From Their Zippered Mouths:
An Interview with Chris Volz & Chris Ballinger of FLAW
By Dominic Pierce-Toogood
The controversial cover of Flaw's new album has everybody talking but the band themselves. It's not that they don't feel like talking, but these guys are busy. So busy, that they still haven't seen the video for their single 'Whole' currently on MTV
We caught up with Chris Volz and Chris Ballinger mid-Ozzfest and asked them if they had the time to talk to us. We got lucky. They sat still just long enough to dish the dirt on their album cover, the departure of guitarist Jason Daunt, their breakthrough CBGB showcase, and, oh yeah, how they are gonna be Zimbabwe's next big thing!
RoughEdge.com: So guys, I wore my CBGB T-shirt in your honor today. Tell us what it was like treading the same boards as The Ramones, The New York Dolls and Talking Heads.
Chris Volz: Wow! That's some pretty big company! That night was special for us. There were a lot of record people out there. We gave it 110%, like we do every night, and things worked out for the best. We were able to combine the history of CBGB's along with our history by it being the place where we actually got our record deal, so it's forever going to live down in our hearts and we still don't have one of those fuckin' shirts! (Laughter)
RoughEdge.com: You don't? Well, you're not having mine! So did you go into the wonderful bathrooms there, too?
Chris Volz: Oh Yeah! We met all the roaches, signed the bathroom wall, everything.
RoughEdge.com: The video for ‘Whole' gets a lot of airplay on MTV. How did you feel the first time you saw it on the show and did you enjoy making it?
Chris Volz: I haven't seen it. Haven't had time. We keep getting calls from our friends saying, "Hey! We're watching your video!" we're like, "Cool! We haven't seen it yet." I've seen it like once I think. We just don't get a chance to put on MTV on the bus and watch it much. But we heard it was on the Top 20 Countdown on MTV2 and it's on the All Things That Rock Show on regular MTV too.
Chris Ballinger: We're all proud of the video though. It's another dream come true.
Chris Volz: Especially a song like that. A song that's important to us.
RoughEdge.com: Well, it's a great song and a great video. You look like you had fun making it.
Chris Ballinger: For the most part, until we started to breathe in all the dust! But it was a great video.
Chris Volz: It was great to work with Dean Karr too (director of ‘Whole' video who has also worked with Marilyn Manson and Ozzy Osbourne).
RoughEdge.com: Your first video was directed by ex porn director Gregory Dark, right?
Chris Volz: (Laughter) Oh yeah.
RoughEdge.com: So there's a bit of a switch between the directors of those videos. Any dangerous liaisons we should know about in the first video?
Chris Volz: Nah. Nah. No comment. (Laughter)
RoughEdge.com: So who's the big party band on this tour? Is it you?
Chris Ballinger: Yeah, it's Flaw. We're the party band. Down, too. And Hatebreed, Ill Nino, Drowning Pool. They're all our bro's. We all party. Down probably parties the most though, I don't know if I can keep up with them but I try every day! Wild parties! We get to party. (Laughter)
RoughEdge.com: You are now a four piece ... how did Jason Daunt, (ex-guitarist), leaving affect your overall sound?
Chris Volz: Well it's not as cool a sound as it used to be but it's tighter and it sounds clearer, more dominant, heavier.
RoughEdge.com: Is that where you want to be sound wise?
Chris Volz: Well, there are things that we recorded on the first album that we can't reproduce live as a four piece without either adding a paid musician or playing backing tapes and we're not willing to do either. So, luckily for us the fans have been very accepting of us turning into a four piece and even the things that are noticeable to us live the audiences don't even notice them. Come the second album, it's not going to make a difference because it's just going to be Lance (Arny, new guitarist) on there.
Chris Ballinger: And he's covering every part now anyway. He goes through the harmony, then the lead, then the rhythm.
RoughEdge.com: Do you guys still keep in touch with Jason?
Chris Volz: Um ... No ... I haven't.
Chris Ballinger: No. Fuck no.
RoughEdge.com: So it wasn't exactly an amicable split?
Chris Volz: No, not exactly.
RoughEdge.com: Do you think you ran the risk of the fans turning on you when you lost Jason as a band member? Did you get any feedback like that at all?
Chris Volz: I didn't. Really I've had a lot of people come and tell me it turned out best for the band. Some people seem let down by Jason, but I've had a lot of people say we sound better. It's not just that. Every once in a while we would get a repetitive comment from fans about how he kind of seemed like he was the one that was off by himself.
Chris Ballinger: He would stand out.
Chris Volz: You know, he would paint his face or ... it's like we were all in conjunction and he was in off in the corner doing something else.
Chris Ballinger: Always in another world.
Chris Volz: So that element being taken away added what we were saying in the tightness of the music.
Chris Ballinger: I can just say it - he was the weakest link in the band. It was starting to affect us live. So it worked out for the best.
RoughEdge.com: So you would just say you're not just a tighter sound but you're also tighter as a band? As a group of people?
Chris Volz: We're tighter, we have more attack and we're on it more. It was sloppier before on stage. And him leaving brought us all together more too as people, yeah.
RoughEdge.com: "Through Your Eyes" obviously is doing really well. There was some controversy over the cover though ... the African American child with his mouth zippered shut.
