Flowers of Hell Come Hell or High Water
Published Apr 20, 2009After Arcade Fire brought elements of orchestral music to the indie mainstream, a slew of groups jumped on the bandwagon, incorporating string or horn sections into their music. Rarer were actual pop music-inspired orchestras capable of creating music that came off as anything beyond an experiment in genre hopping. Greg Jarvis's behemoth cross continental group Flowers of Hell are one of those few. The 16-piece space rock band, half of which are based in Toronto, the rest in London, UK, create modern urban industrial music made in decidedly non-urban ways: brass, strings and woodwinds interloping with guitars and drums. Think of it as the instrumental answer to the Polyphonic Spree's choral pop. Aided and abetted by a slew of guest musicians and partially mixed by Spaceman 3 axe-man Sonic Boom, Come Hell or High Water looks like some kind of experimental art cluster fuck on paper. That the record's best tracks - like the beautiful and catchy "Darklands" - are as much pop masterpiece as sonic experimentation is a testament to Jarvis's skill as an arranger and most likely the reason FOH were hand picked by Kevin Shields as the support act for My Bloody Valentine's Toronto show last fall.
How did you land the opening slot for My Bloody Valentine?
Jarvis: Kevin Shields had seen us play three times in London. We opened for a band he was working with and we talked after the show. When they were looking for someone to open, he got in touch. It was great. At last we had a stage we could all play on, and what a sound system.
What's it been like for you to be able to work with so many of your heroes?
It's been great. Sonic Boom and I have been friends for three years now, so he's more of a friend. But when you see him play live it's tough not to think, "Oh, fuck, it's Sonic, the Spaceman!" But the knowledge these guys have; Sonic's been making music since he was in his late teens. There's so much to learn from them.
How did you end up in a situation where half the band are in Europe and half are in North America?
It's never been an intentional plan. It unfolded rather naturally. I end up all over the place, be it Prague or Detroit, where I know people with my laptop. They come by and add stuff to [the record]. When we happen to be together, we just nail stuff down. (Benbecula)