Interview – The Flatliners

Photo Credit: Mike Izzy

On June 1, 2017 at Nite Owl in Calgary AB, I had  the pleasure to sit down with Chris and Scott from The Flatliners during their Dine Alone Tour with The Dirty Nil, Sam Coffey and The Iron Lungs. Chris and Scott cover a ton of fun things from their change of sound from their earlier Ska days, what would be on their mixtape and their new album. Check it out below.

Who are you and what do you play in the band?

Chris: This is Scott Brigham.

Scott: Yea

Chris: He plays guitar

Scott: I do.

Chris: He sings.

Scott: This is Christopher Cresswell.

Chris: Hello

Scott: He sings and plays guitar.

Have you both started off as guitar or were you kind of put into the guitarist position?

Scott: We both started off with guitar.

Chris: Yea. We actually…when we were kids…

Scott: Took lessons together.

Chris: Took lessons at the same place to start a band together.

Chris: So we started playing guitar.

Scott: We didn’t give a shit about the actual instrument.

Chris: You can swear on the internet, right?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Chris: Nice.

Scott: We just wanted to start a band.

Chris: It’s true. Yeah.

Scott: And hang out by dumpsters all day.

Chris: Yeah. Look what we’ve become.

So other people will know the band and will know your influences … If you were not in the band, what would your influences be?

Chris: If we weren’t in this band?

Scott: Yes, tough one.

Chris: That’s a really tough question. We are, I fear, a product of our environment. I don’t know. I mean, like, I could say that … I mean, even before we ever wanted to be in a band … I mean, we were kids, but we’ve always been … Our musical upbringing and everything has always been rooted in like punk and the rock music, and guitar music, you know? So that’s why, I guess, that’s why we wanted to play guitar. I don’t know. I don’t know how to answer that question, though. That’s an interesting one.

Interviewer: Fair enough.

Chris: I would probably love a band that sounded exactly like our band if I wasn’t in this band.

Any post or pre-set rituals you guys have, except for drinking beer?

Scott: Nope.

Chris: You don’t have anymore?

Scott: No.

Chris: Ciggies or anything?

Scott: No more ciggies, I got…No more ciggies.

Chris: Oh, sorry. Yeah, no, not anymore. I got a lot of pre-show rituals, not many post-show, just for my voice. I like to warm-up more often now. It’s all kinda boring stuff but been doing it so long and yelling at loud shows for so long that, you know, it takes its toll. So, you gotta give the people a good show.

Interviewer: And you do

Chris: They spent their money coming to see you play and getting up there and, like, singing with a hoarse voice, it’s not easy. So, you could do all you can to make it work.

What was the most challenging album to write, considering you just released your new album?

Chris: That’s a good question. I feel like they’re all equally challenging.

Scott: Challenging in their own way.

Chris: You know, none of them have been like, “Oh my god. We have to figure this out.” It’s like an equation. Like, we’re, like, trying to be Matt Damon from Good Will Hunting’s equation and solve it. You know, that’s not … That’s never been us.

Scott: It comes very naturally to us.

Chris: We’re just really good at math is what he’s trying to say. Yeah, not so good at music but, I don’t know.

Scott: Cavalcade took awhile.

Chris: Yeah. I guess, the biggest challenge is usually ’cause we spend a lot of time on the road and that was one that we spend a lot of time on the road. But, I mean, then that shaped the record that Cavalcade became because it’s about being on the road so much, you know, being away, missing things, and that life.

Scott: I guess none of them are easy.

Chris: None of them are easy.

Scott: We take our time though.

Chris: Yeah, yeah. But I mean, I feel like you kinda got to look at it, eventually, as like, every record is kind of a brand new first impression.

Chris: So, you’re kind of like tearing the whole thing down and starting over again in a way. So in that sense, they’re all the easiest and they’re all the hardest, in a way. I don’t know. You know? It’s a tricky thing to try to outdo yourself.

Chris: I think it’s dangerous, murky territory to try to navigate through cause you might disappoint yourself. I don’t know, I think the best thing to do is just, like, make the best record you can.

Chris: And if it feels like work … It will because making a record isn’t always easy, you know, but it’s fun. There’s a lot of worse jobs than that.

That’s actually related to the next question. So, and I’m gonna quote, “Inviting Light is about trying to keep up with life around you, but also wading through the potential bullshit of people thinking that the digital landscape is more important than our friends. It’s inevitable that you’re fighting for people’s attention, now, whether you’re a band or an individual, and there’s not as much value placed on face to face human interaction.” Related to your new album, Inviting Light, do you want to elaborate on that?

