The Flatliners Explode.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

As much as everyone loves to say that they saw it coming after an event has happened, some of the best punk records ever released have seemed to come out of nowhere and smash unsuspecting listeners over the head. That isn't to say that bands like NoFX, Green Day, Rise Against and Rancid never left any impression on fans that they could be capable of making albums like Punk In Drublic, Dookie, Siren Song Of The Counter Culture and …And Out Come The Wolves, only that the underdog sensibility inherent to punk never lets listeners expect great things to be on the horizon – certainly not of the magnitude of those aforementioned albums. In most cases, fans usually just expect that their favorite band is going to remain something of a private pleasure for them and a small group of like-minded peers but the pieces just happen to line up to make that not the case. Suddenly everyone gets it at once by serendipity; good luck (and good songs) over good management and, according to Flatliners singer Chris Cresswell, such was sort of the process that ultimately yielded Cavalcade; without exactly intending to, the band actually made the album twice. “You know? The truth is that is was kind of a painful process,” laughs Cresswell, now removed from the process. “We had written a bunch of songs while we were on tour and in those times when we had breaks in 2008 and 2009 – over that span – and then we demoed a bunch of those songs while we were off tour; then we went back out on the road with NoFX and we gave Fat Mike a demo while we were out there with them. We were really excited for him to hear it so, like, everyday we'd be asking him if he'd listened to them and he'd always say, 'Nah, I haven't listened to them yet.'”

“He called me when we got home though, and he was saying how much he liked them,” continues the singer, “and he asked us if we were going to write more songs and we told him we were; we only handed him around eight or nine. So it was a pretty normal process at that point and we recorded a few more songs so we recorded about fourteen songs last summer, total. We finished that up two days before we went away to Europe where we spent six weeks touring and, when we got home, we talked to Mike again. He said he liked it a lot, but he thought it might be good to add more songs and asked us if we wanted to do some more and then we'd put out the best of all of those. He said, 'Right now you've got a record – but you don't have any extra songs or anything.

“At first, we were a little bummed out because we were ready to put it out but it was really a blessing in disguise because we got this second breath with our own record; we had a bunch of ideas that we'd just never really finished so we finished those – about four songs – and recorded them. I think three or four of those actually made the record and then a few of the ones we'd done during the summer didn't. The ones from the summer sessions that did make the album, we and tweaked with Mike; he came up for the weekend wanting to jam with us which was really exciting for us and it worked out really well; we didn't really change all that much, we worked on a few melodies here and there, and a couple of the chord progressions and that was about it. They were all very subtle things, but the guy knows what he's doing; he definitely helped us with the songs and helped us to rejuvenate our excitement about the process.

“Our challenge was making sure that every song on the record could stand alone and the ones that couldn't didn't make the record,” states Cresswell, recapturing that excitement at the memory of it. “We'd never done a record like that before and, again, it was a bit painful at times and confusing and strange, but it worked out well in the end so we're happy with it. There's no way I would recommend recording an album between tours like we did because it just became a nightmare after a while [laughing] but it worked out really well in the end because we're all really stoked on the result, so I think it was all worth it. ”

Anyone listening to Cavalcade will certainly agree that the time and trouble put into Cavalcade was indeed 'worth it.' After the opening “horsemen of the rock apocalypse” sample that leads off “The Calming Collection,” The Flatliners just burn through a set of the twelve phenomenal tracks and take no prisoners as they bombard listeners with sheets of the finest, tightest and most caustic melodic hardcore that the genre could ever hope to produce. Throughout songs including “Carry The Banner,” “Bleed,” “Filthy Habits” and “Liver Alone,” Creswell drops a set of bombs on listeners that mix catharsis with an arresting, caustic tone and the band follows suit with him; laying down incendiary chops that are guaranteed to set pits to boiling live and listeners to throw their fists in the air involuntarily.

Sounds like a good time right? It's not over yet.

What really sets Cavalcade apart from its peers is the fact that, in addition to knocking some of their strongest songs out of the park and realizing the potential they've been working toward for the last eight years, The Flatliners have also begun to diversify this time out. The melodic hardcore numbers are great, but of equal interest are those tracks that break the proverbial mould like “He Was A Jazzman” (which tries out some pretty strong ska and reggae colors), “Monumental” and “Count Your Bruises” (which both sound eerily like something The Gaslight Anthem would be riding high on). That sort of  variety opens both the band and their audience's minds up to a whole different set of possibilities for The Flatliners to explore further in the future; they're not just playing one trick anymore, they've illustrated that they have a far larger palette. They add just the right amount of diversity to Cavalcade to ensure that listeners can't wait to see what the band does next.

With all those chops in place added to the fact that The Flatliners have clearly grown both in confidence and conviction on Cavalcade, there will be no doubt in anyone listening that the album proves The Flatliners are destined for great things. All the pieces just lock into place here and it's easy to get excited as you find yourself repeatedly reaching for the repeat button; like Dookie was for Green Day, Punk In Drublic was for NoFX, …And Out Come The Wolves was for Rancid and Siren Song Of The Counter Culture was for Rise Against, so may Cavalcade be the first keystone release for The Flatliners.

With the hard work now off, The Flatliners have already begun to carefully promote Cavalcade as they've inserted some of the new songs into set lists for different shows before the album hits on April 13, 2010 and they can kick into full gear with it with a series of select Canadian dates, before hitting Europe and joining up with this year's Warped Tour in June. According to Cresswell, because the initial plan was to release the record in 2009, a few of the songs from Cavalcade have already crept into sets so fans may recognize them, but a full dose will mean something else completely to those that catch the shows, and the band can't wait to deliver. At the same time, because it was originally due to be released in 2009, The Flatliners have have already started to get the itch to start writing and recording again; so fans may see a follow-up to Cavalcade sooner than they think. “With the new songs so far, it's been funny because I find that when we play a new song live, kids will stop moving,” laughs Cresswell with just a little awe in his voice. “The whole set, they're flying and dancing around to the songs they know and like, but then they'll just stop and stare at you during the new song.

"What we've been doing has been catching on though, and we've been pretty lucky to get to see the responses we've gotten in places we've never been before,” continues the singer, recounting some recent tours. “Like, when we toured Australia not long ago, it was our first time there so we knew kids would want to hear some of the older songs, but we'd get requests for “Carry The Banner” [the first single from Cavalcade –ed] and “Filthy Habits” [which originally appeared on a seven-inch single, but also appears on Cavalcade –ed] and “Run Like Hell” which was on a split seven-inch we did with The Snips; it was really surprising how much they knew. We had a really positive response to the new songs too; the kids kept their momentum up. That was really cool because we've played shows with other bands before and we'll be really psyched when the band plays a new song, but the kids won't know what to do with it. Maybe they're just listening – intently [laughing].

"I've seen it happen before, and I sort of decided a while ago that, as soon as your band starts to do okay, your fans will always be catching up to you,” says Cresswell, ruminating philosophically. “Like, now that this record's just about to come out, we've got a whole bunch of ideas for new songs already; we haven't written any new new songs completely yet, but we've got a lot of ideas floating around. I have no idea when we'll record something new, but I can't see it being three years. It's funny because once you've got it out, your mindset shifts to, 'Ah, that's old. Let's do something new. [laughing]'”



The Flatliners – “Carry The Banner” – Cavalcade


The making of Cavalcade video.

Further Reading:

Ground Control's review of Cavalcade.


comes out in the States on Fat Wreck Chords and in Canada on Drive/Fontana North on April 13, 2010. Pre-order it here on Amazon, or directly from Fat Wreck Chords here.

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