Flexing Muscle: An Interview With The Flesh Lights

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I blew it. After a nasty run in with a curb, my bike was rendered unable to ride. I assured the concerned homeless lady nearby that I was fine, then I locked my bike to the nearest handicap parking sign and began to walk the fifty or so blocks I had ahead of me to my house. The interview with The Flesh Lights I had set out to get five hours prior had left me only with a ridiculous and charmingly smartass fifteen minutes of tape recording. Ten minutes of which was salvageable, but still required me sifting through my drunken erratic questions, their patient answers, and a lot of background noise from the crowd exchanging hellos, goodbyes, and plans to get to the next party or just home. Following is what was decipherable:

Louis: I want to know what you think good is going on with music in Austin right now?
Jeremy: Everything going on at The Ballroom and Beerland, I feel like we definitely have a tight core group of musicians here. Ask Elissa what she thinks.
Louis: Elissa!
Elissa: What?
Louis: What do you think about, you know, music going on right now, other than your fucking amazing band.
Elissa: In Austin...Um, I really like the Gary Glitter cover band. (Laughs all around.) Definitely, everything Orville does. Nazi Gold, that really is one of my favorite bands.
Jeremy: Yeah, Nazi Gold, The Best, and The Flesh Lights. That's It. (Laughs.) No, I mean we just went on tour with The Dead Space. They're bros for sure, we had a great time. Only band I wanna go on tour with. No, I'm kidding, that's not true. Ask Max a question.
Louis: (In a jackass journalist tone.) So How, How…(Laughter)…So how do you feel about progressive rock?
Max: Oh, I love The Dead Space! (Laughs, from us.) I'm a huge fan of The Dead Space, if that's what you're asking.
Louis: No, what I'm asking of you is what I asked them. What do you care about in music town.
Jeremy: (Jokingly) He Likes The Best a lot.
Max: I think my favorite bands in town are probably, Nazi Gold, The Best, and The Gospel Truth.
Elissa: The Dead Space...?
Jeremy: …and John Wesley Coleman.
Max: No, just those. Only, The Best, Nazi Gold, and The Gospel Truth.
Louis: So what do you guys got going on next?
Max: Well we might go on tour in February with the...uh....Sailor Jerry bands.
Jeremy: With The Pouges. (Laughter.)
Max: Sailor Jerry might sponsor us to do that.
Jeremy: Oh we have records coming out! We're doing a record with Super Secret, then we have another with Play Pinball, and then also Indian Records from D.C. is putting out a 7'' for us during SXSW. For some reason some fucking people like to listen to cassette tapes...
Louis: Yeah, there's some of those…
Jeremy: ...which is clearly fucking retarded, so we might do one of those....if the money’s right.
Louis: (Laughing.) Okay, Okay. So what are some influences?
Elissa: We really like The Dictators.
Jeremy: We DO really like The Dictators.
Elissa: Not fascist dictators, but the band.
Louis:Of course, of course. So what pisses you off, you know, musically?
Elissa: Having to walk down Sixth St. and having to hear people getting excited over an acoustic guitar...
Jeremy:You know what pisses me off, and this is not a stick at anyone, but fucking cover bands I'm sick of them. After the New Year, that's it. No more cover bands.

While this was a joy of an experience, and The Flesh Lights totally killed another set, crammed full of jammers, I was unsatisfied with the amount of material that I had. I hadn't asked any of the questions I intended and time had been more limited than I had hoped. Also, I was drunk. I mulled this over while I finished the walk home, two microwave burritos in my pocket and a head like a fishbowl of whiskey. Not at all a victory lap. I racked my mind trying to remember some answer I had overlooked, something that would glue the meager questions and answers into a full article. There was nothing to be done. I had to buy some time on my deadline and call Jeremy in the morning if I was going to have enough material to make the article happen. After some touch and go planning I was finally able to set up another interview with Max and Jeremy (Elissa was unavailable), the following Wednesday at a winter formal that was going on at the 29th Street Ballroom. With a hot Earl Grey in tow, and not a drop of whiskey in my person, we sat down to a much more professional interview. Two of us were even wearing suits.

