Bio: Ellis and Peter had been friends for some years and, prior to Flicker, both were playing in a band with Martin Grech. Martin was signed as a solo artist, and went off touring into the distance, but they decided to try to form another band with a new guitarist and drummer. This must have been around the start of the new millennium. A work colleague of Ellis recommended Andrew (it was Andrew’s sister actually) and he was thus rescued from the musical wilderness having stopped playing in groups in his early 20s. Flicker did not settle on a drummer (we like to joke that we still haven’t) until Vaughan (Ellis’s brother) joined.
It has been a long journey to get to the stage where we felt we should or could record an album. Even though some of us had been around the block a bit when we began rehearsing together, we were rusty and our equipment was lousy. Andrew had an amp that went all the way up to two. It didn’t help that the song writing veered quickly away from simple tunes into a more progressive format and to begin with we found it difficult to master the songs live.
How Much Are You Willing To Forget was recorded over several months in North Wales from late 2010 into 2011. Some the album songs reflect the fact that we had always been (and still are) juggling fulltime jobs with our musical aspirations, and how work – and life in general – just gets in the way.
Genre: This is going to sound clichéd but the song writers did not set out to record an album in a particularly genre, they just wanted to write stand-out songs. In our formative years we wondered how to advertise ourselves… melodic or alternative rock or what? It seems the reviews have placed Flicker today in the progressive category. This is not a label we are unhappy with at all, as we all love music in this genre (we’re flattered actually). However, a lot of the progressive bands we have been likened to… well, we have had to go away and listen to them!
Initial music and thematic elements: ‘Out There’ was one of a number of songs Ellis had written before the formation of the band. Another two tracks – ‘Falling Down’ and ‘Is This Real Life’ – were similarly written by Ellis and presented to the band as full pieces. All but one song (‘My Empty Head’) from the remainder started with Ellis’s ideas and structures; these were refined over the years, sometimes in the studio, and sometimes at home by Ellis and/or Andrew.
Both Ellis and Andrew tend to prefer journey type song structures, with a beginning, middle and an end, and this is probably where we are most closely aligned with the progressive genre.
Lyrics and themes: Ours is not a ‘concept album’ though there are lyrical themes running through. But the music comes first though, maybe just with dummy lyrics or a few choice lines.
There is an effort to fit the lyrics to feel of the song. But overall we were conscious about writing about our real lives, perhaps being a little too old to write odes to girls in tight jeans and a little too unimaginative to write songs about mythology and religion as you will find in many a classic ‘prog’ album. ‘Real life’ at the time happened to be about musical and other frustrations, dead-end jobs and the feeling of life passing us by. The lyrics about office life and the commute were written by Andrew on his commute to work!
We would like to keep the lyrical content personal and honest in future but we ‘re different people now to those that wrote those songs, so it’s unlikely we will return to the same subjects.
Ideas about the album: It was a huge learning curve for us all and we would benefit from that experience when recording again. There are always bits you would re-do or refine. It is never finished, this is perhaps what is hardest to learn.
We have to reflect that our album is being reviewed alongside other signed, established and well-known acts – and to get such good feedback let alone any feedback for a debut album recorded by an un-signed band, we have to be generally happy.
All the guys have different favourite songs (and different niggles!) and it’s the same with the reviews we’ve seen.
Reception: We released the album on download format in August but officially launched it January 2013 We have received excellent reviews both in the UK and Europe and the Americas. We receive requests for demos globally on a regular basis and new reviews/airplay keep coming.
Preference; live or studio: think each member of Flicker would have a different answer to this. Some enjoy the creative process more, others prefer to rock out.
Next step; live or studio: The main focus now is the arranging of tours both in the UK and abroad, we have been invited to play in the US in 2014 and are hoping to arrange a series of gigs there.
We have had to recruit a keyboard player and another guitarist so that we can capture the album songs live. So we will perform as a 6-piece and will do a few gigs more local to us to bed in the new arrangement.
The next album… We have several songs we would like to record though we are not entirely sure of how to treat them. The option of a simpler less-layered (even live?) recording has been raised but then again so has the option of going full prog! Some writing sessions are planned and we will have to wait and see what happens.
Future plans: When we decided to do the album we hoped/dreamed for some success with it but it was also about finally having an end product for the hard work we had put in, if somewhat sporadically, over the years – a testament, for want of a better word, to our friendship and collaboration, whilst at the same time putting these songs to bed so that we could start afresh.
Nevertheless, we are hoping to take our music to a wider audience via the album reviews and by touring the album.
All of us have ‘full time’ jobs that we hope to replace with Flicker as soon as possible. J
Composers: The principle songwriters are Ellis and Andrew, both songs and lyrics. Almost always it starts with an original musical idea from Ellis; he is also adept at mapping out the structure of a piece (and, importantly, getting us from the beginning to the end of it). He is most definitely the band leader. Andrew prefers to revise (to the nth fucking degree sometimes!) or add sections or melodies and is increasingly concerned with the lyrical content.
Inspirations: We share a fondness for some of the classic progressive rock bands. Radiohead was important to us, not just for the music, but for sparking our interest in the band-playing scene in general. But each of us goes away and listens to different stuff – rock, metal, electronic, jazz… Everything but ‘Country and Western’ really.
Preference; cater to the audience or music for its own sake: Perhaps we could say that once we are absorbed in the writing process we end up wanting to play (not necessarily always playing though!) what we want we want to hear. We just hope that the result resonates with the listener, and that they are willing to join us on our journey. Ha ha, that sounds more than a bit overblown. J
The question is no doubt much more of an issue for established bands dealing with fans’ expectations – this is a problem we wished we had!
Greatest Accomplishment: This album was self-funded and recorded and mixed in pretty exhausting circumstances in sessions squeezed in between our otherwise busy normal working lives. Just getting the thing done and out there seems like an achievement – and an enormous relief to us all!
Anything else? We just really appreciate anyone who takes the time to give our songs a good listen, like us or loathe us, thank you.
In answering all of the above, we have not highlighted the considerable help we have had from those people who have believed in us. Not wishing to repeat the album credits again but … in particular we are indebted to the producer, Marc Joy, who was a pleasure to work with and who went well beyond the call of duty in nursing the best out of us and Mel Walker who provided the brilliant original artwork.