Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Interview - Flotation Walls - 1/23/10 - Garfield Artworks

This Saturday Flotation Walls will be playing at Garfield Artworks. Carlos Avendaño (lead) was kind enough to give us an interview. Please see a preview of the show here or below.

What is the story behind the album’s cover art? It’s interesting to say the least.

When I visited Guatemala with my Father in 2001, we went on a boat on a volcanic lake that went through twin volcanoes. It was surreal enough by itself, but the reproductive elements were mixed in because the record at it‘s heart is about human nature, and sex is one of the more tangible examples. The woman breastfeeding twins on the cover is meant to represent the juxtaposition of something alluring with something you can never quite have or are not sure you want. I hope the overall sense of the cover is something ominous but appealing, maybe akin to Friedrich’s painting The Wreck of the Hope.

I read that you have been creating this album for over a decade. Is that a true assessment or are you that much of a perfectionist?

The record was not in the works for over a decade. The band was around and active with different lineups in spurts since 1996. This is the truth once and for all. The song Worms was recorded in 2003. The actual recording stage began in 2005. The reason the record took so long to make was a combination of factors, the band I started the project with dissolved, I had incapacitating health problems, a lack of confidence in the material, and a really strange situation arose between myself and another part of the creative team. Also, I’m probably a perfectionist. Luke from the band really helped a ton in the last 25% of the record making. He kicked my ass and streamlined things.

You all are from the Columbus, OH area. Have you all resided there a majority of your life or stuck around after college? How is the Columbus area music scene? Supportive?

Ryan’s from Toronto, but we’ve all been in Ohio at least for most of our lives.
There are a lot of Columbus equivalents to national acts and then there are a handful of bands who really stick their necks out and aren’t afraid to do something that might not be well received by a scene of around 700 people or so. I suppose it’s a microcosm of American music in general that way. People are really supportive of us, and I think it’s more of an exception to the rule. It’s mostly a rock and roll beer time town. A band like The Smiths or Air could never have been nurtured in a scene like the one in Columbus in the last 15 years. I have hope that the tide is changing in Columbus though.

Is there a theme behind your new album? Or are these songs that shouldn’t be grouped together?

There are multiple themes to the record. Family, sex, death, dependency, spirituality, depersonalization. In this age of fragmentation and exaltation of the amateur, I think it’s sort of artistically irresponsible to put out a record that isn’t a substantial, conceptual work.

Has the current state of the economy affected any plans you had for your band from travel or recording? To marketing?

Because of both the economy and state of the music industry we went the completely DIY approach with this record. It’s not ideal, but it’s an avenue that’s allowed us to tour since June and even have some profit. Our exposure probably would be greater with financial backing, but we decided to opt out of the lottery mentality of waiting for a record label to save us from loads of hard work, at least for this record.

Is this your first national tour? Have you been to Pittsburgh before?

It’s the first national tour with this lineup and with a full length record. We’ve played in Pittsburgh at Howler’s three times on this tour. It’s a cool city. Unfortunately we haven’t really been able to go sightseeing there.

I read that you recently quit your jobs in order to promote the album and tour. How has the experience been so far?

Flotation Walls has been our full-time job for 7 months. It’s been good. We don’t make enough to live the life of Riley, but we’ve had some really fun times. Some of us like the road more than others, so I’m not sure how long it will last. Flotation Walls will continue to be a band for a long time, I just don’t know if we will be able to keep touring full-time.

Is there a story behind “Willis the Fireman” Last night I/I thought I saw/God’s face in a cloud of smoke?

It’s about someone who has sort of a simple existence and is confronted with something extraordinary or sublime. I suppose it’s about suburban life vs. dreams in a way.

Does “The Sky Ejaculates” have any relation to the cover art? Also, could expound on the meaning behind the song with lyrics: Although I hate my face/ Although I take up space/The sky ejaculates

I guess the sperm on the cover is a nod to that song in a small way. That particular line is an utterance of confusion and destruction towards loss of control or external situations in the midst of deep depression.

How does the songwriting work within the band? Also, do you all have a part in the composition?

I wrote the songs and many of the arrangements. Some songs were embellished more by other members, Body being a particular example where the arrangement was completely overhauled by Luke and Ryan. The next Flotation Walls record will be a more collaborative effort, hopefully with only one creative team.

Have you had a favorite place/venue to play since being on the road?

I really like playing Kalamazoo, Michigan. The people there are really kind and seem to be really receptive to what we’re doing.

Since this is your debut album and it took over a decade to make, I imagine you have enough material for a new album. Will you be recording it anytime soon?

There are tons of bits and pieces and some entire songs, but we haven’t had much time to work on new material since we’ve been touring so much. I definitely have trouble writing on the road, or even being in the mentality that we are going to be on the road indefinitely. I think we’ll be getting some ideas together in February and maybe road testing new things some short time after that, but as far as when another record will be out, I can’t say. I can say with certainty that the next Flotation Walls record will be very different from NATURE.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

Thank you for Stephen Foster.


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