Killer Hats That Drive Rv's -- An Interview with The Flatliners

You did read the title right - I got to sit with some of the boys of The Flatliners at their secret show in Fullerton last week! It was quite amazing to say the least. Scott and Chris were super open and friendly AF! I suppose that's what you get when you're from a nation that is filled with p nice people. I don't think I've ever met a NOT cool Canadian, right? Anyway - read on! We cover a huge amount of topics so strap in for a fun ass ride. 

My name is Scott, hi! 

I'm Chris Cresswell and we both play in a band called The Flatliners from Toronto CA. 

 Woohoo!

Oh shit. That was probably the shortest introduction ever of all my interviews haha. 

Is there anything you noticed or know of about being born/raised in Canada as opposed to The United States? 

Canada and America do have a lot in common. Let's put it that way. In Canada I feel like between each area there is a lot more isolation - a lot more space. There's massive landscape in Canada - I think it's the 3rd biggest country in the world. It's got one of the lower populations though.

 I think it's the population of Texas. 

Oh damn. I had no clue. What would you say is a major difference right off the bat?

 I think the biggest difference would be our governments. Canada is far from a perfect country but I think we have a good history of trying to keep peace and furthermore I think Canada does a pretty decent job at taking care of its people. Meaning if I were to fall down and break my leg - I can go to the hospital and have it fixed without having to pay anything. Which is pretty amazing. A cousin of mine worked for the Sacromento Kings for a while and her friend was living in California for that job -  got T-Boned by a car and ended up in Urgent Care for a number of weeks. This was probably fucking twelve years ago and she's probably still paying that off. So that is probably the most huge difference that we'll talk about with friends even. It still blows my mind that it's not something that is afforded to the people of the most powerful nation of the world. 

 It doesn't make any sense to me.

 Then again that's a whole rabbit hole experience. It's extremely helpful. You don't even think about it most times but when it happens to you - you really thank the situation that you don't have to pay for anything. I had my appendix taken out earlier this year before tour.

That's like freakin $50,000 right there!

 Yeah it's a pretty run of the mill surgery. It happens to so many people. It's such a pedestrian thing. It's not like I did anything for it to happen either - it just does. Fifty fucking thousand dollars - that's a lot.

I definitely have had my temptations, for a lot of reasons, to move and be a citizen of Canada because my hospital debt is astronomical. 

You should! We've got the room for you.

 I have a few friends in Canada that are so invested in the situation happening in America right now with our own government. Is that just my couple of friends or do you think a lot of people in Canada are as passionate and tuned in on what's going on over here?

 American politics? It's pretty hard to ignore.

It's so polarizing with what is happening in the White House right now and you can't ignore it no matter where you're from.

 As much as there's that invisible border between us - I mean - we come down here and we don't feel like we are any different from those who live in America. It affects everyone. We're watching it up North in Canada, man. 

This may just be the uneducated assholes that I associate with but we aren't super vested in Canadian politics. And that makes me feel so self centered sometimes because I definitely need to be wary of what's going on outside of our bubble here. 

 I don't blame you for not being too vested in Canadian politics, haha. 

 You can - there's some important things happening in Canada though - I think you should pay attention to it. 

 The classic thing happening now is the case of legalizing weed. I feel like that's a lot of what people talk to us about as a band. 

 Woah. I got so serious within the first five minutes of this interview. 

What's the best place to get BeaverTail in Toronto?

 HAHAHA. Umm I think there's only one BeaverTail stand in Toronto.

Yeah - I think it's called BeaverTails or something like that. 

I have never even tried it I don't think.

 OH you eat it!? I had no idea what this question meant as it was submitted from a fan haha. 

 Yeah it's like a dessert. 

 It's a pastry. The traditional one is like cinnamon and sugar.

 You like funnel cake? It's like that. 

 Thanks for dumbing that down to my American brain. 

 Justin Trudeau - nay or bae?

Like no or he's a bae? Hahaha.

 He's a charming man!

This is kinda a serious question. It definitely excites me to have someone younger, I think he's 42?, or something.

