Flashguns - Interview - Winter 2008
16 Dec 2008
"growing up within spitting distance of each other prepares you for the rough times i guess, so hopefully we can deal with those times better than others would. we're definitely one of those friends first, music second bands..."
It's a rainy miserable evening as I weave my way through Farringdon's windy streets to the lovely sparkly Puregroove record store on West Smithfield Street. It's there that I find Flashguns, one of London's newest and most exciting guitar slinging prospects. The band's dark and broody popular rock has already won them attention a plenty, whilst certainly being one of the capitals youngest prospects too (they wouldn't drink legal in the US for sure). Tonight they're set to play in store at the shop, but before, I've nipped in for a bit of a natter with Sam Felix Johnston and James Wright (vocals and keys respectively) on some perfectly nicely positioned benches and tables around the corner from the store.
"Give us some money!" laughs Johnston when I ask him what Flashguns are hoping to come their way in '09. One thing is for sure from chatting to the band - as well as being incredibly nice and affable young chaps, they're fiercely ambitious and hungry to be as big and important as they can be. Despite us joking about this and the band's desire to hit the big time, it's clear that Flashguns are in a position to make said dreams come true for them.
Even in their embryonic state it's apparent that this is a band with the type of universal pop appeal to win hearts and minds a plenty. They themselves are well aware of this. "I'm not going to say no to that." Johnston tells me. "We definitely try to write on that scale. We don't want to restrict ourselves to a niche. We either want to hit it big or leave it be." I ask whether this means that the band write more for others than themselves. "We don't want to be indulgent in our music; we want to write music for the people. We are ambitious and more than anything we just want to be able to go and play to massive crowds so we can have that feel of achievement, and for people to enjoy our music in the way we enjoy our favourite bands."
Debut single 'Timehouse Blue' is certainly a great starting point. They've already won themselves a nice bag of critical acclaim with this first limited run release, and more than anything the band have created that all important industry buzz. This is paying off in spades already; the band is set to go into the studio shortly with producer supernova Stephen Street this month. Things are certainly lined up nicely to pave them that difficult pathway to musical success.
The band's background is an interesting one - It's widely known that the four of them started playing at a Catholic all boy boarding school. I tell them that admire them for being so open about this; that despite the number of middle class rockers who come from similar backgrounds, most do their utmost to disguise this with scuffed off Nike pumps and flat peaked caps (naming no names - that's a task that could take seconds, minutes, or hours. Ahem...). I tell them that it's perhaps refreshing that a band would wear this on their sleeve. Johnston agrees. "We have to embrace that, you can't really help it. We didn't really make the decision for us to go to that school."
I suggest that it must have its advantages too - being together from so young Johnston agrees. "Sure. Growing up within spitting distance of each other prepares you for the rough times I guess, so hopefully we can deal with those times better than others would. We're definitely one of those friends first, music second bands". This assertion prompts a bit of inter-band slating as Johnston is ridiculed for speaking so openly about that usually un-spoken bond between young males. We move on quickly...
Currently the band is in a bit of an odd position. As well as being split between London and near Brighton they mention that they've all got university places due to start in September. Mostly it's stressed that they don't really want to take them, although the appeal of university life clearly still looms in their heads. Johnston sums it up by telling me "It's really hard to say what's going to happen. I really want to go to university, and I think a lot of good music comes from uni's - but it won't necessarily be in the New Year. If we stay quite central it could work out, but ideally we'll be in a position not to take our places because things will be going so well."
In all likelihood come September Flashguns will have themselves a tricky decision to make. The band will certainly be vying for a great deal of attention in the New Year, and onwards from there. It's clear that the excitement around the band is clearly building day by day, and it won't be long before they'll be getting closer to satisfying those hungry appetites clearly on display. The good news for them and us? These guys are ridiculously young, full of talent, great song-writing and boundless energy on stage. Just watch 'em go...