Interview – Chris Cresswell (The Flatliners)
At their recent show in Glasgow, I had scheduled an interview with Chris Cresswell, lead singer of The Flatliners. Unfortunately due to the demands of time, we were unable to complete the interview as originally planned. However, Chris suggested that I email him the questions and he’d get back to me. Now that the guys are off tour and back at home, here are his responses!
WYAZ; The Flatliners are celebrating 10 years of being a band this year. How have things changed for you as a band over the past 10 years and how has it felt to essentially “grow up” on the road?
Chris; It certainly has been interesting to see where the last 10 years have taken us. When we first started out we had no idea what we were doing, or even what we wanted out of life. All we really knew was that we were excited to go out and show people our band. While that feeling hasn’t faded, we’ve all done some growing up and have grown proud of what we’ve built together over the last decade. I can’t believe we’ve done all this shit and seen the things we’ve seen. And none of us are over a quarter century old. It gives you a pretty surreal sense of accomplishment.
WYAZ; You guys are renowned for your hard touring and hard working ethics. With touring so much, how do you keep yourself focussed and hungry for more?
Chris; A balance has to be instated for all the touring to make sense and work for everybody. It’s a big “To Do” to pick up your shit and bail for 3 months straight. We used to do that all the time. We’d basically spend most of the year on the road. While we still tour lots these days, we’ve been able to find a nice balance between being on the road, and the lives we have at home. This band is very much our lifeblood, but at the same time it’s not the only thing the collective members are involved in. I feel like if we didn’t find that balance we all would have lost our heads by now.
WYAZ; Do you have any tour horror stories? What have been the highlights and lowlights of touring for 10 years? What are the greatest challenges you face both personally and as a band with being on the road so much?
Chris; We’ve definitely had our misunderstandings in Eastern Europe involving Police over the years, but those mishaps were never events that couldn’t be smoothed over with a conversation once the large language barrier was championed. There have been a few times that we’ve had to pay off cops in Eastern Europe specifically to just let us go about doing our thing. The highlight of the whole thing is probably just getting the chance to travel and see the world you live in, rather than only read about it in a book, or watch a television program about a far-away land. It’s so much different being there, seeing it, living it. And I understand that is not an opportunity everyone gets, so while you cannot take the situation for granted, you MUST take advantage of it. The ‘lowlight’ so to speak is when you realize sometimes all your hard work means absolutely nothing to some people.
WYAZ; What are the most major differences between touring in North America and touring in Europe/the UK?
Chris; We’re lucky to have a great group of friends in Europe/UK who are hard workers and very supportive of our band, so we get to bring some of them on the road with us when we tour on that side of the Atlantic. And that’s a great thing. Instead to catching up with an old friend who lives far from you for a minute or two, you get to work alongside one another for a few weeks. Share memories. Work towards a common goal. And have a fucking good time. Touring in North America is great too, but I will admit there is an almost inexplicable allure to flying overseas to start a tour, rather than just hopping in the van you’ve got at home. It feels like more of an adventure.
WYAZ; How did you find Reading and Leeds compared to the usual shows you play?
Chris; Reading and Leeds are two great festivals where, from my experiences, the bands are all treated well and given a cool opportunity to reach some folks who may never hear their band on a regular basis. It is a monster of a festival though, that’s for sure. And that’s something we are only exposed to every once in a while. It is a much different vibe playing those festivals than it is playing a small packed club show. But that’s cool, because if you do too much of the same thing, you’re going to lose interest. Bands shouldn’t be afraid of trying new things – even if its the kind of show you’re playing.
WYAZ; Before last week (the show in August), it was 3 years since you played in Scotland. Were there any particular reasons for this? How did you find the Glasgow show this time around?
Chris; Absolutely not. We had actually tried to get a Glasgow show organized for the past 2 UK tours we had done, but for some reason it just was never in the cards. Luckily this time we were able to secure a date and return to Glasgow. And the show was fucking great! Such a great vibe and it seemed like everyone was enjoying themselves. We definitely did.
WYAZ; Where are your favourite places to play?
Chris; I must say that I’ve fallen in love with playing shows in Australia and the UK. Maybe it’s the weird subconscious Monarchy-dwelling Canadian in me. It can’t really be that of course, but there’s no real explanation for it. I tend to really enjoy myself in those two regions.
WYAZ; Have you met any bands on tour that particularly excite and/or interest you?
Chris; Always. One of the great parts about the road is that you meet many great people, and lots of cool bands. Bands that you maybe would never hear of if it wasn’t for the serendipitous touring circuit. We played some shows in Germany this year with a band from Munster called Idle Class. They’re great. Check ’em out.
WYAZ; Do you have any particular tour rituals? We’ve got a habit of getting ridiculous tour tattoos whilst on the road. Any similar ink-related ridiculousness?
Chris; We’ve definitely all got a few road tattoos. There is usually a city-to-city scramble to find weed, and a scramble to find internet so we can download the new episode of Walking Dead or Louis or something like that. We’re very simple creatures. Wake up, coffee, drive all damn day, load in to the show, do a haphazard job of making sure all our equipment works, play as many songs as we can fit into our allotted set time, load out, have a couple beers, sleep. Do it again.
WYAZ; Fat Wreck are reissuing “Destroy To Create” to commemorate your tenth anniversary. How did your relationship with Fat Wreck come to be and do you have a good relationship with Fat Mike and company?
Chris; We’re very excited about that. Especially because we got a very nice rejection letter from Fat Wreck years ago when we originally sent them “Destroy to Create”, haha. A mutual friend of ours introduced us to a lovely woman named Melanie Kaye in Toronto. She, at the time, was the Fat Wreck Canadian rep. We hit it off and she enjoyed the new songs we showed her so much that she sent them to Mike. A few weeks later we were talking to Mike on the phone a few times a week until everything was sorted for us to record our second album, our Fat debut “The Great Awake.” Things have been a lot of fun with Fat. Mike was gracious right off the bat and invited us on many NOFX tours, where we got to play our songs for many people, and we got to meet some great folks who we’re still friends with today. It’s been a nice wing to be taken underneath.
WYAZ; “Cavalcade” was released in 2010, was incredibly well-received and is your most cohesive work to date. Is the next album written or are you currently working on it? What can we expect (hope for?) and when will it be out?
Chris; We’ll be releasing our fourth album sometime next year. We tend to take our time writing, recording, generally working on our albums. There are a lot of bands who consistently put out records every 2 years without fail, and tour consistently on them. And that’s a great way to do it. With us, we’ve always been resigned to the theory that there’s no real rush. Even if it’s been over 2 years since our last record, we’re comfortable with touring out the rest of the year and, piece by piece, working towards our next album. It will surely sound like us, but that could mean it will sound mostly like us, to us.
WYAZ; What music are you currently listening to? Are there any artists that you are into that may surprise people?
Chris; As I type all this out, I’m listening to the self-titled album by Broken Gold. My friend Ian from the Riverboat Gamblers writes and sings all theses songs. It’s a really cool mix of big guitars and older Brit-pop influenced stuff.
WYAZ; What’s next for The Flatliners? Do you see yourself still playing punk rock 10 years from now?
Chris; If the universe allows us to do this for another 10 years, then I will say “yes.” It’s been a great decade, and we’re all really looking forward to starting this next one right.
WYAZ; Anything else you’d like to add?
Chris; Thank you for the continuous amount of love and support to all the lovely folks in Scotland. We will not wait another 3 years to return!
Thanks a lot to Chris for taking the time to answer my mundane line of questioning. Massive kudos also again to Boab at Punk Rock Rammy for making the show happen.