We Interviewed Flatfoot 56!

Last week James had a chance to call Tobin from Flatfoot 56 and see what the working class irish punks were up to…Here’s what they had to say:

UTG: How are you today?

F56: Good, just driving down to Gainesville, FL.
UTG: I’m told you’re in the beginning stages of a pretty large scale tour, what can you tell us about it?
F56: We’re out on tour with The Toasters for the next 5 weeks. It’s all East coast and Midwest. We just got back from out West with the Street Dogs. We’re headed to the third show right now.
UTG: Since we’re on the subject, what goes into preparing to hit the road for Flatfoot 56?
F56: Make sure that the van is up to par and that we have merch. Mainly, we work on spending as much time with loved ones as possible. We’re on the road more than at home, so we try to spend time and party with those people as much as we can. Also, laundry and bills are a priority.
UTG: I read somewhere that you play improvised set lists. Is this true? If so, with such a large library of songs, how do you make it work?
F56: Relatively. We generally don’t have a sheet of paper, but we know what we start and end with. We do a lot of it with hand signals and such. We have been trying to make it a bit more formal to make it so we sound better once we hit the stage.
UTG: I know it’s been out for a minute now, but what can you tell us about The Jungle of The Midwest sea?
F56: It’s just near/past the 2 year mark. It was our first label funded album, but it’s still us. There’s a more eclectic sound to it while sticking to our celtic roots. We tried to follow some stories you know, like historical stuff about ourselves, our city, and being just a good person in general.
UTG: A lot of bands in the whole irish laced punk scene seem to have a habit of keeping to one sound. What type of growth do you think you’ve had?
F56: I think we’ve developed our sound a lot. We try to mix it up with each record. I think one of the biggest things a band can do wrong is not change your sound. One thing we’ve always tried to do was make sure we were not focusing too much on a certain sound, but keep it mixed and fresh. We don’t classify ourselves as an irish punk band, but as a band with celtic overtones. That’s one the that the Pogues use to to do and it’s something I’ve always admired. Whether it’s Asian or South American inspired, the sounds all make the record or at least we try them out when working on the record.
UTG: There seems to be a recent growth in the world of the irish punk music scene in the last few years. Do you see this as a blessing or a curse?
F56: It’s a doubled edge sword. There’s only like 2 or 3 bands that people recognize, so it’s not too huge, but it’s def. getting bigger. We support the scene and love this music, but the competition does push us to make better and more diverse music to stay fresh and alive. I think one reason bands don’t grow and change their sound is because they’ve never been challenged by another band. However, as the scene grows, I think people will have to step out of their comfort zones in sounds and make something fresh to stay alive. However, there are so many levels to this scene. you have hometown celtic punk, then national and international bands. So incoming bands are broken into brackets and it changes up really how the competition comes across. All the levels are good though because it does give room for growth and for more bands to come out and do their thing.
UTG: Well, our time is running short, but we do have time for one more round of conversation. We don’t have final questions though, but we do ask that you make a final statement of your own. The floor is yours:
F56: We’ve been on tour for the last 3 months really solid and feeling out the road and just playing hardcore. Last night some people asked what it was like to live the dream of being on the road and such and I think that it’s a good band’s responsibility to present themselves as a successful band. I think a lot of people think successful bands are the ones touring and they’re making a lot of money, but that’s not always the case, but you have to play with a lot of heart. We’ve been thinking about the look we put out when on the road and how it takes a toll, but it’s what we love. Aside from that we think about the look we give people who drive and pay money to see our shows. We’ve been realizing about how we need to present ourselves to show them we are grateful for what we have. I think a lot of bands complain about the road and missing home and though we do think that too, we still try to stay positive because people want to see us and ask us to do this. They let us do what we love. I was talking to the bass player from the The Toasters last night and we’re not a political band or anything and I was talking to him about how we want to be a positive band and bring a message of family to the stage like old school bands. Those were the bands that were a blessing to me. A lot of bands get up there and curse at the crowd and such and that’s not the heart of us or The Toasters. We want them to come out and forget their problems. That’s the art of our band. To encourage people and let them know they’re not alone. I think in a way that’s the definition of working class punk actually, to sacrifice and get by while making the people they love happy. 

That’s just something that’s been on our hearts a lot and after this tour we’re going to write a new record and I think that’ll come out on the new material. We just don’t want to divide people. We want to lift you up and be family with you. We have our personal beliefs and others have theirs, but that’s alright. I’ll confront people, but I also know sometimes they just need a break.

We just want to be a band that encourages people.

*Written By: James Shotwell* 

James Shotwell
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