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Louis: So I wanted to ask you guys about the record, Muscle Pop, you recorded at Sweatbox?
Max: Yeah, with Mike Vasquez.
Jeremy: The Vasquerino.
Louis: How was working with him?
Jeremy: Great.
Max: Yeah, Mike is...AWESOME.
Jeremy: Yeah he did a lot for us, he made the record sound great. All we told him from the start was that we wanted it to ... sound tough.
Max: (Simultaneously) Sound tough. (Laughs)
Jeremy: ... and he did that, I feel.
Max: Yeah recording with Mike, we've only done it a handful of times, and it's been awesome every time. For Muscle Pop … I feel like he did a perfect job, and he invested a lot of energy into it. He definitely was like, I see what you’re going for and I'm going to try my hardest to get every, perfect sound.
Jeremy: He let us run with it too, he was never uptight or a pain in the ass to work with.

Just then Ben Tipton exits the bathroom, toilet flushing behind.

Max: Hey, can Ben Tipton get a quote in here.
Louis:Yeah.
Ben Tipton: You guys are doing an interview?
Max: There's your quote.
(We all laugh)
Louis: So let's talk about the Naw Dude/The Flesh Lights split 7''. How did that come together?
Jeremy:That was Gerard's idea right …
Max:No. That was ... Doug.
Jeremy: Oh yeah. Yeah.
Max: Yeah I was talking to Doug from Naw Dude. He was working at Red 7, we were playing a show and we played Bummer Bitch. He came up to me afterward and was like, "Oh dude I'm so pissed, Naw Dude was gonna cover that song."
Then I told him we just recorded it. "Then I said something like, why don't you guys record a version and we'll do a split. Just as a joke though, we were just joking around with that idea. Then JJ asked Gerard if he would do it, and Gerard said, “Yeah I'll do it for sure.”
Jeremy:But, then Gerard thought it was a joke too. (Laughter)
Max: I just feel bad for all the money Gerard's going to lose on that record. I think all but ... five of them ... have been returned.
Jeremy:I think he's going to have to melt them down and make ashtrays in order to sell them.
Max: Yeah.
Jeremy: So keep an eye out for The Flesh Lights/Naw Dude ashtrays. They’re going to be a little late for stocking stuffers ...
Louis: (Laughing)
Max: I actually heard an edited version of Naw Dude's “Bummer Bitch” on the radio recently, but it said it was The Flesh Lights, and it was like "Bummer Bitch!.....Bummer Bitch!"(Laughter)
But, then that's all it said.
Jeremy: Well they said the B word ...
Max: They also said “be sick,” but no “sucking of dicks.”
Jeremy: Yeah no dick sucking.
Louis: So it's just “Bummer Bitch,” and then the lyrics were missing …
Max: Yeah, then maybe “you give me zits,” and that's about it.
Jeremy: Wait, so now people think we're Naw Dude? .... That's not cool. (Laughter)
Max: I think that record turned out really cool. I'm into it and I think we're all surprised it really happened.
Jeremy: ... and Gerard's label, 12XU, is really...productive.
Max: Gerard is putting out a shitload of cool shit right now.
Jeremy: Prolific ... is the word I meant to use. Haha.
Max: He put out that Younger Governor, the same day that our 7'' came out, the Young Governor 10'' came out. It's the dude from Fucked Up, and that's really good.
Jeremy: Some bullshit band ... The Golden Boys … I think he's doing.
Max: Yeah. The Golden Boys and James Arthur's Man .... Something.
Jeremy: Those are also going to wind up as ashtrays. Best case scenario.
Louis: (Laughing) Okay, so what are you guys listening to right now.
Jeremy: Um ... Fresh Air with Terry Gross. (Laughs)
Max: He's not joking.
Jeremy: I'm, not joking. (Laughing) Um ... I don't really like music ... psych! What are you listening to Max?
Max: Right now ... I am listening to a lot of Blue Oyster Cult as of a few days ago, I just got into them. I feel like I'm just finding out about bands that I should have known about for a long time ago, like Nirvana and Blue Oyster Cult and also a lot of new records. I've been listening to that new OBN III's record a lot, and revisiting Bad Lady Goes To Jail, Wes' record. As for new music, it's pretty much all Austin music ...
Jeremy: Yeah.
Max: I think Austin is coming out with the best music right now, like A Giant Dog and OBN III's.
Jeremy: Yeah, I'm really looking forward to the new A Giant Dog record, which should be out soon. I went and saw Blood Royale last night and they ruled.
Louis: Let's see, what would you say are some of your influences?
Jeremy: Influences ... hmm. That's a weird question, well it's not a weird question. It's a tough question. I feel like … most everybody has a lot of the same, you know we all come from the same place. Growing up listening to punk rock and then you use that as a jumping point, and you learn about what those bands were influenced by. So then you seek stuff out based on that, and then I don't know ... you can take anything as an influence I guess.

