When The Flatliners were touring through Winnipeg I caught up with vocalist/guitarist Chris Cresswell and drummer Paul Ramirez to talk about the new album (which drops on September 17th) and more:
How did you come up with Dead Language as the album title?
Chris: I don’t really remember to be honest with you. (Laughs) It was kind of a joke about releasing a CD when no one buys CDs, calling it a dead language, just a little cheeky joke.
How would you say it varies from Cavalcade?
Chris: I don’t think it varies that much.
Paul: Exact same songs, just played faster or slower depending on the song. (Laughs)
Chris: I feel like there might be a few heavier songs, we only had a couple flashes of heavy stuff on the last record so a little more of that maybe. It’s always difficult to say when you’re in the band, because you’re part of the process the whole time and it just feels so natural and gradual.
Paul: I think if you’re a fan of Cavalcade you’ll probably like the new album, I don’t think it’s too far off.
Chris: Yeah, but we didn’t think Cavalcade was too far off from The Great Awake either.
What exactly do you mean by heavier?
Chris: Just more yelling on some songs. There’s the normal pop-punk stuff too, but there’s also some really angry gnarly shit.
Paul: One of the heaviest songs didn’t make the record though, which I was pretty bummed about. I broke a kick drum while recording that song, but it will be on something though I’m sure.
Are you playing new songs on this tour?
Chris: We put out a split 7” with Make Do and Mend the other week, we’ve been playing one or both of those songs.
How exactly did that split come about?
Chris: It’s interesting, we never played a show with them really. I think we met a couple of them just in passing, but I just got a text message one day from their drummer Matt. He was saying how they were thinking of doing a split and asked if we were interested. We were, they’re a great band and while our bands are very different the split works well together. Their label Rise was the one putting it out which was exciting for us. Fat Wreck Chords is always cool with us doing whatever the fuck we want. The singer from Comadre did the art and it was just really good timing. We were right in the middle of recording and we had a few extra lying around.
So those songs aren’t going to be on the new record?
Chris: No, they’re just on the split. We ended up recording a bunch of songs altogether and we’ve just been splitting some of them up between different things. The interesting thing about “Calutron Girls” was that it was originally supposed to be on Cavalcade, but we never really finished it in the studio. We rewrote bits of it and recorded it for Dead Language, where it didn’t make the cut again. But we’re happy to put it out finally and I’m glad we took a bit of time with it.
Are you playing any songs live from Dead Language too?
Chris: Over the last year we’ve been playing 1 or 2 sometimes. Last summer in Europe we were playing a song called “Quitters.” But I’m always a little weary about playing new stuff because then people learn the song and then they have to wait months to hear the actual recorded version. It’s been easier and more fun for us to play a song on the split instead. It’s more fun to have everyone in on it when you play a song.
When exactly did you start recording Dead Language?
Chris: We started recording it way back, I don’t know if we can even specify any dates. (Laughs) We basically started recording it a little bit by bit, which was a way we never really wanted to record again after we did Cavalcade in chunks. It turned out great in the end, we’re proud of that release, but it was a stressful way to record. We ended up doing it in pieces again with this one only because of our touring schedule really. We ended up going to the studio to demo a bunch of stuff and after awhile we decided to make them actual songs for the record. The bed tracks for most of the new songs made the record which was exciting for us because writing a song, demoing it, analyzing it, rewriting it, pulling it apart, re-recording it, a lot of bands do it that way and we’ve done it that way in the past. But at the same time I think we’re at the point where we don’t want to do that anymore, it’s just so tedious and we were really happy with the first versions. We were of the mindset that we should just make the first version the version. It turned out great and we’re really happy with how well rounded the quote unquote demos were.
In some ways it seems like Dead Language came out of the blue. A lot of bands make it really clear that they’re working on a follow-up, but you seemed to wait until everything was finished. Was that a conscious decision or did it just work out that way?
Chris: Not really.
Paul: After we were done we were like ‘We should have filmed some of this.’
Chris: I think it can be fucked to hype it that much because once you announce the record it’s still a few months until it comes out anyway. People still have to wait 3 months to hear it.
Paul: I’m sure there’ll still be some teaser videos and stuff.
Chris: We have to do stuff like that because we didn’t film anything in the studio. We just kind of wanted the only documentation of the record being the record itself. Last two records we filmed a bunch of stuff, took a bunch of photos and this time we didn’t do anything of that. Bands do that all the time, but we didn’t do that this time. (Laughs) It’s actually more fun though because we got to focus on the record and again we chipped away at it bit by bit. It was the most fun I’ve ever had recording and I usually hate recording, I don’t usually enjoy it that much. But this was great because it was really organic and very natural.
Paul: No deadline at all.
Chris: Exactly, just us playing. We recorded a lot of music before anyone at any label we were talking to knew about it. We just did it and we were able to pay for the recording ourselves, which was cool. It was really fun to do it that way, we felt really in control.
Paul: No one was breathing down our necks asking us ‘When’s this coming out?’
Chris: We wanted the process to be interesting and fun for everyone involved. For the band, the engineer Steve [Rizun] who also helped us produce it. He’s done all of our records and we knows us so well, this time I think he captured a really good interpretation of what we sound like as a live band. He has a really cool studio and it was set up so we could isolate everything. Even the labels that are putting it out too, both Fat Wreck Chords and New Damage. We wanted it to be fun for everyone because the last few records have been really close to deadlines and really stressful, really fucking weird and then somehow they finally came out on time. But this time it was so smooth, we started so long ago and once we finished we decided when the release date was going to be for the most part.
How did the deal with New Damage come about? I assume they’re handling the Canadian release?
Chris: Yeah, they’re handling some territories and Fat is handling other territories. It’s always good for us being a Canadian band to have a Canadian label, especially with FACTOR grants and all that sort of stuff. They’re a really cool group of people and they really seem to give a shit and like our band. We went out on our own with the last album in Canada, which was cool, but a lot of work, we had some help, but still. This time it’s really exciting to work with those guys and they have a great roster with Cunter and KEN mode.
I noticed all the 10 Years at Sea shirts at your merch table and I thought I’d ask a little bit about that. I know it’s a general question, but what’s your favourite milestone you’ve reached over the last decade?
Chris: There’s been a lot, we’ve been super lucky.
Paul: Not puking yesterday on my birthday is the biggest milestone, everyone else puked except for me.
Chris: It’s tough to say, getting together with Fat is one.
Paul: 550,000 kilometers on the van.
Chris: Yeah, that’s a good one. We just played a show in Toronto at Yonge-Dundas Square which was great. It’s a weird place to play a show, it’s like Toronto’s version of Times Square or whatever. But it was great, it was in pouring rain too, but people still came out.
Paul: I thought no one would be there because of the rain.
Chris: It’s a pretty recent milestone, but things are great. Every year gets so much better for us. This tour with A Wilhelm Scream and Such Gold has been really great too, a really good mix of bands and people.
What’s next for the Flatliners aside from the new record?
Chris: We’re going to try and figure out a way to hit Central/Western Canada again shortly after the new record comes out. We’re going to go to Brazil, which is a place we’ve never been to before. We’re going to go to Europe and play the Fest again in Gainesville, Florida. We’ve got a lot of stuff in the works.
Unless you’ve got something to add that’s all the questions I’ve got.
Chris: We’re just excited about the record and we want to thank everyone for being so patient. It seems like it’s only every 3 years we put an album out so we want to make sure we do it right and we’re stoked on it. We hope you like it, thanks to everyone who’s excited to hear it.