Flights Interview - November 2011
by Jodie Humphries
I was lucky enough to be able to see Flights for Live-Music-Scene on one of the first dates they played in Bristol. The band impressed me back then, and since, Joe, Joel, Adam and Dean have continued to impress me every time I‚Äôve seen them. Catching up with three of the guys between demoing, it became even more clear what good mates they are, and the fact that they seem to have a clear obsession with Nandos - endorsement opportunities there maybe?
‚ÄúMe and Adam have been playing together since we were 13, playing in several terrible bands through school like Cradle Of Fluff,‚ÄĚ Joe tells me. It‚Äôs at this point that Adam jumps in saying ‚ÄúDon‚Äôt name them,‚ÄĚ and Joel reveals, ‚ÄúI always enjoyed the name Alcoholic Spider.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúThat was a good one. Every time I see an auntie or relative I haven‚Äôt seen in a while, they go ‚ÄėAlcoholic Spider still going is it?‚Äô‚ÄĚ Joe laughs. ‚ÄúWe all come from Thornbury so we all used to play in the same pubs, we all knew each other from that ‚Äď Joel played in Enigma Design. Then I went to university and met Dean ‚Äď me, him and Adam played together for a while in a band called Just For Hustlers ‚Äď where we played grime and heavy music. Then we thought ‚Äėlet‚Äôs do something different‚Äô, so we got Joel on board as him and Adam had been talking.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúYeah me and Adam used to get drunk every Friday and decide we wanted to start a band, then Joe phoned me up and sorted it out,‚ÄĚ Joel explains.
Taking the reins to answer how they would describe their music, Joe jokes, ‚ÄúPretentious, over the top, useless.‚ÄĚ As they laugh, Adam says, ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve fallen into progressive rock ‚Äď soundscapy too I think.‚ÄĚ It‚Äôs their various tastes coming together that forms this sound Joel says; ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs such a cross-section of music of all our tastes and they all end up in there. There‚Äôs some that are more prominent than others, but I think there‚Äôs probably about five to ten bands that we could name check that we all have in common - so like Oceansize, Radiohead, Reuben and Yourcodenameis:milo, and after that Dean brings in all his mongey tastes.‚ÄĚ
Chatting about their debut EP 'Flights', Joe explains, ‚ÄúWith the EP we were trying to write as big as possible and as quiet as possible, and everything in between, I suppose just trying to do that turns us into prog rock music.‚ÄĚ On the subject of the tracks on the EP, Joel says, ‚Äú‚ÄėThe Mapmaker‚Äô and ‚ÄėThe Pretence‚Äô were one song until after we recorded them and just split them down the middle, putting one at the front and one at the end. There‚Äôs definitely an air about that first EP of us just being excited to be playing music together.‚ÄĚ The band are currently working hard on an album at the moment; ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs going well ‚Äď it‚Äôs sounding a bit different to what we did before,‚ÄĚ Joe says. So as not to scare those who are particular fans of their current sound, Joel explains, ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs the same sort of thing‚Ä¶I think it still sounds like us, we haven‚Äôt moved away from what we originally were; we think it‚Äôs more mature and we‚Äôre cutting out a lot of the fat that doesn‚Äôt need to be there.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI think we‚Äôll play all the songs live before we go into the studio ‚Äď I really want to do an album that works well recorded and live so that there aren‚Äôt songs which we say ‚Äėfuck me, we can‚Äôt play that live, its impossible‚Äô,‚ÄĚ Joe says on the next release. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a massive learning curve. It‚Äôs about self-editing, now we‚Äôve had practise at doing single edits and I think those edits sound better than the longer versions, we have to go through that process before going into the studio. It‚Äôs a case of being harsh ‚Äďit‚Äôs not us writing long songs for long songs sake ‚Äď you can be proud of it being a long song, but you have to do what‚Äôs best for the song.‚ÄĚ Looking back on the recording of their self-titled EP, Joel says, ‚ÄúI think Adam was good at that when we started writing the songs‚Ä¶I can remember quite a few instances of him saying ‚Äėare you sure this isn‚Äôt a bit too long?