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Interview with The Flatliners frontman Chris Cresswell and drummer Paul Ramirez

I have been a fan of The Flatliners for quite sometime now, probably before anyone in Toronto even knew their name. This of course was back when I lived in Stouffville, Ontario and the punk scene was thriving in Newmarket. I recently had the chance to sit down with a couple of the guys and reminisce about the gold old’ days, the new old days…



I have been a fan of The Flatliners for quite sometime now, probably before anyone in Toronto even knew their name. This of course was back when I lived in Stouffville, Ontario and the punk scene was thriving in Newmarket. I recently had the chance to sit down with a couple of the guys and reminisce about the gold old’ days, the new old days and the future, not to mention the FU awards, check it out!

So, you guys have come a long way from playing shows like Punktoberfest up in Newmarket for Christian Cannibal…
Paul: I want to play Punktoberfest [again]!

Actually he’s stopping that now.
Chris: WHAT?!

There was only 70 kids at the last show.
Paul: It was at the Youth Centre again last year then, right?

Well yeah, I talked to him only last week and there was only 70 kids and he needs 200 to break even.
Paul: Yeah, what was the year, this year? Like how many Punktoberfests have there been?

Chris: 8, I think it was like 8 or something.

Paul: I don’t know, what’s Punks Against Racism at now? It’s like 7, or 8?

Chris: Oh yeah, maybe. Yeah. I don’t know man

Yeah, so anyways, [everyone laughs]
Paul: Well those are like the shows we started going to, so…

Chris: Yeah.

Yeah, well you guys have come a long way since then, what’s the journey been like? [everyone laughs]
Chris: Oh, we’ve been having a blast man! We’ve been touring a lot and fuckin’, that’s pretty much it! It became our lives after we graduated school, you know? Hopped in the van and never really wanted to stop! It’s been like constant ever since. Those shows were great though man! All I’m saying, like we started, like the four of us would have practice, like write some of our first songs, we wrote together, then we’d go to those shows together in Newmarket, you know what I mean? That’s kind of a scene we like grew up in really. We started playing those shows with like Heatskores, and a band called Five Across The Eye, stuff like that.

The Expos are playing tonight, right?
Chris: Yeah! Yeah, oh yeah!

You guys actually [took] my punk show virginity, you were the very first punk band I ever saw.
Chris: Nice! That’s awesome brother!

It was Punktoberfest… number… oh I don’t even know, it was in 2003.
Chris: At the new youth centre?

The new youth centre? Yeah!
Paul: Oh, what was the band that played before us? They played for like an hour!

Chris: Oh! Uh, BFGs!

Paul: Yeah!

The Big Fuckin’ Goofs!
Paul: Yeah, believe me; they played for like an hour!

Chris: [laughing] They played through our set!

[everyone laughs] I remember those guys!
Chris: Yeah man!

Well are there any significant memories over the past few years that stick out?
Chris: Not really ‘cause we…

Paul: Air pistol, that’s kind of a landmark, uh, what else?

Chris: Well we’ve been lucky enough to like, meet and at least play with some of like our favourite bands! You know what I mean? Like bands we grew up on. Like some of the first punk rock bands that I ever got into and to like, play with bands like that its really weird! Like its amazing, don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing! It’s just sort of like Bam! And then you’re like, “Wow!” I could speak on behalf of all of us when we see ourselves as, like, the luckiest dudes on Earth!

Paul: Yeah.

Chris: Maybe, ‘cause like for anyone to be able to do that, you know what I mean, fulfill like a childhood dream, it’s fuckin’… it’s rad! We’ve been very lucky! We’ve got a lot of help and support.

What’s it like coming home now?
Paul: Dude, we’ve been home for a while now, so we’ve just been writing and shoveling driveways.

Chris: [laughing] Yeah, working shitty jobs here and there! It’s been like; it’s the first time we’ve been home for this long in like 2… years?

Paul: Yeah!

