A band since the age of 14, The Flatliners have been around for a while. A long while. Many people I knew grew up listening to The Flatliners. I’m sure this is the case for a lot of people, since these guys have a huge following, but it is really pronounced in Southern Ontario. The guys have grown and matured but they’ve managed to stay awesome. Flatliners are releasing their new album, Dead Language, in a few days.
I caught up with Chris to learn more about the new album, and life on the road. I can easily say that this was one of the most pleasant interviews I’ve done. Chris couldn’t have been a nicer and funnier guy. Long live The Flatliners.
Q – Hey, Chris. How are you?
I’m good. I’m in the van with the guys driving to Quebec for a show tonight. We kicked off our tour last night in Ottawa.
Q – How was Ottawa?
It was an awesome show. We actually never sound check, but we did a longer one last night at the club. I felt so bad for the staff, like we were bothering them or something, usually bands keep those pretty short. Also, we have some friends in Ottawa and haven’t been back here in like two years, so it was great to come back.
Q – Tell me a bit about how your new album, Dead Language, came together?It was a bit of a weird process. We were in the middle of recording some demos, and we wrote a bunch of songs over a few days. These songs sat for months, and then eventually we went back and listened to them at some point. We thought they were great. It was cool because when we recorded those songs we had no intentions of putting them on an album, so the whole thing came as kind of an accident. There was no pressure on us, and no rigid deadlines, back when we recorded those. It was cool.
The second chunk of the album was recorded months after that, we took our time and went back once a week until it was done.
Q – 2010’s Calvacade was a huge hit with fans and critics. It won awards, and many people said that it was the best punk album of that year. Did you guys feel any pressure to beat that, or to match it with your next release?
It isn’t just a flat ‘no’. We felt so much gratitude and we felt so lucky about the way Calvacade was received. It was met with so much love. It was crazy, because we had no idea it would work out like that. The whole thing still brings a huge smile to my face. It can be stressful to try to constantly out do yourself. I think the reason our album took so long is because we weren’t intentionally trying to make anything record breaking. We recorded 20 songs and then picked the 13 that were our favourites. We knew what we wanted. I guess it is bigger than just trying to out do the last thing – we wen’t in thinking “let’s just make it as fucking good as possible’. We hope people like it.
Q – Punk shows tend to be huge, in a way that no other genres are. Shows are often all ages, they often start at like 6pm and feature 7 bands. People line up around the block and the shows seem to do really well. What is it about Punk music that draws people like this?
HAHA, I know what you mean. When we started in 2002, in Newmarket, we were put on a lot of shows like that: 7 or 8 bands, all afternoon! It was an awesome way to meet so many bands. Punk music tends to be community based. It is a DIY mentality – but you can’t do it all yourself… we can all do it ourselves, together? If that makes sense. Another thing I can say about these big shows is that sometimes the organizers want to give each band as much time and attention as possible. It is great for the fans to see so much music, and it is great for the bands.
Q – I’ve read that you had a band in grade 8 called, Short Notice. First of all, that is an amazing name. If we lived in a universe where it was possible for you, Chris, from grade 8’s Short Notice to come check out a Flatliners show – what do you think the grade 8 you would think?
Haha, that’s a great question. We listened to a lot of cheesy pop punk music at that time. I loved stuff like New Found Glory, Good Charlotte, Blink 182.
So, all the classics?
Yes! I mean, those bands were great at that time, but I’m definitely glad I grew and discovered other music. I think that the guys from ‘Short Notice’ would probably make a million jokes about us. I’m not sure if they would like all of our stuff. They would probably make fun of how much we sweat.
Q – What do you do to maintain your voice, while on tour?
I try not to smoke too much while on tour. I definitely try to keep the weed, and the cigarettes to a minimum because they hurt my voice. I also try to get rest because I can always feel the strain in my voice when I haven’t gotten quality rest. Some places that we tour, like certain States and European countries like Germany, still allow smoking in clubs and that kills my voice. It’s hard to be in those smoke filled clubs all night. But yea, usually I just drink water, or eat some lozenges. I did lose my voice a couple of years ago and I discovered that I had some polyps on my vocal chords. Doctors got in there with a camera and showed me what my throat looked like – it was gross. Since then, I’ve learned to sing better and to take care of my vocal chords.
Q – How involved are you guys in the production and packaging of your music?
We are pretty involved. We got to chose the artists we use, and because of that we’ve been able to hire some talented friends, which is great. We also co produced this album and were very involved in the whole process. It’s great when you can help friends out and at the same time get their opinions and input.
Q – You guys started The Flatliners as young teenagers and you’ve grown into men making music and touring. Do you ever get approached by young bands for guidance or advice?
We don’t exactly like ‘manage’ any bands, but we definitely keep in touch with a few. I’m happy to know that we can bring bands we like on tour with us, because that’s how we got our start. Bands like No FX liked us, for some reason, and took us on tour. It is important for us to pass that on to young bands. We discovered a band in the UK called, the Narwhals and we asked them to tour with us. It was so much fun. It’s great to meet bands like that and swap stories and advice. It’s a good way to exchange ideas. It is like what I imagine touring was before the internet: bands giving each other tips and lessons from the road. My favourite part is making friends with bands we like, talking shit and just getting together.
Q – What do you guys listen to while on tour? Any recommendations?
It’s a mixed bag. Right now we are listening to No Reform, and Rocket from the Crypt – actually that’s my favourite band right now. We also just listened to Presidents of The United States of America, and The Strokes. There is usually some WuTang, Tribe Called Quest, and Talib Kweli in there too.
Q – What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word, Hamilton?
Definitely Seagull Island.
Oh god! Our secret shame!
It is the first thing we always see coming into Hamilton, and it’s always like “What the fuck is that thing?!”
Thanks so much, Chris!