At the tail end of last month I went to Amsterdam for a few days. Nice little jaunt away, visiting a lovely part of Europe. Pastries, canals, truffles – you get the picture. But that pales in comparison to the boys in Flood of Red, who’ve just spent a month knocking about Europe, seeing the sites, tasting foreign delicacies, indulging in new cultures. Oh yeah, and getting the chance to play music, supporting Maybeshewill on their mammoth ‘Fair Youth Tour’ for its European leg. Leaving Scotland behind, Flood Of Red joined up with Maybeshewill in mid-October and carried on through to Paris for the tail end of November.
This was extended for the remaining UK dates that will close out a tremendous year for Maybeshewill. But it’s been a pretty good year for Flood of Red too. Playing shows up and down the country and beyond, mid-year saw the release of their hotly anticipated sophomore record ‘Throw’
Thursday 4th December saw them make a return to Manchester, with The Deaf Institute acting as gracious hosts. It was here where I met up with Flood of Red boys Graham and Dale, just before the mighty Mutiny On The Bounty kicked off the evening.
Used to cold weather from kicking it around Europe for the past month, the UK was just as unforgiving as they found out at their first date of the tour, playing O’Rileys in Hull. Dale “It was good, yeah. It’s a really cold venue, so we all played in jackets and hats and the crowd seemed cold, but hopefully we warmed them up a little. It was nice to play a small local, rural town in the UK again. It was good though, we had fun. We hadn’t played there in a couple years, so it was nice to go back.”
Later on that evening, Flood Of Red took to the stage in Manchester and played a blinder. But let’s cut back a month and a bit; back to their European shows with Maybeshewill. Graham “Yeah it was great. We first met them at the start of the European tour, so we really got to know each other quite well by the end of it. It was fun; it was good getting to see them every night. It’s good that we’re on the same label as well – Talented roster that they have *laughs* It was amazing, we got to see some fantastic places, we had some great experiences with them. I’m looking forward to replicating it in the UK as well, that’ll be fun”
Dale “When we tour, it’s not just about playing the shows. So getting to a different city in Europe every day, we luckily had enough time to go round and explore the city like a tourist as well, so that was an amazing experience – besides the shows being awesome. Every city was great, so yeah it was just a really good month that we spent”
Owing to the joy of social media and bands being able to keep fans in the loop with their adventures, the Flood Of Red Instagram was packed with great pictures from their travels. Giant dogs made of flowers in Bilbao, sleepy coffee houses in France, fuckin’ Auschwitz… It’s all there – travel diaries zapped through, it’s almost like fans are there with them. It’s an enviable job, that’s for sure, as Dale continued “Budapest – fantastic. ‘Cus the last time we played Budapest, we turned up about an hour before we went on and it was like really dark and stuff. This was the same venue we were playing, so when we saw it this time round I had no idea all this stuff was here. So we actually got to see Budapest this time, and I’m really glad we did, it was awesome.
Switzerland was fantastic. The day after we played in Bulle, we went to the H.R. Giger museum, the guy who designed all the Alien films…That was absolutely mind blowing. I’ve always been a fan of his work, but did not know he was even Swiss, never mind from a place we were going to be playing. It turns out the promoter for the venue has a deal where bands get free entry to the place if the people who work there get free entry to the shows. So we just turned up that day and the guy said to Graham, all of you go in. It was just a great experience”
Graham “It was a great perk; I think it was really good to be able to share the arts with bands”
Dale “It seems like a lot of rock bands, there’s at least one guy in a band who’s like a massive Alien fan. You don’t just sort of like Alien, it’s either really right up your street or not your bag at all. We were all really excited…and we had no idea he was such a horny bastard *laughs* It was like playing ‘spot the penis’ in half of his artwork”
The new record has been well received by fans, with Europe having a particularly keen interest, which the boys are particularly humble about. Graham “It’s been very pleasant, people have enjoyed it. I’ve not had that many people come up spitting in my face *laughs* So yeah, it’s been nice”
Dale “…Especially in Europe. People already had our albums bought, who were coming to the show with the album they’d already bought a month before. For us not having toured over there much – well, we hadn’t played over there in years, so it was just great to see the reaction from people. Especially in Germany, they just seem to really get what we’re trying to do. It’s all age groups as well – In Switzerland and Germany, there’s like people over the age of 50 coming to the show just to see us, so it’s kind of mind blowing. But it’s good”
Back home the response has been equally as good, as Dale continued “I think they were expecting something worse, just because they’ve waited so long for it – well, people who are already fans of the band. They’ve waited for a while, and I don’t think we’ve let too many old fans down, but we’ve definitely gained a lot of new fans with this album, which is absolutely perfect”
“Waited for a while” is right. ‘Leave Everything Behind’, their debut full length, came out back in 2009 to critical acclaim. Five years is quite a long time, especially when you’ve left people wanting more. But leaving time between records was done for all the right reasons, as Dale continued “We did a self-released EP in-between then, but that was just sort of – give something for people to listen to, so there wasn’t just a stagnant five years *laughs* But I mean, we didn’t want to rush it and put out an album just because. It still wasn’t released straight after it was recorded – it took a while. We’re happy with what we released, so that’s the main thing for us”
Whilst with the arrival of the new record those years might have appeared to go in the blink of an eye, it’s still been a long time since that first release. Lives have changed; the band has lost some members and then gained new ones. So have the band grown up? Graham pondered “We would’ve grown up a lot. Then lost all that maturity that we had again *laughs* We’ve had a couple of new members playing with us; lost a couple of people. Just doing what we do *laughs*”
Dale “Our first album was released when we were in our really early 20’s, so you’re obviously growing into you’re mid-to-late 20’s, that’s like a big gap as a person – So there’s six of us. So it’s not even like we tried to change musically, you just totally change as a person without thinking it over the course of five years, so people might look at the first album and then the second and think that’s a huge gap, but they have to remember there’s like six people making this over the course of five years”
Graham “There was a lot of stuff that we did that didn’t and won’t ever make it to the public *laughs*”
Dale “We could’ve released two albums in-between the first and second and it would’ve made sense if you listen to all four together, but we didn’t want to…”
Graham “…Selective *laughs*”
Dale “We just only want to release stuff that we are fully happy with”
As Graham goes on to explain, signing to a label and moving closer to home proved beneficial for the second full length. “Obviously there’s six of us, and things can sometimes take a bit of time to get round everyone and make sure it’s all on the same page. This one was different because we signed a deal with Superball Music, so we had a label backing us which – on the first album, we did all ourselves – so there was a lot of stuff that was kind of taken off our hands that we didn’t really have to worry about. But that only added some more new things that we had to then worry about. For the recording process, we done it with our friend Jag – Jaggo, who was the guitarist in The Ghost Of A Thousand. We recorded it with him in Brighton. The first one we went over and we done it with Brian McTernen, the producer, and it was all live in with his incredible state of the art studio. Everything was there; we could play 24/7. This time it was a lot different, we had a studio that we went to – like a sort of 9-5 almost.
