FLOTSAM AND JETSAM Talk No Place For Disgrace 2014, The "Overseeer" JASON NEWSTED, Influence On Scene - "People Will Realize These Songs Are Pretty Timeless"
March 7, 2014, a year ago
Legendary and highly underrated Arizona metal kings FLOTSAM AND JETSAM are currently pounding out their new No Place For Disgrace - 2014 release along with some other band gems on a European tour with Brazilian masters SEPULTURA and LEGION OF THE DAMNED. Flotsam And Jetsam up in key position to showcase their iconic No Place For Disgrace - 2014 album. The original was unleashed twenty-six heralded years ago - how time flies when you flotz til death! This 2014 album also sees the band back in the Slagel metal mansion and Metal Blade Records, the very label that unveiled Flotsam And Jetsam's landmark debut. The Arizona titans never, to their great credit, buckled to the trends or fashions of the day; instead and perhaps consciously, the group always did things their way and it has always seemed to pay off and rightfully so. With the unmistakable vocal prowess of one Erik AK Knutson and a greatly talented band backing him up, Flotsam And Jetsam are here 2014-style disgracing no one and still kicking major ass after more than three decades. WVOX Metal Mayhem host Matthew O'Shaughnessy and BraveWords correspondent recently spoke Flotsmen Erik AK and drummer Kelly David Smith as they were literally travelling from show to show in Europe, making their way through Denmark. The two spoke in detail and excitement about No Place For Disgrace - 2014, coming out of Arizona in the very early days when the group went under the monicker of Paradox, Jason Newsted, Metal Blade Records CEO Brian Slagel and much more.
Matt O'Shaughnessy: Thanks for taking time off from the European tour to speak with us. How has the trek been going so far?
Erik AK: "What's up, Matt! It's cold in Denmark that's for sure! (laughter).
Kelly David Smith: "The tour has been going very good; I mean most of the shows are packed houses and we already are having sell-outs. We're doing twenty-nine shows in thirty-one days. It's going well. The tour kicked off in Germany."
Matt O'Shaughnessy: By all accounts, Flotsam And Jetsam must be excited that your legendary No Place For Disgrace album is seeing the light of day again via Brian Slagel's Metal Blade label. The original was released twenty-six years ago on Elektra Records. I hear the band had a lot of requests to re-mix the record. Some may say, why mess with a classic?
Erik AK: "You know, we wanted to kind of re-mix it and put it back out. It was on Elektra Records to begin with; Elektra's been bought and sold so many times nobody really knew who to contact there to get the master tapes. So, we decided just to re-record the album and I'm really glad we did! The production is a million times better. We tried to stay as true to the original as we could and just boost production as we could. I think it turned out exactly the way we wanted to."
Matt O'Shaughnessy: No Place For Disgrace, the title track is a song every Flotsam And Jetsam fan is well aware of and a great track to kick off the album.
Kelly David Smith: "Well it is the epic song off the record and yes, everybody seems to love it."
Matt O'Shaughnessy: Why change the art work on the 2014 cover of No Place For Disgrace?
Kelly David Smith: "The cover was changed because it's been so long since we recorded it - twenty-six years. No Place For Disgrace is a song about Harikari and the first version in 1988 it just shows him getting ready to perform the Harikari act. On this record we figured since it has been twenty-six years - why not see what happens after, so it kind of makes sense."
Matt O'Shaughnessy: Having followed the band since its genesis in Arizona in the early 1980's, I'm curious to your thoughts on the fans reaction to re-working No Place For Disgrace?
Erik AK: "We didn't dare change a lot of stuff on this record. It's a classic record. Flotsam fans love this thing. If we changed a bunch of things on this record it would be just a big downfall. We wouldn't dare do that. We just aimed to take the original and make sure everything we did on it was better sounding, better production, a better thought process. Without changing really anything."
Matt O'Shaughnessy: As the band hears No Place For Disgrace - 2014 now that it has been completed and on the streets, what do you make of it all?
Kelly David Smith: "That's such a great question. One thing that comes to mind is that In 1988, there was no digital. It was old school, old style, you go in there and throw down as best you can in the studio and you walk out of there with what you got in your hand and there was no protools. There wasn't a lot of editing going on and it was raw. The process this time, we were able to use protools but we were still able to perform in the old school fashion; I went in the studio and cut all my tracks without a bunch of chopping up. It was just the ability to get the high end sound that the record deserved to have in the first place."
