By John Clay, Rock At Night London
Floral Image’s new single “Why I Leave” is out on Catch 21 Records -November 20, 2020
‘Hey there America. To celebrate the end of the Wrestlemania-like drama of your US election, may I present my conversation with Floral Image. A UK band with opinions on Biden, Harris and yup, the quintet is keen to provide a window into an ever growing disquiet. Let’s just say grassroots venues are not establishments on the radar of Prime Minister Johnson. All this and so much more, including an ex member who may or may not be floating in space. What more do you need to begin reading up about Floral Image?’ – John Clay
Hello again, and thank you for taking the time to talk to me and introduce you to the US music loving crowd. Any thoughts on the results of their recent nail biting election?
Jack (Keys, Vocals): Greetings you beautiful people of the USA! I for one am very glad that it looks like Trump is on his way out. Some good news finally! Hopefully Biden will make some much needed changes however, that’s the big task on hand now.
Fergus (Guitar, Vocals): I’m glad that the most important representative of your country won’t be so keen to sell empty jingoistic promises. Biden seems like a nice fella who could encourage some much needed unity. Though the dualism of an American election always baffles me somewhat.
Julien (Drums): Gooood morning America! I am happy that the orange Sauron has been defeated. And I hope the electoral filibuster imposed by the Republicans will end soon and allow the progressive side of the Democratic party to be a well needed pain in the ass for Mr President-elect.
Jonny (Guitar): Trump’s time has come, and it was a long time coming! Time to move on and see a much less volatile and egotistical president at the helm.
Mitch (Bass): Gettem’ outta here! Ey’ I’m walkin here! Fairyun tairstick! Howdy. That’s America, right? Or is that Moldova. Moldova? I can’t remember.
Well, it’s obvious who you guys would have voted for if Floral Image were stateside. And how do you feel about the winner?
Julien (Drums): Biden is the typical product of the Washington establishment. He’s been a senator since 1973 and his record is not all rosy (if not rosy at all): I think black people know what it’s all about if they think about the crime bill (one could wonders about the choice of Kamala Harris given her record as a DA in California) or his choices about the war in Iraq. This is far from a revolution that the left wing of the Democratic Party could have carried. But he has the reputation of a deal maker across the aisle … and given the political state of the United States, I think that’s a good thing. I’m also trying to be positive by acknowledging that he has put forward the most ambitious climate plan that any candidate (and future president if I understand correctly) has ever carried. It’s not the green new deal, but it’s still more than ambitious (given the size of the Overton window at the moment.)
Jack (Keys/Vocals): Being someone who’s not too well read when it comes to US politics, I just hope he can bring some more equality and sustainability to the US/Earth.
Feel free to expand on your thoughts on Harris, Julien.
Julien (Drums): I won’t go into details of legal policy in California but I would say that Kamala Harris has tended (as had Obama for that matter) to pursue policies that are totally contrary to her own rhetoric, Harris’ record is defined by policies that go against her proclaimed vision (look at the death penalty, gay marriage). It’s very complicated and I certainly don’t want to play the same game as the conservatives who made it a talking point. But on the moderates’ side, the current narrative is mostly that Harris is a woman, black American and Asian American. And that’s historical. I can see the impact this is going to have on the progress of the fight for gender and race equality. And I am greatly excited by it. But I think we have to be nuanced, progressive (and as far as I am concerned socialists…boooooo) and vigilant.
The ever divided and hyper-fast newscycle surely provides it’s problems. For many, Kamala Harris can do no wrong. Is Floral Image burdened to choose between who to back and who to distance themselves from?
Mitch (Bass): We’re all burdened with that choice. It’s the very make up of humanity! Heck, I wouldn’t have found myself playing with this lot had it not been for the convergence of social choices. It’s in the circles; circles and bubbles. Like a big sink!
Fergus (Guitar/Vocals): Being burdened by anything is a choice in itself. The American election has no effect on us making luscious psychedelic indie rock. Unless Mr Biden mistakenly presses the big red button when he means to call through his dinner.
Jack (Keys, Vocals): Spot on boys. Isn’t living in society a constant battle of deciding what’s wrong and what’s right? I must say however that sometimes it can be difficult to know who to trust in the political sphere when it is saturated with so many lies – that’s not a burden though. Just a pain in the root chakra.
Jonny (Guitar): I agree, it’s hard to know who to back and who to distance yourself from, particularly when it comes to politics. I would say there is a societal pressure, to some degree, to align yourself with someone and their ideologies but there is no burden upon us as a band to do that.
Candid and on point, as ever guys. How about relating to the US readership how life for a UK band is now in relation to Boris Johnson’s premiership?
