Chris Cresswell and his Flatliners brothers are soon to be in Australia for the first time in a little while, touring with Lagwagon. It’s been a decent minute in between drinks and the enthusiasm is clear when the Ontario frontman chats with me about the upcoming run of tour dates (set to kick off next week).
“There was a time when we were there once a year,” he says. “It was so great, but it’s just taken us a while to get back. It is with great anticipation that we return – we’re very much looking forward to it.”
“We’re able to [still] come all the way to Australia and play shows, which is nuts.” he continues. “That’s something, particular to Australia and that part of the world, that has never worn off on us. The allure is pretty special, it’s special to make it all the way over there and to have friends there now and know people and have these familiar experiences; I can walk down the street and go, ‘I know where I am now’, things like that. It’s great, we’re very lucky.”
The band has currently been pounding the pavement off the back of their latest album Dead Language, one that has demonstrated The Flatliners possibly in the best form they’ve been in yet. Cresswell reflects on this past year of live shows and how the band has been rolling on the live front fondly.
“It’s been a lot of fun.” he admits. “Playing those songs live has been so much fun and I think that we’re lucky for the fact that we’ve all more or less known each other for so long and each time we get together to write a record, it just makes more and more sense. I know every band says it and I hope it’s true for a lot of bands like it is for us, but the newer songs are always so much fun to play. They’re so exciting, you know? We were really excited when we made the record that we’d do it in a live fashion and I think that’s why they [the songs] translate so well in a live setting. We’ve made records a few different ways and I think that this transition of taking them onto the stage [this time] has been the easiest it’s ever been.”
“It’s a natural thing for a lot of bands, that desire to try new things or even to just have it unfold organically and to have that desire to have your band grow.” Cresswell says of the band’s creative aesthetic when it’s come to Dead Language. “If you think of a band and dilute it down, it’s just you and some friends writing some music together and you’ve been afforded this opportunity to travel and meet cool people and do cool things, all because you’ve made some music with your friends. It’s great and you realise that when you really have someone give you an opportunity and a shot, it’s hard work.”
Having been together with The Flatliners for over ten years now, there is a wealth of shared experiences now between these Canadian musos that have come from growing up within the industry and cutting their teeth on various stages throughout the world. In a climate now where it’s become so much easier for younger musicians to get their music out there and to connect with other up and coming artists, Cresswell notes the change in how things can travel for bands now, compared to how things were when The Flatliners first started generating attention.
“It’s a lot harder going into it than you think as a kid.” he says. “When we started, we were 14 years old and we took it as seriously as a 14 year old could take it! There was no plan, we just wanted to play. A couple of years later we had enough songs for our first record and we were given a shot when we were still youngsters, you know? It was really nice but it was also confusing, only in the sense that we weren’t really sure why it was happening to us. We were so stoked obviously, but we were like, ‘Holy shit! This is real now. Okay, cool.’ It’s been fun to see it grow record by record. The style has changed and evolved and we’ve progressed as songwriters as musicians because you can’t just put out the same album over and over again, because it just gets boring! If you are bored by your own band, then why are you doing it? And also, if you’re bored by your own band, then why should anyone else really give a shit about your band?”
“It moves so fast now,” he says of music nowadays. “It moves really quick. In every facet of being a band, everything moves so quickly now. It’s crazy. There are punk bands now, but they’re just rock bands, you know? It’s more comfortable for them to be under the punk umbrella, probably because of the community aspect of it, the collaborative, people-in-arms type of thing, working towards a common goal. I love that, that’s why we’re so happy to have come up in the punk world, but a lot of these new ‘punk’ bands, they’re just rock bands. I think people are maybe afraid to call their own band a ‘rock band’ because people still think of you know, Creed and stuff. It sucks, because rock music has always been pretty cool and there are always going to be some punk bands that can live in a genre for a certain person, you know? It’s all about the perception as well. It moves quickly and that whole punk world is ever expanding and I think it’s a good thing.”
“I feel like now is a really great time to start a band, you know? Not that when we started, in 2002, it wasn’t a good time to start one, but now there isn’t that much of a stigma around trying new things and being inventive as possible has probably never been more encouraged, which is great. It’s also way easier now to get your stuff out there to people; when I book a tour, I’ll ring a friend on the other side of the world that could maybe show their friends the band.”
On how the punk and heavy genre is surging forward in Australia, we both agree that it’s an exciting time for Australian bands doing their thing on an international scale. For a band like The Flatliners to continue travelling out to this area of the globe and to continue building their fanbase, Cresswell notes that this positive effect is happening more and more with bands coming out of Australia – and it’s exciting to see more people overseas taking notice.
“There’s a band from Australia called Cavalcade and that’s cool, because that’s one of our records! I feel like now, more than ever before, there’s such an insurgence with the Australian scene and those bands taking it abroad, it’s incredible to see. The Australian scene is amazing right now. You’ve got bands like the Smith Street Band and Dune Rats touring over here; I mean, Smith Street has toured over here a bunch now and it’s amazing and they’re doing so well. Then Dune Rats have just finished their tour over in America with FIDLAR and that rules. I don’t know if Violent Soho have been over here much, but they’re incredible. They’re so good. The Bennies, too, it’s incredible to see. I feel life if we didn’t live in a world that is so reliant or in celebration of technology and stuff, that probably couldn’t happen. Those bands were able to reach people halfway across the world with their music because you can just email it to someone or put it on a website, that’s great. There’s always been great bands in Australia but now, I think now you can do a follow up tour with them, those talented musicians from Australia have that chance.”
Dead Language by The Flatliners is out now. Catch the band on the road with Lagwagon at the following shows!
November 26th | The Northern, Byron Bay | 18+
November 27th | The Triffid, Brisbane | 18+
November 28th | The Metro, Sydney | 18+
December 2nd | Barwon Club, Geelong | 18+
December 4th | Max Watt’s, Melbourne | 18+
December 5th | Unibar, Adelaide | 18+
December 6th | Amplifier, Perth | 18+