Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with They’ve Shot Flanigan

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with They've Shot FlaniganLocal bands are nothing new to Thanks to the presents six bands for six bucks I am able to bring half a dozen live local bands to one stage every few months. Speaking of those events, there is another one coming up at the end of February. That band is sitting with me here today. I first discovered this band on MySpace, but later heard nothing but good things about them from the local community. Then I started listening to them and was blown away by their raw, original talents. Every track takes me to a deep, darker place than I have ever been. Their vocals also add a certain emotion to their music that is hard to replace. They add a certain ballad feel to their songs, and each track starts off with a slow progression to what often is replaced with face melting rock and roll. I have a hard time picking a favorite song, but Ropes and November are two of my favorites. It is my pleasure to have them on the bill at the next event, and is also my pleasure to have them with me here today. I am pleased to introduce you to They’ve Shot Flanigan.

I hope he is okay. Flanigan really didn’t get shot, did he?

Absolutely. Dead. By the way, I fell like I should say that this is Zach (vocals) answering these questions.

How did you come up with that name?

It was a quote from a dream my dad had several years ago. Apparently, in the dream, he was with my grandfather in my grandparents’ house and there was a war being fought in their backyard. My grandpa heard a shot, looked off into the distance, then turned to my dad and said, “Well, they’ve shot Flanigan.”

How long have you guys been together?

We have been a band in one form or another since 2001. We have seen a few member changes, but Gabriel, Brad, and myself have been playing together since then.

Who writes all your lyrics?

I write them. Derrick Carnes wrote the lyrics to We’ve Never Known, a song on our 2008 album. Oh, and sometimes I lift them from Flannery O’Connor stories, Tennessee Williams plays, Ingmar Bergman movies, and the Bible.

Where do you guys practice?

Our drummer Mason’s parents are gracious enough to allow us to use their basement.

Do you have a job outside of music?

Yeah, I work at a bookstore, Brad works at a car dealership, Mason works at a print shop, and Gabriel goes to art school. But we all like music better than those things.

You have played with some pretty incredible acts. How was it playing with Copeland?

That was a very cool show. It was back in 2004 when they were still doing the Midwest Music Summit. It was right after Copeland released Beneath Medicine Tree, and there were a ton of kids there. Some other really great bands played that show, too, like The Working Title and Lovedrug.

What is the best concert you have ever been to?

Tough question. I seem to never have enough money to go to many shows. But a couple of the best relatively cheap bands I have seen have been Saves the Day and Lucero. Gabe and Brad and Mason all saw Metallica last fall, but I couldn’t go.

What is the biggest crowd you have played for?

Not sure. We have certainly seen some packed venues, but we’ve seen our share of empty ones as well. It’s always nice to play for a large crowd, but I tend to remember the ones that are the most appreciative, not the biggest.

The smallest?

Every band has played those shows where you just play for the other bands, and we’re certainly no exception. We had one show in Franklin, Indiana way back when we were first starting out, and I think there were three people in the audience. Three.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

We have a ridiculously long, eclectic list of artists we love and artists that influence us in one way or another. It’s funny, you can rarely tell who you’re being influenced by until you listen to your finished song. Half the time you start out with a certain sound in mind and it ends up sounding like something else entirely. I think that comes from each of us having diverse musical backgrounds.

The songs on the new record (which will hopefully be out soon) are definitely influenced by Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. We’ve also been listening to a very heavy amount of Murder By Death and The Mars Volta during the recording process. And, of course, Metallica will probably always influence us in some way. Vocally, Matthew Bellamy of Muse is a bit of an inspiration. We also love (really, love) Saves the Day, Brand New, Jimmy Eat World, Tom Waits, Neil Young, In Flames, Fleetwood Mac, Modest Mouse… the list could go on and on.

Oh, and the films of Sergio Leone and the music of Ennio Morricone have been of particular importance to the sound of our new album. Also the films Shane, High Noon, and the television show Gunsmoke.

If you could only play one song for the rest of your career, which song would you choose?

I think we’d all say November right now. It’s from our 2008 record. Very fun to play.

How do you know the guys in The Fallow?

We all grew up in pretty much the same area, which is East Central Indiana. Gabe and I went to church in New Castle with Ryan, their vocalist, several years ago. Ryan was in a band called Shameless Self Promotion with Levi and Jake and we played tons of shows with them and got to know those guys. Josh and Spencer were in a band called Break Dance Not Hearts, who we also played with a lot.

Do you guys tour very often?

