What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
We all bring something to Flender that leans the band in an improvisational, experimental direction of rock music. An, Kalen, Jeffrey, and Beth are also poets in and out of Flender and provide a variety of lyrical approaches and texture to the sound and form. Beth is an ultra-prolific songwriter and structure-provider and is basically our mental song database. An is a musician and performance artist with a background in songwriting, who uses their interdisciplinary, improvisational approach to inform their profession as a music teacher and vis versa. Tobin is a talented multi-instrumentalist and sound engineer who adds a professional touch to everything we create. Kalen is a graphic designer and CD/book-maker who does most of the Flender-fied art. Jeffrey is our riff fragger extraordinaire, boldly riffing us forward through each practice. Flender attempts to be as non-hierarchical as possible in band structure. We want the music to be alive to tell us how to create it.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
It’s actually pretty rudimentary when you strip down the clothes and make-up that are the swirling noodling guitar lines and vocal harmonies and effects. The drums and bass are just about always doing something that is a rigid skeletal frame. I think it opens itself to a listener to hear an almost endless amount of nuances that are created by all the other tracks on the record. We recorded everything at home, live full band takes, but would dub vocals and other guitar parts after. Sometimes we would hang out and take turns doing vocal takes on the fly and be like, “alright, I did one, now it’s your turn.”
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
The amazing Texas experimental music, performance, and literary scene is an infinite source of inspiration for us collectively.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
There is certainly nothing like Flender. It’s humorous, aggressive and soft, twisted, dissonant yet straight ahead. Anything it could be compared to would at least have to be dipped in paint thinner first.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
Sun Ra’s Aurora Borealis
William Carlos Williams’ Spring and All
The Soundtrack to Eraserhead
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
Studio, because there’s less pressure to impress, and more room to experiment which is what we love most, and we can smoke as much as we want.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
We were deep in a rehearsal conversation the night before we embarked on our first tour, when Beth, our drummer, told us she wouldn’t be able to go. We had to decide to either cancel our little tour, or commit to doing improvised sets as a four-piece without her (we had planned on playing songs from an album we just released). We decided to go for it. The next day we met up to get the U-Haul trailer, which wound up taking roughly four hours. We arrived at our first show in McAllen late and played to two people, the booker/promoter and his partner. But the money and hotel room he got for us was a better deal than what we’d get at the proceeding shows. We took two cars and a trailer to be able to fit all our gear and wound up having to pay for three parking spots at one venue. By the end we were hundreds of bucks in the red, in bad spirits with the experience and each other, and to some extent ready to quit. But when we played our homecoming show, it was one of our best sets we’ve played and felt loads restored by the support and love from our local freak community. We kept going, but still haven’t been on another tour lol.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
It’s hard to choose, but “Lump of Coal” is a good view into the Flender songwriting process. It’s one of our longest improvised pieces that organically has some distinct “songs” within it, which shows basically how we write our songs: picking parts like those out of improvised recordings and stringing them together like puzzle pieces that don’t actually go together but we made them go anyways.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
The release after this will be the Jender EP, the last songs we recorded with Beth and Jeffrey before they moved. Several more improv recordings with old line-ups, and our new line-up with Anders Zelinski on drums.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
Does it flend?
Photo Credits: Æthelwulf Xochipilli (1st one), Matt Burgess (2nd one)
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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