Greetings! Over here at Camp Flannel Mouth in Peoria, Illinois, we tend to put music and musicians alike on very prestigious and almost superhuman levels. Our environment celebrates musical talent to the point where you don’t even have to be that good to get attention, which has led to the demise (and consequential rebuild) of the local scene here. However we’ve found ourselves walking to the beat of completely different drums through it all, enduring the waves of sludgy nu-metal and screaming-verse-singing-chorus-breakdown-hardcore in order to “break out” of our scene. Since late 2011 we’ve been graciously honed and embraced by the folks over at SwitchBitch Records to write and release the compositions we have today, but here are five bands (and a quintessential song) that almost made us walk away from music altogether because we’ll never accomplish the artistic feats by these musicians.
Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody”
As if Queen or “Bohemian Rhapsody” needs any sort of introduction at all. Freddie Mercury was simply inhuman and it’s beyond appropriate and just in the universe that he was active in the era before one could digitally alter pitches and takes, because there’s NO WAY anyone would believe it were possible nowadays. A man records 32 tracks of pristine vocals spanning 5 octaves? Unreal. Add that endowment to the way he and Brian May and company structured songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” moving more as a timeless orchestral piece than a pop song, ranging from motivational happiness to downright tragic pessimism, and doing it all seamlessly, you’ll completely understand why we almost gave up on our rockstar dreams upon hearing Queen.
Tides of Man – “Not My Love 2”
In the same vain as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Tides of Man’s “Not My Love 2” begins with an overwhelming abundance of vocal tracks that give you that cute little “I’ve been touched meaningfully” shiver down your spine. It immediately sashays into an all-encompassing whirlwind of dual guitar licks that dance around subdividing a 3/4 signature like they’re trying to build up suspense in a movie. And they accomplish it. With ease. Did I mention that’s only the first forty seconds of the song? Oh goodness, yeah, there’s still almost four minutes of ambient splendor and technical musicianship underneath a simply beautifully-structured song to go. Oh, right, and a whole album after that to boot. Wait until you get to “A Faint Illusion,” we’ll tell you, because if you’re not wearing socks, you’re already ahead of where you’ll be soon enough. <– That, ladies and gentlemen, is why we almost quit hanging out and playing music together.
Say Anything – “Woe”
At fifteen years old, Luke and I were learning how to really play guitar, as we’d only ever paid attention to the stylings of Green Day and Alkaline Trio. We knew there were more complex musicians out there, but we didn’t know where to start, and that’s when a dear friend to Luke and me showed us Say Anything’s …Is a Real Boy. It was poetry. It was passionate and pristine and perfect. It blew me away that anyone could use the words he used in his lyrics and play the chords he made look so effortless and move a song from Point A to Point B so exquisitely, all while telling an autobiographical story from the third person. It immediately dashed and diminished any logical thought I had of being a respected musician or peer in the industry. It was around that point when I switched to drumming, and I’m sure it’s pretty directly related to listening to that record as often as I have. It’s truly a wonder I didn’t set everything down completely.
Bright Eyes – “Road to Joy”
From here we stopped worrying about strictly musicianship and began our longing to convey emotions and feelings through the notes and melodies. Conor Oberst has a knack for making sure you’re hanging on every word and that you know he’s felt everything you ever have, too. His line in “Road to Joy” that goes “Well I could have been a famous singer / If I had someone else’s voice / But failure’s always sounded better” makes you feel an empathetic sorrow and then like you’ve beaten the odds with him, too. Bright Eyes certainly taught us to embrace our failures, because if we hadn’t, we’d have never touched an instrument again after hearing their songs.
Flannel Mouth – “Oh, Bastard”
Last, and probably least, but by no means insignificant – we just released a lyric video for our brand new single “Oh, Bastard.” Especially compared to the songs on our 2012 release Pull in Your Horns, which include compositions written between 1-4 years prior, “Oh, Bastard” was as new as you hear it in the recording. It’s literally as true to what we’ve become as a band than anything prior, and yet it’s still something fresh and revealing to us, as well. We try not to depend on choruses for structure, and you can certainly hear a sense of urgency in the way it moves from a light fiddle-driven couple of verses to a heavy southern stomp to punctuated rhythms in the instrumentals. It coincides a story that follows the dramatic aura of the music, too, so you can sort of pick up on why we were thinking about giving up on the dream and letting this remain our gift to the musical community. However, stay tuned to what 2014 has in store for us and we’ll promise there’s more where that came from.
You can keep an eye out for your chance to purchase a CD or buy concert tickets for Flannel Mouth here.
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