Rise Records Punk Rock band, The Flatliners, have been in the game for over a decade and released a variety of albums and EP’s that have landed them into the realm of “making an impact” in the music industry and the lives of punk rock kids around the globe. The band has just released their fifth studio album, ‘Inviting Light’, and I caught up with vocalist, Chris Cresswell, to discuss his favorite tattoo artists, the creative process of ‘Inviting Light’, his ultimate three-day music festival and more.
First and foremost, introduce yourself to our readers. Who is The Flatliners?
My name is Chris Cresswell and I sing and play guitar in The Flatliners. We’re a punk rock band from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who’ve been kicking since 2002.
Congrats on the recent release of your fifth studio album, ‘Inviting Light’. Tell us about the concept behind this album and give us a glimpse of the creative process this time around.
Thanks very much! A lot of this record touches on trying to find some kind of balance while living in the strange shoes of always moving feet. Part of that comes with beginning to truly feel your age, especially after the last 12 years we’ve spent on the road. I really believe that in “touring years” we’re all much older than we seem to be, haha. That amount of time living this kind of nomadic life really leaves an impression on a person. It changes you really, for better or for worse. We started this band 15 years ago when we were all 15 years old. Now having spent half our lives in this band and all that time touring, there’s been a lot more reflecting happening among us recently. I think that just comes with the age we’re all getting to now, and this being our fifth record. We’re in pretty deep here!
What have you guys been up to over the past four years ever since your last release that has led you to bring this album to life?!
By our standards, the last couple years especially were much quieter on the touring front. I mean, we still toured in North America, Europe, Japan and Australia, but it still wasn’t as much as normal. Before those years, we were hitting it really hard touring on our last record ‘Dead Language’, and we also released a B-Sides and Rarities compilation in 2015 on Fat Wreck Chords called ‘Division of Spoils’. Otherwise, when home, we spent our time writing and writing and writing. We lost our home of a jam space pretty early on in the writing process for this record, which was our home base for the last decade just about. So there was a new element of hustling to and from hourly rented rooms in Toronto to get down to work on new songs. Eventually, throughout this process, we ended up in our new more permanent space. But through the hectic schedule of constantly moving things around from place to place to get together and write, some new colours revealed themselves to us by way of frenetic energy and a curiosity among us to dig in real deep and make a great record we could be proud of.
If you could get any tattoo done by any tattoo artist in the world, what would you get done and which tattoo artist would you choose?
Currently I’d have to say Bert Krak at Smith Street Tattoo Parlour in Brooklyn for the zap. I mean, everyone at Smith Street is unreal. I’ve been tattooed by Steve Boltz at the shop before, and it’s a gorgeous butterfly piece I still absolutely adore to this day. I could walk into Smith Street and pick something off the wall that Bert’s done and I’d be stoked, honestly. Or I could get the Grim Reaper smoking the rolled up ashes of someone who’s life he just took, and the smoke he’s exhaling spelling out “Life Sucks". Whichever!
Some other tattoo artists that I’d love to give a shout-out to if I can are my crazy talented buddies Franz Stefanik, Tammy Kim, and Alex Snelgrove at The Okey Doke in Toronto. And the incredible Christian Lanouette at Tatouage Electric Ave in Montreal. Putting Canada on the map for sure!
Photo Credit: rorysylvester
Tell us about the most unique tattoo that you have ever seen and tell us about one of your favorite personal pieces.
I’m more of a fan of the traditional approach to tattoos, and those bringing new innovation to the old school style. I think one of my favourite tattoos of mine still is the one I got for my mom, but mostly because of the story. So I’m walking down the street one day and see this young homeless guy with a homemade tattoo if you will, that reads “Sorry Mom”. I fell in love with the idea of those words being tacked onto skin forever. I already had a tattoo for my dad at this point, and I’d been wanting to get one for my mom as well. So when I finally come around to getting the tattoo for her, I get a nice feather - she loves birds - with the words “Sorry Mom” underneath it. Now, the text was really a joke, because I know my mom likes my tattoos and everything. But the next time I saw her before I could explain the joke, and upon just showing her the tattoo, she got so upset and just sadly remarked: “But I love your tattoos!” I guess the joke never got permission to land. Sorry Mom!!!!
Any upcoming tour or festival plans that you can fill us in about?!
We’re road doggin’ it hard this year for sure. We’re heading to the UK and Europe with our buddies The Menzingers and The Dirty Nil real soon. After that, we do a few shows in the Northeast USA with The Movielife, and head to Brazil for a festival with Rise Against, Ghost and a hell of a lot more bands. Then it’s back to Canada to play Pouzza Fest in Montreal and then kick off a Cross-Canada headlining tour with The Dirty Nil. We’ll be in LA at the end of the summer for It’s Not Dead Festival in San Bernadino with Rancid and Dropkick Murphys too. It’s gonna be a busy year!
If you could put together your ultimate three-day weekend festival, who would headline Friday, Saturday and Sunday?!
I’m assuming this isn’t an ‘alive or dead’ kind of thing, so I’d have to say…
Friday: Kid Dynamite
Saturday: Toots & the Maytals
Sunday: The Strokes
That way I’ve got a few of my musical loves covered. Punk rock, reggae, and rock n roll.
If you had to explain the meaning of punk rock to an individual who has never listened to the genre, what would you say?
As much as it is a seminal genre of music to which I owe my entire life and livelihood, I think the ‘meaning of punk rock’ is much more a mentality and an oath you take to do whatever you want to do, however you want to do it. As an artist, you strive to never get comfortable and to always push yourself out of your comfort zone to try something new and see if you can pull it off. Adding those punk rock ethos on top of that, you end up creating this world for yourself where you’re constantly expanding, but even more so including. Punk rock has always been about community, while not everyone in that community has to be the same. The punk rock world strives for uniqueness and individuality. And there’s a mutual respect present for those doing whatever the hell they want to do, however the hell they want to do it.
Photo Credit: rorysylvester
If you could shout-out a fellow Rise Records labelmate for a great album that they recently put out, who would you choose and why?
Bouncing Souls and Mr. Dave Hause. Much love and respect! They’ve been great to us since we were young lads cutting our teeth. To be label mates and friends today is a truly inspiring thing!
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?!
Thanks for always sticking with us and having our backs! We love to try to reach new ground with every album, and the fact that our fans have grown with us over the years is a really cool thing. It’s like we’ve all come up together, and we can’t wait to continue down that road with you all!