Chris: I can, yeah. I can try.

Scott: It’s already more than a stab, so I don’t know.

Chris: That’s a pretty long winded pron I made.

Scott: Yeah, that’s pretty clear.

Chris: That’s pretty much it, man. I mean you kind of said it.

Interviewer: You’re on tour a lot.

Chris: You’re on tour a lot and there are these technologies put in place where I could call my family, or my girlfriend, or friends. Or if I’m lost, I’m too wrecked to call the guys, I can Face Time, I can text, I can whatever, to get back to the van, to the venue, to keep in touch with people at home, to keep in touch with friends that we’ve made all over the world, being able to play music together, travel as much.

But, there is this disconnect that I think that’s happening now, and I’m not the only one, I’m not blowing the lid off of some mystery, people know this. That there’s a lot more value placed on, yeah, man, like your profile, I would say, right. I mean, like there’s a lot of people who are one way on the internet and then in person … Like they’re very sociable people on the internet and all of these things, and then in person, like, they-

Interviewer: Distance themselves.

Chris: Yeah, they don’t have it in them, or whatever it is. And that kind of opens up another issue that there’s a lot more social anxieties popping up than ever. I think that has a direct correlation to technology, social media, and these things, ’cause everyone’s built now to show the world … Or, everyone’s expected, let’s say, to show the world how great and cool their life is.

Chris: Some people live very modest, very plain. And I don’t mean that in a bad way.

Interviewer: Nope. Some people are just like that.

Chris: Very modest, just like cool, mellow, casual lives. They’ve got a job they love, they’ve got a family they love, and that’s it. But there’s this pressure, I think, that we’ve put on ourselves, you know, with the news media and technology, that people have to be the best version of themselves. They can’t just be.

Interviewer: Themselves.

Chris: Yeah. Right? So, there’s a lot of funk, the new record is a lot about that. ‘Cause, you know, we still … A lot of the songs are about being away and then seeing that mode of contact being the main one. And then, seeing how it could be a good thing and also a dangerous thing. And it really just makes me curious and worry about the future generations.

Interviewer: Yeah.


And how weird it’s gonna get, you know.

Interviewer: If you want to check their album, here it is!

So relating to Inviting Light, what are five songs you would put on a mix tape dealing with bullshit life, and/or friends in good or bad situations?

Chris: Like, from that album?

Interviewer: Not necessarily from that album.

Chris: Oh okay. Like, other bands’ songs?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Chris: So, all right, so we’re making a mix tape.

Interviewer: Up to five songs.

Chris: Up to five songs.. What’s the theme of the mix tape?

Interviewer: Dealing with bullshit life and/or good and bad relationships with friends.

Chris: Okay, good or bad relationships with friends. Okay.

Chris: Okay, there’s a song called Bad Friends by Dead to Me on African Elephants.

Chris: It’s a good song. That’s just about friends who don’t get along, and keep doing bad things behind each other’s backs. That’s a good one. Let’s go with a classic. What’s a classic “I’m mad at my friend” song? Can you think of anything? You’re good with classics.

Scott: Instrumentals are good.

Chris: Yeah, instrumentals are fucking fantastic. This will be the next Flatties trip.

Scott: Condensed.

Chris: One song mix tape is not much of a mix tape.

Scott: It’s a pretty good mix tape.

Chris: It’s a good song though..

Chris: You’re Not The Same. Is it “You’re Not The Same” by The Beatles? Is that what it’s called? (sings) You’re not the same.

Scott: I don’t know.

Chris: I think it’s called something else, maybe it’s called something else. Sorry, Paul McCartney.

Scott: So far this mix tape is full of fire, guys.

Chris: It’s pretty cool, though. Dead to Me and the Beatles on one mix tape is cool. That’s a more of a break-up song. Okay, let’s keep going down this rabbit hole, here.

Scott: You got anything in mind?

Chris: You gotta contribute, there’s three of us here.

Interviewer: Okay, actually, lately, I’ve been re-listening to Close to Home, so I would have to say, Backstabbers Need Not Apply.

Chris: What about Song 2 by Blur? Just cause that song rocks. Woo hoo.

Interviewer: I, personally, ’cause I’m an emotional person, I would have to throw in some Beartooth.

Chris: Okay.

Interviewer: What song? Hm. I would have to say, probably, In Between Lines.