We do when we can, but the game has changed so much that touring is not nearly as effective as it used to be. In the days before MySpace, you could tour all the time and get quite a bit of recognition that way, but now everybody gets their music from the Internet. Kids don’t go to shows, they sit at home and watch YouTube videos. So the way bands market themselves has shifted from actually being there in person and playing for people and talking to people to this weird, fake online thing.

But yeah, we toured last summer with our good friends The Nothings From Nowhere. It was a great time.

What is your favorite venue?

No idea. Some venues have different things going for them; some have things working against them. We are certainly most familiar with the Emerson Theater in Indianapolis.

What would you be doing if you were not performing?

Crying in my bed all day. Eating Doritos and becoming one of those horribly obese people you used to see on Jerry Springer.

In all honesty, if I weren’t performing in this band, I’d be performing in some other way. I went to school for acting, and I do that when I can. I guess I’d just do it full-time.

How do you guys stay motivated on stage?

The songs are pretty powerful motivation. And we’ve been playing together for quite some time, so it comes pretty naturally. Also, we watch a lot of videos of The Who and Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and The Rolling Stones playing live, and just try to imitate them.

If you could live anywhere else in the world where would you go?

I love Indiana. I know I’m not supposed to, but I do. Indianapolis is a great city, too. I think maybe someday I’d like to live out in Wyoming in a cabin miles and miles away from everybody, but only for a couple years.

What are you drinking on stage?

Gasoline. That’s how metal we are.

You guys have a lot of great show posters out there. Who does all your graphic design work?

Whoever we can get. Half the time it’s us (Mason does some pretty rockin’ work with the ol’ InDesign), and quite often it’s just a flyer that was sent to us by whoever is promoting the show.

Tell me a little bit more about recording your full-length disc.

We started the recording process at the beginning of this year. Seth Henderson at ABG Studios in Crown Point, Indiana is engineering, and he does the best work we’ve ever seen. Since we all work, we’ve had to do the tracking and mixing on weekends. And it’s very close to being done. Just some vocals for a couple songs, then mixing and mastering.

The record is a concept album about the life of a gunslinger, and lyrically it’s a metaphor for loneliness, isolation, self-imprisonment, that whole thing.

I want a shirt! Where can I get some of your merchandise?

At shows or from us directly. We’re working on setting up an online store, but we don’t have all the merch we want yet.

Why did you decide to record an acoustic EP?

Oh, we did that years ago. We don’t sound anything like that now. It was fun, though. We did it because it’s much cheaper to record. But really, those days are over.

What are your thoughts on record labels today? Where do you see them in five years? Are you guys actively seeking a label for representation?

Honestly, I don’t feel qualified to answer that question.

You guys are on a lot of social networking sites. Do you prefer any one of them over another?

Not really. We don’t really like any of them. We do it because you have to, or you might as well not even exist. I’d never use a computer ever again if I didn’t have to. I’m kind of an old man that way.

Allow me to assume that you and Gabriel are related?

All our lives.

You guys are currently in the studio. Which studio are you working in?

We are recording at Always Be Genius Studios in Crown Point, Indiana. The engineer, as I mentioned earlier, is Seth Henderson. Any band considering a very professional recording project should record there. It’s fantastic.

What are you working on?

Too much to remember. The new album; probably an EP as well. We have some secret things in the works too, but I’m not at liberty to discuss that.

If you could open for any act on the market today, whom would you pick?

The Rolling Stones. But who wouldn’t say that?

How did you guys react to the passing of the King of Pop?

That was a sad day. We’re all fans. It’s also too bad that it had to become such a media frenzy. Although I suppose that’s understandable; the dude was pretty famous.

There are a ton of great bands here in the Indianapolis area. Is there anyone you think I should pay attention to?

Good lord, yes. Shadeland is probably the best band in the Midwest right now. There’s a band from Southern Indiana called The Hiding that is phenomenal. And the dudes from The Fallow know how to put on a rock and roll show. Some other friends of ours are doing some really interesting things as well, bands like Respondents and Sins of Alchemy.

Where do you see yourselves in five years?

(Scenario A) Metallica is opening up for us on a yearlong world tour and we are each worth over a billion dollars.

(Scenario B) We are all very sad that we can’t be professional musicians because people would rather listen to Lil Wayne and Kenny Chesney. We all work at gas stations.

But more seriously, we’ll never stop creating, performing, recording, or loving music. Whether or not it’s this band or another, I don’t think any of us could be happy without music in our lives.

What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?

It would be nice to be remembered for anything. I think that if we’re remembered for anything it will be our song writing, our musicianship, our stage show and hopefully our influence on other writers and performers.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.

If you listen to THEY’VE SHOT FLANIGAN, thank you and keep listening. If you don’t listen to THEY’VE SHOT FLANIGAN, start listening.