‚Äô The problem is, when we‚Äôre playing live in a room, we all love it when we can lock into an idea and just build it and grow it, and that‚Äôs a really organic way to play and we love doing that, but you can‚Äôt do it at a gig. Anyone who doesn‚Äôt have an instrument in their hand will be like ‚Äėthis is a bit long isn‚Äôt it?‚Äô, so unless you give everyone a triangle or shakers‚Ä¶.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre not going to bludgeon people over the head with a seven minute song unless it works in the flow of the album,‚ÄĚ Joel went on to say. ‚ÄúI think ‚ÄėEleven‚Äô ‚Äď which is the working title, is the heaviest song we‚Äôve done and that clocks in at three and a half minutes, but it still hits harder than any other song we‚Äôve done. We‚Äôll still retain all parts that are us, but we‚Äôll use them (in ways that are) a little smarter. We‚Äôre pretty fortunate with Joe‚Äôs studio as well ‚Äď we can demo things right from the very first ideas. Me and Joe can sit there in the evening and bosh together a very rough skeleton; then we can come back with new ideas and build it up from there.‚ÄĚ As the band demo a lot of their material in Joe‚Äôs studio as they‚Äôre writing it, Adam says, ‚ÄúYou can see how the song progresses over time ‚Äď you can look back and see how the song has been shaped because you completely forget how it started.‚ÄĚ
Flights are clearly proud of being part of the Bristol scene as when asked how they would describe it, Joe says, ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a lot of different styles and I think it‚Äôs thriving.‚ÄĚ All three were keen to say how great it is having the Fleece back on top form and saying what a great job Tim Bailey is doing; ‚ÄúThey are just getting in bands that would never have touched Bristol,‚ÄĚ Joel says. It‚Äôs not just the guys at the Fleece Flights admire though; ‚ÄúSam Betts at the Louisiana gets in great bands like all the BSM bands.‚ÄĚ Joe continues, ‚ÄúAnd Dean at Offbeat is really good as he gives bands a first chance; he gave us our first two or three gigs. There are a lot of bands who are really interesting; there are a lot of leftfield bands really. There‚Äôs not just a scene of people doing straight up indie rock. It feels like there is something simmering underneath; I feel there‚Äôs a group of bands who have all got the same outlook. We don‚Äôt necessarily play the same sort of music, but we have the same outlook when it comes to music. There‚Äôs bands like Cut Nancy, Hello Lazarus, Idles and Snake Invasion who have become mates; it‚Äôs nice to build a scene and have that.‚ÄĚ
If they could play anywhere though, where would it be? Adam says, ‚ÄúSomewhere like Sheperd‚Äôs Bush absolutely packed.‚ÄĚ While Joel has several options he would love; ‚ÄúI‚Äôd love to have a choir play with us‚Ä¶and I would love to play a festival somewhere like 2000 Trees ‚Äď I‚Äôve been the last two years and it‚Äôs such a great vibe.‚ÄĚ
Ideal gig line-up wise the guys decided to opt for a band decision, which ended up being ‚ÄúReuben, Radiohead and Oceansize.‚ÄĚ Although Joel wanted Flights to open it and Joe put his foot down on that one saying ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not going to happen mate‚ÄĚ when Joel says ‚ÄúI‚Äôd love to say I‚Äôve played on the same bill as those bands.‚ÄĚ Remembering to include Dean, Joe says, ‚ÄúWho would Dean choose? Dean would choose Lou Reed.‚ÄĚ At this point Adam remembers The Chariot, so the guys finally decide: ‚ÄúChariot to warm up the crowd, and then go to Reuben, then Oceansize and end on Radiohead.‚ÄĚ
Chatting about life in the band and what they feel they are learning, Joe says, ‚ÄúYou learn quite a lot of skillsets being in a band too; the amount of drive it takes, you feel like you‚Äôre self-employed. You‚Äôre constantly just battering people with what you are and who you are; it‚Äôs no different from having a business or a product so I feel that there is a skillset that I‚Äôm learning from doing this.‚ÄĚ
So what‚Äôs next for Flights? ‚ÄúNothing after this,‚ÄĚ Joel jokes as they all laugh. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve got our tour dates, and there‚Äôs going to be lots of writing and demoing. We‚Äôve got quite a bit in the pipeline, so we‚Äôll see what happens,‚ÄĚ Joe says. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs some cool stuff happening,‚ÄĚ Joel finishes the interview saying. It sounds like it‚Äôs a case of watch this space for Flights; if the press for their debut EP was anything to go by, then we should all be very excited about the forthcoming album.
Flights can be seen on tour with The Perfect Crime in November
6 GUILDFORD The Star
11 BRISTOL The Croft
12 CROYDON Scream Lounge
13 BRIGHTON The Hydrant