Fergus (Guitar/Vocals): It seems Boris has forgotten that British music is perhaps the most revered and highest grossing across the world pound for pound. It’s sadly not enough though for this sector alone to be responsible for billions upon billions of pounds to his trusted treasury. He’s asked us music makers to re-train and do something that’s presumably less threatening to his corporatisation of the country.
Julien (drums): I read in a Facebook post that there is a certain logic for the Johnson government to act like this: the majority of artists vote or identify with the left. To let them rot in place is to put the brakes on a group of antagonistic voters. Divide and conquer. I have no proof but this logic struck me. And by the way: fraternal greetings to all our artist friends in the USA … the help is not incredible for them either if I understood correctly.
Jonny (Guitar): It’s almost unreal to think how Boris Johnson’s government has left the arts to rot in the corner for the duration of this pandemic. The music industry here is so prestigious and such a valuable lifeline for so many. We are here to play music and share it with as many people as we can, because that’s what we love and that’s our purpose. We’ll pass on a career in cyber, thanks but no thanks, Boris.
Can you note any movement or response from UK bands/promoters/the self employed to arrest the situation?
Julien (drums): I dream of a myriad protesting artists in the street, a coordinated action where all the musicians would withdraw their music for a while from the streaming platforms. I dream of the whole film industry and the audiovisual technicians going on unlimited strike. This is my little socialist fantasy. Is it happening? I don’t think so. I haven’t been in England long enough to make a real judgement, but I believe that artists are not sufficiently federated here to coordinate actions that would have a real impact. I was a touring musician in France for some time and without wanting to be an apologist for France, the power of the federation of artists is staggering. They have won some very important battles by staging resounding strikes. I pray to Karl Marx every night that this happens here too.
Mitch (Bass): Yeh, there’s a desperate environment of competition in the UK; I think on account of the terrifying immediacy of product turnaround in the music industry (thanks, streaming), as well as the sheer weight of the LEGACY of modern British music and the scene around it. Before we can find that utopian plateau of support J’s talking about, the viciousness of that competition needs to be disintegrated. I think we’re seeing the rumblings of it. Disdain for the Conservatives’ War On The Arts is certainly banding us together like nothing has before. Apart from anything, the threat of losing all of our beloved venues to the incompetence of our Government’s ‘support’ has been a real rallying cry. There’s nothing like a threat to bind people!
Do you think the #supportourvenues campaign is worth mentioning, or do you think bands could do more?
Jack (Keys/Vocals): Yes #supportourvenues, #letthemusicplay and #wemakeevents have all been campaigns that have brought the music industry together over the past few months. It’s sent a communal message to the government who were slow to react for us live events people which will undoubtedly cause some long lasting damage. I’m not sure if bands can do much more other than bring awareness to their fans and work closely with their local music scene so we can support each other in this challenging time. Viva la resistance – the music will keeping going on and so will we.
Mitch (Bass): I fully cannot wait to get out there and playing again, in the real world, on a phat stage- feeding off that audience connection like the bloodsucker I am. That’s a point to remember: there’s two sides of the stage out there, and it’s just as important for you crowdgoers of the world to get involved, keep in the know, and make sure you’re checking in on your local venues and helping them survive this too!
Julien (drums): I think the “little” artists do what they can. I’ve seen distress messages from session musicians touring with internationally renowned artists. Guys who have been in the business all their lives and are now wondering “what am I going to do? That’s all I know how to do.” On the other hand, I’m relatively surprised not to hear the big machines on the subject … how come with their platform and their millions of fans, there isn’t ONE that has launched a unifying campaign? I ask myself every day what I would do if I were in their position.
What would you say are the most likely reasons as to the relative silence from ‘the big machines’?
Julien (drums): Honestly, I don’t know. I just notice that some artists have been very prompt when it came to defending their interests at the dawn of streaming platforms (follow my look) and in the current situation … nothing. Nada. It makes me sad and it makes me angry. Probably because I feel powerless.
Jack (Keys/Vocals): Perhaps it’s easier to stay in the dark … a bit like Bane from the Batman series. Actually now I think of it, people might actually listen if Tom Hardy spoke up with his bulging arms out on display. Maybe it’s for the best Ed Sheeran didn’t do the same …
Fergus (Guitar/Vocals): I’ve actually not laughed enough this week, so an official statement from Ed declaring how he wants to save the music industry would be just the ticket. For our American readers who may be alarmed by our apparent distaste for Mr Sheehan, you shouldn’t be. We don’t like him because he’s from an almost identical town roughly 50 miles away from our own. In English folklore that’s a free pass for prejudice.
Ha, you guys! Your flair for banter never ceases to floor me. I take it this jubilance is in part due to the release of your music video, featured here in this blog after a hopefully successful launch this past Friday 13th. Care to share a little bit about the story in the visuals for your new American audience?
