A Discussion with VH1's "Bands on the Run" Winners
Downs and her partner in crime for the day Lauren Rajczak
The boom of Reality Television saw new highs and lows last season. Arguably,
one of the most interesting of the bunch was the concept developed by VH1 which took four bands and placed them
in various settings where they would compete against each other for a grand prize of new
equipment and, more importantly, an A&R showcase.
Flickerstick was the underdog of the show. They managed to lose every bonus opportunity on the contest and sold the least amount of merchandise or tickets than the competing bands. So how in hell did these bumbling rock stars not only hang on until the end - but end up winning?
In case you did not watch "Bands on the Run," Flickerstick took the genuine musicians' way through the contest. They won all of the live competitions which worked as a sort of an immunity, if you will, from being kicked off the show. Not only did Flickerstick make it to the final two in the Battle of the Bands, but they put on another of their astounding live performances to win the majority vote of fans and industry reps alike in the audience. This band won it their way and they won it in the best way possible- because for all the talk about how reality television perverts and distorts - what better way to win a show based on music than with a pure, hellfire live performance?
Flickerstick went onto that A&R showcase where they eventually found a home out of Epic Records. Since then, they have been touring across the United States demonstrating to fans along the way the live passion and soul that goes into every performance, the performance that literally brought them to where they are today.
In light of all the good fortune, Epic and Flickerstick have decided to re-release a remixed copy of their August 2000 release "Welcoming Home the Astronauts" along with a couple of bonus tracks on November 6, 2001.
So, amidst all the fuss, a friend and I sat down with Flickerstick in their dressing room before the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania WDVE Resurgence Festival to check in with the band that is known for being on the run.
The room is laidback with typical back-stage dwellings: couches, table, fridge with a mix of rock gluttonous alcohol and bottled water. The band is typical of rock'n'roll with Fletcher sitting on the floor, knees bent, debating the merits of showering or not showering (he choose the former, thank goodness!) Rex is kicking back in the room sitting where my back is to him but not immune from the sporadic comments he throws in that most always result in a room of laughter. Cory chills out on the pin-striped couch looking Texan - cowboy boots and jeans with a beanie that looks very rock chic if not misplaced. Dominic is off somewhere allegedly "being Dominic" - if you have seen the show I can imagine that you can fill that in with whatever that might translate to. Then we have the amiable front man Brandin with a black "Snatch" t-shirt and animated speaking. It should not have taken verbal confirmation from Brandin that he has some Italian in him - the unmistakable trait of animated hand gestures and contortions while telling stories was a dead giveaway.
So with my partner in crime, Lauren, we take a seat in the Flickerstick reality.
Rough Edge: What are we going to talk about? Hmmm. The new release, well, the re-release of the album "Welcoming Home the Astronauts." That is coming out October 23- or did it get moved?
Brandin: Well, it got moved to November 6.
Rough Edge: So it's now November 6 and you are going to have two new songs on it?
Brandin: Yeah. It's just re-released by Epic and re-mixed by Tom Lord Alge and it's going to have two new tracks - one track left off and it's going to be quadruple platinum in the first month ...
Rough Edge: You want me to quote you on that one?
Brandin: Nah. (Editor's note: She did anyway.)
Rex: Dude, weíre going silver, dude.
Cory: Weíre going aluminum.
Rex: When did they stop doing silver records?
Rough Edge: Did they ever have silver?
Rex: Yeah, they had silver for a while.
Lauren: How did you guys like hook up with Tom? How did that come about?
Brandin: Our A&R, Peter Robinson, knew Tom from working with Dave Matthews and I think he kind of cashed in a favor cause we needed a re-mix in a rush by someone who knows what he is doing and of course Tomís the man.
Lauren: I mean what do you guys have planned ...
Brandin: Planned for ...?
Lauren: I mean, like when the album comes out, because I know you guys are touring right now ...
Brandin: Actually, we are going to take like two weeks off when the album first comes out and then go balls out back on the road for an infinite amount of time - I donít know.
Cory: Thatís the big question - when do we go out on tour.
Brandin: Maybe go to Europe ...
Lauren: Are there any tours that you are looking at?
Brandin: Probably still headlining - weíre not a real good support act.
Lauren: Why is that?
Brandin: 'Cause weíre not very supportive. We donít deal well with negativity and if we were opening up for a band and they [the crowd] didnít, like, give a fuck who we were and were cussing at us and yelling at us weíd probably tell them to fuck off.
Lauren: Is there anybody that you would be willing to open up for?
Brandin: Of course, sure.
Rough Edge: Like who?
Brandin: Probably bands that weíd probably outdraw here - I donít know like Stereophonics, Travis, the Dandy Warhols- bands like that ...