Chris: Okay

Interviewer: Just because, being an artist also, like, I express myself differently,, as an artist, as I would friend to friend.

Chris: Sure. I absolutely would say that.

Interviewer: Bring in Between Lines.

Chris: Okay, all right.

Scott: I like your mix tape better, it’s a pretty epic mix tape.

Scott: Put a Flatties track on there. It’s been Flatties free.

Chris: No, no.

Scott: That’s the only songs I know.

Scott: You could put Daggers on there..

Interviewer: There you go.

Chris: Someone getting stabbed in the back.

Interviewer: Okay. So there’s our mix tape.

Chris: That’s a great mix tape.

So you guys have actually been with a bunch of different labels, including Rise Records, Dine Alone, Fat Wreck Chords, which one would be your favorite and why?

Chris: Dude, impossible question to answer, only because if you say one, you disappoint the rest.

Interviewer: Gotta be fair.

Chris: You gotta be cool to everyone all the time. That’s the key to life.

Scott: They’ve all been cool to us.

Chris: We’ve been real lucky.

Scott: It’s all a band can ask for.

Chris: We’ve been real lucky. Just, like, we’ve had the great opportunities with playing with cool bands, to work with a lot of cool labels.

Chris: I feel like from the beginning, man, like Sonik Records from Montreal gave us our beginning, you know. Then we got to sign on to Fat, which was a childhood dream come true. We worked with them for ten years and that’s the label that is largely responsible for our punk rock upbringing. Everyone there has been fucking great. And then New Damage and Dine Alone have been really cool to us over the years. And they’re just such a great, eclectic label.

Chris: Like, just like, fucking powerhouse in Canada, they just do really cool stuff, a lot of cool people work there. They’re music fans. It’s like … A lot of labels are labels run by music fans making music, obviously. But there’s something really cool about the Dine Alone family and with … We’re with Rise now, it’s exciting, man. I mean, they also have a very eclectic lineup of bands, it’s cool to be a part of. You’ve got a lot of different genres at play. It’s cool to be just one of those many, I guess.

So relating to the last question, you guys went from kind of like a ska, punk style to melodic hardcore to a kind of post punk style, if you were to switch one of your albums that you wrote with a label to another one, which one would it be and why?

Chris: If we were to like reissue a record with a different label?

Interviewer: Well, not even reissue.

Scott: Go back in time?

Interviewer: Well, not even go back in time.

Scott: Tough one again. Tough questions.

Chris: Quantum physics question.

Scott: We’re in time lapse.

Interviewer: Say you were to release a 2005 release in 2007, and send 2005 back a push. So like, for example, this year’s record, if you were to release it as your first record.

Chris: No, but I think all of our records should have come out a year and a half earlier than they all have.

Scott: But our records take a while because we tour so much.

Interviewer: You do.

Chris: That’s the thing. That’s why. There’s been consistently at least a three year gap between albums. Just because we hit the road. We all work on ideas when we’re on tour together. But we need that time at home to focus, to like really get to it.

Interviewer: I get it.

Chris: Yeah, but I mean, yeah, dude, like, all of our records should have come out a year, at least, before they have.

Scott: I think the order of things made sense.

Interviewer: How they were?

Chris: It was a pretty natural progression.

Scott: How the band has evolved and how we grew up and wrote songs.

Chris: That’s the other interesting thing is, like, we started this band, I mean, 15 years ago now. And we’re 30, almost now, so, it’s, I mean, we’ve basically grown up on an album so that’s the only way … The way we’ve done it is the only way we could have done it, you know.

Scott: It would have been cool if it had like a heavier sound first and then evolved into a crazy ska band, not many bands do that.

Chris: Yeah, it never goes that way.

Actually leads to the second question. It’s a two part question. First off, your opinion on the whole Linkin Park changing of sound and their fans bashing them for it.

Scott: How they evolved their sound?

Interviewer: Yeah. If you haven’t heard their new song, it’s very pop based.

Scott: That makes sense. That’s a popular band.

Interviewer: Very, very, very pop based.

Scott: They’re a popular band, right?

Chris: A little industry inside information, pop is short for popular.

Question two, how do you think your fans reacted from you changing from a ska band to a melodic hardcore band to punkish?

Scott: Some of them hate it. A lot of them are on board. You can’t please everyone

Chris: You can’t please everyone.

Scott: That’s why we try to please ourselves. We’re selfish like that.

