Shoot the Shit….
Name: Scott Brigham
Shoot: The Flatliners
At the Vancouver stop of yet another Canadian tour for The Flatliners, we sat down with guitarist Scott for a chat about their upcoming Australian tour, the key to getting to tour, job prospects and Turbonegro!
The reason we are sitting down here is because you are about to embark on another Australian tour. Your second time.
Yeah it will be out second time. The first time we went over was with No Fun At All. Good ol’ Swedish skate-punk band. We didn’t really know what to expect and it was probably one of the most fun times we have had on any tour.
How did it come about? Because at the time it sort of came out of nowhere like “No Fun at All are touring again….oh, and they’re bringing the Flatliners”…
Our promoter over there, Ben Neilsen, he had been wanting to bring us over for a while but didn’t want us to do our own headlining tour. He thought it would be better if we supported a bigger band. Then it just so happened No Fun At All came up and we were so excited to jump on that. It was great.
Best memories of your last visit? Or is it a bit of a blur?
A bit blurry. Usually in America we tour in a van and a trailer so on a day off we have to do a whole lot of driving. You end up sitting in the van, sleeping in the van and eating shitty fast food. But days off in Australia we just got to hang out at the beach and burn our pasty Canadian skins and get drunk. It was like being on vacation for us.
Favourite shows? Can you even remember where you went?
I’m testing you now…
I did acid for the first time on that tour so maybe that could explain why I can’t recall anything right now. Australian acid is pretty good.
Where were you? Figuratively at least?
I don’t know (laughs). All I remember is the shows were a lot of fun. I remember, because we were playing a support slot for the main shows, in some cities we had the chance to go back the next day and play a headlining show on our own at a smaller venue which was awesome.
People sometimes say touring Australia is like Canada when you have to do the long drives…
We were lucky because we got to fly. I remember the other band on the opening slot on that tour, a band called Skyway, they were fucking troopers man. They were driving every show while we were flying. I felt real bad. You could tell when they would show up that they were on no sleep and running on energy drinks.
Kind of like when you guys have to drive from Calgary to here (Vancouver)?
Exactly. So we can relate and all you can do is help them out and give them some of your beer and make sure they have a good time.
This tour coming up you are going out with Strike Anywhere and Anti-Flag. Anything in particular you are looking forward too going out with them.
Well we have toured a couple of times with both those bands so we have developed good friendships. So we are really excited to watch them play every night. Strike Anywhere are one of my favourite bands of all time and we just got off tour with Anti-Flag.
You don’t mind playing third-fiddle then? Smallest band on the flyer!
Not at all. It means we won’t be too drunk to play. It means we get to be kinda drunk, play, then get real drunk and watch those guys every night. Awesome.
Moving on, a lot has been made about you guys beginning your careers so early. Starting a band in high school like so many others, but basically going straight out on the road while you were still at school pretty much. Have you had time to reflect on the good and bad of getting on the road so early?
We have experienced all the perks of it. To do that at such a young age, there was definitely a lot of life learning. A lot of people go to college for that, and we just went on the road for that. We learned a lot, we have grown close and learned how each of us tick. But we have got to see the world man and there is not enough I can say about that and it’s the reason I am still doing it. I mean look at my shoes. It’s not like we make a lot of money doing this.
A lot of bands say there is one band in particular that taught them how to “be a band”. Was there anyone like that for you early on?
We were pretty lucky to have a lot of bands do that for us. We were always the youngest guys when bands would meet up and straight off the bat they would give us shit for it, as we do now with younger bands. But one that comes to mind is Catch 22. They took us on one of our very first US tours which is a pretty daunting thing to do when you are that young.
How young are we talking?
Probably about 17. We were too young to be in a lot of the places we were playing. But a band like that who, you know, had been around for so long, we listened to them when we were super young and they were still out there doing it. So it kind of gave us perspective of how to do it the right way and be able to continue playing in a band.
You had also come along at a time when the environment for bands was a lot different to when a band like Catch 22 was starting out and playing. The internet, the economy, a lot of stuff. Without sounding too cliché, what advice would you give to bands trying to get things going in that same environment?
Just find the right people caus you are going to be living with them, forever. It’s like being married while being on the road. Because that’s the way to do it, you have to be on the road pretty constantly because you are not going to make money off selling records. You are just going to have to play show after show after show. So it’s very crucial to have the right group of guys that you get along with, that you can be honest with and give your opinion. You can fight but you won’t take each other too seriously. But overall just get a shitty van and get out there and don’t look back.
Speaking about that, I read the other day about a band saying that the abundance of bands saying they are ‘touring’ bands and going out to get shows is actually negatively affecting things because it floods touring spots. Do you agree?
I think it is better than a bunch of bands thinking they are hot shit and don’t do anything. You might as well prove yourself and go on the road a bunch and do your own thing. There is nothing better than playing shows, even in small towns. I mean there might be a small attendance but there is still going to be people there that want to see your band and that is pretty endearing. I think that is one awesome thing that bands should do if they are going to take themselves seriously.
I’m guessing you guys have got to the stage where you find it pretty tough to hold down any job because you are on the road so often?
Actually Chris just scored a sweet job at a local bar in Toronto. So it’s great and they understand that he has to be coming and going. I had a job in a record store for a while, and then it went out of business. I mean I worked a bunch of shitty jobs, because you are only home for like a month or so in between, you spend two weeks handing out resumes, trying to get the interview and then you are like ‘Oh I have to leave in a week’.
So you are not one of the organised guys who is lining things up a couple of weeks out from arriving home?
Not at all man. I don’t know when things start and when things finish. But if anyone back home in Toronto wants to give me a job, I’d appreciate it! Just check our website I’m sure there is our touring dates up there that they can plan around. (Laughs)
OK what skills do you have for the potential employers out there?
Not much man (laughs). Enough to work in a record store for seven years. I just got my serving licence though.
To serve alcohol?
I couldn’t work in a bar. I can’t hear shit. Not sure what it’s like for you after years of being in practice rooms and on tour.
I can’t hear shit either. Besides they say there are two types of people, those that serve and those that drink. I think I’ll be the one that just drinks. This is like the worst promotion of myself to potential employers ever!
Moving on to recording plans, I heard Chris say you are hoping this summer to write some new stuff?
Everything is already written we are just waiting to get into the studio after taking a break from touring so we can go in and put all our efforts into it. We have about 16 songs, that might get up to 20 then we’ll just pick and choose.
Considering you are out on the road so much, does that mean you get downtime to write songs?
We actually don’t do any writing on the road we leave it all for when we get home. So when we are finally home we are often just doing band stuff. I’m pretty sure my girlfriend hates me (laughs).
Looking past Australia you are also headed to Reading and Leeds festivals in the UK?
Yeah we are real excited. It’ll be our second time there.
What’s it like?
Oh man, it’s awesome.
You get to hang out with The Cure?
Actually you are at one of the biggest festivals in the world and you always just end up staying at the one smaller stage because it is just full of some of the best punk bands in the world. I think last year the Prodigy headlined the main stage.
You don’t even wander over to check it out?
Man, if they are up against Hot Water Music, I couldn’t give a fuck what The Prodigy are doing! It’s a cool experience though. This year Turbonegro are playing and I have never had the chance to see them play.
They are fucking great live.
Oh man, I know. I am going to get so black out drunk and make an ass of myself. I can’t wait.
Scott and The Flatiners are touring with Strike Anywhere and Anti-Flag in Australia this May/June. Head here for dates and ticket info.