Imagine one of the 90s disco anthems completely redefined by heavy bass, synths and ghostly vocals: Flutes’ version of What is Love, (originally by Haddaway?), defines this. Whether you liked the party-cheesy-version, I am pretty sure you’ll adore Flutes’ cover. The band gave completely new life to the song, making it shine into a brand new light: “We had been playing a live stripped-back acoustic version of What Is Love over the years – it has quite dark lyrics backed by a minor key which slotted in quite well to our set. I would hope it’s a celebration of the song, and people seem to see something new in the lyrics. I also think it’s a sign that it’s a great song – the fact that it can be recast in a different genre and not only sound great, but deliver something new.”
The song is the B-side of Kilburn, the brand new single of Flutes, a dark and gloomy bass-driven track. The atmosphere is perfectly depicted by Godfrey (lead vocals / guitarist) describing it as “a song about poets / artists / thespians always tending to gravitate to that horrid combination of womanisers and substance abusers, and with those come the associated highs and lows. As a band we’ve all lived in Kilburn and it was fun (and mildly traumatising) to play with the imagery of Byron and Burns in a Kilburn boozer trying to have it off with the local ladies, then hating themselves for it in the morning”.
As Rob (guitar) suggested, I did some further research and discovered that the neighbour is also the house of one of the biggest cinemas in Europe and the National, where bands such as The Smiths and Nirvana played before it closed down: “ Kilburn has serious musical heritage – and one which is overlooked. Try Googling ‘Gaumont State Kilburn’ or ‘The National Kilburn’, and you’ll see what I mean” . Whilst waiting for the release of a new limited EP, have a read to the rest of the interview with Rob – possibly blasting What is Love through the speakers (not the Haddaway’s version, that’s for cheesy nights only!)
Hello guys, thank you so much for taking some time to chat with me. So, let’s go straight to the point: who are the Flutes, and how has the stage treated you in the past eight years?
The band formed when Godfrey (lead vocals / guitarist) met Andy (bass / backing vocals) about a decade whilst studying in Scotland. A couple of years later down in the big smoke of London they picked up me (Rob – guitar) and Alex (drums). We got Alex off the classifieds site Gumtree.com. Alex plays in multiple bands and has a network of friends entirely from that site. We’re seriously pushing him to write his autobiography entitled ‘My Life On Gumtree’. Regarding your second question – the stage has treated us with genuine pleasure, and even more so now we have a record that we’re pleased with.
How was the reception of the self-titled debut at home and abroad? How did you happen to involve Anna Luckey in the creation of the artwork?
We really went into the releasing the record with no expectations. We hoped maybe Alex’s mum would like it. It turns out that she did, and so did a quite a few other people – which has been absolutely lovely. We’ve known Anna for a long time – she did some artwork for a previous incarnation of the band. She got married to a chap called Mr Luckey and we thought that sounded fortuitous, so we asked her to do the album artwork. It blew us away – we’re super happy with it.
Kilburn is an appetiser right before the release of your EP (working title Lost in the Sand): why releasing an EP featuring remixes, live recordings and lost demos? Could it be seen as a collection of your first steps in Flutes?
‘Sand’ was originally intended to be a single on its own, but the process after releasing the album has thrown off all kinds of interesting recordings which we wanted to group together and share. I’m not sure it’s the first steps of Flutes – those started many moons ago. But it’s perhaps a bit of extra context for the album that we didn’t first expect.
You are acquiring more and more interested in the business, from BBC 6Music to the magazines. What was the reaction to the Frightened Rabbit pick of “Auld Archie” as Track of the day on Clash Magazine? Did you know their music already?
The band have been long time fans of Frightened Rabbit. Godfrey and I actually started a music blog several years ago (now well defunct…), and one of the first posts was a review of a Frightened Rabbit show at the Brixton Windmill. It’s been awesome to see them garner the well deserved attention that they now have. And as for the support that Scott from the band has shown via Clash Magazine and BBC Radio – well, it’s been frankly astounding. We went into writing the record with zero expectations – it was really just a document of what we had been doing. So any positive feedback at all has been extremely flattering.
Since 2010 the interest of the traditional media is shifting towards the underground scene, if you allow me to still use that definition. What is your view on a sudden interest of radio stations such as BBC in more and more independent bands?
The cost of tools to create high quality records have decreased drastically over the past few years, which mean there is simply more music being recorded now than ever. Partner this with the fact that major labels are signing less acts than there were 10 years ago, and I suppose it’s inevitable that the traditional media will look to music being created in the ‘underground’. The fact that more people are creating more music is only a good thing in our opinion, but the mainstream of music fans still find out about new music via the radio – and so as the likes of BBC radio have an interest in these bands, it’s also a very important channel for independent acts. People have to find out about new music somehow!
You are have been touring in minibuses, driving around London and playing so many gigs throughout the years, so I am pretty sure you have some good anecdotes to share with us. Which aspect do you like the most about the live experience?
In the early days, I was the minibus driver. Driving a non-power-assisted 14 seater minibus from London to Glasgow and then playing a gig is…..well, if anything it makes you appreciate power-steering. Which is something quite taken for granted these days. Anyway, playing live we just really enjoy the collective experience of it all. Lately our live band setup has swelled to seven people. When you have that group cranking away, and the audience singing away – I’m not sure there’s any other experience that quite puts you in a ‘moment’ like that.
This is a tricky one, but I love tricky questions: if you had to choose a song to listen to over and over again for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
‘Where I End And You Begin’ by Radiohead. If that rolling bassline and beat went on forever, I’d be just fine.
Which are the main appointments in Flutes’ agenda for the rest of 2013?
Releasing the ‘Kilburn’ single and ‘Lost In The Sand’ EP, more London (The Good Ship, 12th Apr) and Glasgow (The Glad Cafe, 19th Apr) shows, some summer festival appearances (which we’re not supposed to talk about yet…), more writing, more music. Lots more music.