 Oh - way younger than me.

How fucking old are you? Haha.

 Totally kidding ya'll.

It's exciting to have someone in power who is younger and who is more in tune with the younger generation - it's great. In Canada there are a lot of old folks who just don't seem to care but he is a young person in power who does care. People want to hear something from someone younger - they don't give a shit about what grandpa says in Parliament. So - or great grandma. 

 Oh - good politically correct save!

 Haha yeah. His situation is one that still has yet to be proven how effective he will be. 

 He's only been elected in the past year. 

 Just like in America there's all these checks and balances as far as how MUCH you can change and do.

 He's kinda just the face of a bigger power. But at least it's a nice face to look at.

Full circle - BAE! 

 We'll say bae! 

 Oh phew - I really didn't want to have to title this: Justin Trudeau - NAY!

 Who would win in a steel cage match: you guys, Pup or Rush?

 Rush are cool but they're old.

 There's only three of them too. It's a numbers game, right?

 Pup? I don't know. Pup are wirey fucking guys. Steve's like a bigger guy than you think. There's a presence to him - he's a basketball player. Stefan is a little dude but he's wirey. I think he could kick my ass. I'm gonna go with Pup man - not us.

Really? I'm starting to think maybe Rush has some tricks up their sleeve. They've been doing it for a long time.

They might know stuff that they don't teach anymore.

Neil Peart rides a motorcycle. Anyone that rides a motorcycle can kick our ass.

 What about Zack from Pup?

Does he ride a motorcycle? 

 I don't know. 

Whoever rides the most motorcycles is the winner and none of us do so that narrows it down. 

 I know you've briefly touched on what the meaning of KHTDR and it's been a running joke that you don't want to give away what it stands for so I took the liberty of drawing you a little diagram to go over what it stands for:

You nailed it.

You fucking nailed it!

 That's a good drawing too.

 Can we keep it?

 How fucked up would it be if I said to give it back? Haha - of course it's for you guys! 

I love how you had to specify that it's an RV in the drawing. That looks like the Mystery Mobile from Scooby Doo. 

 Is that an RV though?

 It's more like an Adventure Mobile.

 Ah - a classic AM - not an RV.

 And these aren't just killer hats - they literally kill. One has a machete, one has a hockey stick?

 An ax!

 An ax, sorry! And the other is a noose.

 No!! It's a sword.

Maybe you should have labeled those too.

Hahahaha. 

Thank you though! This is awesome. 

 Your new album - I feel like all your most recent interviews talk about this - but I can't NOT bring it up. You're on tour after all! It's so different but just as good as your last album. Your album prior was so different but just as good as the album before that - do you see the pattern? Is that on purpose that you go for such different sounds or does it just happen?

 I think it comes pretty naturally. 

 So you don't sit down and say, "Okay - I DON'T want it to sound like _____ " or "Okay - I want it to sound like _____".

 We do have something in mind that we want to do each time and certain things we want to tackle. 

This one ended up sounding the way it did because we messed around with different guitar sounds in the studio for SO much longer than we did with other records.

 We had access to much more gear this time too.

 Writing wise I think you always kind of have a chip on your shoulder or something to express that you wanna get out and for bands it's sometimes a certain subject matter, theme or concept. For our band it's become more of, "What style of the umbrella that is punk rock do we want to dive into?" and it happens pretty organically. It happens without us knowing that it's happening.

Oh well that must be nice! I feel most bands couldn't say that unfortunately. 

We just try to keep it as fresh as possible for us too. We aren't really gonna get rich off of this, ya know? So we might as well..

Well no - you guys won't.

 Haha. Well ya know just keep it interesting to ourselves. When we release a record we are on tour for a long time of the year so you gotta make sure you're gonna be enjoying playing those songs two..sometimes ten years later. 