Cory: Of course, Sevendust or Saliva (interviewerís note: Sevendust were headlining and Saliva main stage headlining support at the WDVE Resurgence Festival).
Lauren: To ask the obvious question, since the show has aired what do you guys think - do you think that you would be where you are right now?
Brandin: No, definitely not.
Rough Edge: Where would you be?
Brandin: Weíd still be trying our ass off to get that record deal which takes like, you know, at least a year and a half to two years before anything really happens. This show basically, you know, made us famous for one without anything else and basically got us to be able to play around the country and actually have people show up ...
Cory: Further our career ...
Rex: People showing up is cool ...
Rough Edge: Do you worry that you are not going to be able to separate yourself from the stigma of being the "Band on the Run"?
Cory: I think weíve already done that.
Brandin: Right now, there is still that stigma attached to it, I think. But, after the album comes out, like it's hitting radio right now as we speak, like it's getting added to some stations. I think the album stands on its own and people will finally forget. Like eight months after this album comes out and it does well and weíve got like our third single out, I think people are going to less and less remember us from the TV show and more and more for like videos on normal programming. Like 'Oh, they sing that song.' You know, like you do with every other band but like I donít know- itís too early to say.
Rough Edge: How real was it all? Looking back and watching the episodes - how real was this reality TV?
Brandin: Well, I mean, being on a reality TV show is never real but, I mean, we were portrayed correctly. I mean everyone on the show was - all the bands were.
Rough Edge: Donít you think that you were stereotyped?
Brandin: Well, they wanted ... they got us on the show because they knew that we were going to be this rock'n'roll band that was going to deliver the ... everything that you think of as the rock'n'roll clichťs. They knew the other bands probably werenít going to. I mean, like every band is a character. We need the girl band, we need the good guy band that is going to work hard, and we need the total epitome of rock'n'roll that is going to party all of the time and screw up and that was us. So, yeah, we were stereotyped but we were already that way ...
Rough Edge: So it's fair ...
Brandin: We did not have to conform to this. It was like you want to film us, all right. It was fair. It was absolutely fair.
Rex: Actually, I took some classes on being a rock star beforehand. You know, do I drink now or do I drink later?
Cory: Should I throw up in the trash can?
B: Thereís a lot of rules.
Rough Edge: Rules?
Cory: Like, if you are going to puke on the street youíre supposed to pass out next to it.
Lauren: So, you guys have the two new songs on the record, "Smile: and :Christmas Lights."
Brandin: "Electrocution" is a demo that we did like four weeks ago as a demo that we are putting on as a hidden track.
Lauren: So itís a hidden track- it is not going to be formally listed on the record?
Brandin: No. Itís going to be re-done and put on the follow up album.
Lauren: So have you guys started writing for the next album?
Brandin: Weíve got a lot of songs that did not get used on this album and Iím still writing a lot of tunes.
Lauren: When youíre writing lyrics - what or who inspires you to write? What are you going for when you write a song?
Rough Edge: Vagueness. Thatís a new one. I donít think Iíve ever heard that before ...
Lauren: I donít think I have either ...
Cory: Well, its very vague you know? (laughs)
Rough Edge: (laughing) Yeah, such a broad statement.
Brandin: Writing mostly is about personal experiences. I just choose not to make them so obvious.
Lauren: But is there a conscious decision when you write a song? Because one thing I noticed in all the songs is that you have huge crescendos. There is not any one that stands out ...
Brandin: A lot of dynamics ...
Lauren: Exactly. Is that a conscious decision on your part when you write or does that evolve?
Brandin: I think that is just an influence from a lot of our favorite bands. They were just dynamic bands.
Rough Edge: Like who?
Brandin: The Cure for example. Even local acts for me that I was influenced by. There was Pink Floyd.
Rough Edge: Hit me up with some of those local acts.
Brandin: Trippin Daisy, Traumatic, The Tomorrow People.
Rough Edge: Do you listen to the Reverend Horton Heat?
Brandin: I love the Reverend but I wouldnít necessarily say he is an influence. I love him though. I just like dynamic music. You know, stuff that one minute can be very minute and the next minute just this huge explosion and vice versa. I think that is more interesting than having just a mid-tempo song where every song is just like 'Yep, thereís the melody, there it goes.' Thatís not real fun.
Lauren: With the live show, you guys put on a solid performance every single time and that is how you won the contest on the show. What are you going for there? Who are your role models?
Cory: Weíre trying not to fuck up.
Brandin: Weíre a passionate band.
Rex: Our role model is Puck from the first season of the Real World.
Rough Edge: It was not Season One it was like Season Three - San Francisco.
Brandin: I donít know. We just play every show like its our last. We play for us a lot.
