A guide to keeping your band together with The Flatliners
Ahead of the tight-knit group's Australian tour with Lagwagon.
A week from now will see Lagwagon's huge Australian tour kicking off in Byron Bay where they'll be joined by Toronoto punkers The Flatliners for the entirety of the tour. Formed in 2002, the four-piece haven't changed line-up over that 13 years, so who better to ask for some tips on keeping your group together than them? Touring the world and releasing records doesn't come easy, so here's a few tips on how to keep your crew together from vocalist/guitarist, Chris Creswell:
1. FRIENDS COME FIRST
Even though it can seem tough at times we have to remember we were friends who met each other when we were kids first. We’re always in close quarters, always on the road travelling. Obviously if you’re in a band these days your livelihood is touring, so it’s kind of expected of you so you have to kind of expect it of yourself to be cool with it. But sometimes you just get warn down and you’re not always in the best of moods. I think it’s important to remember to try and remind yourself that you were friends before all the band stuff started. The goal should always to be to remain friends. Nothing’s really ever come up with our band that’s threatened friendships in a serious way.
2. SPREAD THE WORKLOAD
Try your best to spread the workload across the board. I know a lot of bands operate in a way where it’s like one or two people in the band do the most but if you can spread the workload so that everyone knows what’s going on at all times within the band.
3. TOUR HARD, AND TOUR SMART
Try to push yourself and always go, go, go. But keep in mind what you’re going to take from that. Just like physically speaking, all that time on the road can be really tough on people. We’re still young guys but we’ve only been touring for about 10 years and we feel a lot older. I think road years are like dog years. But it’s important for every band when they’re starting out, especially when they start touring, to hit it pretty hard, because that’s how you make an impact initially and allow people ample opportunity to learn about your band. But after a certain point I don’t think you have to do it like that. We still tour pretty awesome, but in recent years started to take into consideration that we are human beings with physical and mental limitations.
I think after a certain point an air of touring smart comes into play and that’s good for everybody and ensures everyone it still having fun. That’s the whole reason you started the band when you were a kid!
4. TRY NEW THINGS MUSICALLY
As much as you should know your physical and mental limitations I think you should be respectful and open to the fact that it’s okay to try new things musically. Don’t go to the point of “I don’t know how to play this instrument, I don’t like this instrument but I’m going to try to learn how to play it” when you’ve been playing guitar for 15 years. If you do want to do that sure, but don’t be afraid of branching out a little bit because in the end it’s a band. You’re writing music with your friends. So as much as you can be serious about what you do, I think it’s important to take those chances – musically and creatively. It always constantly breathes new life into the thing you’ve been working on with friends for 13 years and I speak from experience.
We’ve done that - not consciously where we’re like “Let’s write a song like this,” - but it’s something that’s happened with each of our records over the course of our career thus far. And it’s fun and it’s exciting and I always have the most fun playing our newest song live. I think we all do and I think a lot of bands do because it’s new and you’re trying something new and that’s a good place to be creatively.
5. DON'T FORGET IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE FUN
It’s important to remember that it’s supposed to be fun. Again you can be serious about it in these kind of things for sure, you should be, but I think it’s also important to remember that you started a band when you were a kid to have fun. The fact that you’ve maybe come this far and there are people out there that have given you the opportunity and labels out there that spend money so people can buy your records and bands that you look up to have brought you on tour and your band grows and grows and it’s fucking great.
I think it is important to remember that it’s supposed to be fun. I think if it ever becomes a thing where it feels like it’s way too much work, all it should take is take a step back, even for you’re a night while you’re on stage, and just try to have fun. As a singer, in a band with a high energy live show, I like to jump and run around and sometimes I have to remember that I’m having fun but this is hard work man. So there are some shows where you have to step back and just be like “I’m just going to have fun tonight.” It doesn’t have to be the best show ever, just have fun with it.”
LAGWAGON SUPPORT DATES:
Thursday 26 November – The Northern, Byron Bay
Friday 27 November – The Triffid, Brisbane
Saturday 28 November – Metro, Sydney
Sunday 29 November – Entrance Leagues, Central Coast
Wednesday 2 December – Barwon Club, Geelong
Friday 4 December – Max Watts, Melbourne
Saturday 5 December – Unibar, Adelaide
Sunday 6 December – Amplifier, Perth