Chris: A lot of people are, they just won’t admit it. I mean, I think we’ve confused people record by record over the years. But, at the same time, we’ve been super lucky to have fans come with us, grow with us. I think there’s a lot of fans of our band, that are the same age as us, which is cool. So they’ve come along for the ride and have gotten into the new stuff. I mean, as far as the Linkin Park thing goes, man, all I know is that I’m one step closer to the edge, I’m about to break. I fuckin’ love that one. This is high end, dude.

Scott: I’m sure that’s your favourite track.

Chris: So I mean, whatever, dude. They’ve been a band forever, of course, they’re gonna try some shit. That’s what happens. We’ve been a band for 15 years, of course, we’re gonna try some shit.

Scott: It’s a tough thing, I mean, people get so involved in your band because they’re such big fans, but they don’t have to listen to it if they don’t want to. It evolved. It’s just inevitable.

Scott: Do you like Linkin Park?

Interviewer: Their new things were a bit difficult to get into.

Chris: I think, he liked.

Interviewer: I can understand where they’re coming from and why they’re evolving into something else.

Chris: There you go. That’s all it is, man.

Scott: If they were only just like you, man. The world would be a nice place.

Chris: Everyone…they’re all just people and people change so much. Over time, so if you attach some artistic element to that, the art form will change.

Scott: Not every Linkin Park’s gonna be with a Jay-Z, Jay-Zed.

Chris: I guess we could have said Jay-Zed up here. But I mean, it’s … People take the music they enjoy really personally, in a good and bad way, right, so there’s always two sides to every coin. And I mean, like, you could have someone love your band and they take it so personally in a positive way, but then if they don’t … If they hear something new that kind of has veered off from the point which they really enjoyed the band, they might take it a bit personally. And they’re like, “Why did they change? ‘Cause I like the old way.” But I mean, you can’t please everyone. And the thing is, is, like, it’s, at the end of the day, it’s just some songs, just some music, and I mean, hopefully, for any band, if they go through this kind of thing. They have fans that will stick with them and give it another listen. And then maybe on that listen they like it a little bit more, and then the next time they like it even more, and then, it would be cool. If not, all those other records are always gonna be there for them, which is the beautiful part.

Okay if you were not in Flatliners, a musician, dead or alive, who would you have play your position?

Chris: Chester from Linkin Park.

Scott: Yeah. Yeah, that’s what I would say.

Chris: Double duty. All right.

Obviously, Flatliners is a reference to a dead thing, if you guys are alive, why do you call yourselves the Flatliners?

Scott: Cause we’re dead inside. Next.

Chris: Yeah. Next. We named our band after the movie, Flatliners. A movie we’ve never seen.

Interviewer: Really?

Scott: It was really cool when we were 14.

Chris: 14?

Scott: Yeah. Not so cool when you’re 30.

What inspires you to move forward in this genre of the industry?

Scott: It’s the music we like.

Chris: Yeah, we’ve grown up on this music, and we’ve messed around with, like, different ways to go about this kind of music we play. So, we’re still kind of dabbling here and there. I mean, not country though.

Scott: You never know.

Chris: Nothing wrong with country. I just mean I don’t think we’ve done that yet.

Scott: We went to a western shirt store earlier.

Chris: Today.

Scott: It was good.

Chris: It was cool.

Any advice for upcoming musicians?

Chris: Yeah, man, don’t be a dick.

Scott: Yeah.

Chris: If you start a band with your friends, you get opportunities that promoters are giving you, shows, if you’re meeting other bands…

Interviewer: Making connections.

Chris: Yeah, man, you’re meeting people. You’re doing this beautiful thing together. Don’t be a dick. Don’t think you’re better than anyone else, ’cause chances are you’re not. You just gotta be cool man.

Interviewer: Hey, one day I could be opening for Flatliners.

Chris: You could be

Interviewer: And then one day, they could be opening for me..

Chris: It’s true. Don’t be a dick. I mean, like, we’ve met so many great people over the years, I think because we’ve had that in mind, always. Like, even if you were in the Flatliners and you’re opening for a bigger band, or whatever the combination is.

Interviewer: Weezer.

Chris: All those folks … There you go. Like, all those folks are there for the same reason. There’s no reason to be a dick because you get to play music for a living.

Scott: If you don’t enjoy it, if you don’t love it, don’t do it.

Chris: There you go.

Interviewer: There we go.

Scott: Do what makes you happy.

Chris: And I’m about to break.

Interviewer: Thank you!

Chris: Thank you!

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