I am sure this is something that probably happens to more than a handful of people that read Terminal Boredom. It’s this thing that happens when you order a record: You are so excited for it to come that you go straight home from wherever the fuck it is that you spend your miserable days just to see if it arrived. And of course, your mailbox is empty or just filled with horseshit that you don’t even want to look at. You go through this for days and days until finally you give up. And like the stupid, defeated baby that you are, you kind of forget about the record altogether. Until one day you come home, and there IT IS! And because life is constantly dishing out things that are crushingly disappointing, you tend to forget why this thing is even sitting in your mailbox in the first place. And then you remember, “Oh, it’s that record I was SOOO excited about!” And sometimes, albeit this happens very rarely, you get lucky and that record that you went through ALL of that ridiculous and nerdy emotional upheaval to get is actually something that is actually worth a shit. That is what happened to me when I received Flight’s first 7” on Sweet Rot.
Knowing nothing about Flight when I got the first record, I initially thought it was just an upstart band from Mississippi that seemed pretty confident in wearing their influences on their sleeves without seeming too derivative. The first few times I listened to it, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it is that this band was doing. I heard everything from Creation Records style noise to “Love It To Death” era Alice Cooper (if you aren’t familiar, get familiar). I even heard the unrelenting pounding of Monks buried deep within the muck. Still, all of this managed to sound distinctly Southern to me, but with its foot planted firmly in the realm of pure Pop (that hook on "Flowers", holy shit!). The subject matter was dark, but never heavy, and it seemed to have a sense of humor about it to boot. I was kind of blown away.
Then I found out it was just one guy making this music all by his lonesome, which was sort of surprising to me, because it seemed like a pretty realized little record. Anyway, with all this, and a second 10” on Kill Shaman that was great as well, my interest was piqued. So I decided to do some (internet) footwork and get in touch with Flight. Well, I got in touch with him…and here is what he had to say:
TB: Even on the first 7", Flight more or less sounded like a fully formed band. Everything seemed to be pretty intact right out of the gate. The sound and the aesthetic never really struck me as something that someone stumbled onto. So, with that said, how old is Flight? What are the origins of Flight, and can the origins even be traced?
Flight: Well, it was definitely a sound I’d been wanting to mess with for a long time but never had the space to do it. A couple of first versions were recorded in early 2008 but it was just a couple demos at the time and I couldn't record anything loud in NY apartments. I was having to record acoustic or line-in and then add really fake sounding distortion, so stuff came out a lot more forced and psychedelic, you know, post-effects based or whatever. Eventually I moved back south into a place with a perfect-sized garage and after I recorded a buddy of mine (John Barrett’s Bass Drum of Death) in late 2008, I realized I could go back to that stuff using live distortion and live effects in a big room. So I recorded music for the first two singles and most of the Kill Shaman EP then. Anyway, I would say I finished the specifics of how I wanted things to sound as I was recording the songs that ended up on the Sweet Rot 7" and it all went from there.
TB: Most Flight songs at this point have a death march backbeat that seems to pummel the more rocking songs directly into the ground. It makes me think that your primary instrument would be the drums. Do you actually have a primary instrument? If not, where do your songs normally start?
Flight: That's funny. I remember being really paranoid and really afraid of death when I wrote some of the songs you're talking about. The lyrics definitely ended up that way, so I think there was something going on with me at the time. I did write a few of those songs primarily for drums because I was playing drums for a band at the time called Bed Rats. It was me and three girls. I wrote the songs and then tried to bash the shit out of the drums to make them all play louder. But I write on anything that's around. No formula, no consistency. I started on bass but I wouldn't really say I have a primary instrument anymore. I’m terrible at all of them.
TB: Do you want to talk about recording/playing techniques? And if so, what is that weird synth/guitar/vocal thing that keeps showing up in Flight songs like “Dead Flowers” or “Molly”?
Flight: Not really. Sorry! All I'll say is that sometimes it's vocals, sometimes it's guitars, sometimes it's synths but it's always a really loud signal going in.
TB: You mentioned lyrics. How personal or deep do the lyrics get, or are they sort of an overarching and general “dark”? Also, I ask it that way because it’s easy as a listener to go after the “dark” stuff, even though I’ve heard things that are not about death and ugliness, etc...("My Business" and "Feels So Good" are two things I thought of right off the top of my head.)
Flight: I guess lyrics are automatically personal but I try not to think too much about it. I don't think my lyrics are generally dark, but maybe they were on these first few releases. Like I said, it's just some paranoia that was on my mind. Too much grass or something.
TB: Being a person who grew up in a peripheral way in Mississippi, I have a pretty good idea of what the state is like (or at least the Gulf Coast). I can honestly say, it’s not like anywhere else I have been in the country, and it’s pretty bizarre. Are you in fact from Mississippi, and if so, how much does being from there inform what it is that you do musically?
