A (not really that) new thing we've tried to keep going here at the 'org is a series featuring a band interviewing another band they either really like, respect and/or just enjoy. In this edition, we have Late Bloomer and Old Flings interviewing each other. The two bands released a split together late last year, which you can hear below. Enjoy!
Late Bloomer to Old Flings
Why the band name Old Flings, what does it mean? Matt:Most simply, I liked it. A lot of the songs are about relationships and love and that kind of stuff. So it fits.
What previous bands have you played in and why did you begin playing the style that you play in Old Flings? Matt:I've played in Just Die!, a hardcore punk band from NC from 2006-2013 and a thrash metal band called Megahurtz that didnt go anywhere. We played Skull Fest in Pittsburgh and almost released a demo. It was Sacrilege worship.
Jordan: I played in Just Die! as well as Matt and I played in Campaign 1984 with Springs. I love hardcore AND rock 'n roll, so doing both bands fulfilled separate creative outlets for me. With Old Flings, there's the obvious rock element, but it comes from Matt and I's hardcore and punk background. I'm really just interested in honest, heartfelt, emotive music and using my wide range of musical taste and influences to play and write in such a way only seems natural.
If you can name one band that influenced Old Flings initially, who would it be? Matt:Samiam. I still love that band. I got to hang with Sergie and do a joint interview with him at FEST in Florida last October. I told him that Old Flings only exists as a band to rip his band off.
Jordan: Without a doubt, Samiam.
Tell me about how Old Flings started, how did it all begin? Matt:I had just graduated college for the first time and was playing in Just Die! and Megahurtz, playing hardcore and metal, ya know. I loved hardcore and still do. I was offered a chance to write songs for an art show in Asheville, NC. The premise was these artists would draw/paint pictures based on news articles, and I would write some songs and perform them acoustically. That's how "Honest" and "Postcards" came out, right off the bat. I recorded a demo, and Josh (from Late Bloomer) persuaded me into doing an acoustic EP cassette. I agreed. The EP consisted of acoustic versions of songs and I had Jordan help me record full songs version with our friend Travis on drums. This started out as an acoustic project. It still blows my mind that we've gotten to play the shows that we have and had the run that we've had so far.
Youâve had a few drummers over the years; can you go down the list? Matt:Travis was our first drummer, then a fella named Phil Hickey, and now Springs Wade. Springs is a beast, and he's damn good looking. That's all that matters in this band.
Jordan: We started the band with our buddy Travis, who also used to live with Matt. Then he left to become a truck driver. We recruited Phil Hickey, a friend we'd known for a while and also played shows with in the past. Finally, Springs joined us at the end of 2012, and his drumming style just fell right into place with our songs and the direction we're moving with the band.
What do you think about all the articles on the "emo revival" and how do you feel like you fit into that scene, or do you feel like you fit into it at all? Matt:Honestly, and I don't mean this in a bad way, a lot of our friends play in these revival bands. I love the people, but I don't listen to the music as much as I should. I think it's rad though. I kind of feel like we get lumped in, and I kind of don't. I was talking to my buddy Will at Tiny Engines the other night about this. I was telling him how his label is an emo label and he was like, "Nah." He was telling me about how we are an emo band, and I was like, "Nah." I guess I do write pretty sappy lyrics. I'm just trying to play, man.
Jordan: We get called an emo band at times, though to be honest, we get called a lot of genres that don't necessarily match up. I don't think we're emo, but we do right emotional songs with often emotional topics. As far as the emo revival? I dig a number of these bands. Others not so much. I just like what I like. Trends come and go, but the people putting out the most heartfelt and honest music are all that matter, emo or otherwise.
What are your thoughts on the North Carolina scene? Matt:I dig it. I've seen ups and downs, but living in Asheville we are kind-of separated from everyone else. There are bands that I like, Means Well, Totally Slow, Late Bloomer, Young and In the Way, Muscle & Bone, Autarch, probably a lot of bands that a lot of folks haven't had the chance to hear yet, and probably never will because we are all from NC.
