“A lot of things just add up,” Chris Cresswell sighs, referring to the accumulation of delays that sees his band, the Flatliners, only able to release an album every three years or so.
A lot of things add up, he says, but it’s mostly just one thing, constantly adding onto itself. The Flatliners is a band that likes to stay on the road: its touring pace is a full-blown, continent-leaping schedule of shows that ends only intermittently, for short bursts of time to spend at home before setting back out again. It’s a schedule happily accepted by the Ontario punk band, but not one particularly conducive to finishing new material.
“It’s difficult for us to really find the time and focus on writing a lot, cohesively, song by song, while we’re on the road,” Cresswell continues, over the phone from a cozy, temperate parking lot in California. “There’s so much downtime on the road, usually, but we spend that time separately working on riff ideas and lyrics and melodies and stuff. But it’s not really until we get a good chunk of time at home to really get together to focus on that.”
Those chunks of available recording time are few and far between, though: Dead Language, the band’s fourth album, comes three and a half years after the last (2010’s Cavalcade), but that’s only a slightly longer-than-average span of time between Flatliners records. Fittingly, Dead Language came together piecemeal, recorded between legs of shows.
“We recorded it in between a bunch of tours, and did it in a really sporadic way,” Cresswell explains. “We’d write a chunk of songs and then record them live, then go on tour for several weeks, then go back home and write some more songs. Then go in the studio and record them live, then go on another tour. We just added it up that way.”
“[That’s] a lot more fun for us to do that than sit at home and hope we sell records,” he continues. “We’re always trying to find a new, fresh approach to the length to each tour. Or how to approach certain geographic hurdles, I suppose—that always evolves and changes. You meet up with where everyone’s comfort level is at. But it’s always been a thing where we’ve just done it as much as we can, as long as everyone’s comfortable with it.”
With Dead Language, the band found itself minimizing the recording process further, deciding against making many in-studio revisions in favour of recording the songs as the band first envisioned them.
“When you get to that [demoing] point in the process, you overthink a lot of stuff, you maybe overanalyze a lot of stuff,” he says. “That’s how we’ve done our last several records, but this one, we went into the studio with the stance of ‘These are demos.’ And then we heard them and were like, ‘Oh, these were great.’ We were really happy with how they turned out, so that’s when we decided, maybe that process of demoing, picking it apart and doing it again, isn’t us.”
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