Obviously we’ve all kind of matured and changed as people, and the difference between doing it in Brighton where we have friends and we have people compared to the last time we done it in Baltimore, where we were alien and we didn’t know people. So that process was different. The music making bit, I think was the same as what it’s always been, it’s just probably to other people it would be a progression. To us it’s a progression I guess; to other people it might be something different.”
Dale “When it came to mixing and actual producing, we were a little more hands on. A lot more than we were with the first album, because we’d never recorded an album before and we were with this big producer guy, so we were like ‘oh shit, ok – whatever he says, that’s probably the right idea.’ So this time we were like – we really wanted to try our best to put our own stamp on it”
Graham “…and we had recorded the whole album ourselves, at least once or twice, before we went to record it in various guises of different songs and different arrangements and what not. So we were very hands on in the creation of this whole thing, it was pretty much self-produced, like we chose everything. Jag helped make it achievable”
Dale “It’s also really handy that, as Graham was saying, we demoed the songs quite a few times before, so we managed to explore every different avenue each song could go down and pick which was actually best for it, rather than recording the first idea that each song came to. That way, a year down the line you’re like ‘I kinda wish that chorus was different’ We managed to try out different ways…”
Graham “…Which obviously you can only do when you have years between albums, you can’t always…when you’ve got someone breathing down your neck…I wouldn’t imagine we’ll get to do that long before the next album”
If a band releases a dud record, you often think – who in the group thought this was any good? Some of the utter dogshit that goes about; you can’t imagine the people making it think it smells like roses. But what about when a band makes a record that they’ve put a lot of hard work into and are passionate about, and it turns out to be a triumph? It’s always cool to hear from the people in band’s what they’ve been listening to or what their favourite tracks are. So I turned the question on Graham and Dale – What were their favourite tracks from the new record?
Dale “I like ‘White Russian’, the last track and ‘Ye Die, Ye Die’ the third last. Just ‘cus I think they’re like all round songs; they have different elements of different genres all within the one song, but it’s not like too jarring to listen to, it flows really well .I just think they’re quite almost progressive songs, so for me I think they’re good. ‘An exhibition of what we can do’ *laughs* sort of like our little catalogue. If I had to let someone hear one of our songs it’d be one of those two, because it’s like flowing throughout different styles that we can all do. Not in a cheesy way where it snaps between genres in every bar or anything”
Graham “For me it would possibly be – obviously I like every song on the album for different reasons – but at the moment, still my favourite would probably be the title track ‘Throw’, which is the first song on the album. I love that just for the…We’ve never done a song like that before, we’ve never written a song like that, and it just felt really good the way it came together. We jammed it out and it worked. It changed very little from the very first time we played it as a whole group to the way it’s on the album, even the way we’re playing it now on tour. It still feels like we’re still playing it that very first time. When I listen to it I still feel that as well, so that’s why – quite self-indulgent an opinion of it *laughs*”
Dale “It’s sort of that way when occasionally, very occasionally, you’ll write a song and once it’s written it instantly feels like you’ve been playing it for years. It feels like a classic. I don’t mean a classic to the world *laughs*Just to us, it’s been with us for years – it just feels natural. That’s like the best sort of song”
Graham “That exact reason – for that, and the fact that it’s different to anything we’ve done before, but it still feels like that”
Things are ending on a high for Flood Of Red at the close of the year, with plans in the pipeline to move on from Throw and look forward to another record.
Dale “I think the plan is just to go ahead with another album as soon as we can. Not try to force the writing, but we already have – since writing the last song for the last album – we’ve been writing more and just sending each other ideas”
Graham “We’ve had spare material as well that we’ve not explored as much as we wanted to, and that’s why it hadn’t made it onto the last album. But again, it’s not necessarily that we’re gonna go straight into our next album…”
Dale “…It is obviously what we’d like to do, but we’re open to suggestions and ideas”
Graham “There’s definitely new music that will be coming, we have started writing it. How and when we’ll end up giving it out…”
Dale “…We have already – not finished – but like, solid ideas for quite a few songs now. So we’re at least safe in the knowledge that, if we had to quickly, we’d be able to produce a few songs”
Graham “If X-Factor asked us for the Christmas single, if they’ve not already chosen it”
Dale “…It’d be like ok, we’ve got a few to choose from”