Jordan: North Carolina is going through some tough times, politically and socially, and I think we're seeing an influx of rad bands in response to those issues. NC is starting to get some much deserved attention, too, and not just in the metal/hardcore realm like in the past. I hope that we are a part of that, in a positive way.
How is Asheville these days? Matt:It's weird. I love it and I hate it. Music is decent. The food is good. We have one of the best BBQ joints in the world. I'm just living in my own head.
Jordan: Asheville is…Asheville. I love the mountains. I love the outdoors. I love my family. But the music scene here is so wishy-washy. People here are so wishy-washy. I have some really good friends here, some of which are in really good bands, too! But Asheville does not treat it's own bands very well. It's tough to pull your own friends sometimes, let alone a decent crowd of fans, which makes booking shows for touring bands as fun as a stroke sometimes.
What band should I check out, if you had to name only one? Matt:Totally Slow from Greensboro, NC. Catchy/Poppy. Shit rules.
Jordan: From Asheville? Means Well. Catchy, buzzed-out indie rock/punk with attitude and heart. Kind of 90s but in a different way from us. Plus, two of the members are in two other rad Asheville bands (Muscle & Bone and Bask), so you can branch off from there.
Terminator or Robocop? Matt:Robocop.
Jordan: Fuck, man, this is only fair if we pit them together in an actual fight. I feel like Terminator is probably more indestructible than Robocop, but Robocop is more human and thus more of a badass motherfucker. He fucks shit up with intention, whereas the Terminator does as he is programmed to do. Take from that what you will.
Who is your favorite member of Late Bloomer? Matt:Josh. I guess.
Jordan: Neil is the most handsome. Josh is the funniest and secretly sweetest. Scott, however, is my favorite, because the only legit conversation I've ever had with him was when he told me about leaving his watch in Columbia some crazy number of years ago (10? Maybe more?) and then randomly finding it again last year at a Late Bloomer show. That's the most I know about him.
How do you see Old Flings growing or changing as a band? Matt:I think we are more thoughtful in the songwriting process now. Hopefully, we are getting better with each live performance. We started off as a 90s hybrid pop-punk worship band. I think we are getting a little more comfortable in our own skin now.
Whatâs with all the hearts? Matt:I was a marketing major in college. Is it working?
Jordan: Just trying to catch a ride on the emo revival train.
What do you have planned for 2014 in terms of shows or big events? Matt:We are playing Pouzza in Montreal, as well as some other awesome fests in the States. We will be doing some touring and hopefully will be putting out a new LP that will hit home with some folks. We are in the process of writing a new LP that we hope to record and release by the end of the year. We have talked about doing some more splits 7-inches, one with a really awesome band from the North East, one from a great hardcore band on Bridge 9 Records, and one with a band from overseas. But jesus man, who are we? Fucked Up?
Old Flings to Late Bloomer
If you had to choose one word that best describes Late Bloomer, what would it be? Explain. Josh:Freedom. I say freedom, because I feel like I have freedom to truly express myself and not feel like I am pinned down to one specific sound or genre. It's all punk to me, so no reason to paint yourself in a corner.
Scott: Band. We are a band.
Neil: Carefree. As in not thinking too hard about what I'm doing. Of course there is some thought that goes into it, but I'm fascinated and inspired by the idea of letting things be what they are. If I hit a "wrong" note or fuck up, it's all part of it. And I use the term "wrong" very loosely. I don't believe there is necessarily such a thing as a wrong note. It is what it is. Each note comes from that particular moment in time. And most of the time I just let it be what it is because if things are perfect it feels too stale and heartless.
It seems that everyone in the band comes from a hardcore/punk background. At what point in your lives did you feel that it would be worth your while to start playing music like Late Bloomer? Josh:I think this ties into the above question. I was always a vocalist in my previous bands and it could be hard because I just sang so if I didn't like someone else's ideas then I couldn't really do anything about it. I had no way to contribute, outside of being a band dad and doing all the business. Punk is my lifeblood, but it's cool to expand your horizons and try and broaden people's perceptions of what "punk" really is and what it sounds like. I needed a way to express those views and the sound I was hearing in my head so I learned how to play bass and got two other friends that were way more musically inclined than me.
