Interview and Photography by Darren Warner
From Issue 9 of PLUGGED IN
It’s a Sunday night and the streets of Cardiff are subdued and quiet, most people deciding to stay at home and watch the telly. Not me though, I’d opted for the confines of the Barfly where tonight Flood Of Red were due to perform, a band that had intrigued me when I received a copy of their self-released album Leaving Everything Behind. Described as the Scottish Funeral For A Friend I had to find out what the fuss was about and whether these young upstarts deserve the monicker they’d been given.
So, sitting in their tour bus, I spoke to drummer Graham Griffith and bass player Jamie McGowan who were struggling to stave off flu, lead singer Calum Doris having to rest his vocal chords after being the worst member to be affected by the dreaded lurgy. My first question had to be the references to Funeral, one of Wales’ top rock acts. What was their opinion on this association? At this point I was expecting a furore of abuse telling me how the band was individual and shouldn’t be compared with anyone — but, no, these boys were much too polite to vent their spleens and the answer I got shocked me even more.
“Ryan Richards, the drummer from Funeral was the reason I started playing the drums. To be honest he was my biggest inspiration at the time and was a massive influence on all of us, especially as we watched them grow from what they were to what they have now become. To us this is a massive compliment and we are humbled that people would think that.”
Flood Of Red come from the central Glasgow area and their Scottish accents play tunes around the words they speak to me as they talk about the formation of the band. They make reference to Trailer Dead whose album Madonna contained the track Flood Of Red from which they took their name, and another band that has influence the six guys’ progression. So back to those beginnings.
“It started with Calum and myself forming a band at school. It wasn’t that we wanted to be massive at that time, we just enjoyed being in a band and writing music together. Members came and left, but by the time Jamie joined it was just as we were leaving high school so we decided to tour as this seemed to us the best way to travel and play music. That’s really when we started to take things seriously.”
So looking at the title of your album, what is it you’re leaving behind? “Our former lives I guess. When we started to take our music seriously we were at that point when decisions had to be made. Do we go into further education, try to find an apprenticeship and start maturing, growing up as people say. We decided to take the risky move of pushing forward with what we love. You know that trying to break a band is very difficult in these modern times but we left behind what we were expected to do.”
The lyrics throughout the album are dark with many of the themes being about loss and desperation that are very emotive. So what’s it like to see an audience’s reaction to these very personal songs? “You need to be upfront and passionate about yourself, opening up to people. The only way the audience is going to react is if you give them something to react to. Honesty like that is a big part of the band and the lyrics throughout are based on real life situations that have happened to us.”
To show the commitment these guys have to their music they took the brave move of releasing the first album on their on label Dark City. Why take that step at such an early stage? “When we decided to take music seriously we knew we wanted to do this for as long as we can. It’s not all about the fame and fortune, though that would help of course, but we see this as a career. A couple of years ago we were on a label who wanted to push us in a different direction, jumping on the back of Enter Shikari’s fame who we are great friends with and have performed over 50 shows as their support. But that wasn’t what we wanted to do. We wanted to be our own band in our own light, while the label wanted to milk the cash cow with us. So we decided to step back and come up with the idea of doing it our own way ourselves using the networking sites like myspace. Everything became home grown and organic leaving us in total creative control of our album and not being told to write a three-minute pop song so we would be favoured by a major label and locked into a deal that told you what you must do.”
A brave move for a band so new to the scene but nevertheless validated by the results on their album, which includes all forms of influences with hints toward ambient music in places. So was this planned? “I don’t think anything was really planned, we just threw in parts and let it develop naturally. The ambient thing is part of our music and becomes a good balance against the heavier parts. Because there are six of us we have varying tastes in music from club electro to VERY heavy metal. It’s when you bring all that together you end up with what we do with a wide range of dynamics. In our life we hope to reach more people in more interesting ways than you can conceive imaginable and tour the world.”
So what makes a great band that can survive to live this dream? “Co-operation between everyone and, of course, good song writing. Everyone needs to be able to give input but also take hits of criticism. But never let that criticism hold you back.”
And it’s co-operation the band need tonight. Suffering heavily from the flu that’s been passed around in the confines of the van, the guys know their place is on stage and nothing will hold them back. With support from our local heroes and friends Dead Against The Rest and the brilliantly professional Circle Of One, Flood Of Red have to step up a gear and break through into that zone that takes them beyond the virus that has been inflicted upon them. Their performance is strong and energetic from the start to the massive drum attack finale, where every member of the band joins Graham bashing out rhythm and power. Believe me, Flood Of Red found a natural cure for flu this evening, pure adrenalin.
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