 I mean - looking back - looking at Dead Language that came out a few years ago..that came out after Cavalcade and people were so positive and supportive with the release. We loved the way it came out - it was very polished. It's a really polished, squeaky clean pop punk record so when we went to make Dead Language we were like, "Fuck that." We actually worked with the same person that did Cavalcade too. We used all of our live gear and did almost everything live other than vocals. We wanted it to sound exactly how it would live. Ironically everything was a little too high for me to sing haha. Everything else was really raw though. Then after that - we got some aggression out in those respects. Without even realizing it we ended up sounding totally different than what people were used to.

Not all bands talk about how they like their own music. I think it's a good thing though to like your music instead of the opposite. 

What advice do you have for musicians to not keep hitting that same kind of sound over and over again then?

I don't know - don't be afraid to take a chance. Don't worry if you're thinking about it a lot because that's kinda the point. 

 Write a song that you wouldn't mind playing 5 years down the road.

Make sure that YOU'RE happy with it first is the biggest as far as song writing goes. 

 So never think too much about it as far as a HAVING to sound a, "_____" way?

Exactly. If you find yourself thinking about so much about what you're doing in a good way or bad way....

 It's not gonna end up sounding natural. 

No not at all. You don't need to worry about what other people are gonna think. Worry about what you will think. It really doesn't fucking matter anyway.

 With whatever you do - people will ALWAYS agree or disagree so it really does not matter. 

 What matters to us is that with 15 years with the people that have stayed along with us - we have given them so many different sounds.

We've made it tough. 

 It's been cool to talk to folks on this particular tour who have been listening to us since our first record. It sounded like a Suicide Machine tribute album.

We were teenagers when we put that out. We're lucky that we have fans that have gotten to see us evolve as a band. 

A lot of our fans are the same age as us too so that's really cool.

 Oh and Killer Hats too. 

Haha yes never let the joke die! 

Touring wise my piece of advice is don't be an asshole. If you are - then people will find out and then your band is over. Also there is no reason to be because you're privelidged enough to spend no matter what amount of time it is with likeminded people. Enjoy it and have fun - don't take yourself too seriously. I can't believe we've met so many of our heroes as far as music and 99% of them have been so amazing and kind.

Oh wow. Way to do clickbait I thought you were gonna say they were mostly assholes haha. 

 I also don't mean we thought everyone was gonna be dicks when we started this but it astounds me that over the years we haven't met more shitty people.

 You did say 99.9% Who is that small percentage?

Haha.  That has only solidified that mindset though of not being an asshole. If we can ever do that for other bands - that's amazing as far as helping people out the way we have been helped over the years. Mainly, though, I"ll always stick to don't be an asshole.

That's prime advice even outside music too. 

 Absolutely! 

 It is INSANE you have been together for 15 years. I don't think I have had anyone solid in my life for that long. How did it come to be that you don't wanna kill each other or have had any break ups?

I dunno! Haha. We all decided to not be assholes?

We come from those kinda roots that there's a part inside all of us that really want this. It's not easy though - it will probably keep getting harder. You have more responsibilities and such year after year it seems like. We all probably enjoy being home a lot more than we used to. But being in a band and putting a record out -- you're gonna play shows. What it trickles down to though is that we all love playing music and we are all still friends. Somehow, unexplainably, it's remained. Once you have those two elements - that's all you need. Like everything else falls into place. There's nights where we are all drunk and are fucking with each other and we hate each other. It's 10% of a tour or something. It's like the family you choose but then you still spend too much time with them. No band out there is perfect. You have to fight and such.

 It stems from us being friends for so long too - we  know how to deal with those issues. When shit arises and people get in each other's faces -- you know what to do.

 As quickly as it can happen in a moment - it can just as quickly extinguish. It doesn't happen often though - which is good. We never know how to answer that question. We are all really good to each other too. 

Ya. All of you seem like genuinely amazeball peeps. But obviously I will never know for real since we don't hang on the regz.

 It's all just a show. We are terrible people but are really good actors. 

Even a dick Canadian is probably 100% nicer than most Americans. 

With how long you've all been together - do you have any standout memories that you just can't erase from your brain?