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Max: I think there are two or three bands that we all bond over. We definitely bond over The Dictators as a band, we're like yeah that's it.
Jeremy: … and The Ramones ...
Max: ... or The Zero Boys, like if we're in the van on tour and we throw on The Dictators or The Zero Boys, then it's just like, fuck yeah that'sit.
Jeremy:Then when I met Max and Elissa, they were listening to a lot of The Hellacopters and Turbonegro. A lot of bands I had heard, but had never gotten into. I feel like there's a place for that in what we do.
Max: Yeah. I think definitely The Helicopters, I think a lot of people bash on The Helicopters, cause they're just doing straight up seventies rock. But, if you can open your mind enough to listen to stuff, that's not just on In The Red or Goner Records, then you can see how a band like The Helicopters are really awesome.
Jeremy: It's not just that, but I feel like a lot of people write them off because the production too.
Max: Yeah, ‘cause it's so good.
Jeremy: I mean it's clean … but that's something that people shy away from, and the Austin scene is trying to make their records sound good. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying peoples’ records sound bad. We even got that when Muscle Pop came out, and people were like well this sounds produced. I was like “well we worked on it, really hard.”
Louis:Well I feel like that's a problem with music right now in general, they want to call a record over produced because it sounds clean, but then a lo-fi/garage probably spends as much time on production.
Max: Lo-fi isn't cool if you HAVE the utilities to make, a great sounding record.
Jeremy: We even got shit when we first started for practicing too much. (Laughs)
Max:An unnamed person ... (Laughing)
Jeremy: (Laughing) Yeah, an unnamed human being told us we sounded too tight. I was like, I'll take that criticism. I think I can live with that.
Louis: I guess my final question is, what do you guys have going on next?
Jeremy: Elissa's going to be hanging out with her cat U-Haul and then after that ... We have hopefully around three or four 7''s coming out in the first half of next year. We don't have anything solid for out of town shows, but we're always working on it.
Max: I think we'll probably … the goal is to go on tour at least twice in the next year span. Then we got the four 7"s, that will come out. As for a new record, I don't think we're even going to rush that. We throw around different ideas, like at some point maybe trying to write a record or maybe waiting till we have some more songs. We’re just not really going to think about that right now.
Jeremy: Yeah just keep working. I think the next goal, like the next big goal, is going to be: finish the singles, then get to the west coast and then to Europe. We haven't been to either of those places yet.
Louis: You guys should go to Japan. They would love you there.
Jeremy: Do you have some money?
Louis: No, but I'll work on that for you. Get them to pay for it, just send them a bunch of records they'll go crazy.
Max: We got some offers to get to Europe now, so that's just a matter of money, and then we've got some lingering west coast offers.
Jeremy: West coast is feasible, Europe a little more difficult. OBN III's are going there next year though, which is awesome. Wes Coleman will be over there.
Max: Not awesome. (Laughs)
Louis: So do you guys have anything else you wanna say or leave your fans with?
Max: I really appreciate how you've conducted this interview. (We all laugh)
Louis: Yeah, I'm in way better shape. I'm drinking hot tea.
Jeremy: Next time no more whiskey laced with cocaine ... or heroin …
Louis: Or GHB ...
Jeremy: Yeah, next time don't roofie yourself before the interview.

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