Flats - The Bull & Gate, London 09/03/11 // Interview
FLATS mean it. They are unashamedly a bleedin' racket. Loud guitars, pounding drums and a wobbly bass-line threading it together into a forceful wall of nihilistic noise while on lead vocals Dan Devine exorcises lyrics like the angriest preacher this side of Bagdad. Songs start and sometimes end within 40 seconds, with no room for subtleties as its 0-80 mph in a second or not at all. Tonight there is no sing-a-longs, no cliched lighters in the air or even a slow one for the ladies; although there is a full on fight between 3 fans by the second song, this is what FLATS music does to people, I doubt they even knew what they were fighting about other than they wanted to hit something and now!
The setting for tonight's gig is Kentish Town's own sticky floored The Bull & Gate; an old fashioned square back room venue that tonight is filled and nobody is leaving until the last fizz of guitar feedback has finished mid encore when we all file out with a noticeable look in our eyes like we've all just arrived back from Vietnam circa.1969 and creating an almost too quiet eerie atmosphere outside. I have the set list of songs from the evening listed below, I couldn't really distinguish the 5th from the 8th in the list, although that to me would be missing the point somewhat as FLATS are about the experience altogether and causing a reaction from you. Whether you love them or hate them that's fine, there is nothing worse than indifference, loads of bands are "alright" and get almost nil reaction from the crowd. This is exciting music, catch them while you can.
- Lack of Stature
- Are You Feeling Rusty?
- Never Again
- Isolation Chamber
- Big Souls
- Flats Waltz
I managed to catch up with lead singer Dan Devine and Bass Player Craig before the show for a quick chat in regards to their songs, influences and upcoming tour with Morrissey.
Are there any bands around at the moment either that you've gigged with or just seen on the circuit that you like
Daniel Devine (singer): Yeah quite a few there's Electricity in Our Homes they've just finished their first record and it's unbelievable, its one that will really stand the test of time. It's so far ahead of any other debut record I've heard in a long time.
Craig E Pierce (bass): Definitely big fans of them. Also the new Hatcham Social record as well, that is great as well.
Which bands/artists have influenced your new record and newer material?
DD: For this record definitely Hellhammer has been one constant influence throughout the new album, as a band we have been listening to their stuff throughout. I bought a reprint of one of their first albums and played it to the rest of the band and we have definitely bonded over that one, it's one that gave us a lot of ideas.
CEP: The Melvins back catalogue as well; we've been going back over that as well over the last year as well, kind of rediscovering it. Iron Gods as well.
DD: The first Napalm Death records have also been an influence of our writing, some of the early stuff, the first few albums. I've been posting loads of their videos up as well.
Some of your earlier songs were very short in time, do you purposely put these restrictions on yourselves when writing or do they just come out that way?
CEP: Well sometimes it's just a case of being bored with something after only a verse and killing it, a riff or whatever.
DD: On the record there are some songs that are 30-40 second' that's it! Although some are 7-8 minutes long, we're just filled with contradictions throughout although it's on purpose I'm looking to confuse people, through some drone notes in there as well.
Do you ever feel on the outside of the current "indie" music trends and scenes?
DD: The legacy of indie music, the punk and hardcore labels are more 'indie' then any of the fucking 'indie' labels out there; they aren't being bankrolled by some massive label in the background.
CEP: I mean we like Orange Juice and bands like that but at the moment, professional indie bands like Kings of Leon? Nah.
Your line up is very traditional i.e. Guitar, Bass, Drums, Vocals, would you ever look to expand this to add other instruments as well?
DD: I was looking to play some guitar on the next record and maybe add a slow track that has two basses really tuned low, but as far as other instruments go we do just stick to the root basics, guitar, drums, bass, vocal's.
Dan, you have acquired a probably quite justified reputation about being "outspoke" in the music press and always good for a quote or sound bite, is this something you're fully aware of or do you try and steer the conversation away from the possible controversy you might cause?
DD: Half the time I just give in and give it to them, if NME want me to mouth off about Paul Weller or something I will, I doubt he gives a shit, he's sitting there with his 7 jags, did you see Gallagher (Liam Gallagher) on the cover of NME last week? Looking like an ugly Bond girl, I love Oasis but come on, enough is enough.
CEP: Although it's not really a new thing for bands to ridicule their peers, I'm sure they did it too, just joining the great continuum of bands.
Are you happy being labelled "Punk", is this a justified genre for you?
DD: It depends on the interpretation; I think we are closest thing to a real punk band around. When I think of "punk" I think of Crass, they stuck to the ideal of punk more than anything else, you don't need the Doc Martins and painted leather jackets, we put through the ideals more than anything else, we aren't going to be sitting around drinking special brew and talking about left wing politics.
CEP: Hopefully because we don't wear all that stuff and have pins through our faces hopefully I'll inspire people to look into it more, find these other bands.
DD: Yeah I mean punk when it comes along it was proper for about 3 months before Vivian Westwood come along slapped a label on it and then killed it completely. I'm really interested in hip hop and I don't go around wearing Ramones t-shirts and all that. It's the same with the Post punk influences as well, we like the music although again we don't have the high waist slacks... (Laughs)
What do you think about the current music scene. Do you feel you are really part of it?
DD: Well I've explained it before in interviews that I think you get two waves that go simultaneously, so you get the more poppy accessible music going one way and at the same time you have the other wave which is a bit more harder sounding stuff, almost when The Klaxons first come out you then had The Horrors going along at the same time but with a darker sounding thing, so you'd have a bit post punk a bit garage, at the moment its going more shoegazing stuff but I hope there will be a trend of hardcore and heavier bands coming along, some more metal influences as well.
CEP: It's hard to say from our position, we don't tend to go towards music that is in vogue or anything, I mean we're not really spearheading any trends or anything either, we're just making the music we like.
DD: Saying that I would love to spearhead a new trend, I mean not bands that sound exactly like us because we want to be the only band that sounds like us although I would love there to be other bands with a similar style or outlook.
You tend to divide an audience within the first few seconds, what's your view?
DD: Its like when I'm out shopping and I see an item of clothing and I see something really bright or something in a charity shop, half of my friends are going to laugh when I walk into the pub and half of them will think it's amazing, I always go for that stuff. I like that we as a band don't fit into a set style or trend.
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