Chris: Something like that. Yeah, we’ve been home for a while and we’re still home for about a month before we hit the road, so it’s been rad!

Nice! Well back to like Punktoberfest and Cupid’s Revenge and all those shows at the Youth Center and…Optimus Hall? I think that’s it.
Paul: Yeah, that’s right!

Yeah! Okay are there any bands you miss playing with?
Chris: Oh man, yeah! All those bands were amazing! Like…

The Eddies?
Chris: What’s that? The MetalEddies? Yeah! Spencer, yeah that guy’s a great dude! I miss playing with The Heatskores man. I went to their last show at the Bovine in December, it was a bummer man, like that was a good show but it was sad. Five Across The Eye, like I said before were sweet. They were kind of like one of those bands that they all went off to school, but they played a reunion show last summer, we played with them which was a lot of fun, it was at some bar. Who else? Sour Eggs…

Paul: I love them!

Chris: Oh! Beware the Valley…

Paul: Beware the Valley!

Chris: Beware the Valley, uh, Suburban Underdog?

Paul: Yeah!

Chris: There were great bands back then, tons of bands! It was wicked! And like, all these bands were stemming from a very large group of friends in Newmarket, you know what I mean? Then we kind of just like, met a few people in some like random way. Like a friend of ours we grew up with, like, ended up moving to Newmarket and we met people. You know what I mean? Like, weird ways that life worked out. I mean, I’m really glad that we came up in that scene ‘cause we were surrounded by a lot of cool bands, you know what I mean? Like, they just completely changed or views on music. ‘Cause were into like, when we were like 13 years old, we were into like pop-punk stuff, you know what I mean, it’s all punk rock but it’s like clean cut punk rock and then we like went to shows and saw these bands playing like, dirty, like ska-punk and it was just wicked, you know, so.

It’s a shame that the scene kind of like, died.
Chris: It’s just a venue problem, like the scene is still there and the shows are still great it’s just like, when there’s a venue available. ‘Cause kids are like crazy there, they know how to party right? So shit gets fucked up, then venue’s aren’t willing to take chances, ‘cause there’s no club, usually it’s just like a Youth Centre, but they’ll rent their space out. So there’s a lot more, uh a lot more at risk, I guess, in their eyes. Yeah it’s just kind of the venues.

Yeah there was only like, let’s see there was the Youth Centre, Optimus Hall…
Chris: The Spotlight! …every now and then.

But you can’t play shows there anymore.
Chris: Yeah, uh, now there’s this bar, TomBoo’s, in Newmarket.

TomBoo’s! Yeah!
Chris: Which is a good spot and we’re playing at the White Rabbit actually, on the 20th of February.

The 20th of February?
Chris: Yeah, so it’s going to be our first ever all ages, like, slash bar show in Newmarket ever. ‘Cause it’s always been at like a bar or at a fuckin’ youth centre, right? So yeah it should be alright! Yeah!

Paul: Come out, it’s gonna be a good time man!

Could be… [everyone laughs]
Paul: It’s been a while since we’ve played Newmarket, so…

Yeah! So do you think you’re going to see, like, the same kids you used to, or what do you think the deal is gonna be with that?
Chris: Uh, I don’t know!

Like, you guys are…
Chris: I think were a familiar band

Paul: At least to the kids that still go to shows.

Chris: Like we were in Newmarket the other day for an acoustic show, it was in like a small place but we knew everyone there pretty much, you know what I mean? Its still like this, you see people from when we were like 14, you know what I mean so like, years and years back but you see a lot of familiar faces and its still a good time and there’s tons of new ones too.

Paul: It’s ‘cause there’s nothing to do outside of Toronto on a Friday or Saturday night.

Chris: Yeah, and they live like that far away from the city where it’s like, “That’s what’s happening? I’m fuckin’ goin’!”

Yeah! Um, your last album was released in September of 2007, you said you’ve been writing since then, when can we expect a new album?
Paul: Uh, ballpark frame, toward the end of the year is pretty much what we’re aiming for.

