Flotsam and Jetsam – Cultivating Once Again Part IITuesday, 27th December 2016
Dead Rhetoric: What’s left on your personal bucket list to achieve- either on a musical level or otherwise?
Spencer: I’ve been a business owner for twelve years. I can retire right now with a full pension from my union, so my personal goal would be to sell my business, go part-time seven months a year as a project manager on my account base and feed my new company more and more work that way. That would give me four-five months a year to play music and tour around. That was the only benefit of getting fired from Flotsam, the need to be able to build up something that I could have as a career that allows me to step back into this arena and not even care if I am making money. It’s a passion for music and metal- it’s like I’m 22 years old again and being able to visit other countries. Travelling to me is a benefit, a bucket list thing would be to play in Japan, Australia, South America- preferably as a support band. To try to start now since the band has not even hit those three territories except for one or two shows in Japan, we are not in a place to develop a fan base with where we are now. It’s more about bringing it in front of somebody’s else crowd, and doing this live.
Dead Rhetoric: Is that why you choose to take on the Overkill/Testament tour a few years back across North America in a support slot, to reintroduce the band here?
Spencer: Yes, it’s also about getting in front of other bands fan bases and seeing where you stand, pulling from there. Metal is a saturated market, that’s the whole thing of jumping in. If Flotsam didn’t cultivate their fan base for ten years of non-touring, it’s hard for people to go ‘that’s the event’. That’s my annual Flotsam event. That’s what was so cool about the Sepultura tour- as much crap as we had heard about the band, by Max not being there – and every new song they played off their new records were my favorite songs I heard on the tour. The fans were still coming there because it was their annual Sepultura experience- and every venue was packed out. You kind of go, for a band that nobody seems to like anymore they sure as hell draw. So we got the respect, and fans were still digging what we were doing, even though it’s not the same genre or vocal style, we try to bring our energy and style of music to the fans. It’s now a matter of locking into them and having them the next time say, ‘I’m going to see Flotsam again’. If there are 30-40 tours a year, how many people in any country can afford to see all the favorite tours of their 30 favorite bands? Put together the right package, make it worthwhile, condense things down- people only have so much disposable income, how high up are you on the food chain for disposable income. I think the band didn’t invest in the US like they did in Europe for the long-term. That’s where I see the difference.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you have a personal preference between the smaller club shows and the bigger festivals?
Spencer: The small shows are cool, especially if you are headlining- there’s nothing wrong with getting sweaty in that kind of environment. Paying your dues like playing The Stone or Fenders Ballroom in San Francisco, where there were these crazy, thrash pit environments where everyone was going nuts. You like to see that happening now. Playing festivals is always a blast because it’s such a unique experience and such a different energy vibe. To say that is all we would want to do? Nah, it’s more about connecting with 400 people, and 100 of those 400 are in the pit.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you view the shift in physical and digital music consumption, as it seems like vinyl has made a decent comeback- do you have any particular views on this?
Spencer: I get the allure of vinyl- it’s more of how everyone believes how music should be consumed. Now that there are albums that are sometimes 50-60 minutes long, to get the right quality you have to actually put things on two albums, because 22 minutes a side is what can be handled properly on vinyl. It’s old school to them, and they prefer the organic vibe of vinyl. It’s getting over-processed in the studios, of riding that curve of how much you are doing that is processed. You can’t slam bands for that- if that’s what they’re going to do, that’s what they’re going to do. People either love it, hate it, or are indifferent to it. How is the song quality, how are the vocal lines, how is the songwriting- and does it actually work, over-processed or not.
Dead Rhetoric: To me in the digital age, it seems like people aren’t making as deep of an investment into a record collection as in the 1980’s, when it was more about going to the record store and not even knowing a single song on the record, you had to go based on the artwork…
Spencer: The digital thing is a free download often, which is they are checking it out. If they are a fan, they will buy it, or at least buy merch at the shows. But if you are just going to take it, download it, and add it to your collection, and use our art whenever- ah, party on.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you handle the speed of technology and people burying themselves into screens versus more in the moment attention, face to face? Do you find the need to unplug sometimes to de-stress and unwind?
Spencer: I’m a pretty balanced person in that regard. I use social media to entertain myself, put humorous posts up and not trip on with political arguments. The funniest thing to me is, if you are going to vote for so and so, or if you don’t like so and so, unfriend me. To me that’s just an immature power trip, it’s like dude- you don’t have to tell anybody you are making a stance, but really – who cares? It’s where our culture has gone- people want to be validated with their opinion, when honestly no one really gives a shit about your opinion. It’s an outlet, I’m not there to use social media for therapy or psychology, or vent and cry about it. Some people do that, and some people genuinely need the help. The way I look at it, I don’t need to unplug because things aren’t affecting me negatively- it just washes off of me. The memes they post, sometimes there’s little truth to that meme- it fits their particular agenda. It seems like there’s no room for dialogue, at least when an opinion is locked down.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you see the next 12 months shaping up for Flotsam & Jetsam- I would imagine that this is just the start of a long touring run in support of the new record?
Spencer: That’s the plan- we have a second US leg of the tour for February into the beginning of March 2017- another 28 shows in markets that we are not hitting in this run. We have a 3 ½ week tour with Dew-Scented and Izegrim in Europe, and then we will do 4 shows in Scandinavia with just Flotsam. And then South America potentially in May, but it’s also looking like around the same time what support slots could we get. Death Angel has been floated out there, Anthrax has been floated out there. We would like to go from that club size to the small hall sizes- because we aren’t going to be opening for Iron Maiden or Metallica anytime soon. Now in June, it’s European festival season, and we are looking at a potential two week run over the course of a weekend in June, another in July, and a couple in August, to get the cluster of festivals that we are revisiting from 2014 or new ones. Talk of Wacken, talk of Graspop, Barcelona Rocks. Or Hellfest- they have 90 bands and Flotsam has never played there. It’s all a matter of who is on their booking staff to say who they want there this year. We would like to visit Sweden Rock- any show that Aerosmith is on the bill, I’m down to play with! We are going to start working on new material too, it’s all about trying to stay busy in the Flotsam world. We want to be musical, AFM Records picked up our option so that means another album. We do want to do a better job about having two or three bonus tracks this time. Eric had written a second set of back up lyrics for “Forbidden Territories” with new vocals, and put that on the Japan release for the latest record.
We have some cover tunes we may record, and rework. In different genres, those make good bonus tracks too. If you are in that 1984 metal scene, you grew up listening to about 10 years of what your parents got into- Boston, Cheap Trick, Journey. I’m a closest power pop fan- I love the Babys, which turned me into loving Jellyfish. I was a closest case Madonna and Duran Duran fan- as I’m playing in Sentinel Beast and Flotsam. Listen to the bass guitar with those artists- it has such power and groove, because I grew up with the 70’s funk, Doobie Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revival, stuff that has color and character. If it wasn’t for bands looking for things to progress and get heavier and heavier- I was a Maiden fan off the first album, and then with Killers they took that next step up. That morphed into the thrash scene, moving things heavier and faster.
Younger bands that come into it, and that’s all they know- they get the tunnel vision because they haven’t had the opportunity to grow up with different influences of what comes into the world musically. It’s all about where you come from, what your parents listened to, how diverse where they, was music in all genres fair game. Classical music- on every tour I’m the guy that will drag everyone to go see a classical concert. Whether it’s a quartet- how many times can you go see a quartet in Prague at a church? Well, we are going – it’s about making the most of your time on tour in the cities that you are experiencing, and gain some culture, musically or otherwise.
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