The Flatliners Explain Their Return with 'Dead Language'

The Flatliners Explain Their Return with 'Dead Language'
When Ontario punk rockers the Flatliners went in to finally record Dead Language, the long process of putting together their fourth album (due September 17 courtesy of New Damage Records) became a speedier process. Over three years in the making, the band's newest effort was, ultimately, recorded in a completely different way than previous albums once they got into the studio, guitarist/vocalist Chris Cresswell tells Exclaim!

"We were frustrated with the process of writing a song, demoing a song, listening to the demo, maybe re-synching it a little bit, rewriting it, re-recording it," explains Cresswell, "so when we heard the 'demos' we were working on they sounded really good and we were really excited about them, so we just said, 'Fuck the process we've always done, let's just record every song once if we can.' So it was a really exciting, new approach to the recording process."

The band came out of the studio with 20 songs: 13 will be released as Dead Language, two already appeared on a recent split 7-inch with Connecticut post-hardcore band Make Do and Mend, and five extra songs will, they hope, pop up on 7-inches in the coming months.

Only three of the 20 songs were recorded more than once, giving them all a fresh feel. The goal with not overthinking the recording process was to get a recording that was as close as possible to the band's live show, according to Cresswell.

"Our perspective has always been to see our band grow in a live setting, because we tour so much, so we were hoping it could translate to the record, and it did. When we heard those recordings, we were like, 'Oh man, let's just keep this. Maybe spice it up a tiny bit here and there, but let's keep it like that.' For us — and this might be a selfish thought — that's how we're always going to hear the songs. We're not going to sit around listening to our record, we're going to go out and play the songs live."

Cresswell says the band had a blast recording Dead Language, the first album where they shared production credits with longtime producer Steve Rizun (the Creepshow, Mean Tangerine), who's been involved in all of their albums. Old-school Flatliners fans will notice that the band's earlier ska-punk days are all but a memory on Dead Language, with more mature sounding, rocked-out punk in its place.

"I had a couple of ska/reggae ideas, but we were already so deep in the songwriting process that we all kind of stopped and thought about it. It's one of the only times that the four of us were all sort of sitting around, just talking about what kind of songs we want to write," explains Cresswell. "So we sat there and one of the guys said, 'Is it weird just to force some reggae or ska into the record at the last moment, hoping that it will make the record?' It was this weird moment of realization where we knew we didn't need to do that. And it wasn't like we didn't want to; it was just that those ideas were brought to the table very late in the game. And they'll probably be kicking around still by the time we write our next record."

Featuring the same four members since their inception — Cresswell, guitarist Scott Brigham, bassist Jon Darbey and drummer Paul Ramirez — the only thing that's changed with the Flatliners is their sound. Cresswell says the band have been so busy touring for the past several years that any change in their musical style has developed so slowly that they've hardly noticed.

"I wonder if people will be surprised by the new album. I don't think they will be. With all of the time we've spent on the road, sometimes you don't have time to think about how you sound. Your mind is just catching up to your body all of the time. We keep shifting back and forth and trying to push ourselves to see what we can accomplish, whether it's touring it out until we're dead [laughs] or just writing a song that sounds like nothing we've ever written before. It's all really exciting. This record certainly feels like a culmination of everything we've done so far."

In addition to the tour dates listed below, Cresswell reveals the Flatliners are also planning a Western Canadian tour before the end of the year.

Tour dates:

09/09 Kingston, ON - The Mansion
09/10 Hamilton, ON - Club Absinthe
09/11 Flint, MI - Flint Local 432
09/12 Grand Rapids, MI - The Intersection
09/13-15 Chicago, IL - Riot Fest
09/17 Indianapolis, IN - Hoosier Dome
09/20 Guelph, ON - Vinyl
09/21 Newmarket, ON - Stellar Hall
10/16 Boston, MA - The Sinclair
10/17 Philadelphia, PA - Voltage Lounge
10/19 Rochester, NY -  The Bug Jar
10/31-11/3 Gainesville, FL – The Fest