Interview – Flatrock

Flatrock are a four piece indie pop band based out of Toronto. Melissa Murphy, Dan Rougeau, James Law and Dave Haskett met while attending a music program a few years ago. Canadian Beats caught up with Flatrock to talk about their new album, upcoming cross-Canada tour and more.

Can you introduce yourself for those who may not be familiar with your music? 

We are Flatrock, an indie-pop band from Toronto, made up of four good friends who enjoy working on music together. We strive to write catchy music with tight grooves and a big sound, that explore new ideas within the indie-pop genre. If you’re looking for comparisons, we have been likened to bands such as London Grammar and Florence + the Machine.

Can you tell us a bit about how the band started and where the name Flatrock came from?

We come from unique musical backgrounds, spanning traditional Scottish fiddle music, indie rock, jazz, and East Coast folk. The four of us became good friends while studying music at Humber College in Toronto, and were excited to explore what we could do together as a band. Flatrock is a town in Newfoundland, just outside of St. Johns, and is the hometown of our singer Melissa Murphy. After a trip to Flatrock on an East Coast tour in 2013, the name seemed fitting, as the band felt a strong connection to the rugged natural landscape and enchanting ocean view. The trip was enriching on a musical and personal level, and upon returning home, we knew that the name “Flatrock” embodied everything that we wanted to portray in our music.

Your debut album, The Hill, is set to release on July 22nd. What was the writing and recording process like for that?

Generally, Melissa comes to the band with the framework of a song. After a few weeks of arranging and sorting through everyone’s ideas, our first draft is ready to go. However, it was only after many live performances, and some excellent suggestions from engineer Andrew Mullin and producer Franky Rousseau, that the songs truly became what you will hear on the album. Recording at Canterbury Studios was an exciting process. Working with Andrew and Franky was incredible, and their input and attitude during the sessions was invaluable. The overdubs were recorded at the home studio of our drummer, James Law, who is a talented engineer himself. This allowed for us to put as much time and thought into the overdub process as we liked, and work together creatively to make The Hill come together exactly as we envisioned it.

You have a bit of a theme running through the album, can you talk a little bit about that? Was it intentional or did it just fall into place that way?

The album wasn’t necessarily intended to be as dark as it has turned out. It just so happened that all the songs that made it on to the record happened to explore similar struggles. Loss, loneliness, and longing are well represented in the music, as well as themes of heartache and internal struggle. It may seem as though we have created a bit of a concept album, but in truth, we just put together the strongest group of tunes we had. That being said, we are excited about the theme that has become apparent on the album. The songs are all related to each other, and we feel that the themes that are developed really strengthen the album.

Starting on August 2nd you’ll be heading out on a cross Canada tour in support of the album. Have you played most of these areas before or will they be your first time? What are you most excited for?

Some of the best times we have had together have been on the road. There’s nothing like going on tour with your best friends, and playing music you really care about along the way. In Ontario, Québec, and the Maritimes, we will be revisiting some spots we’ve become familiar with on past tours. This will, however, be our first time venturing out West, and we couldn’t be more excited to cross the Rockies for the first time. I think a highlight for us will be to visit our drummer James Law’s hometown of Roberts Creek, BC, and play a show for his family and friends!

You actually crowd funded your upcoming trip to Newfoundland. Why did you only do a Kickstarter for that date and not the entire tour?

While we indeed used Kickstarter as a means to sell tickets, it was actually more of a pre-sale than a crowd- funding project. The prizes available were small, and did not venture outside of what would be available for purchase at any of our shows. As we mentioned before, we have a deep connection to Newfoundland, and are always excited to play there on tour. The reality, however, is that Newfoundland remains a very costly place to travel to, and without a pre-sale assuring us that we would be able to make ends meet, we may not have been able to include a stop in St. John’s in our tour plans. We are thrilled with the support we received from our fan base in Newfoundland, and can’t wait to return this summer!

What songs from The Hill are you most excited to play on tour?

We’re actually really excited to play our more dreamy, introspective songs like “Path” and “Time Has Come”. Amidst a set of high-energy songs, it is always refreshing to bring the volume down and pay attention to the details, all the while forging an even deeper connection with our audience.

Is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with in the future?

We had an amazing time working with all the guest musicians on our album. Something we’re really looking forward to is delving even deeper into the vast pool of talent that makes our Toronto community so strong. Working with even more musicians on the next record is sure to be a rewarding experience.

Since Canadian Beats is all about Canadian music, please tell us which Canadian artists are making the biggest impression on you right now and why?

There are tons of Canadian acts that are doing a phenomenal job these days! A few artists we really like that are helping put Canada on the map, are Alessia Cara, The Sheepdogs, and The Bros. Landreth. We are also constantly inspired by our peers, who are tirelessly working to make great music. Bands like Union Duke, Bernice, The Medicine Hat, and Michelle Willis are all doing amazing things, and we’re proud to call them our friends.

If you could tour with any Canadian artist, who would it be?

It would be a blast to tour with Hey Rosetta! They are a great Canadian band with amazing songs and a lot of energy. Touring with a band who shares our Newfoundland connection would be a real treat, and I’m sure we would learn a lot from a band who has had so much success in Canada.

Lastly, do you have anything you want to say to your fans?

Yes! Thank you for all the support you have shown us so far, and we look forward to seeing you on tour this Summer. Thanks for your patience in waiting for our debut album, it will be well worth the wait!

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