Flight: I've lived in Mississippi off and on since I was in my mid-teens and I definitely agree there's something really distinct about it. I'm not from here but it's my adopted home. It's impossible to say how much it informs my music. I think maybe the lyrical aesthetic is there. Definitely the broke-ass sound is there. The original idea for guitar and drum tones were pretty much lifted directly from T-Model Ford records, so there's that. Then I wanted to mix that with Creation Records style walls of noise. So I don't know really. It's just a fucked up mix of everything I've ever heard. I wouldn't say there's anything that makes it distinctly Mississippi.
TB: Also, could you talk about influences? How easy is it to trace the musical and visual influences of Flight?
Flight: I really don't know. Right now Flight music is certainly a combination of every pop rock record I’ve ever heard. But I suppose I have the same list of influences as everybody else. As for the visuals, credit has to go to James Hines and Andrew Burr (Woven Bones). I think I had an idea in my head back when I wrote the first couple of songs. The HoZac cover is actually an adaptation of a cover I made years ago that Andy helped me update a little bit. The other two images so far are from James.
TB: What was the HoZac cover for originally? Was it just a fantasy cover for a non-existent recording? When you are working with James and Andrew, how involved are you in the process of art? Or is it like one of those things where you just completely outsource it to them?
Flight: It was for a little solo jaunt I worked on almost three years ago. It was an actualized recording, not a fantasy, but just something I passed around to friends on CDR or digitally. Lots of distortion but more psych and less pop than flight. The stuff I got from James I just straight up asked for. He reached out to me a long time ago and really encouraged me to put myself out there a little bit. I was blown away with his collages so I just asked for a couple. He's one of the most generous people I've ever met via the internet. With Andy, I sent him the skull/ouroboros collage and he took it from there. Andy also did the Flight bubble logo - an homage to a Cluster album called 'Zuckerzeit'.
TB: How soon until Flight goes on the road, and start playing shows? What does an ideal band look like for Flight? How many people and who plays what? Or has Flight already played shows that no one outside of Mississippi knows of?
Flight: Well...we're playing our first two shows this weekend. Two house shows in Arkansas. We are hoping to play a lot more soon but it's very difficult to find musicians in North Mississippi. On top of that, I want four or five people in the band and that makes it so much harder to tour. I'd love to have a three-piece but I want the entire spectrum that I got on record to show up live. I'm not interested in playing a show unless it's partially gravitating around what the recording sounds like. There's nothing more disappointing than seeing a band you love on record eating shit live. I've shelved plenty of records after seeing the bands live incarnation.
TB: As of right now, the last thing that came out was the HoZac Hookup Klub single. What does the future hold for Flight as far as recordings and release schedules?
Flight: I've got a 7" on Plastic Spoons Records out in about a month. I'm also putting finishing touches on a Zoo Records 12" EP and a 7" for Hell, Yes. After that I might take a little break from releasing. I'd like to do a singles collection this summer or later on in the year. Maybe remix everything and compile it all, but nobody has offered. Holler at me. Oh ...and I've been trying to pull together a video. I'm picky though. Hopefully that will happen in the next few months.
TB: Any new and current bands/music that you currently are into, or have friends in?
Flight: Jesus, 2009 was an incredible year. New stuff ... love all the new Best Coast songs, new Jacuzzi Boys record, Pink Priest, Dead Gaze, Jason from Nerve City might be one of my favorite living songwriters and then this girl in Houston that goes by Lashes and/or Pink Playground. She's totally blowing my mind. I think she's putting some stuff out on FLA Tapes and Clan Destine maybe. Probably gonna do a 7" for Zoo. It's really pretty, heavy music. Not many people are great at combining those two things but she does it so perfectly. I also love this new song by somebody called Avner(?). It's a JJ edit. I know nothing about either of those groups but that one song is fucking great. Sounds like every great Eighties synth pop song rolled into one. Oh and I just recorded some stuff in my garage for a band called Puppy Hearts. It's Zach from Thomas Function's new project. Pretty cool stuff.
TB: Now that Flight is more or less functioning as a "band," what does that mean for future directions of Flight? Does that mean it is going to become a democratic process to finish a song, or will you still retain complete control over the direction, and the songs of Flight?
Flight: Well, for now I’m still the Hitler of Flight. We’ll see what happens though. Everybody is really competent at their instruments and as creative people in general so I know they can add. I just have a lot of ideas and it's hard for me to let go of mine in place of someone else's. Nothing is certain though. We’ll see.
TB: With that said, what do you think are possible pros and cons of working creatively with a band and other people? Do you think that working with other people will open up doors that you possibly wouldn’t have thought to open?
Flight: Absolutely. But like I said earlier, I’m very picky. There are pros and cons to everything I guess. I don't really think about it like that. I just try to record as fast as the ideas come and that's honestly hard enough sometimes. Not enough hours in a day and shit. All I know is that working alone allows you to be very indulgent and I like that aspect of it. Although some people have criticized me for "using too many effects" or something. Fuck that noise. I have to say they just don't get the music and that's fine. It’s the Nineties man, anything goes.