Thursday, March 24, 2016

Flesh Rag: A Celebration of Sweat and Volume

Photo by Jenn Emily

If you long for the glory days of punk rock, back when it made you feel unsafe and uneasy.  You wanted to run from it yet you were magnetically drawn to it. It gave you that same feeling in the pit of your stomach similar to driving a '69 Camaro ZL1 100 MPH and suddenly realizing the breaks don’t work.  You try to explain this feeling to others but you see in their eyes that within the first five seconds of the conversation that they either get what you're saying or they never will.  Flesh Rag bottles this mixture of adrenaline, rage, anxiety and despair in a similar way Radio Birdman, The Stooges, and The Dead Boys once did years ago.  Only thing is, Flesh Rag have a couple key ingredients those bands now lack: piss and vinegar.

Interview by J Castro

Who is currently in Flesh Rag and what does everyone do in the band?
Eric Felgner - bass, cigarettes, and driving home at the end of the night.
Nathan Burger - Drums, greens, and homemade pizza maker.
Matt Ellis - Vocals, guitar, and general bullshit.

How did you all meet and decide to play music together?
MATT: Burger and I (Ellis) had played in a number of bands together. The only one worth noting was Rocket Reducers. We’ve been friends for a real long time and decided we should get together write some songs and see what happens. After a fun night working on some tunes we decided to recruit our old Friend Eric who we knew from his time spent in The Vapids; a long running Hamilton band.

What band or musician first inspired you to want to pick up an instrument and learn to play and/or write music?
MATT: I had always been into classic punk like the Dead Boys or Stooges and all the proto 70’s stuff, but the turning point for myself was when I found out about the garage punk heyday in the 90’s. Shit like New bomb Turks, Teengenerate and the Candy Snatchers. Its bands like those that bridged the gap between older punk and more modern stuff and really pushed me to start to play and record music.

How would you describe you band to your grandparents?
MATT: I’ve always told them we were like Chuck Berry on speed. A comparison I’m fairly sure my parents never appreciated.

What sorts of things do you typically enjoy writing songs about?  
MATT: All the classic Rock n Roll topics like women, drugs, getting messed up, and the constant pressures and stresses of trying to survive in the modern world.

S/T debut LP released July 28th 2015 on Surfin' Ki records

I’ve heard people say that playing and writing music is therapeutic to them.  Have you ever found this to be true?
MATT: Absolutely. I’ve always used music to push out my negative emotions and expel them out of my body. The last few years of my life I went through some changes and I used Flesh Rag to push out those bad thoughts and work through some things. If the band sounds negative to people that’s because its a vessel for depravity. The bands name itself is about feeling as low as you can be, down and out and useless. But its also a celebration about moving upward and beyond that.

Does it annoy you or distract you at all to see some of your audience members fondling their phones while you’re up on stage performing?
MATT: Honestly I could care less. I believe people spend too much time in front of screens so it doesn't surprise me when I see it. It’s too easy for people to get a hold of you these days, everyone is so connected it impairs our ability to spend real face to face time together and live life in the moment.  Do I get bummed out when somebody snaps a photo to post later? No. Is it a bummer to go to a bar and hang out with your friend and he/she spends the whole night on a cell phone? Yes.

After one of your shows, what sort of feeling or sentiment do you hope your audience walks away with?  
MATT: That Rock n Roll is still here. There are still people who care about music and self-expression. I'm not trying to change the world, I just want likeminded people to know that there are some of us who care enough to keep doing this. Every once in a while something happens and I feel like all the bullshit we gotta put up with in life is worth it. A night out and a good laugh with friends, seeing a band that’s having fun and cares. That’s fairly simple and it’s what I’m looking for when I go to see a show and it’s what I try to deliver.

Photo by Jenn Emily

What is your favorite album to listen to from start to finish?
MATT: Stooges - Fun House. It’s got everything. Its raw, ripping, pummeling three chord punk rock. Primal as fuck but can still make your mind melt with all Ron’s psychedelic guitars blazing, with Iggy howling and a relentless rhythm section. And that sax? C’mon man! That album is 40 fucking years old and it’s still ahead of the curve. Honestly it’s untouchable. “T.V Eye” might be the greatest song of all time. I’ve been listening to Fun House since I was a little high school stoner punk and it never gets old.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you that you still follow to this day?
MATT: Don't take yourself too seriously. Obviously it’s important to be sincere and honest about everything you do but if you can’t have a laugh you end up an uptight, out of touch buzzkill and nobody likes a buzzkill man.

S/T 7" released November 10th 2015 on Loose Lips records and It's Trash records

What is the best way people can hear and get a hold of your music? to get in direct contact with the band. If you wanna check out our tunes you can order records from us or the labels.

What lies ahead for Flesh Rag in 2016?
MATT: As of this moment we are waiting on our second 7” record to arrive. It’s coming out on Schizophrenic Records and will be out sometime in the spring. There is the possibility of us working on an LP. We would love to get out to a few cities around Ontario this spring/summer if all goes well. Mainly I just wanna keep working on songs and having a good time writing music and putting out records.

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