I think the shitty situations that pop up on tour -- looking back at those and laughing. On one of our first tours in Michican, I fell asleep in our van and woke up in an impound lot. 

This was before most of us drove too. You woke up and the van was moving.

 I had no idea what was happening.

 Guys I asked for a HAPPY memory! That shit is terrifying.

 Hahaha, well sometimes those crappy/WTF moments stick with you more! You know like tonight, doing this interview. It's gonna go down for one of the highlights of the tour. We can name off multiple shows and stuff that were fantastic but I think part of being in a band on the road is the crazy shit that happens. 

Japan was crazy - the first time we went. You meet these fans who can barely speak English but then you see them singing along in the audience while playing. It's ridiculous.

That seems super empowering. 

In a way - other than those first times in a place - a lot of the shows blend together and that's not to say they aren't special/memorable/whatever - it's just there are SO many of them! Thinking of how much time there is in everyday and how it all revolves around this short time being on stage. Yesterday we played It's Not Dead - it was super fun but crazy fucking hot. It was a half hour set. We had to do a half hour because it was just way too hot. 

 30 minutes is still a long ass time. Would you rather play for 8 hours a day Monday thru Friday?

NO!!!

 Haha. Stone Brewery just held an event where bands would play six 30 minute sets for the whole event. 

Shit! Aw hell no. Scott didn't you just order a beer from somewhere that....

Yeah it was a bar that was going for the Guinness World Record for longest show ever: one week total. 

 What the shit!?! Did they get it?

Yeah I"m pretty sure. You (Chris) participated in something like that right?

Yeah it was a Fest in Toronto called Nuit Blanche. It happens every year. 

One thing there was they were going to play Nirvana's, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for 12 hours straight.

Okay what the hell!?

The whole thing started as a joke. You apply for this exhibit with Nuit Blance and they applied as a joke but the year they got it they were like, "Fuck I guess we have to do this???" So a bunch of bands did really awesome versions of it. It was more funny than fun though. We were only there for an hour haha. We did 3 versions: the normal one, a Reggae one, and we did a really slow - kinda like stoner rockish kind of version. 

I can't imagine doing that for 12 hours or even watching it for that long. 

 Does your message now differ at all from when you began 15 years ago? Has it always just been, "Don't be an asshole"?

I don't think that rule was realized until we discovered we weren't meeting a lot of assholes. Then when we would we'd be like, "FUCK that person!" We were never outspoken though as far as a concrete message.

We just never wanted to take it for granted. I think we don't still. 

Well damn you did an interview with me so you are humble AF.

When we first started it was just to have fun too. We never thought we'd be where we are now. It was a high school band. 

 How do ya'll #staynerdy?!

 John plays his Nintendo Switch all day - Zelda. That's pretty nerdy. 

I think John gets a rep because he plays a 5 string bass but it's cool AF. I think people find that nerdy though.

I'm not nerdy at all. I like podcasts and hearing people talk about stuff I don't know anything about. I like really cheesy pop music. 

 I play Sudoku a lot. 

Okay that's super nerdy hahaha.

I have a nerdy, dad-ish sense of humor.

 Paul is a coffee/beer nerd.

So a snob?

 Haha. We will go to a coffee shop -- and he will bring in his own beans and press and he will just ask for the water and he'll make his own coffee in front of them. 

Woah.  That seems mean. Ya'll are saying don't be an asshole but here he is showing up the common barista! 

 HAHAHA

 We always call it Paul's Cafe. We'll be on the road ready to go and he's just making his coffee. 

 He likes to help out a lot of local coffee shops too.

 Oh no, you don't need to turn it around. Let's just keep it as he shows up the common barista. 

Well damn. That was one of the funnest interviews to date. I really can't believe how humble and kind these boys are because they treated me so well and even shared some plastic cup wine with me! I hope you enjoyed reading more about The Flatliners. I tried my best to not ask run of the mill questions that you can Google since they're big kahunas and have done a million interviews now. Personally I'm p proud of myself! #STAYNERDY until next week!

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***Graphics done by dokuyurei + cal-vain on Deviantart!***