In an industry dominated by the Hollywood facade of cash, appearances and stolen choreography, there remains but only a few pillars of raw talent and hard work. The Flatliners are one such pillar and without artists like them to fend off the Rob Fords swinging from wrecking balls and telling me to “werk it,” the world as we know it would sink into a mire of despair.
Calling from an unpronounceable corner of Germany, Chris Cresswell takes time out of The Flatliners’ insane tour schedule to discuss their new record, Dead Language, the evolution of the band and how life keeps moving forward.
The Flatliners have been climbing the charts and winning our hearts for the last 11 years and Dead Language will no doubt expand their success. This band is the Pittsburgh Pirates or Colorado Avalanche of punk rock: no one expects the underdog to win (especially when they’re from Canada), but someone forgot to tell The Flatliners, the odds because they’re out on the road claiming what’s rightfully theirs.
Dead Language is an incredible step forward for the band regarding how they recorded. Cresswell explains that instead of living by the click track and painstakingly tracking each instrument separately, the band recorded most of the new album live off the floor. “Its a lot more fun to record that way,” Cresswell says. For those of you who don’t know what the difference between live off the floor is and building a track in a studio, take all the Motown records and put them against Rebecca Black’s “Friday.” This is a gross exaggeration, but live off the floor is a really hard thing to get right because it means each member has to be an incredible musician.
Their last breakout record, Cavalcade, had a number of themes revolving around being a touring band and living in a constant state of leaving. Cresswell didn’t want to steer the ship in the same direction lyrically and drew on other inspirations when the pen hit the paper. In 2011, Cresswell “had the rug pulled out from under [him].” “It’s something everyone goes through,” referring to some close people in his life stabbing him in the back. He was stuck in the cold, poop-scented waste that was Toronto for the winter and sunk into a bit of a rut. Thankfully, Cresswell saw his friends and family unite to pull him out of his sinkhole and get him on the road. The product of this victory is the opening track on Dead Language, titled “Resuscitation of the Year.” Cresswell talks about writing “as a form of therapy” and, boy, does it show.
For someone whose lyrics indulge so much in dark imagery, Cresswell is among the most humble, happy and appreciative people in the business. A short novel could be written about the lyrics of Dead Language, but suffice it to say that the overall feel of the record is positive. Even dark songs have an undertone of overcoming the afflictions of living and moving forward having championed the past. “Life at sea,” Cresswell explains, “[has been] a great experience.” Eleven years on tour, or “at sea,” have contributed to an incredible new album with well-crafted songs, amazing musicianship and intelligent lyrics. Their live show sees their fan base grow with each venue they play and with an unyielding amount of momentum. It all sounds too good to be true but Cresswell and the boys don’t take any of it for granted.
The Flatliners are delivering real goods to the masses, overcoming the odds as a Canadian punk band and have reached the international stage. Do yourself a favour and get down to Republik on December 14th and see the best punk band in Canada.
Catch the Flatliners at the Pawn Shop (Edmonton) on December 13 and at Republik (Calgary) on December 14.
By Sean Hamilton