Floor Unleashing the Bomb String Again
Published Apr 29, 2014The story of Floor is legendary. Band get together in Miami, FL in the early '90s, release one actual full-length in 2002, break up in 2003 with two other earlier albums in the bin, then get the whole shebang released as a box set in 2010. Featuring Torche's Steve Brooks and Cavity alumni in guitarist Anthony Vialon and drummer Henry Wilson, the release of Floor's box set prompted live appearances, more popularity than ever, a full-on reformation, and now a new album entitled Oblation, out April 29 on Season of Mist. We recently caught up with Vialon to talk about the band getting back together after more than a decade, their curious relationship with Torche, and the legendary "bomb string."
How did you guys decide to get the band going again and record a new album?
A few years ago Andy Low from Robotic Empire Records put out a box set of ours and we were supposed to do a few shows to coincide with the release, but what happened was that the shows were huge. We were playing in front of audiences that were a lot bigger than when we used to play, and so many more people had heard of us because of the success of Torche, and the Internet. With all of these people coming out, we decided to do some more shows. After a couple more tours and the crowds still being bigger, it just got to a point where we couldn't keep going out and touring on the strength of one record, because it was really the self-titled record that people were singing all of the words to; we couldn't keep going out and doing the same set. We just couldn't. Henry was really vocal about saying if we were going to keep playing live we really needed to do a new record and we couldn't keep playing these same songs. And Steve and I agreed.
Your album Dove was always my favourite. What happened with it when it was first recorded? Why didn't it get released until years later?
Dove was actually our first attempt at a full-length record. We did it in late 1994, but it didn't get released. When we sent the guy who was going to release it what we had done we were really stoked about it, but he felt that a couple of the songs weren't "heavy" enough, which we figured out meant that Steve wasn't screaming on those songs. Even as far back as then, like even on our second demo, Steve was trying to sing some. So when Dove got shelved, some friends of our drummer at the time, Jeff Sousa, said that they'd record us. So we went to Georgia and made another attempt at a full-length and we had it all done, but the quality of it just wasn't what we wanted, so that got shelved. So there were really two full-lengths, or attempts at full-lengths, prior to the self-titled record, which came out in 2002. Then No Idea, who put that out, released the Dove album. And when Robotic Empire put out that box set, they released both of those, but they also put that second album on it, which we called Saturnine and Tears, which no one had ever heard, they released that one. So our new album is technically our fourth album.
Was there any worry that you might not be happy with the sound on the new one?
No, because we recorded with Mark Nikolich, who recorded our self-titled record, and he's in Tampa. So we recorded it with Mark, then we sent it to Kurt Ballou at God City Studios who mixed it, and then Alan Douches mastered it. Mark is the reason why the self-titled record sounded so great, so that's why we went with him again. So, yeah, we're real happy with it. We were really happy with the self-titled record, it was what we wanted to sound like, and Mark was really able to help us get there. So when we did the new record, we wanted to go with Mark again.
Did you guys listen to the old albums to kind of get back in the Floor mood?
I can't speak for Henry or Steve, but honestly when I started writing the songs I just wrote where I was at, at the time. I got into one of those modes where ideas were just coming to me and I wrote about 20 songs roughly, and out of those the bulk of the record came. When Steve heard what Henry and I had put together he started to contribute. We have our sound, you know, and that's pretty much it.
Was Floor something that was always in the back of your minds over the years?
Just prior to the band finally breaking up, I was told to leave. I was out of the band, which was really harsh. Not long after that though, the band just ended. So there was a period of years where Steve went on with Torche and everything, and we didn't talk for a very long time. But then when Andy at Robotic Empire wanted to put out the box set, Henry and Steve and I got together and cleared the air with everything, but there was no discussion of doing a record at that point. It was just going to be box set, some shows and that's it. But, again, it was when we saw how much the audiences had grown that then we decided to do a new record.
Steve is busy with Torche as well. What is the relationship between Torche and Floor?
Well, Torche's success has given us a larger audience, but there wouldn't have been a Torche without Floor to begin with. Torche have their own sound now, distinct from ours, so we keep the two bands separate, but Henry and I don't like to think of Floor as a side-project for Steve. Steve has done more with Torche, and more people know Torche, but Floor has a really rabid cult following that we've always had, and it's just grown over the years.
I know Henry plays in House of Lightning, who have a new album coming out as well. Do you play in any other bands?
I've tried to find musicians to play with, because I have other songs that don't necessarily fit with Floor. They have more standard tuning, not Floor tuning. But where I live there's just not a lot of that stuff going on. So maybe I'll meet some people that are into what I want to do. We'll see.
For the real music nerds out there, what kind of tunings did you use for the new album?
It's the same that we used on the self-titled record. There's the bomb string, the one E string that's not really tuned, it just kind of hangs there. And then there's two more E strings, which are both tuned to a low A, and then the high strings, which we really don't use that often, but they're E, B, E. It's really just the three E strings, one bomb and two As.
And you're using just the two guitars still? There's no bass?
Live, it's always been two guitars. We've tried using a bass player, but it just doesn't work. When we play live we find that it's not really necessary and it gives us a unique sound. But in the studio Henry plays drums and bass. So it's the same setup as the self-titled record.
What's it like for you watching Torche play Floor songs live?
I've only seen them do that once in the few times I've seen them. I know they've done it off and on, and I guess it's to appeal to fans of Torche who actually know who Floor is. And you usually see the kids go nuts when they do that. But I'm not even sure if they play them anymore.
Tell me about the song "Homegoings and Transitions." It seems to be a different vibe for you guys.
A few of these songs were started before the band broke up. On "Homegoings," the opening riff with the guitar effect, that was something Steve was working on back then, but the rest of it's new. When we were working on the vocals for it, we were really stuck. Henry's girlfriend, Melissa Friedman, we went to her because she's been in bands and she's a real singer, so we asked her for some help coming up with something, and she did. She came to me about the lyrics and asked about the vibe of the song, and they were perfect. So she sings with Steve on the song. It's a different song for us, but we look at it as still being part of our sound. We can kind of do whatever we want and it will still sound like and be us.
Floor is obviously very important to you. How are you feeling about it the band being back together?
Man, I feel great. This has been something that… before we fell apart… let's just say where we're at now is where we should have been 12 years ago. This opportunity to get out there and continue on from that self-titled record, I'm very, very happy about it, and just so stoked that more people know who we are and have a great time at the shows. The affect that we've had on people since getting back together, it's all been so very positive. When we get together and play, it's magical for us. There's a bond and vibe there that's very sincere and positive, so I'm real excited. We all are.
Is there anything else that you'd like to add?
We'd like to get up to Canada at some point, we've been talking about adding some more shows on this tour. We've never been to Canada, so that would be great.