Scott: I've been in lots of punk bands of the years and some that weren't, but haven't been in a hardcore band since I was 15. And even at that point I was in another punk band that was more along the lines of Rites of Spring and later 7 Seconds than straightforward punk, so it all seems like a pretty natural progression to me. This is music that I've listened to for years and my ultimate goal is to play music that I enjoy listening to.
Neil: I've always wanted to play in a band like this, but I've always just sort of happened into bands for the most part. And most of those bands had a prescribed sound and were very genre specific, which is often, but not always, the case within the punk/hardcore scene. Sounding like every other band bores the hell out of me So I've always dug bands that didn't sound like one specific thing. It's those bands who do new things and stick out in people's minds. But I don't mean those shitty bands that will do a reggae song one minute and the next song sounds like ZZ Top or something. It all has to be cohesive. So it's always been my goal to play music that at least tries to follow such a philosophy.
The thing I like the most about Late Bloomer is the dual songwriting and shared vocal duties. Do you do that to stay fresh? Josh:it just seemed natural. We have three guys in the band who have sang in previous bands, so why not let them continue to do what they do? Mainly Neil and I sing most of the songs, but we hope to add more songs with Scott singing in the future. A lot of my favorite bands have multiple singers. Husker Du, Sebadoh and even Dinosaur Jr to a lesser extent. Also lest we not forget the Doughboys. I think it keeps it fresh, maybe it only frustrates people. Who knows, it's what we do. Also lead singers have shitty egos, I know, because I was one.
Scott: So many bands are ruined by horrible singers and it's rare to be in a band where everyone can and will sing so we try to use that to the best of our abilities.
Neil: I don't really know why we do it. I think we just like collaborating as much as we can. Sharing songwriting/vocal duties affords us the chance to be more open and creative. We are able to feed off each others ideas.
Can you give us a brief history of the band? Josh:Neil and I played in a band called Pullman Strike. He still plays in the band, I no longer do. I was writing songs that didn't sound like them and I just played bass in that band. I wanted to play louder music again and sing, and these songs started piling up. Ever since I moved to Charlotte in 2006 I wanted to play in a band with Scott, but the stars never aligned. So they liked the songs I was writing and we formed the band. We played our first show in February of 2012 after a couple months of writing and here we are today.
How do you feel about being a band from North Carolina, a state that typically isn't known for having a bulging music scene? Josh:I love being from this state. There are so many good local and regional bands. In Charlotte we have a lot of locals and the scenes are all very different. I think people generally look down on the state or the south in general, but a lot of bands from the Carolinas are always make an impact nationwide.
Check out these bands: Totally Slow, Black Market, Muscle & Bone, Means Well, Museum Mouth, Viewfinder, Earth Mover, No Power, Stepdad SS, K9 UNIT, Joint D, Bo White, Oddczar, Alright, Mineral Girls, It Looks Sad, Jr. Astronomers and any band we forgot. Sorry. You know we love you.
Scott: I grew up in Atlanta's punk scene and have live in Charlotte for about 10 years, and in a lot of ways Charlotte reminds me of Atlanta 20 years ago. It's not a huge scene but it's growing and the support of local folks is great. The main drawback is when touring bands overlook Charlotte for other cities in North Carolina even though it's the biggest city in the state. I can't drive 2-4 hours to go see shows much anymore.
Neil: I think there is more going on in NC than people assume. NC may not have the biggest bulge, but it's a grower not a shower.
Can you comment on some the bands that you guys were previously in and why the three of you started Late Bloomer together? Josh:I've played in Obstruction, Meth Mountain, Pullman Strike and I'm currently working on a project called Alright as another untitled project.
