Wednesday 11 December 2013

The Flatliners// Interview with Chris Cresswell & Live Review at Star & Garter, Manchester

Having been a band for over a decade The Flatliners have been on quite the musical evolution, and they’re still only twenty six years old. The Ontario four-piece is back on a mammoth European and UK tour, off the back of new album ‘Dead Language’. We headed down to Manchester’s Star and Garter to catch the live set.
It was great to sit down with front-man Chris Cresswell before the show to chat about touring, why the album was over 3 years in the making and hi love for coloured vinyl.
To read the interview in full and the live review of the Manchester show click below…

So the tour started in mainland EU and it’s your first couple of days in the UK- how’s it been going so far?
Yeah, this is day sixteen I think. I got really sick just before this tour started so I’ve been in really rough shape; we had to cancel a show this week which is never an easy decision but I couldn’t even move or talk. We were toying with the idea of me playing the show but not singing, Flatliners karaoke style, but in the end it was decided not to do a half assed show. We’ll make it up to the people in Paris somehow. But the shows have been going really well.

You’ve been touring relentlessly over the past year and you’re known for being a live band. Is it especially nice playing now the new album’s out?
Yeah, it’s been really nice; with the new record being out. It’s been the busiest year but it’s been awesome. Since we put out the record and have been playing the new songs, seeing the reaction has been awesome. It could have been worse as we waited three and a half years to put out a record and the fans could have turned their back, but it’s been great.

As you said, there’s been that break between albums- but I guess you’ve been working on things in the mean time, and you put out a 7”, but it’s the first fans have properly heard from you- why did it take that long? 
Part of it taking so long was because we toured so much. We started the recording in a weird way. Around the end of 2011 we went into the studio to demo 11 or 12 songs. We recorded all the music live in two days and then we sat on them because we weren’t going to put out a record for at least another few months. A couple of months later and the process shifted dramatically; we were listening to the demos and we thought they sounded great and we were stoked. We thought why try replicating that by picking them apart to record them. So, we started the album by accident really, but then we had all these tours booked for 2012 and a bunch of ideas still being written. And that got us to 20 songs, so we recorded that second chunk at the end of last year. Then we put it all together after that.

Was it quite refreshing to approach the recording process differently? And I guess it simulates the live quality of the band as well?
It was the most fun I’ve had recording. I think we put out a really polished record before this one, so we wanted to do the exact opposite of that. We wanted to write, record and release these songs in a way that when we play them live they sound the same, so we recorded them live. We didn’t really tell anyone that we were recording for over a year. Once you throw a photo on Instagram of you in the studio, fans have to wait ages for the finished record; it’s way too much lead in time. It was really fun to f**k with people and keep them in the dark [laughing].

Talking about putting music out, you’ve just released another 7”- ‘Caskets Full’. Can you tell us more about that
 ‘Wynford Bridge’ was one of the first songs we actually wrote for the record, and it was just fun because we always write more songs than will fit on the record so it’s cool to have that option to release these songs as extras.

And you release a lot on vinyl which is really popular nowadays…
For us it’s cool to see what we can put out vinyl-wise, coloured LPs and nerdy stuff like that, and our fans tend to buy more vinyl than CDs. Half the reason we named the record ‘Dead Language’ was because CDs don’t sell in 2013. People like LPs and 7 inches; they like music on wax in a colour.

You guys have been a band for over a decade- if you could pick one of your songs to represent the last ten years what would it be?
That’s pretty tough; one song to sum up the band’s existence? Probably ‘Count Your Bruises’ from ‘Cavalcade’; it’s about knowing a group of people all your life, for the rest of your life [laughing]. Not stuck against your will of course, but you all have the same mission and ideas, and it’s full of ups and downs.

Would there be advice you’d want to tell your younger selves ten years ago?
[Laughing] I would say, don’t pick a fight with your parents when they try to convince you to go to school and not be in a band. Not to say that I regret not going to school, I don’t at all. Just there was a time that we started touring right after high school and some of our parents were really upset that we weren’t going to continue with school and it caused some issues for a little while. Nothing serious but when you’re a kid it seems so much worse and we’d just go on tour for a couple of months and not call our parents, because “they didn’t want us to do it anyways” [laughing]. I would say, listen to your parents because they love you and they’ll come around eventually.

And here’s what happened when The Flatliners took to the stage…

Tucked away behind Manchester’s Piccadilly Station, the Star & Garter was the venue for tonight’s show. The gig room up above the pub is sweaty and slightly dingy; the perfect venue for tonight’s antics. With a packed-out room and temperatures soaring, the atmosphere is buzzing; front-man Chris Cresswell admits that the band are happy to be back in the UK and it’s safe to say that the Manchester crowd couldn’t be more excited about their return. Modestly, the Canadian four-piece takes to the stage, however there is nothing understated about their show this evening. As the punk riff of ‘Eulogy’ kicks in, murmurs float through the crowd and it isn’t long before a pit has erupted as Chris’ gravely vocals soar through the room.

With a large back-catalogue of songs, the set is an eclectic mix, pleasing every fan from over the years; ‘Bury Me’ with its intricate instrumental, and the infectious ‘Caskets Full’ which encourages the pit even further. The set is filled with anthems such as ‘Here Comes Treble’, which sees the entire room joining in, adding gang vocals to the melody. Melodic and aggressive in the same breath, hits such as the aptly named ‘Monumental’ go down a storm, with the crowd cheering at the intro riff. A voice beyond his years, Chris’ vocals are gritty and passionate and, having been a band for over ten years, the live set is down to a fine art yet still feels spontaneous. You’re guaranteed to have a good time at a Flatliners show.  With the room full, people have scrambled and settled all over the venue to get the best view of the band and there is a friendly atmosphere throughout the room; a mutual admiration for the band bringing people together. Final song ‘Shithawks’ turns things up a notch to full throttle and joined on stage by support band Astpai’s singer, it is a barrage of constant stage-divers and crowd surfers; a fitting energetic end of the evening. An honest, effortless and endearing punk show. 8/10