As they return to UK shores for a run of headline shows, we caught up with vocalist Chris Cresswell and guitarist Scott Brigham from The Flatliners to talk about their fifteen years in punk rock.
You’re back in the UK for this headline run, it feels like you just can’t stay away. What keeps you coming back to this part of the world?
Scott: It’s because we like it over here!
Chris: It feels like it’s better for a guitar band to play in Europe or the UK, as opposed to a lot of places back home maybe. We have the most history touring Canada, cause it’s where we’re from, and you always start by touring your home country. But once we started coming over here almost ten years ago we just realised that people over here were a lot more psyched on punk rock and rock n’ roll music, compared to the grinding out we had to do back home.
This year marks fifteen years of The Flatliners. How do you keep it feeling fun and exciting, not like a job?
Chris: It’s music so it’s a lot more fun that a normal job. We do all have actual jobs when we’re home, so I think that helps distinguish between the band and everything else. It’s still work and it can take its toll physically and mentally, but the fact it’s music is the big win.
Scott: We all still get along and like hanging out with each other which helps, that’s pretty important.
We’re about six months down the line from you releasing your fifth full length Inviting Light. How has life as The Flatliners changed in that time?
Chris: I haven’t seen my own bed in a while.
Scott: We’ve got new songs we can add into our setlist, which is nice.
Chris: That’s about it man. It’s nice to see how new songs can grow and take different shapes, even in small ways live. But nothing’s really changed except we’ve been touring so much more this year than we did last year, because of working on that record, just freakin’ giggin’.
There was some experimentation in sound on Inviting Light, can you tell us how that came about?
Scott: We wanted to try some new things and on every record you’re going to get new sounds. It was just a product of our experiences in the studio and doing so many records.
Chris: It was the first one we did without our long-time producer Steve Rizen, just to try something else, we did four records with the same person and we’re extremely happy with all of them but we were just curious what we could pull off with some other folks. With Peter [Pablo] and Derek [Hoffman] it’s interesting because Peter’s like a rock n’ roll guy and Derek’s more of a pop guy, and we’re a punk rock band so it’s the perfect storm to go for all these ideas we’d been kicking around.
Scott: At first, we definitely talked about trying some new stuff, there were ideas floating around that seemed different, but we didn’t really feel like we were making a completely different kind of album until we started to record it. Once you dig into the guitar tone and get some weird shit going on in the vocals, it all keeps it exciting and fresh for us. If people like it that’s great and if they don’t that’s too bad, there’s other records too.
Your second record The Great Awake turned ten this year too, it’s a got a lot of fans, but what does that record mean to you in 2017?
Scott: That was a big one, it got us signed to Fat Wreck Records which was a huge deal for us when we were nineteen, it still is a big deal looking back on it. It’s quite a drastic change in sound from the previous record too, there were a lot of years between the two.
Chris: It’s the one that set us on the path that we’re still on, because we were able to sign with Fat Wreck we were able to tour a lot more. We met and befriended heroes of ours which was crazy and still continues to happen, it’s the best part of being in a band, at least in the punk world where everyone’s pretty cool.
Scott: It’s the record we put out when we really started touring heavily, I think back and we’ve pretty much been on the road for ten years, it’s pretty wild.
What are your best memories of touring over the last decade and a half?
Chris: Oh man there’s a lot, the best ones are blurry too. The firsts are always really exiting, like the first time we came over here. The first time we went to Japan was Great Awake-era and that was insane, meeting a kid before the show who couldn’t speak any English and then seeing that same kid front row of this huge festival singing along to every word, that was pretty incredible.
You’ve shared stages all over the world with punk-rock royalty throughout your career, is there anything left on your bucket list?
Scott: There’s still places we haven’t toured, we went to Brazil earlier this year for the first time, which was great but it was just a one-off festival. I’d love to go back and do a full-on tour with some smaller shows in cool cities.
Chris: We had a blast there but it was pretty in and out, it was like a classic parking lot festival, which was sick because we played a great show and met a lot of cool kids but we didn’t get to see much. As much as we’ve been super lucky touring with certain bands and going to all these crazy places, there’s something in you that keeps moving the goal post. You come home from the road and you think ‘alright we did that, now what can we do?’, and that’s the same process as when we write music. It’s crazy to think there’s still a lot we can do.
Having been a part of it for so long, how do you feel about the state of the punk scene right now?
Scott: I think it’s pretty strong man, there’s always new bands coming out and it’s always going to change a bit here and there, which I love because we’ve got to keep it fresh.
Chris: I think it’s pretty fresh to death right now! The umbrella that is the punk world has never been so vast, there’s so many different sub-genres and bands. This tour is a perfect example of that eclecticism, Prawn are amazing and such a different kind of band to us, we’ve got Shit Present out with us who are our friends and we’re totally different from them. It shows it doesn’t have to be this one thing all the time, I don’t know if it’s stronger than ever but I’d wager it’s close to.
What’s next for The Flatliners?
Scott: We’re going to go home and sleep for a little bit, we’ll finish this run in the UK which will be great and then we sleep for two days and go to The Fest in Florida.
Chris: Then we’ve got like a month off actually. We’re gonna play some shows with The Menzingers and Tigers Jaw in the States across December. We’ve got some shows with A Wilhelm Scream in Canada, we’re playing The Great Awake front to back and they’re playing Career Suicide front to back cause that record’s celebrating a tenth anniversary too, as well as it being when we all met. Then our last two shows of the year are with The Descendents which will be sick.
To end on a fun one, if an alien came to earth because he heard The Flatliners were rad, which song would you give him to best sum up your band and why?
Scott: I’d give the alien another bands song like ‘hey check out The Beatles!’.
Chris: Maybe Birds of England would be a good one, but these aliens you don’t know what they’re into man, they might want some thrashy shit.
Scott: Maybe New Years Resolution, it’s a long one and there’s different levels of what we do, softer moments and heavier moments.
Chris: That’s a good one yeah, New Years Resolution the last song off Cavalcade.
Scott: Then they’ll say ‘I’ve already got it man, it isn’t as good as The Beatles’.