FLATLINE - interview with Randy Weitzel, May 2009
Tony Belcher, Tartarean Desire’s American Editor, recently had the pleasure of reviewing a new album, Pave the Way, by a new band, Flatline
. Check that out here
. Some time afterwards he had the chance to interview Randy Weitzel, one of the band’s two guitarists. Everything from Fangoria to Pantera was discussed. Read on....
Flatline has been favorably reviewed in tons of places and members of DevilDriver and In This Moment have heaped praise on the band as well. First off, congratulations on the early and rightful acclaim. Secondly, how'd the interaction come about with DevilDriver? I know you've toured with In This Moment before.... Is it because Jon Miller (from DevilDriver) is dating Maria Brink (from In This Moment)? Hehe. Just trying to set up some "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" kind of thing here....
Haha, yeah we're really old buddies with In This Moment. Travis, our vocalist, actually played bass with them in the early stages when they were Dying Star and we played on their first show at The Gig in Hollywood. We met Miller through them and he's totally cool and always has positive things to say. I can't wait for the new DevilDriverCD.
Pave the Way is the band's first major splash. What can you say about your back catalog for fans curious about the previous three releases? Is it anything like Pantera's first four mostly awful records? Hahaha.
I'm not sure if I ever even heard those Pantera records! I should get on that. Anyway we did have a few self-produced CDs available online before Pave the Way. Check out Massive Aggressive, it's probably my favorite of our self-produced stuff.
You guys call your music just plain ol' Metal, which is fine, thus avoiding some inevitable pigeonholing, but what are the band's biggest influences? We're talkin' particular bands and albums, though if you have more to volunteer, feel free to do so. For the record, your record, I can hear shades of Pantera, Machine Head, Pissing Razors, Hatebreed, Slayer, and Lamb of God in the sound of Flatline.
Collectively, yeah I'd say Pantera, Slayer, and Metallica. But, when you have five strong-willed guys with different influences and different opinions on how things should be, you have to figure out some way to make it all work. The common bond is that we all love Metal and subconsciously I think Pave... was a result of thinking, "OK, what do we all have in common and where do we want to take this thing?" The answer was to strip Metal down to the bare bones, write some crunchy punch-you-in-the-face metal songs, and just bring the mosh! I'm about 13 years older than our other guitar player, Paulo, so just the age differences in this band make it interesting. Paulo will bring in some state-of-the-art gnarly-ass noodle riff, then maybe we'll throw in an old-school thrash influenced riff that I'll come up with, and so on. The wide spectrum of influence has not even been tapped into yet as far as I'm concerned. I like to throw some acoustic guitars in with the Metal stuff. Some of that made it onto Pave..., but I'd like to get more of that on our next record. Who knows what will come out, but the possibilities are endless and it's all very exciting.
Relatedly, who are some of your favorite bands and favorite albums?
Mine are KISS-Destroyer, Metallica-Ride the Lightning, Slayer-Reign in Blood, Megadeth-Peace Sells... But Who’s Buying? and Testament-The New Order!
Let's flip that coin and talk about the opposite. Is there anything that you really hate? What draws your ire and really stirs up so-called negative emotions?
Sometimes I'll hear a band and think, "now how the fuck did THEY get on the radio, this shit sucks!" I swear it drives me to pick up my guitar and make an effort to change things and write really great music.
Alright, back to the positive, what is your greatest inspiration for writing music? Y'know, aside from a band perhaps influencing your sound or style, what inspires you... like a fine whiskey or cold beer or...?
Like I said, I'm driven by simply turning on the radio or watching music TV stations and getting so frustrated because there's so much mediocre music out there. That is where the aggression comes from. We love Metal and we want to fight for this style of music to be more relevant. Pave the Way is a bold album title, our fans get it but believe me we've taken some beatings for it too! "Pave the Way? Who the fuck do these guys think they are?!" Let me tell you something, there are some things going on in the music scene that we hate and I'm being vague on who or what for a reason. Instead of sitting around and talking shit about other bands and posting crap on Blabbermouth we're out there putting our balls on the line, taking the shots and doing our part help pave the way back to all that is Metal and fighting to keep this style of music alive. This is war! If you have a problem with that, bring it!
So what do you think of Metallica's latest record, Death Magnetic, and their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Metallica is playing fast again and I love it. Metallica and Megadeth invented Thrash Metal and they deserve all the credit they get. We wouldn't be here without them. Period.
