Interview: The Flatliners

tfIf there’s one thing I learnt after interviewing The Flatliners, it would be to never conduct an interview on the stairs of Newcastle Academy during sound check again, because it makes transcribing even more of a bitch.

Faye: Hello, can you say your name and your role in the band?
Chris: My name is Chris, and I sing and play guitar.
Paul: I’m Paul, I play the drums.

Faye: So, how did The Flatliners begin?
Chris: We all went to school together, we’ve known each other since we were little kids, and grew up together. We eventually all started playing together in grade 9, we were 14. We would practise a lot, and pretty much play covers of every band’s songs we knew. Then we’d go to shows in a town called Newmarket, which was just a little bit north of where we live in Canada, and see all these bands play, like ska/punk music and stuff.
Paul: Like really, really fast music.
Chris: Yeah, yeah, we were like, “Let’s do that!” So we started writing our own songs and stuff.
Paul: Yesterday was actually our seventh anniversary of playing live for the first time together.

Faye: Your sound’s pretty unique, how did that come about?
Chris: We listen to different types of music, so I guess it bleeds through into our own music. We all have bands that we have a common interest in, bands like Rocket from the Crypt, Rx Bandits, The Bronx, you know what I mean? Kind of all over in one sense, but everyone has their own thing as well.
Paul: But our sound, I don’t know, what do we have on our MySpace?
Chris: Punk, reggae and grime! [laughs] We enjoy playing different types of music, so if it ends up with our own kind of style, that’s pretty cool.

Faye: You’re on tour with NOFX, at the moment, how’s that going?
Chris: It’s amazing!
Paul: Yeah, this is our third tour with them.
Faye: You’ve toured with them twice in America, haven’t you?
Paul: Yeah, so it’s cool playing with them somewhere else, it’s a totally different experience. We’ve never been to Ireland before, and we played a headline show in Scotland yesterday.
Chris: Yeah, it was a lot of fun, but, yeah, it is totally different to come over here with these guys. The shows are way too good, we’re very lucky to have this opportunity to do it, it’s a fucking blast. It’s like a circus [laughs], it’s amazing.

Faye: Are you finding that people are familiar with your music here?
Chris: Yeah, yeah, I think it’d be accurate to say that kids in the U.K. started writing to us saying, “Come play shows here!” before kids in the U.S. did, so that’s pretty cool.
Paul: It took us a pretty long time to come here.
Chris: Yeah, it did take us a long time to finally get over here but now that we’ve done it once, it’s kind of like the cherry’s popped. [laughs] So we can keep coming back.

Faye: You played Groezrock festival this year, how was that?
Paul: It was awesome, we played last year, so we were pretty lucky to be able to do it two-times in a row.
Faye: Did you get to watch anyone?
Chris: Yeah, I actually watched a lot more bands than the year before, there were some awesome bands this year. I saw some of The Get Up Kids set, I’m a big Get Up Kids fan.
Paul: The Vandals…
Chris: Yeah, The Vandals were good. I saw a couple songs by Comeback Kid, those guys are huge here. It was a blast.
Paul: Me and Joe watched Bleeding Through, and couldn’t handle the strobe lighting. [laughs] We were just there going, “Oh my God, can you believe this?!”
Chris: We had our friends’ band called This Is A Standoff playing, they’re incredible. The Unseen and Street Dogs played on the same stage after us, so that was cool to share a stage with them, and The Living End, that was good. The one band we were all bummed out on about missing was Bane, we played at almost the exact same time, we’re all huge Bane fans, but it was still the best weekend ever. [laughs]
Paul: We still got the party with those dudes, though, that was cool.

Faye: You been partying hard this tour?
Chris: Oh my God, everyday!
Paul: We also had a bag of weed [at Groezrock] like that [demonstrates how big the bag of weed was - it was big]. We kept it on us, so we were giving it away.
Chris: We’ve been going out hard this whole tour and I think it’s finally caught up on me, I’m feeling like I can’t drink a drop tonight at all.
Paul: Yeah, detox night, but there’s a nice shiny bottle of Jameson sitting around.
Chris: Yeah, it’s not going to be a detox night. [laughs]

Faye: I take it that none of you in the band are straight edge?
Chris: No, no, not at all. We’re all into the alcohol environment. [laughs] Our merch guy, he’s not straight edge, he smokes cigarettes and drinks caffeine and stuff, but he’s just said he’s stopped drinking for a while. He didn’t say for good, just for a while, but we’ll get him drinking again.

Faye: You’ve been on some pretty awesome tours, any that stand out?
Chris: It’s hard to say… Hey, Scott!

