Interview: The Flatliners


For the past eleven years, Canadian punk rock outfit The Flatliners have continued to hone and refine their distinct brand of heartfelt anthems by touring constantly, winning over any audience that will give them the time of day. The group is now hot off the release of a new record, which could be described as the sound of a group of musicians who have thoroughly paid their dues. The Flatliners’ songs drip with authenticity, and serve as a reminder of the joys that straightforward, honest music can bring – something that’s increasingly valuable in a music landscape dominated by gimmicks, PR stunts, and short-lived bouts of fame. In order to learn more about how The Flatliners fit in to the contemporary Canadian music scene, spoke to vocalist/guitarist Chris Cresswell. Here’s what he had to say:


Your much-anticipated fourth album, entitled Dead Language, was just released via New Damage Records and Fat Wreck Chords. With all of the early praise from critics, and overall hype surrounding this release, is this feeling like it could be the defining Flatliners record?

We are certainly feeling much love and appreciation from all the kind words we’ve heard about the album so far. It’s difficult to say if one particular record by a band fully defines them, since bands are always evolving and working towards something new. I will say though, that this is the most comfortable we have ever been in the studio in our band’s history, and I think that comes across on the record as us sounding like we’re having a lot of fun. We worked very hard and long on this album, and we’re all very glad it has finally come out. To us, Dead Language certainly feels like the culmination of everything we’ve done thus far, and that makes us very happy.


Flatliners_DeadLanguage_Cover3While most of your fans are likely familiar with the prolific and NOFX-affiliated Fat Wreck Chords, they may be curious about your decision to sign with New Damage Records. What can you tell us about this brand new Canadian label? What captured your interest and motivated you to sign with them?

Fat Wreck has been our home for years, and they have always done right by us. They have also always been cool with us working with other labels on small projects, and having our backs in whatever we do. Doing a co-release between Fat Wreck and New Damage is exciting for us, because it allows us to continue to move forward with Fat and accomplish some cool things together, and at the same time work with a fresh group of folks at New Damage and build something exciting together from the ground up. It’s interesting seeing different labels’ perspectives on things, having that opportunity to bounce ideas back and forth, and working towards something all together as a unit. Having more people involved makes the workload a bit lighter for everyone, and that way we can accomplish some really exciting things for the band.


After eleven years of playing together with the same original lineup, how do you keep the writing process fresh and stay inspired? Has there ever been a conscious effort to avoid falling into a creative rut?

I feel that we release albums so infrequently that we’d be hard pressed to have things run stale, haha. The truth is, for our last 2 albums we’ve ended up writing between 18-20 songs. Then having to whittle it down from there to make a cohesive album. We’re lucky because we’ve known each other our entire lives. We started this band when we were 14 years old, were friends for years before this ever began, and now 11 years after the band’s inception we’re still going. We can all agree on lots of musical inspiration, and at the same time we all have our own little pockets of music that we’re into. That all adds up to things remaining exciting. And with all the time on the road, and what little cohesive writing we do on the road, it only means that the writing really flows once we’re afforded enough time at home to focus on making a record.


While you guys have enjoyed a successful career thus far, it’s been a slow and steady build. Are you satisfied with the band’s current level of popularity, or do you feel that you’re deserving of wider recognition?

I am so happy with where we’re at. I think it would be a bit crass to say “we should be bigger”… We have a great fanbase who shows us tons of love. And with every album we make, with every tour we do, things tend to get better and better all the time. What more can you ask for?!

In what ways have you seen the Canadian music scene change over the years, and how have you adapted?

It’s an interesting thing touring in Canada. More specifically, being from Toronto and always looking to either coast to see what is out there for you can seem like a daunting, but still very exciting, task. When I was a kid it always seemed like there was one main circuit bands would always tour, from BC to Nova Scotia. Once we were able to get on the road and explore it for ourselves, we quickly began to realize some of the most memorable shows were a bit off the beaten trail. I suppose the main shift I’ve noticed is just where we’ve forged some great friendships, and the places we continue to visit year after year. It’s an interesting perspective getting to see how these cities change and evolve upon your seemingly annual visit. There are so many incredible bands across this country of ours though, and I can’t think of a better way to discover them all than to see them all at shows, truly in their element.


flatliners_CavalcadeLast year you guys played a free show at my university’s on-campus sports bar, and I thought that was awesome. A lot of bands dream of playing huge stages and stadiums, but for The Flatliners, the opposite appears to be true – you seem to go out of your way to keep things simple, stripped down, and DIY. Do you find that your music thrives most in a small, intimate setting?

 We really do enjoy the simple approach of spreading our music through touring and playing live shows. At times it can be easy to get caught up in a lot of weird and wonderful ways to promote your band, your record, your songs, whatever. But I think the one that has prevailed for us is just hitting the road. If that means we play your campus bar one night, then we’ll try to make that night a memorable one. It’s easy to get deflated and tired on the road when you’re playing a show every night, driving every day, always being on the move, etc. It can be truly exhausting. But somehow that trusty adrenaline still kicks in every night for the show, and you end up having a great night. We enjoy the simplicity of that. And we enjoy working with people who want to put on a show for the right reasons. Not to make a shitload of money, not to get famous and have these accolades. Just to have people singing along is enough.


Who would win in a fight: a taco, or a grilled cheese sandwich?

The crunchiness of the taco could easily be used as a weapon against the gooey grilled cheese. Taco wins without a doubt.


Which member of the band is the most likely to start a cult?

I could see Jon starting some kind of Hockey cult based on statistics and knowledge of the game. The man is a whizkid with this stuff.


Are there any additional words you’d like to leave with readers?

Thank you to all our fans who have been ever patient with this new album of ours. It was a long time in the making, but we are so excited it’s finally out. Thanks for having our backs and sticking by us!

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