(Interviewers Note: Side conversation erupts regarding MTVs The Real World beginning with Rex breaking out in vocal song with "True Story" in an exact replica of Real World former John).
Rex: Thatís John.
Rough Edge: John was from Season Two - LA.
Cory: I donít know. I like lost track after season five.
(Interviewerís Note: And we still have Brandin here running right on track with the actual merited conversation.)
Brandin: If we donít play for us it doesnít come out well. I donít really know how to explain it.
Rough Edge: How is touring going?
Brandin: Touring has been fantastic. The draws have been wonderful - everything has been great. The only thing we have to fight is our health.
Lauren: Is that becoming a real problem?
Brandin: Oh, yeah.
Cory: Weíre a bunch of fucking degenerates, that's why.
Brandin: It's hard, you know. You have nine guys on a bus - if anybody has something, you know - it's bus flu.
Rex: Plus we all like to, you know, make out with each other after the show.
Brandin: A lot of man, love.
Lauren: So whatís the hardest thing about touring?
Brandin: (Laughing) Making love to Rex every night.
Rex: 'Cause I like to spoon like a lot afterwards for hours and hours.
Brandin: Heís a cuddler. Hardest thing about touring. I swear to God, itís health for me. I think just for everybody. You get run down. We drink, we party and we donít eat the best so we get run down.
Lauren: Flip side - the greatest things about touring?
Brandin: You get to do what you love. You get to wake up every day and it's like 'Oh, what do I have to do today? Yeah, thatís right. Play a rock show, drink beer and have fun.' You know ...
Rough Edge: I think thatís the first band that hasnít bitched about it ...
Cory: What? Bitched about touring?
Rough Edge: Yeah, most do.
Lauren: Do you guys have any regrets about doing "Bands on the Run"?
Brandin: I donít have one regret, not one at all. We went in there and we were ourselves and we did a good job and it's helped our careers and lets us all do this for real. I donít have one regret.
Lauren: How do you deal with the people who come up to you and automatically assume that they know you cause they saw you on the show?
Cory: Say I have to go to the bathroom.
Brandin: I laugh at it.
Cory: No, you say I have to go to the bathroom right now but I will catch up with you all later.
Rough Edge: Thatís actually a good idea.
Brandin: It's a little creepy but its cool.
Lauren: Whatís the creepiest thing that has happened so far?
Brandin: You donít want to go there.
Rough Edge: Now we want to know.
Cory: Tell them.
Brandin: Dude, I donít want to tell the story.
Cory: Come on. Tell.
Brandin: Okay. I had a straight up psychotic stalker. This fucking married chick was following the freaking shows - our tour - and her husband got on the VH1 message board and said, 'Brandin my name is so and so and my wifeís name is Angie and sheís coming to the next three shows and if I find out that you got with her I am going to find you and, like, kill you.' So I get this voicemail from, like, my dad who read it ...
Cory: But who were you with when you got it cause that is the whole story ...
Brandin: Check it out. I am with this chick at this show, right? And sheís real hot - and sheís like, you know, 'Letís go out after the show and have a beer or something," and Iím like "Yeah," you know, cool. And sheís real forward to me and Iím like, whatever. I want to check my voicemail real quick and itís my dad cause he, like, monitors the VH1 board and heís, like, hey, I just wanted to tell you about this real crazy message some dude left about his wife and sheís supposed to be at the show youíre at so just watch out for someone named Angie. So I am like, "Ha ha," just had a little laugh and I go tell me your name again and sheís like Angie and she starts screaming 'WHY? WHY? WHAT DID YOU JUST HEAR??? WHAT DID YOU HEAR???í. And I was just all like, 'AHHHHH' and she starts literally like screaming at me and I was like, 'Oh, no, really, I have to go,' and she starts screaming "NO!!" and crying and punching me and all that. So I run out of the bar and Iím all like 'Look, Iím not trying to start a fight' (motions with he hands like he is pushing ) 'but get back, bitch. I donít hit women but if you keep punching me I am going to knock you the fuck out 'cause she was punching me and she kept coming at me. I was all, 'What do I do, what do I do?' So there were these people, these fans, that we met that were at the show and they had this Suburban and they drove by and they opened the door and were like 'Whatís going on?' . And Iím like, 'Scoot over' and I like ran and jumped in and Iím just like 'GO, GO!'. And we drove off and they are all, 'What happened?'
We are going back to that place next week!
Cory: Terry is coming with his sawed off ...
Brandin: Oh God. I was like 'Whatís your name?' and sheís like 'Angie.' And I was, like, do you have a husband and the first thing she starts to do is scream 'WEíRE SEPARATED!, WEíRE SEPARATED!' So yeah, thatís creepy.
Rough Edge: Yeah, Iíd have to agree on that one. (Editor's note: Yeah, me, too.)