Chris: This year would be good. We’ve been writing songs like ever since we’ve been home from tour. And the last tour we went on, which went on for a couple months, which is really the first tour in awhile that I can recall that we were actively writing, or at least giving a good attempt at writing on tour. You know, ‘cause we never really did that before, we just like hung out and we played at night and did sound check or whatever, we never really like, hung out with our guitars, you know? [turns to Paul] We did that last tour right?

Paul: Uh… mm…

Chris: Hopefully after we go on the road for a month, we’ll record sometime after that, yeah!

You should keep shovelling driveways then, you know keep up the funds! [everyone laughs]
Paul: Yeah!

Oh man, uh, so how are your new songs compared to like the ones that you’ve been writing your entire life.
Chris: It’s always hard to look, at least for me, at like our own songs, in that kind of layout like from the outside. “cause they’re all like, you know, everything kind of comes like, at least with the way we write songs I think, like everything that happens in our lives, like just becomes music, you know what I mean, like after a while. Just like were not like making up stories and writing songs about them.

Paul: We’re kind of like writing specific shit!

Chris: Yeah, exactly. Like life is pretty fuckin’ random, just like sometimes unexplainable, so, that’s pretty much how the music comes into it so. Because we tend to write music for ourselves, right? I mean like, well, we’re not going to write a song and you know, over analyze it and think like “Oh well we should probably take that part out because people don’t, you know, like…” If people don’t like one of our songs basically, we’re not gonna like, you know, we shouldn’t like write bad songs if people don’t like it. We’re gonna write a song and like “That sounds cool, do you like that?” As long as we all like it, it seems like it’s a song of ours right? So…

Alright, well, to the awards! You guys are up for the Henry Rollins “Get In The Van” Award for the hardest working band; do you think you are the hardest working band?
Chris: Uh, we’re probably the hardest working band, like on the face of the earth! [Everyone laughs] I’m saying, like, fuck everybody else man! Like yeah! We good! Nah, I don’t know, we like what we do, it doesn’t feel like work, right? So, I mean, I don’t know, you really are like double-working while you’re on tour but it doesn’t feel like work, so… We have fun the most! We rock the funnest! [everyone laughs]

Rock the funnest! Alright, I like that! So yeah, there’s no reflectivity on your video for “This Respirator”?
Chris: Uh, I mean, don’t get me wrong kid, [laughs] I mean there have been times when we’ve been late for stuff.

Paul: Not that late! [laughs]

Chris: If you add it up and look at all the clocks in that video and stuff it makes sense. Actually, ever since we made that video it’s been more of a curse and like we were on tour last fall, we played in New York City one night and we were going to play in New Jersey, like just inside the New Jersey border…

Chris: …the next night, it’s like a 30 mile drive so it’ll take no time.

Paul: Obviously there’s traffic but you shouldn’t have to stop.

Chris: Yeah so we’re like “we’ll add an hour to the trip, whatever!” We were stuck in traffic! The shortest route on the entire tour ended up being the show we got to the latest.

Paul: Yeah we got there after doors maybe like a half hour before our set.

Chris: Yeah we got there like a half hour, forty-five… at least like an hour after doors opened. [laughs] Yeah it was fuckin’ ridiculous.

Chris: So we might regret making it. [everyone laughs]

Well, how do you guys compare to Henry Rollins?
Paul: Uh… we drink more then him.

Chris: Yeah [laughs] we’re not just completely out of our minds and sober, right? [laughs] He was, he is a very intense individual. Have you ever read Get In The Van?

No, I didn’t know it was a book.
Chris: Yeah, it’s a book; it’s like his journal entries when he was on tour with Black Flag. His journal entries from like him joining the band to like all the way to the end of Black Flag pretty much and it’s a really weird band like the whole time. He was a crazy dude! And he never did drugs or that stuff, like never smoke, or drank anything he was very like clean cut but fuckin’ crazy, so. We probably, like we probably couldn’t take him on.