I wanted to play in a band that blended what we were doing in Pullman Strike with the hardcore of Meth Mountain. Basically I wanted to showcase my love for late 80s SST and Dischord as well as our love of 90s punk/indie rock. Everyone in LB wanted the same and we had a matching vision. Scott: I've played in a bunch of bands but the only one people outside of Charlotte or Atlanta might know is Scout, which was a long time ago. It was a perfect time when they asked me to be in the band because I was going through a separation/divorce and needed some serious distractions and also had a lot more free time because of that, and it's really hard for me to find people to play with because of my work schedule.
Neil: I've been in a few bands in the past. They were all heavy bands of the metal/hardcore scene. I don't really know exactly why we started late bloomer. I just wanted the freedom to do whatever the hell I want on guitar and that was never possible in my previous bands who had such a planned out/prescribed sound. With late bloomer, if I want to play something differently live, I do.
Scott owns the best record store in the state (Lunchbox Records), Scott how does it feel to own something? Scott: It feels great 99 percent of the time. It doesn't feel great when the stress comes and there's no one to relieve it because you're the end of the line, or when people say bad things and I take it personally even though I should know better because you can't please everyone. I don't know that Lunchbox is the best store in North Carolina but I appreciate the compliment. It's something I've put so much into that it's hard to imagine what else I would've been doing. We've been blessed to be open for 8 years now and the store has grown every year. The people of Charlotte have been supportive the whole way and it's awesome. I try to keep lots of punk stuff in the store because that's one of the types of music I most love and grew up on and most stores seem to ignore it. There are some other great stores in North Carolina that have their strong points and niches as well - Sorry State Records, Static Age, and Bull City are good for punk stuff too, and check out Harvest and Gravity.
Josh, you run Self Aware Records and have actually released some Old Flings stuff. How is being in a band different from running a label. Would you say that it helps to be in a band? Josh:With a label it's nice to help bands and help their vision come to life. I try to make it where the band and us are working side by side and it really being a partnership. I think it helps being in a band because it helps me stay visible and involved in the scene on a ground level. I like to be very hands on and not behind a desk or computer screen. I want the bands to do their work so we can both get their vision out to the world.
A band is different because you have other people that have a vision and you have to compromise more. Compromise at times sucks, but it's good to respect the other persons limitations and use it to grow the band organically. In a band I'm much more of a jerk and harder to get along with. With a label I usually let the band steer and just try and be a cheerleader.
How important is being a trio? Josh:I'm not sure. I don't think we set out to do it that way. We just wanted less people to deal with. We were eying Josh Cook from Means Well before he moved to Asheville. We talked to some other people lately, but it didnt work out. It'd be cool to try, but we like the way we sound as a trio. It feels natural and we compliment each other well. Also Scott and I are really grumpy, so I'd feel bad for anyone else that had to deal with us. Neil endures us because it evens out all his karma and when he dies he will be reincarnated as a beautiful flower.
Neil: I guess being a trio is important. I dunno. It does afford me the ability to do whatever the hell I want when we play, especially live. Sometimes I think it would be good to have someone else in the band to help josh and Scott relax. That or I wish they would just smoke so of that purple nurple crazy hazy ceaser salad green.
How's the scene in Charlotte, NC these days? Josh:Charlotte is great. The scene is working together, lots of good music coming out of the Queen City. Charlotte is a tough place. A lot of outsiders don't get how it operates. The city is really big and really spread out. Sometimes people don't hand out with each other all the time simply due to geography. You could travel an hour from one side of Charlotte to the other. In places like Greensboro, Wilmington and Asheville your friends are a lot closer so I feel like it's easier for people to hang out. It feels a little harder in Charlotte to get people together, but it doesn't mean people don't care. On a bad night, it's hard to rally everyone together. On a perfect night, which happens, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.
You have one full length out, when is the next one being released? Josh:It hasn't been announced yet, and maybe I'm letting the cat out of the bag prematurely but we are hoping our new LP, "Things Change" will be released in June. It was recorded last September with Kris Hilbert at Legitimate Business and he made it sound awesome! Carl Saff is mastering it so that is exciting as well. We are also working with Paul at Tor Johnson Records and so far he has been awesome and we can't wait for everyone to hear it. Cat out of bag, expect a more official announcement soon.