Chris Volz: You know, people have said that a few times and I don't get it...
Chris Ballinger: I've never gotten it either. Nobody even knew that we beat the shit out of that kid before! (Laughter)
Chris Ballinger: Whoever looks at it (the album cover) that way is taking it the wrong way.
Chris Volz: They're looking for something to bitch or complain about. People say, "Oh it's a black kid and he's being repressed" and it's not. We picked a kid because you can't tell what race he is. You can't tell if he's Hispanic, South American, Latino, German, Asian.
Chris Ballinger: That's all we wanted - the picture is representative of everybody. Everybody's equal.
RoughEdge.com: What were you looking for? Did you have any input into picking that picture?
Chris Volz: Yeah, it was a photo taken by a photographer named Clay Patrick McBride. He's a famous photographer and has done a lot of ads. It was in his portfolio and we came across it. We just fell in love with it because we felt that it explained our music and the vision we were trying to get out, which is that most people don't address or express what they really need to about their own feelings, their emotions and they keep it bottled up and, you know, you end up with all kinds of problems. We felt like it just explained it. When you look at that kid, he looks flawed, for whatever reason. Everybody gets his or her own interpretation from it. Some people think he was abused! That's bullshit!
Chris Ballinger: Well, I was an abused child and so was he, and you know, it's a picture of us, if they want to call it that! I was abused and his step-mom killed herself. We've all been through a lot of shit. That picture says more than people even realize. But of course people are going to jump to their own conclusions ...
Chris Volz: It's their own interpretations.
Chris Ballinger: We don't care what they have to say. The real people know - the fans know what we've got to say.
RoughEdge.com: Because you lay your souls bare on the album, right?
Chris Volz: You have to. I mean ... there's too much mediocrity in the fuckin' music industry these days. There's too much, you know, showing off and no clout. Yeah, I got the most bitches, yeah, I got fuckin' drugs in my pocket, you know.
Chris Ballinger: Yeah, I'm shooting up the most and rocking the boat - who cares! What about kids that are starving? What about real issues in life? That's what we touch man.
RoughEdge.com: Would you say you guys are about honesty then? Is that your motto?
RoughEdge.com: How do you feel about bearing your souls so much and having people know your innermost feelings and fears and experiences?
Chris Volz: It's definitely weird to have people come up and know things about you that you didn't even tell your best friend, but I asked for it. You can't write lyrics like that and just expect people to ignore them.
RoughEdge.com: Everyone knows, obviously, about your mother. You are very brave to lay that down on the track the way you do. Did you exorcise any ghosts by doing that?
Chris Volz: In a sense yeah, and it also starts some new ones up by doing that. It's an ongoing battle. You never get over something like that. It's a daily process. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about her, so it's rough. I went back to Europe for the first time in a while. That's why it was rough too, because that's where I was when she died.
RoughEdge.com: Let's talk about a couple of other things. I've heard your band's sound being called seamless but every band has a flaw. What are yours as individuals and as a band?
Chris Volz: Women! (Laughter)
Chris Ballinger: Marijuana. I bite my nails, smoke too much weed, I pick my butt. (Laughter)
Chris Volz: If there's any flaw that any one of us have it's that we're complete perfectionists. I personally never think I've had a perfect show. You know. That pushes us to be better. I think our one flaw, as a group is that we're such perfectionists that we're almost never satisfied with ourselves.
Chris Ballinger: I'm too critical also.
Chris Volz: That's not a bad thing. That pushes you to be better - the day you think you stop learning or think you've learned everything there is to learn is the day you become fuckin' screwed up!
RoughEdge.com: So where do you go from here? What's the next stop after Ozzfest?
Chris Ballinger: We're on tour until the end of the year. Starting an album next year, right?
Chris Volz: We get a few weeks off then we're doing a headlining tour towards the end of the year.
RoughEdge.com: Is that nationwide or worldwide?
Chris Volz: Nationwide.
RoughEdge.com: When is the next album going to be out, realistically?
Chris Volz: Next Spring, next Summer. We're going to ride this out until the end of the year. Perhaps tour with Ill Nino in Europe.
RoughEdge.com: Let's talk about Europe ... What are the differences between the audiences here and the audiences in Europe?
Chris Ballinger: Their accents! (Laughter)
Chris Volz: There's not as much exposure out there. Some of the places we played don't even have rock radio. In the States people know our lyrics. Over there, there's only like a hand full of people who even know who we are. It's like starting over.
Chris Ballinger: Our album just came out there so it's more of just a live experience. They don't have to know you that well.
RoughEdge.com: You still want to break Europe?
Chris Volz: Of course!
Chris Volz: We do great everywhere. We'll break Zimbabwe!
Chris Ballinger: In Paris we did well. We have a lot of fans waving their albums outside the shows. Austria was cool, too.
Chris Volz: We just found out we're moving a lot of albums in Malaysia, but we can't tour there because it's too politically unstable.
Chris Volz: Yeah. We'd go straight to Malaysia tomorrow if we could but we can't because it's too politically unstable.
Chris Ballinger: I don't think I want to go to Southeast Asia or Malaysia right now.
Chris Volz: Don't worry. I'll sock some Kung Fu on them!
RoughEdge.com: I'm sure you would Chris, I'm sure you would ...
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Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:09 -0400.