Jack (Keys/Vocals): Indeed John, the music video to our new single ‘Why I Leave’, is on YouTube now so go check it out! The story features an intimidating older gentleman who has a distinct hate for himself, his life and any form of external happiness. On the flip side a young girl is doing exactly what the older guy has long left behind, expression and a child-like fascination for nature, dreaming, music and life. Something which I am sure we can all relate to, maybe personally but also in those around us. However, don’t you think it’s time we all ran around in a wood and got our faces covered in paint again? Release your inner-child people – life is just too short not to.
That’s a shockingly explicit answer given your past stance on inviting people to read into the images. A change of heart on the subject of deconstruction of one’s art?
Jack (Keys/Vocals): To be honest, I think your assessment is somewhat far fetched on that one, especially as the video is out now! Personally I like a bit of self indulgent deconstruction of my favourite bands so perhaps the Floral fanbase might too? As Robbie Williams once said, “let me entertain you”.
Mitch (Bass): And now the vids out, we can talk behind the scenes innit. Besides, it’s riddled with enough ambiguity that with a brain, a biscuit, and a bit of time, buzzards could only know what one can extrapolate from it.
Fergus (Vocals/Guitar): The audience is always invited to make up their own theories first and foremost. But if it’s a peek behind the curtain you’re after, there it is!
Perhaps I was mistaken in thinking the attitude taken in our first video interview wasn’t time/video release sensitive. Ambiguity be damned then! Would be good to have a ‘peek behind the curtain’ in regards to the recording process. Tell us more about your link to Catch 21 Records if you will?
Fergus (Guitar/Vocals): The recording process was sporadic given the changes in the lockdown allowances. We’re just lucky that Gavin Bowers from Catch 21 Records was always willing to get things done when we could. We actually finished off the tracking for it the day before my birthday and the wrap celebrations that saw us into my birthday were both highly enjoyable and memorable.
Julien (Drums): The process was very raw: we recorded the drums in London on location recording (because we wanted the sound of that place) after an epic gig the day before. And then after the pandemic came down on us but time made the song evolve a lot. It was really a surprise for me to discover the track and its direction after Gavin’s first mixes.
Jack (Keys/Vocals): As Ferg said, lockdown paused recording for a while which was painfully frustrating. After recording in London the rest was done in Norwich at Castle Bowers (C21 studio). Gavin approached us after hearing our demos and we’re very thankful for the fact he’s got faith in us to release music at a time where there’s a lot of uncertainty within the industry – so thanks mate!
Did having two new members impact the recording?
Fergus (Guitar/Vocals): Well we recorded this track as a four-piece with our previous bass magician Paul Winfield. Mitch and Jonny joined the Floral Image train after all was recorded and mixed.
Mitch (Bass): Me and Jonny had been short-distance admirers for a while… positioned ourselves comfortably at the front of gigs, conveniently bumped into Jack and Ferg at the shops, pubs, their home, online. We’re both big famous musicians in our own right. Jonny across the whole of Norfolk, Leeds, and London, and me, mostly my road and flat building, so, it was natural we’d float in at some point. I have to say, Paul left big boots to fill. He’s a fantastic bass player, and I’m a sub-par pianist at best. Jonny had it easy!
Jonny (Guitar): I had attended lots of great floral image live performances and I was overjoyed when asked to be a part of the band. Although I didn’t have too much input in the new single and music video, I am of course relishing the prospect of writing and producing great rock hits together in the near future!
Jack (Keys/Vocals): We were saddened when Paul decided to step away from music to focus on his other career as an Astronaut/Engineer/Surveyor (or something like that). He departed during the pandemic so we never got to play our ‘final’ gig together – but very proud of this single we did together and wish him all the best for future! However, I’m looking forward to playing with the newbies as the Floral-Five-Piece formation. From early rehearsals I can confirm that it’s sound PHAT and your face will melt off when we are allowed to play live again.
How could one choose being an astronaut to being in Floral Image? The mind boggles. Do let us know where we can purchase your music and when the single release is due. This coming Friday, yes?
Fergus (Guitar/Vocals): It’s out on Catch 21 Records on the 20th November and we can’t wait for y’all to hear it.
Mitch (Bass): And the music video for ‘Why I Leave’ is out now!
Julien (drums): You can buy it on bandcamp (in high resolution, this is better), or stream it on every platform. But please, use Tidal. Boycott Spotify, those rascals.
Boycott Spotify indeed. Thanks for your time and I hope your music soothes the minds of Americans who discover you via this little chit chat. Take care!
Julien (drums): Thanks John. Good night, and good luck.
Jack (Keys/Vocals): You’re welcome John! And good morning USA.
Fergus (Guitar/Vocals): Thanks John and hopefully we can come to the States one day.
Mitch (Bass): Cheers John! Shoutout to my buds in Arizona!
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