[Scott (guitarist) joins us]

Paul: You wanna join in with the interview?
Scott: Sure! What was the question?
Faye: What have been your favourite tours?
Scott: This has been a good one. We did a tour with NOFX and Dillinger Four, that was awesome, a collective of our favourite bands.
Paul: Any tour we’ve done with A Wilhelm Scream!
Scott: Basically every tour we’ve been on. [laughs]

Faye: You’re signed to Fat Wreck Chords, that’s gotta be sweet…
Chris: Yeah, it’s the best, definitely hasn’t sunk in.
Faye: Who are your favourite bands on the label?
Chris: All of them. [laughs] They’re all good, that’s the thing, they’re all amazing bands. It’s an honour to be a part of it.
Scott: I grew up with the older bands, and all of the new bands are most of the punk we listen to today. It’s not just because we get their CDs for free either. [laughs]

Faye:  Since you’re label mates, what are Dead To Me up to these days?
Chris: They’re jamming and writing.
Faye: Sweet, for a new album this year?
Paul: Hopefully, quoted as this year.
Chris: But who knows? You never now with those guys. [laughs] I think they’re the best band that’s come out in the last five-years, they’re awesome.

[John (bassist) briefly appears]
Scott: OH, JOHN’S HERE!
Chris: Ahh, he left. John’s scared of interviews.

Scott: But yeah, Dead To Me, they’re real nice guys, too.
Paul: Chicken [of Dead To Me] let us load all of our gear into his house, the other week, while we went to Japan for the week. So, we got stoned in San Francisco, partied, made a lot of noise, barbecued…
Scott: Got really drunk, and we have this long-going thing, we both love to play fuse ball every now and then, so we always have Canada vs. America, [whispers] Canada always wins!
Chris: It’s true, and Chicken’s good too.

Faye: So, what about your new record, have you been writing?
Chris: Yeah, it’s mostly written, we have enough songs for a full-length. Our plan is to put it out by the end of the year, so we’ll record it early summer, hopefully. We’re gonna be touring for like a week, then we’re off for a few months, so somewhere in between that time we’ll find time to record it.

Faye: What can we expect from it? Because your second record, The Great Awake, was pretty different to your first, Destroy To Create.
Scott: It’s not going to be a lot different from the second.
Faye: Awesome, I prefer the second one.
Scott: It’s going sound like the first one now, just because you said that.
All: [laugh]
Chris: A lot time passed between the first record and the second record, like writing-wise, not as much time has passed this time. We wrote our first record when we were really young, like 14/15 and recorded when we were 16. The last one we recorded when we were 19, so a lot of time had passed. There’s still differences but it’s not going to be anything way out of the field.
Scott: Rick Rubin is going to produce it, so he’ll put a good spin on it for us.
Chris: We’re only going to put it out in Scandinavia, you won’t be able to buy it online. Just in stores in Scandinavia, that’s the main difference this time. [laughs]

Faye: What does KHTDR stand for?
Chris: It’s a secret!
Paul: I’d love to tell you, but we’re sworn to secrecy. I think there’s only one other person who knows what it means.
Chris: Nah, there’s a handful of people who’ve found out.
Paul: We just want one of those things that nobody knows. [laughs]
Chris: I’ll tell you this, the acronym sounds better than what it actually stands for. It’s got more of a ring to it! [laughs]
Paul: Actually, that was the first song we wrote for that record.
Faye: It’s definitely my favourite song on the record.
Chris: I wish we could play it, but we can’t, it’s a long song.
Paul: When we come back, we’ll play it. We usually play it, we did it last night.
Chris: At our headline shows kids usually ask for it.
Paul: It’s an easy way to shut them up at the end of the set, since it’s so long! But sorry, we can’t tell. One day, when the band breaks up, we’ll say. [laughs]

Faye: Tell me your last bit of Bad News.
Paul: I lost my phone in Paris. So going to the bar, and looking into my pocket and being like, “Where’s my phone?” That’s pretty bad news. Oh, and my sister’s dog getting put down.
Chris: True, that’s a horrible question. [laughs]
Faye: [laughs] Sorry, I tried.
Chris: I’m just kidding! [laughs] It was a good question, actually.

Faye: What was the last argument you had in the band?
Chris: Oh, touring with NOFX, we pick up on little things that they and their crew do, and there’s this thing called The Game. Like say you come out of a restaurant with like a burger, fries, a drink, and a tray, right? And you’re walking out, and your friend just slaps it out of hand onto the ground, if you get angry you lose The Game, but if you were like, “Oh, that was hilarious!” you win the game. But the other day, Paul was walking out of the band room in Dublin, with a big whiskey drink, and Scott our guitarist Gamed Paul, just smacking his head, and I’m sure there was an argument after that. [laughs]

Faye: If this argument escalated into a fight with you all, who in the band would win?
Chris: None of us are good fighters at all! Scott is the wiriest guy I would say, y’know, just quick and little. But, yeah, he’s pretty small, so I could beat the shit out of Scott, totally, any fucking time.
Paul: You’re going to start something with this question. [laughs]

Faye: If I had a look at your iPods or whatever right now, would you be embarrassed by anything?
Chris: To look through our iPods and stuff it’d take you a while. [laughs] We all stock that shit with as much as possible. On our own iPods we have demos of our old stuff that sound horrible, like really early versions of songs, so that’d probably be embarrassing if people heard.
Paul: I don’t know if there’s anything I’d be embarrassed about, some people might make fun of some of the fun, pop songs that Scott has on his iPod.
Chris: Yeah, like Scott has Tears For Fears on his iPod and stuff, but that guy’s got a really good taste in music, it happens! I’m trying to think of guilty pleasures, I’ve been listening to the new EP by that band Death Cab For Cutie a lot, I guess that’s nothing to be embarrassed by though.
Faye: Yeah, that’s not a guilty pleasure!
Chris: People, well punks, make fun of me for it. Dudes with mohawks, they don’t like it, so that’s probably one right there.

