North America, Europe and Japan – showing us the time of our lives. And Mike even came up to Toronto for a weekend in November to work on some songs with us for Cavalcade. The dude’s heart is in the right place and he is dedicated to making great records with all his bands. We are extremely honoured to be a part of the Fat Wreck family we grew up on. It’s a fucking trip.
[ISA]: Which one of your albums was the hardest to conceive? Why?
[CHRIS]: Definitely Cavalcade. We ended up recording it between tours throughout the latter half of 2009 and certain songs went through a few different mutations. It was a stressful way of recording for sure, but all in all we ended up with a record we all love and are extremely proud of. We were fortunate enough to invite a bunch of friends of ours in bands to lend their voices and talents and we had a great time putting it together, even amidst the strange recording schedules.
[ISA]: You guys have covered the song Cry, Cry, Cry on the compilation All Aboard: A Tribute To Johnny Cash. How was it to cover a song of such a legend and to be part of this project along with other amazing punk bands? Has he (Johnny Cash) ever been an influence for you?
[CHRIS]: Johnny Cash is the original punk rocker. He embodied everything punk rock music does today well before it even existed. I don’t think anyone into punk rock can deny that Johnny Cash has served as a serious influence for the genre. Neil from Anchorless Records approached us about doing a song for the tribute comp. We were honoured to do something for it, and THEN we found out what other bands were on it and that got us even more stoked. To be in the company of some of our favourites and also some friends’ bands here and there is really cool. It’s the only song I’ve ever done the vocals for in one take too. It HAD to be someone’s else song right? Hahaha.
[ISA]: Last November, you released Cynics, a 7'' EP. Why did you put out an album six months before another one? Why didn’t you add the three featured songs on Cavalcade? And finally, why was Filthy Habits chosen for the album?
[CHRIS]: Cynics was our teaser 7’’ for Cavalcade. Of the songs we worked on from the initial Cavalcade sessions we knew we were happy with Filthy Habits the way it was, and we also felt like Thunder and Lightning had a good chance not making the record. We all still love that song and play it live all the time, but to us it seemed more like an EP king of song. We also had 407 kicking around from The Great Awake sessions. The only reason we cut it from that record was so we could release that record on vinyl. If we kept that song on the record it would have been too long. So we threw them together to make Cynics and string folks along until Cavalcade came out. Fat loves putting out 7’’s too so it all worked out nicely. We decided to include Filthy Habits on Cavalcade as well, because for every person who buys 7’’s and things like that, there are 10 times the amount that don’t. There are lots of people who only pick up a band’s album, and we figured that we should give that song a real good shot at being heard so we threw it on the album as well. We still have about 4 b-sides from this new record that we’ll surely release one day somehow.
[ISA]: From Destroy To Create to The Great Awake, there is a noticeable change vocally and musically and it appears to be even more clear on Cavalcade, what are the main reasons for that change of direction?
[CHRIS]: We never set out to write songs with any clear intention. Fact is, just like regular people, musicians grow. Like I mentioned before, there’s an eclectic taste of music within our band and all of those begin to serve as an influence sooner or later. We ended up writing a few heavier songs and a few mellower songs for Cavalcade, but otherwise I’d say it’s the same old us. We spent a lot of time, almost all of our time, on tour after The Great Awake came out, so we were able to learn new things about the world, see new places, meet new people, forge new friendships, and play with lots of different kinds of bands. All of that serves as an influence as well. I think we were also able to brush up on our chops, meaning we finally learned how to play our instruments well, haha.
[ISA]: For the making of Cavalcade, you worked with the producer Steve Rizun. You’ve been working with him for a while now and you are the first band to appear on his label Drive Records. How do you feel about that?
[CHRIS]: We’re really excited. Steve’s been working with our band, producing our records and managing the band, since the Destroy to Create days, so working with him on the Canadian-only release of Cavalcade is cool because we’ve got so much control over everything. And Fat is unbelievably understanding of the benefits that Canadian bands can take advantage of through government grants and whatnot, so the whole thing seemed to fit really well. Stomp Records allowed us an incredible opportunity by taking a chance on us early on and we appreciate it to this day, but now we’re able to do it ourselves in Canada so we figured we’d give it a shot.
[ISA]: What have been your major influences for the new record?
[CHRIS]: I know it’s a cop-out, but everything has served as a major influence. We live a very positively driven life of seeing the world for free, meeting people who are fans of our music, and just being surrounded with incredible support and love. There’s nothing we’ve experienced that hasn’t found its way into a song somehow, or even into a shape of an idea. Musically, we just listened to a lot of ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA and ripped them off. I think that goes without saying though.
[ISA]: You will be releasing Cavalcade on April 13th. Do you have any concerns about the reactions of your fans and does the critic usually bother you?
[CHRIS]: We appreciate it when people write about our music in the press, but it’s not going to change our perception of what we’ve done you know? We’re sent every review to read, good or bad. There’s no bullshit here. Everyone’s opinion will be different and that’s the great thing about art. Perception changes from person to person. Take from it what you will. If you enjoy it, then hell yeah! We’re stoked. If not and it’s your thing, that’s OK. We’ve already had a flood of good vibes coming in from our fans about the new record, and that’s what makes us truly happy. There’s never really any worry when we release something new. We’re always excited about it, and the fact that our fans are too is good enough for us.
[ISA]: You have just started the promotion of your new record by touring along with BROADWAY CALLS and COBRA SKULLS. How is the tour so far and what is the reaction of the public?
[CHRIS]: This tour has been a fucking blast so far. We’ve known both BROADWAY CALLS and COBRA SKULLS for a few years now. We’re all big fans of their music and them as people. We’ve wanted to bring both bands to Canada for quite a while and the fact that we brought them both at once is awesome. The shows have been insane and the new songs we’re playing every night are going over very well. We’re in a good place. We’re very lucky to have these incredible bands out with us, these incredible fans coming out to the shows showing us their love and lending their voices, and just to have this opportunity. Life is fucking good.
[ISA]: Any funny anecdotes you want to share with us?
[CHRIS]: Last night at our show in Saskatoon there was a dude in a wheelchair rocking the fuck out in the pit. That was insane to see while we were playing. He was the king of the pit. Amazing! Also, Devin from COBRA SKULLS has his dog Bella out on tour right now and she has this obsession with empty water bottles. They’re her favourite toy, so after show each night Devin brings her into the club and all of us just throw a bunch of empty water bottles around and watch her lose her shit. Best dog ever.
Favorite city: Top 5 in no particular order: Toronto, Montreal, San Francisco, Melbourne, Berlin
Weirdest place ever visited: Confederate America. It’s a bummer there’s still a place with so much hatred.
Last CD you bought: NINJA GUN – Restless Rubes
Favorite album: Currently- A WILHELM SCREAMs self-titled EP
Favorite song: Currently- Rebel Fate by COBRA SKULLS
Favorite band: THE CLASH
A band we should check out: COBRA SKULLS, BROADWAY CALLS, THE SNIPS, CAVALIERS, OK PILOT, DEAR LANDLORD
Favorite tour so far: NOFX/DILLINGER FOUR 2009 Canadian/American tour is definitely up there.