Q and A with Flannel MouthJune 3, 2013
Flannel Mouth is a rock band from Glasford, Illinois that has aimed to break out of the small town and take on the world of music. With steady support from label SwitchBitch Records they may just be able to. The band is made up of Luke Myers on lead vocals and guitar, Zach Hartman on guitar and backing vocals, bassist Ryan Batalon, and drummer Tyler Jamsa. We got a chance to talk with Tyler and Luke, check out what the guys had to say.
BS: How would you describe Flannel Mouth’s music to someone who hasn’t heard it?
Tyler: I tend to describe our music as a theatrical punk with an emphasis on dynamic and motion. I use the word “theatrical” because of the way we distance ourselves onstage from our usual goofy selves off stage and try to induce emotions with the way we play something. “Dynamic” is a fun word because we like to play both quietly and softly, and then “motion” because we’re not strangers to ending songs on a different emotional wave than we started them.
BS: How hard was it to break into music in such a small town? How did you break out?
Tyler: The most difficult part of breaking out from a small town is being taken seriously by the locals who’ve seen it all, you know? Their horror stories, their cynicism, albeit well earned, are rather discouraging and it’s hard to become a staple where the acceptance rate is so low anyway. The only choices we had were to either work hard and be pompous and upset with the scene or work hard and be an energetic act with something to prove, and we chose to do it with humor, style, and class. Our promoters know they’re getting a great deal when they ask us for a set.
BS: At what point did you know you wanted to make a career out of music?
Luke: Well, I’d say immediately after I picked up a guitar and started writing songs is when I knew I wanted to make a career out of music. A neighbor of mine played all kinds of instruments. He sold me a guitar for cheap, taught me a couple chords and the rest is history.
BS: Can you walk us through the typical writing process in your songs?
Tyler: Our writing process is extraordinarily akin to an assembly line. It typically starts in Luke’s hands and head with a pen and an acoustic guitar, pairing words with riffs or chord progressions, then moves to phrases and structure. From there Luke will sit down with Zach and trade ideas for final structure and direction, guitar tones, auxiliary textures, and what have you. Those two will record it together and pass the demos to Ryan and me; we’ll jam it out at the next practice, and play it until it’s solid. The process usually takes a month or so, but as we become more comfortable with it, it’s become way faster.
BS: What inspiration do you draw for your songs? Are they from your lives or stories?
Luke: I’ve always loved to write stories. And I love stories that are all about the shock and awe; something that’s going to make the reader have to keep reading, or the listener keep listening, even if they’re completely horrified by the content. They can’t stop thinking about how gruesome it was, or how crazy that character was. My personal goal as a lyricist is to make people wonder, “How could anyone possibly imagine that?”
BS: If you could only play one song to someone to show them what your band is about, what one would it be and why?
Luke: I would show them “The .22,” off our debut EP Pull in Your Horns, because it’s a little bit frantic, a little bit funny, but still very pop sensible. I think it definitely shows where we’re going as band but still gives you a taste of what we’ve been along. [song at end]
BS: You had a song, “You’ve Convinced Me,” on SwitchBitch Records’ compilation album earlier this year. What was that like for you?
Luke: It was awesome! There was just a great group of bands on there, and it was really great to hear our music alongside them.
Tyler: We can’t stress enough how killer it is that we have such a hardworking label. On top of everything The Venetia Fair does for themselves, they’re putting that much work into their side projects with SBR and Black Market Custom, so it means a ton to us to see just as much effort and optimism dropped into our band and our goals. Our music is everywhere – Massachusetts, Texas, Arkansas, and every sick disgusting club, dive, and venue between. It’s unreal.
BS: What was the inspiration behind that song?
Luke: That song is actually the intro to our next album, The Prisoner’s Cinema. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s basically about young love gone terribly wrong. It’s an abrupt, bloody mess of a song that we released to prepare you for what’s coming next!
BS: Is there currently more new music in the works? When can fans expect to see it come out?
Luke: We’re actually about 9 songs into The Prisoner’s Cinema now. We’re also working on a single that we’re going to release by the end of summer or early fall. We’re hoping to get started on The Prisoner’s Cinema early next year. There’s a lot coming, so stay tuned.
BS: What are the chances that fans will be seeing you come to their towns soon?
Tyler: Soon is tough given the amount of work we have to do in the next year or so, but the Chicago area, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and the big Midwest staples can expect to be hit hard in that amount of time. Peoria’s always going to be home where we’ll play sets with 110% comfort and -10% inhibitions, but we’re really striving to bring that show and homeliness to a bigger market in time for our album release.
BS: Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?
Tyler: Our band is truly made up of best friends, and we’ve always considered our fan base to be our friends. We never see anyone at shows just the once, so chances are we’ve bought you a drink or talked about zombies or asked you something super inappropriate or personal. Collectively we’d like to say thanks for being such sweethearts, putting up with our atrocious attempts at humor, and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve got for you next. All out, promise.