Matt O'Shaughnessy: Talk about your relationship with Jason Newsted on this new disc and in general.
Erik AK: "Over the years we've kind of kept in touch with him and every year, every couple of years he would come into town and and we would go out and talk about stuff we might do in the future. He's always been kind of the overseer making sure were not screwing things up. He came back into town a couple of years ago and said, 'let's jam together'. It gave us kind of the push to get the original members back together and redo this record. But, other than that, Jason didn't have a lot to do with No Place For Disgrace - 2014 other than moral support."
Matt O'Shaughnessy: Let's take a look at another track off No Place For Disgrace - 2014, 'N.E. Terror'.
Kelly David Smith: "That song was written back when the early middle eastern stuff was going on about the terrorist activities back in the day. That's why it's called N.E. Terror - northeast terror. It's describing from a news point of view what's going on over there."
Erik AK: "And the weird thing is that stuff is still going on just as it was thirty years ago."
Matt O'Shaughnessy: With more than three decades of flotzing til death, what has been your main source of inspiration to keep forging ahead?
Erik AK: "The fans. We've never really made enough big dollar money at this to go and buy new houses and drive Ferraris around or anything like that. But you can't stop. The fans just hound us constantly. We do everything we do for our fans and our fanbase grows bigger and bigger for it all the time."
Kelly David Smith: "I can add to that by saying that ties in again to part of the reason we did no Place For Disgrace - 2014 is that when we did the re-release of Doomsday For The Deceiver; fans started asking about No Place For Disgrace and the one problem was that you couldn't find it anywhere; the only place you get get that record for a long time and it was a lot of money was just on eBay. The fans were the reason for us doing No Place For Disgrace - 2014. We wanted to get it back in circulation."
Matt O'Shaughnessy: In your early days, Flotsam And Jetsam hit the West Coast club scene hard sharing the stage with groups such as MEGADETH, MALICE, RIOT, MERCYFUL FATE, ALCATRAZZ and many more. As a band, what is the biggest change the heavy metal fraternity has gone through since those days - the 1980's.
Kelly David Smith: "I'd have to say what you mentioned before social media. You know, there was an article a while back when IRON MAIDEN had figured out how to figure out where where the most downloads of their record where so they could go tour. Back in the day there wasn't all the downloading stuff going on that evolved through the mid '80's and '90's and bands constantly have tried to find solutions to that. Protools is another one, going from analog to digital. There's a lot of different things. I think everybody is just learning how to adjust to those changes. Everything is about the live show too these days. When you come to the show and if you love your band then buy the merchandise. That's pretty much the only way we can eat these days. everybody is downloading the records so there isn't a lot there for most bands. I've always said and I will continue to say,if you love the band, support the band."
Matt O'Shaughnessy: Flotsam And Jetsam always cut a wide birth in the metal community with it's unique sound; the incredible and soaring vocals of Erik's, and a tremendously talented band backing him up. Perhaps a band before its time.
Erik AK: "One of the coolest things in Flotsam is that we run into bands all the time who are getting bigger and bigger and they say Flotsam is the reason why I am out there doing this, the reason I started playing guitar, the reason I sing. That's one of the biggest compliments you can get. There seems to be so many bands doing this because of the Flotsam records they picked up when they were young."
Matt O'Shaughnessy: Metal Blade Records released your landmark debut album. Now your back in the Slagel metal mansion with No Place For Disgrace - 2014. What best describes the relationship with CEO Brian Slagel?
Erik AK: "Brian has always been a pal, a bud to us no matter whether our records sell or don't sell; he's always willing to put out another one with us. We've been friends with him forever, hung out with him forever. Metal Blade has never done us wrong. It's very comfortable to be on that label."
Kelly David Smith: "On a second note, Metal Blade gave us our first break. They were the first in the metal scene along with Megaforce and Roadrunner. We were among the first few among the scene with METALLICA, MEGADETH and ANTHRAX. There are a lot of similarities in the environments from the start and today, so it makes sense."
Matt O'Shaughnessy: How do you vision your fans - both diehard and new - will digest No Place For Disgrace - 2014?
Erik AK: "I hope that people who didn't buy it twenty-six years ago will realize these songs are pretty timeless; the new production will put it in a lot of ears that wouldn't listen to it otherwise. I hope people will listen to these songs and go, 'wow, twenty-six years ago, this stuff still rocks!"