1. The usual opener - tell us all about Flat Back Four, history, discography, band members and name origin (any football connotations there)?
We formed Flat Back Four in late 2004. Three of us (Tom, Kev and me) had been playing together in another band for a while before that, but we weren’t at all happy with the music, nor the feel of the whole thing. So we decided to create something brand new, with a new name, identity and music we actually wanted to play. We picked the name ‘Flat Back Four’ because it was simple and very English. We’re well into football…and cricket actually, but ‘The Silly Mid Ons’ didn’t have quite the same ring to it.
It took a long time to establish a settled line up. We had a couple of bassists before we unearthed Our Sharrock, back in April 2005. Originally, we had a singer. When he left we spent a few months looking for a new one, and got absolutely nowhere. Kev and I took over as a temporary measure two years ago, and we’re still doing it. Having two singers has now become integral to our music and shows, so we’re not looking for anyone else.
Drummers have been the real problem. Tom left in early 2005, following which we had four others in eighteen months. Tom returned, all guns blazing, in October last year. In total we’ve spent about eight months out of the last twenty four just looking for drummers.
We’ve released two E.P.s and one album:
Handguns and Hiding Places (released Feb 05); this had the original line up, including ‘the proper singer’. I still like listening to the music, but can’t stand the lyrics, nor the feel of the singing.
Pork Pies and Snapped Strings: The Cider Session Tapes (recorded and released in April 05); this was a bit of a party piece. We got a few mates down to the rehearsal room, got drunk and played, throwing in a couple of covers for fun. We had Sharrock by then, so things were beginning to take shape.
Who Dares Penguins! (recorded in March 06, released in October 06); this is proper Flat Back Four, and we’re very proud of it.
2. Following on can you describe your fellow band members in 5 slanderous words apiece?
Tom: One man working men’s club
Sharrock: Guinness supping bass Jesus
Kev: The string snapping guitar grump
3. What's the best feeling about being in a band, especially a punk band and what is the worst experience in your musical career so far?
The best feeling is one of genuine camaraderie, a sense of being in something together. The same kind of feeling togetherness people get from being in part of a good football team, or being part of the crowd at a big match. It being a punk band adds a certain element of boisterous edgy fun to it.
The worst experience was the long – drummerless - summer of 2006. No drummer, no gigs, and apparently no hope. It really felt like we were going nowhere.
4. Chorlton Chickweed has set up his own Flower Olympics. The javelin is now a daffodil stalk, the shot put is a dogrose fruit, the discus is a bouquet of various weeds and the pole vault is a bamboo shoot. Already there is controversy with Alan Titchmarsh failing a drugs test and David Bellamy accused of an extra-marital affair with a dandelion. Are The Flower Olympics valid and would you ever have a fling with a Daisy?
Flower Olympics my arse…although if it was Daisy Duke (circa 1979) I wouldn’t need asking twice.
5. Heroes and zeroes in life please?
My Dad, my Granddad (who died a few weeks ago – RIP), my Great Great Grandfather (Sgt Thomas Hallwood DCM); average blokes who work hard and look after their families. In music: Joe Strummer, Greg Hetson, Scott Ian, Kerry King. Assorted adventurers: Sherlock Holmes, Biggles and Sir Ernest Shackleton. In sport: Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Nick Faldo, Freddie Flintoff. Honourable mentions to Bernard Montgomery, William Robertson and Alan Brooke (it’s a long story).
Zeroes: people who think the world owes them a living.
6. Being a promoter I get very frustrated at bands indifference to the shit end of the stick we promoters get. How do you feel about the promoting game and do you feel in general they do a good or bad job?
I’ve done some promoting myself, and I appreciate the difficulties. You have my sympathy. As in every field, there are good and bad promoters. There are those who love the music and have good organisational and communication skills – they are the best type (and include your good self!). There are those who love the music and maybe aren’t so hot on organisation and communication – their hearts are in the right place, and they do a decent job, despite some mishaps. There are those who care more about money than music, but have the skills to do the job. Working with this group is never that satisfying, but it works as a business proposition. Lastly, there are those that care more about money than music but really don’t know what they are doing. These are a menace!
I’ve worked with all types and learned through experience. I’d like to say thanks here and now to certain promoters I’m very glad to know: the GASH Collective in Bolton, PigTown Records in Rhyl, Matt Accident in Wakefield, Seanie in Liverpool - and of course FungalPunk and NoizeAnoize!
Bands should treat promoters as they want to be treated themselves – how on earth can you expect a good gig if you don’t fulfil your end of the bargain, be that through publicity, providing gear or whatever? Communicate. Be polite. If a genuinely dodgy promoter messes you about, just don’t work with them again, rather than bemoaning all promoters. Blimey, we NEED promoters.
7. You hear so many people say 'Punk rock is a spirit a passion, a feeling inside you can't explain' and yet I feel there is so little left of that genuine sensation. What does punk mean to you and how do you see todays scene?
The glib answer is that ‘it’s a feeling inside I can’t explain’. Seriously, I’ve thought about this question a lot and am struggling to put it into words. It’s to do with substance over style, honesty, meaning, pride in your roots, standing by your friends, fighting for what you believe in, and getting of your backside to actually do things for yourself. That’s pretty much what the SAS tour stands for – no bullshit, no egos…
I think today’s scene is a mixed picture. I’m proud to know a lot of bands, promoters (those I mentioned above for a start) and punks who epitomise what I mean by punk. The guys and gals who give us somewhere to sleep after a show….the promoter starting out who offers us his last tenner out of his own pocket towards petrol…the bloke at the bar in an out of the way town that’s happy to have a pint and talk about The Clash with you. They’re punk to me. I’ve got to say an especial thanks to the punks in Berlin and Munich I’ve met in the last few years. I’ve been over there quite a few times and have just pitched up at shows to see what I could see. They are amongst the most hospitable and welcoming people I could imagine – proper punks.
Of course, there are plenty of people (and bands) who aren’t like that – the ones that don’t return your calls, make inflated promises and lie through their teeth about giving you a show - but I prefer to focus on the positive.
8. Vimto Brillo Pads - would you clean your genitals with one or would going dirty be the end result.
Make it Guinness Brillo pads and I’ll give it a whirl. Are you on commission?
9. The high and low point of Flat Back Four as a band so far please?
High point: any one of a number of gigs that have gone swimmingly; most recently our first SAS show in Bradford, and the GASH against the fash bash in Bolton.
Low point: that bloody drummerless summer of 2006!
10. What is your fave Flat Back Four track and what is your fave song of all time from any genre?
My favourite Flat Back Four Track is Share the Wealth, and my favourite song of all time is Roisin Dubh, by Thin Lizzy.
11. Daphne du Popcorn has replaced her inner bowel with a microwave. She may have problems passing stools but the ease with which a chicken dinner is cooked is quite remarkable! What would be your ideal bottom dinner and would you ever consider eating a microwave oven for money (or beer)?
The sheer thought of a ‘bottom dinner’ is quite appalling. I recommend a course of leeches for you, meladdo. If the microwave oven had a complete three course Indian meal in it I think I’d oblige, with or without the money. * drools * I love curry!
12. Lastly push Flat Back Four for all there worth and if you had one message to scrawl on the shithouse walls of life then what would it be?
Flat Back Four: hard, fast, and good fun live.
On the shitter wall: Find a way, or make one