Cory: I once had this guy come up and he was like 'Whatís up dude?' And I was like, 'Whatís up dude.'
Brandin: I want to have your baby - thatís creepy.
Rex: Oh, no. I hear that all the time.
Cory: Well, how about 'Iím having your baby.'
Rex: Nah. Iíve gotten that like at least twice. Anything happened to you, Corey?
Cory: Nah. I just lay back with my beanie.
Rough Edge: Oh, yeah, he wears the beanie.
Cory: Nothing annoys girls more than the fact that I wear this damn hat.
Rough Edge: Why do you say that? I used to wear those things in high school.
Cory: At like every show they are, like, take off the hat. They freak the fuck out about it.
Brandin: Always a better reason not to [take it off].
Lauren: When you guys went home how much of what you did did you have to answer to? Were your mothers kind of ...
Brandin: My mom was like, 'Yeah, those are my two sons.' Everybody was real. Like you all kept it alive. Itís not like we were shooting heroin on the show.
Cory: Iím 26 years old and my parents were just like, whatever.
Brandin: Dom got the most backlash.
Rough Edge: Thatís cause he had sex with that chickie in the bathroom.
Brandin: Which one?
Rough Edge: But if there is one thing I remember it would be that.
Brandin: But it was not just like one chick in one bathroom in was every episode (laughing).
Rough Edge: Was it really?
Brandin: Yeah. He came back and there was a lot of women that were like donít even try that I saw you on the show.
Cory: Heís all like signing autographs and heís like, 'You got cable? No? Good. You ever saw the show? No? Even better.'
Brandin: Lemme show you this bathroom. You want to see the bathroom - if you ever hear the words from Dominic you want to see the back of the tour bus that is not like a tour like, 'This is a picture and thatís the couch."
Cory: I mean, like, if you say yes, you basically just said you want to go have sex with him (laughing).
Rough Edge: Is this code?
Brandin: Hey you wanna see the back of the bus (laughing)? I mean I have introduced like my friends and went to show them the back like just on a tour and Dom was all there and I was like AHHHH!!!!
Lauren: How do you guys spend your days? Do you have like a lot of free time now? How much is Epic loading you up?
Fletcher: (Fletcher speaks!!!!) Weíre good for a few more weeks when the record comes out.
Lauren: What made you decide to sign with Epic?
Brandin: They offered us the most money. Nah, we had a couple of labels ...
Rough Edge: And you flipped a coin?
Fletcher: YEAH! We literally flipped a coin. I was shocked too.
Brandin: One other label was in the running. We wanted Epic but we left it to fate, and heads was Epic.
Rough Edge: See, now, I always put the one that I really want as tails.
Brandin: So do I, usually, but I wasnít in charge.
Cory: See, now thatís the problem. You put the one that you really want as tails and you get like a reverse fortune.
Brandin: Actually, we did it backstage in Philly. We were at the TLA and our manager was like did you make a decision and we were like yeah we flipped a coin.
Rex: Well, the Magic Eight Ball was broke ...
Lauren: Now what about the Dallas scene?
Brandin: There is finally a resurgence of the Dallas rock scene.
Cory: What makes Dallas such a good scene to come out of - it's not.
Rough Edge: Well, now Iím going to call you out on this one. 'Cause take Philly, for example, there is no real supportive scene there. People donít care - they do not support local bands. All the bars want are cover bands, if that, and Dallas is the opposite. The fans there care about the music and get behind you.
Cory: But the problem with Dallas is that the people in Texas will support you and that is awesome but outside of Texas people donít really pay attention. It is like you are on this island separated from both coasts - you have to make this huge storm before any labels will pay attention to you out there. Whereas if you are from NY or CA, labels know you 'cause they see you around. There are no labels out in Dallas and people are irritated when they have to go there. They would rather play to fly you to New York then fly out there.
Lauren: How did you learn to play guitar and how long have you played?
Cory: Well I started by taking guitar lessons but they didnít last very long and I just basically said this is my favorite record and I would like try to play it.
Rough Edge: Anyone in particular you admire?
Cory: I admire a lot of people. My thought process is just donít fuck up, not, "Look how good I am." Just donít fuck up. As long as I donít fuck up (he claps) - WOOHOO! Did I fuck up tonight? No. Then it was a good day.
Flickerstick is: Fletcher Lea (Bassist), Brandin Lea (Vocals), Cory Kreig (Guitar, Keyboards), Rex James Ewing (Guitar), and Dominic Weir (Drums).
Check out the Official Flickerstick Web Site for tour information and more at: http://www.flickerstick.com and look for their re-release of "Welcoming Home the Astronauts" November 6 from Epic Records.
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Copyright © 2001 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:09 -0400.