Flights Interview - November 2011

by Jodie Humphries

Flights Interview

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’ve 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?

“Me and Adam have been playing together since we were 13, playing in several terrible bands through school like Cradle Of Fluff,” Joe tells me. It’s at this point that Adam jumps in saying “Don’t name them,” and Joel reveals, “I always enjoyed the name Alcoholic Spider.” “That was a good one. Every time I see an auntie or relative I haven’t seen in a while, they go ‘Alcoholic Spider still going is it?’” Joe laughs. “We all come from Thornbury so we all used to play in the same pubs, we all knew each other from that – Joel played in Enigma Design. Then I went to university and met Dean – me, him and Adam played together for a while in a band called Just For Hustlers – where we played grime and heavy music. Then we thought ‘let’s do something different’, so we got Joel on board as him and Adam had been talking.” “Yeah 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,” Joel explains.

Taking the reins to answer how they would describe their music, Joe jokes, “Pretentious, over the top, useless.” As they laugh, Adam says, “We’ve fallen into progressive rock – soundscapy too I think.” It’s their various tastes coming together that forms this sound Joel says; “There’s such a cross-section of music of all our tastes and they all end up in there. There’s some that are more prominent than others, but I think there’s 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.”

Chatting about their debut EP 'Flights', Joe explains, “With 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.” On the subject of the tracks on the EP, Joel says, “‘The Mapmaker’ and ‘The Pretence’ 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’s definitely an air about that first EP of us just being excited to be playing music together.” The band are currently working hard on an album at the moment; “It’s going well – it’s sounding a bit different to what we did before,” Joe says. So as not to scare those who are particular fans of their current sound, Joel explains, “It’s the same sort of thing…I think it still sounds like us, we haven’t moved away from what we originally were; we think it’s more mature and we’re cutting out a lot of the fat that doesn’t need to be there.”

“I think we’ll play all the songs live before we go into the studio – I really want to do an album that works well recorded and live so that there aren’t songs which we say ‘fuck me, we can’t play that live, its impossible’,” Joe says on the next release. “It’s a massive learning curve. It’s about self-editing, now we’ve 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’s a case of being harsh –it’s not us writing long songs for long songs sake – you can be proud of it being a long song, but you have to do what’s best for the song.” Looking back on the recording of their self-titled EP, Joel says, “I think Adam was good at that when we started writing the songs…I can remember quite a few instances of him saying ‘are you sure this isn’t a bit too long?’ The problem is, when we’re 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’s a really organic way to play and we love doing that, but you can’t do it at a gig. Anyone who doesn’t have an instrument in their hand will be like ‘this is a bit long isn’t it?’, so unless you give everyone a triangle or shakers….”

“We’re not going to bludgeon people over the head with a seven minute song unless it works in the flow of the album,” Joel went on to say. “I think ‘Eleven’ – which is the working title, is the heaviest song we’ve done and that clocks in at three and a half minutes, but it still hits harder than any other song we’ve done. We’ll still retain all parts that are us, but we’ll use them (in ways that are) a little smarter. We’re pretty fortunate with Joe’s studio as well – 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.” As the band demo a lot of their material in Joe’s studio as they’re writing it, Adam says, “You can see how the song progresses over time – you can look back and see how the song has been shaped because you completely forget how it started.”

Flights Interview

Flights are clearly proud of being part of the Bristol scene as when asked how they would describe it, Joe says, “There’s a lot of different styles and I think it’s thriving.” 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; “They are just getting in bands that would never have touched Bristol,” Joel says. It’s not just the guys at the Fleece Flights admire though; “Sam Betts at the Louisiana gets in great bands like all the BSM bands.” Joe continues, “And 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’s not just a scene of people doing straight up indie rock. It feels like there is something simmering underneath; I feel there’s a group of bands who have all got the same outlook. We don’t necessarily play the same sort of music, but we have the same outlook when it comes to music. There’s bands like Cut Nancy, Hello Lazarus, Idles and Snake Invasion who have become mates; it’s nice to build a scene and have that.”

If they could play anywhere though, where would it be? Adam says, “Somewhere like Sheperd’s Bush absolutely packed.” While Joel has several options he would love; “I’d love to have a choir play with us…and I would love to play a festival somewhere like 2000 Trees – I’ve been the last two years and it’s such a great vibe.”

Ideal gig line-up wise the guys decided to opt for a band decision, which ended up being “Reuben, Radiohead and Oceansize.” Although Joel wanted Flights to open it and Joe put his foot down on that one saying “It’s not going to happen mate” when Joel says “I’d love to say I’ve played on the same bill as those bands.” Remembering to include Dean, Joe says, “Who would Dean choose? Dean would choose Lou Reed.” At this point Adam remembers The Chariot, so the guys finally decide: “Chariot to warm up the crowd, and then go to Reuben, then Oceansize and end on Radiohead.”

Chatting about life in the band and what they feel they are learning, Joe says, “You learn quite a lot of skillsets being in a band too; the amount of drive it takes, you feel like you’re self-employed. You’re constantly just battering people with what you are and who you are; it’s no different from having a business or a product so I feel that there is a skillset that I’m learning from doing this.”

So what’s next for Flights? “Nothing after this,” Joel jokes as they all laugh. “We’ve got our tour dates, and there’s going to be lots of writing and demoing. We’ve got quite a bit in the pipeline, so we’ll see what happens,” Joe says. “There’s some cool stuff happening,” Joel finishes the interview saying. It sounds like it’s 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


11 BRISTOL The Croft

12 CROYDON Scream Lounge

13 BRIGHTON The Hydrant

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