Sunday, 11 October 2009
Interview with Sam Johnston of Flasguns -Noize Makes Enemies
Four boys with an equal adoration for Kurt Cobain and bursting with the-world-doesn’t-understand-me teenage angst come together to form a band. Boys leave school and grow into young men, forcing their lyrics to be all the richer from their experiences of growing up and brother-like mentality. Same old? Perhaps on paper:
“We were childhood friends and the drummer and I played in bands before and then we came together in our last year of school and started making music a bit more seriously and it just went on from there. It’s just the three of us now, seeing as our keyboard player left not long ago, but it’s just sort of some mates making music which is how it came about and it’s just sort of got more serious every month or so since we left school.”
But Flashguns are far from the same old clichéd musical outfit. With their eclectic jangley sound, it is the well-thought, mature lyrics that function as the fraying string, binding the epic chaotic synth guitars in place as its unexpected vastness hits with full force on each and every Flashguns track. Something no doubt largely inspired by the band’s impressive back catalogue of influences;
“All the stuff I used to listen to a lot is still some of my favourite music. Like Deftones and Nirvana stuff, but more recently I got more into bands like Biffy Clyro and The Killers are absolutely one of my favourite bands ever. And then stuff like Moby and Sigur Ros, which is a bit more like more musically advanced. So a big mixture of sounds.”
With such an effortlessly unique and three-dimensional sound, even lead singer, Sam Johnston, struggles to pinpoint its description:
“It’s definitely rock. Like a grungey sort of sound I think. Quite reminiscent of the ‘Never Mind’ album, mixed in with more of a modern synth twinge which, I don’t know, is like a Killers’ sort of vibe. It’s kind of like grungey, epic, sort of soundscapey stuff. It’s cool. A lot of guitars, a lot of chorusy guitars and big vocals. It’s a sort of big imposing sort of thing. It’s hard to explain!”
As Sam stumbles over his words and amidst his neologisms exudes his youthful self-doubt, it is almost hard to believe that he is the same charismatic front man who appears on stage full of such lyrical wisdom and self-assuredness. But his vulnerability is undeniably endearing and reminiscent of the likes of the face-to-face shyness of Flashguns’ touring buddies, Bombay Bicycle Club. Talking to Noize the day of their final gig with the band following a sound check (“But I’m bunking off loading up the van so that’s not too bad”), Sam explains how it all came about:
“We’ve been on the Bombay Bicycle Club tour for about two weeks now and tonight’s the last show. It’s going to be a weird change having the go-back-to-normal life again but we’ve got tonight still which is going to be a wicked show.
We’ve played with them and toured with them a bit before and we’ve known the guys for a while now. We just happen to be on a similar sort of keel if you know what I mean.”
It’s easy to see how the two bands get on so well with the same intoxicating stage present and quiet likeability away from the bright lights. Yet, with the future looking so promising for Flashguns, it would seem that the band are likely to find their time away from the media frenzy less and less common as they plan for their debut album;
“We’ve got an EP out which is called ‘Matching Parts, Similar Hearts’ and that’s got 4 tracks on. I think we’re kind of starting to think more seriously about recording an album but for now the EP is our main thing and where people can get an idea of what we’re about. I think we’ve come a long way with our sounds since then, we’ve done a lot of growing since the release of the EP.”
Since playing Reading in 2008 and with a lot of support from new music connoisseur, Zane Lowe, earlier this year, Flashguns are now starting to see the rewards from all of their hard work pay off. But for the next few months at least, having been bitten hard by the touring buzz, the band’s plans are to stick to the open road:
“I think earlier this year was probably when I would like see the beginning of Flashguns really and it’s kind of like a slow growth kind of thing. We’ve had a lot of support from the BBC which has been amazing and has been a massive help. It’s not been like a massive hype but its been like a flow of growing and it’s been really good.” “I think we’re going to try and book another support tour which would be really cool. Probably the wrong time of the year for it but it would be great to get in another consistent session. We’ve got a lot of writing to do, I think we’re going to be trying to write a whole new bunch of songs. Preparing for recording an album at the end of the year or something, I think that will be the plan. And gigging as much as possible, just playing shows all over the place and just trying to grow the fanbase.”
But for one of Britain’s most exciting and deserving new talents, it would seem developing more fans shouldn’t be too much of a problem as we eagerly await their first major release.