Flotsam and Jetsam – Remaining Ugly and Proud of It

Tuesday, 28th May 2013

I recently had the chance to catch Flotsam and Jetsam live on the Dark Roots of Thrash tour with Testament and Overkill. Unfortunately though, Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth came down with an illness and was forced to leave the tour at the half-way point. I was quite disappointed when I got the news two days before the tour took to the stage in Toronto, although it meant that Flotzilla would get their set extend to nearly an hour’s worth of excellent metal. In the end, it wasn’t so bad, since the boys put on a rousing show made up of classic thrash tunes done the Flotz way.

I finally had the chance to sit down with the band’s fearless leader Eric A.K. to talk about the dynamics within the group and also discuss Ugly Noise. Calling from his home base in Phoenix, Arizona A.K. sounded as if he just got out of bed, but that didn’t stop yours truly from sticking it out and getting the singer to open up about all things going on in Flotz land. Please read on and find out how it went…     

Dead Rhetoric: So what was the motivation behind utilizing Pledge Music to record Ugly Noise?

Eric A.K.: We haven’t owned anything we created on the past records; not even a piece of it, so we wanted to have all the rights to do with our songs whatever we want and if you want to do something with them you have to deal with us.

Dead Rhetoric: How has the reception been for Ugly Noise so far?

A.K.: Really good so far. It actually comes out tomorrow, but some of the pre-release stuff has gotten into some hands here and there and people seemed to be really happy with it.

Dead Rhetoric: I’ve recently had the chance to hear the entire album, so can you comment on the arrangement of the songs?

A.K.: It has a nice diversity of songs on it, which is kinda cool and I think just the order on there alone is spread out nice.

Dead Rhetoric: There’s a lot of experimentation on it. There’s a little bit of thrash, a little bit of techno and definitely a series of different feels to it. What’s your comment on that?

A.K.: We were calling stuff before we had names, so we had the techno one, the thrash one, the mellow one; so they had those nicknames basically.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you have a favorite track on Ugly Noise that you are particularly proud of?

A.K.: There’s a couple I like. “Run and Hide” is really one of my favorites and “Play Your Part” is another big favorite. I like all the vocal stuff, so anything that I got a lot of vocal freedom on is always gonna be one of my favorites.

Dead Rhetoric: Now you’ve had guitarist Michael Gilbert come back to the band, so how’s that working out?

A.K.: We have what I call a little triangle right now that’s pretty indestructible of me, Kelly [David Smith, drums] and Mike. It’s been a really smooth running between the three of us and we’re trying to make a stab at it again. Everybody’s doing their part and we’re not worried about someone flaking off and because of that everyone is a little more relaxed and we all have the same goal in mind. Before Mike and Kelly were the straight ones in the band and they were worried about the rest of the guys out drinking and smoking and ruining the band. There’s none of that going on today and we all have the same goal and it’s really a much smoother ride now than it has been before.

Dead Rhetoric: Well speaking about Kelly David Smith, he recently replaced Craig Neilson on the drums. Was there extenuating circumstances behind the switching of drummers?

A.K.: No, the many years I put in with Craig the band was kind of a hobby more than anything else. We had regular day jobs to pay the bills and we all had families and regular responsibilities. It was more of a hobby and a chance for us to get out of the country for a couple of weeks out of the year and just forget about everything and go do some rock ‘n roll. We got to record some records and as long as somebody was willing to pay for it we would go and do one. We weren’t really worried about what we do own of these songs and we just had it in our minds that we would sell maybe a hundred thousand copies and it wouldn’t result in any life changing experiences.

Well, I got to the point where I wanted to take it a bit more serious than that and some of the guys like Craig and Mark [Simpson, guitars] were getting a little bored with it anyway. Like if I’m going to do this seriously and try to make a living at it and make a comeback so to speak, I’m gonna need my original players with me. I went to talk to Mike and Kelly and both jumped at the chance and didn’t really hesitate, so it’s been pretty nice.

Dead Rhetoric: In doing so you managed to get the Cuatro line-up back together, so how does that feel?

A.K.: It feels good.

Dead Rhetoric: I wanted to ask you about an earlier period when you left Flotsam and formed a country band called A.K. Corral. Can you talk a little about that?

A.K.: I was really sick of the lack of business end of the Flotsam camp, but I have no idea what I am doing for business, so if I don’t have anyone looking out for me when it comes to business, I am done. Nobody else in the band wanted to deal with the business crap, they just all wanted to jam and that’s where we’re all at pretty much. I guess I started the country band as a response to that.

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