Do you have a favorite place to tour?
I love to play in New Mexico. The Metal Heads there are true. If you're in a Metal band, play in Gallup or Farmington. Those fans will blow your mind!
Favorite bands to tour with?
In This Moment, Straight Line Stitch, and 36 Crazy Fists!!!!
Any dream tour packages?
Metallica co-headlines with Megadeth and Dave Mustaine jams “Four Horsemen” with Metallica. Sam Kinison goes on right before us.
What's on the horizon beyond the upcoming Threat Signal/The Agonist tour?
We have a couple things in the works, but our focus right now is on the tour. We're really looking forward to touring with Threat Signal
, The Agonist
and Thy Will Be Done
. We'll keep you updated on what is next but in the meantime, we just released a cover of “Hammer Smashed Face” from Cannibal Corpse
exclusively on our myspace page
. We also just put out a rad piece on Fangoria Magazine online. So check those out!
How'd the Cannibal Corpse cover come about? It's brilliant....
Thanks man! Paulo and our drummer Tim started jamming the song at practice one day and Hector, our bassist, joined in and right off the bat it was sounding good. Tim used to be in a Death Metal band and Paulo is way into Death Metal, and although it isn't really my thing, when I heard what they were jamming I thought, "God, that is so fucking heavy." We had a break coming up around Christmas last year and I mentioned recording it. We all agreed and I called up one of our old bass players, Josh Newell -- now at NRG studios in Hollywood, and he agreed to record it. We did the drums first at Travis Barker's (Blink 182) home studio and Josh was then working on Linkin Park's new album sessions at NRG and he was able to fit us in on their downtime. I thought “Hammer Smashed Face” was a song we could do that wouldn't turn out sounding like an impersonation but rather something that we could put our own voice into without disrespecting the song. Josh did a great job recording and mixing it.
And what of that recent Fangoria piece
? You guys have some excellent choices in there, particularly Re-Animator
, which I think is under-rated and under-appreciated in general.
Dude, that was kick ass. I've been reading that mag since I can remember. It was hard to pick my top favorite, though, because I have so many favorite horror movies.
I understand that Flatline will be featured in the "No Fear Lifestyle Video" DVD with no less than seven songs. How'd that come about and what do you think and hope the outcome of it will be?
No Fear hit us up on myspace and asked if they could use our tunes. We were glad to get on board, since No Fear is a big supporter of Metal. It would be cool to get on one of their sponsored tours next.
How has Stand and Deliver Records been so far? Ohio is a long way from L.A., after all.
When we were putting out those records without the help of a label, we had no way of getting them in retail stores nation-wide. Matt Polena from Stand and Deliver Records and his team, Warm Fuzzy Publicity and Thunderdome Touring, have put Flatline in places that we could never have accomplished on our own. The only real problem I've had with Stand and Deliver is that I'm originally from Pittsburgh, so I'm a hardcore Steeler fan, and Matt's a Cleveland Browns fan. Arch Enemies! It gets pretty ugly during football season!
When can we expect new material from Flatline?
Pave the Way just came out in February so... probably next year? We've got skeletons of two songs that we've written together and I have five other songs that I'm working on, so we'll see if any of those make the cut.
How does the songwriting process typically go? Some bands are able to write on the road, so perhaps this will be a chance to do some of that.
We haven't written on the road. Usually we're in a van or an RV and don't usually get hotel rooms. We wrote Pave... a couple different ways. Sometimes Paulo or I would bring a guitar riff into rehearsal and Tim would start blasting out beats. Travis has a book of lyrics and will come up with some sort of vocal hook that will help decide what the verse or chorus will be, Hector adds low end and we'll go from there. I had the bulk of the music written for “Blessed by Death,” “Generations Fall,” “The Passing,” and “God as my Witness.” I brought those to the table and we ripped them apart, rearranged things and then Travis wrote lyrics. We're pretty much open to any process of writing and typically we'll try them out in our live set and demo them each a few times. By the time we put out a record it's pretty obvious what will make the cut.
Well, that's all I have. Thanks for answering these questions and good luck on the tour. Do you have any final words for our readers and your fans?
Horns up and Keep it Metal!!
Thanks to Randy Weitzel for doing the interview and Matt Polena from Stand and Deliver Records for making it happen. If you have a chance to check out Flatline in the live setting, do so at your earliest convenience. If a live gig is out of the question, check out Pave the Way, available now on Stand and Deliver Records.
- Tony Belcher