Faye: So, I’m currently doing some uni assignment on the illegal downloading of music, what are your thoughts on it?
Chris: You might as well not let it bother you.
Paul: It helps more than anything, I think.
Chris: Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, we’ve always believed that music should be sold for as cheap as possible to people. We’ve been able to find that Fat Wreck Chords does the same thing, they’ve always said, “Sell it for as cheap as possible.” So, we sell our CDs for £5 in the U.K. We can’t just give it away for free, we’d be fucked, we’d never be able to go on tour anywhere, y’know? We need to sell the CDs, but we want to sell them for as cheap as possible. In that way, someone could download your record but also buy it without spending that much money, so it’s cool.
Paul: It helps in the long run because they know if they can’t buy the record physically at a store or if they don’t have a credit card, or something like that, then they’re gonna come see the show.
Chris: Exactly, we played our first show in Scotland last night, in Glasgow, and there’s kids singing along and I’m sure a lot of the kids who were singing along to the songs downloaded the record, but they’re at the show, which is the best part, so that’s all that really matters.
Paul: If the internet didn’t exist then people wouldn’t be singing along.
Chris: Yeah, MySpace is the best thing ever invented for bands, other than vans, and instruments, I suppose. [laughs]

Faye: Do you download music?
Chris: I do, I’m the same way, if I download the record and like it, I’ll buy it. If I download it, listen to it and don’t like it, then I’ll not buy it.
Paul: I just physically steal CDs from people. [laughs] I don’t have any of those FTP programmes or anything, like Soulseek or use torrents. I used to, but I’ll buy stuff now, if I really want it.
Chris: I find myself buying a lot more vinyl than CDs these days though, because if I am going to buy it, I’d rather have that kind of hard copy. It’s the way everyone’s going these days, no one wants to buy CDs no more. That’s another reason why we sell our CDs for so cheap, and why Fat Wreck Chords want to sell all their records for so cheap, because you’re either going to download it and put it on your iPod or buy the vinyl, so you have big artwork and the sound’s awesome, and it looks fucking cool.

Faye: Is there anyone’s vinyl you collect?
Paul: Hot Water Music for me.
Chris: I have almost every Dillinger Four record on vinyl, like LPs, as far as 7” go I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get them all, but we all have our little obsessions. Scott’s trying to get every Rocket from the Crypt record known to man.
Paul: He’s got a lot of the Deftones records on vinyl which is pretty rare.
Chris: Yeah, it’s fun collecting, it’s the best way.

Faye: What are you most proud of in your musical career?
Chris: Everything! [laughs] The fact that we’re here now, playing songs that we wrote together when we were in our basements, when we were kids, and we’re still kids, hanging out with these fucking awesome bands.
Paul: Going to Japan, that was great.
Chris: Yeah, like going to places for the first time that you never thought you’d visit, even when you go back to those places for the second it’s still like, “I never thought I’d come back a second time.”
Paul: Dublin was kind of like that, I mean, I never thought we’d get to play in Ireland.
Chris: We’ve been really lucky, so we’re just excited when we get to do anything, we find ourselves privileged.

Faye: So, are you excited to be coming back to the UK in August for a headline tour?
Chris: Yeah, it’s going to be awesome!
Paul: I’m glad people know about that already.
Chris: There’s this band called OK Pilot…
Paul: Yeah, they’re awesome, we’re going to try play some shows with those guys but I’m not sure how it’s going to pan out.
Chris: We played with them in Exeter last year and ever since then we’ve just become obsessed with that band, we’ve become friends and stuff, they’re wicked.

Faye: Haven’t you been announced for Leeds and Reading Festival?
Chris: I know it’s on some sites, but I don’t know if it’s on the main site, we haven’t announced it personally yet, but yeah… [laughs]
Paul: We were trying to figure out last night, who’s going to be playing when we are.

Faye: What are The Flatliners getting up to when you go back home?
Chris: This is the end of a very long tour for us, like eight/nine weeks, so we’re all having a blast when we get home and we’re just going to sleep and deflate, then record. We’re doing a few Canadian shows in May.

Faye: Playing The Fest this year?
Chris: Yeah, we are, it’s going to be sweet.
Paul: That’s when we’re trying to get the record out for, and do a whole big tour of North America in a circle.

Faye: Change the record, who should we be listening to?
Paul: OK Pilot, Attack in Black…
Chris: Hostage Life and a band called The Snips, who are also from Canada, they’re really good. There’s a cool band from Minneapolis called Off With Their Heads, I think they’re coming here soon, they’re really rad.
Paul: Oh, and P.O.Box, they’re from France.

Faye: I think that’s about it, is there anything else you want to say?
Paul: Keep checking our MySpace for dates, www.myspace.com/theflatlinerstoronto
Chris: England is the greatest place on earth to play shows!

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