Chris: No, I doubt it!

So none of you guys are going to break off and start your own record label with your birth date as the name?
Chris: [laughing] Yeah, no! But his birth date is on the spine of the book!

Oh is it?
Chris: Yeah two, thirteen and like whatever year!

He’s like obsessed with his own birth date!
Chris: It’s really weird I know! The spine of the book is like “Henry Rollins: Get In The Van, birth date!”

Paul: It’s so every one remembers him. He’s got cars and money and stuff! [everyone laughs]

Chris: He could kick all of our asses at once.

Probably! He is a very big dude. [laughs] So, Grammy, Juno or FU Award, what would you rather win?
Chris: Probably a Grammy, you know, um…

Paul: I want to win an FU Award; I heard it’s a skate deck that’s the one I want to win. I choose FU Award.

Chris: Uh, I’m gonna stick with the Grammy. [everyone laughs] Just stick with the Grammy!

Paul: Do you want me to go? [everyone still laughing]

We’ll make you guys some Grammys and send them in the mail.
Chris: Gold foil and paper mâché!

There you go! Okay, fan question here! Laura Cornett from Markham, Ontario wants to know what the biggest challenge you’ve had to face in the history of The Flatliners is and how you overcame said challenge.
Chris: [laughing so hard he’s not making a sound and can barely speak] I think I know what it is! [Starts speaking normally] We were on this tour last fall and Scott, our guitarist, couldn’t come on… ’cause he got arrested! You know, so he didn’t do it and we had to get our friend Patrick from Hostage Life to play guitar for him, that’s probably it! [laughs]

Yeah, speaking of Markham…
Paul: I think like a week and a half before we left on tour we realized Scott couldn’t come on tour. So we called Pat, we were like “Hey man, can you go on tour for a month and like play a bunch of songs?”

Chris: He’s like “Yeah! Yeah I guess! Okay, yeah, yeah let’s do it!”

Paul: We were like “Thanks so much!” We wouldn’t have been able to tour! But it worked out, I mean, it was very last minute. So I guess that was a problem we had to face.

Weren’t you not supposed to talk about that, as per Scott?
Paul: Oh, no.

Chris: [laughing] No, now that it’s over and done with…

Paul: He got acquitted of all the charges.

Chris: Yeah, ‘cause he had a pending court date so he couldn’t leave the country. So it’s just like, he had to wait around, you know what I mean, for this shit to blow over really, right? He just had to wait to be told, “Okay, never mind!” [laughs] So it was all good in the end, you know, but it was just like a bummer situation obviously.

Yeah, was it at the Tannery that he had to go to, the court?
Chris: Uh, no I don’t know where it was.

Have you ever been to the Tannery?
Chris: No, what?

The Tannery up in Newmarket.
Chris: Oh I don’t know that place, is it court?

There’s a court in it? [laughs]
Paul: He had to go where it was, which is like near London or something.

Chris: Yeah!

Paul: Yeah it was far away.

Oh. Well, it’s 2009, brand new year, what does it hold for you guys?
Paul: A lot of touring, new record… eventually. [everyone laughs]

Chris: A lot of uncertainty!

Paul: Yeah! It’s just really hard to pinpoint down when our record will actually come out ‘cause once its done there’s still a lot more stuff to do.

Yeah, but there’ an Auto Master Button now! [laughs]
Paul: Yeah!

Chris: We do have like a split 7” coming out with The Snips on paper and plastic. I don’t know when it’s coming out, it’s coming out soon. We’re actually just in the midst of like, again a lot of work needs to be done still, like a lot of short term stuff, right? I can’t tell when it’s gonna come out but it’s gonna come out in the next couple of months, so. We’re going to have it at shows and you can download and shit, we’re stoked!

Well I look forward to it man!
Chris: Fuck yeah! Cool!  [ END ]

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