Since 2005, Riot Fest has been bringing some of the best bands in the world to the city of Chicago to rock your face off over the course of a weekend. They have been using some sort of black magic the last couple years, reuniting bands you never thought you would see – like the original Misfits lineup, or most recently, Jawbreaker. With all these amazing bands playing over one weekend, Toronto’s The Flatliners still managed to stick out as a “must see band” playing the festival. With the release of their fifth studio album, Inviting Light, earlier this year on Rise Records, The Flatliners show no sign of slowing down. I mean, they are only in their late 20’s/early 30’s, so I would hope fucking not. Buzzcocks are twice their age and still going. Anyway, we were lucky enough to sit down with The Flatliners’ guitarist Scott Brigham and shoot the shit for twenty or so minutes while Dinosaur Jr. played in the background.
Kevin: Whelp, Dinosaur Jr. just started. I guess this is as good a time as any to start this interview. So, I just moved here from San Diego and Devito is one of my really good friends. He got you guys to play “He Was A Jazzman” for me at your secret show at the Slidebar in Fullerton a few weeks ago. I just wanted you to know that I really appreciated that! I’ve been waiting forever to hear that song live!
Awww. Well, I appreciate that you appreciate it! It’s one of those ones that we play… like, I feel like we play it regularly, but no one else does. So, maybe it’s always in the same cities or whatever.
Kevin: At Pre-Fest in Little Ybor last year, I was watching you play at The Orpheum. But I left a couple songs before you were done to go check out another band across town at New World Brewery. My girlfriend texted me when I was almost there saying “They are playing it! How stoked are you?” And I was just like…. fuck.
Typical asshole Canadians, man.
Kevin: Let’s see… what’s next?
(Reading my questions) “Tell them about your 30th birthday.” Is it your 30th birthday?
Kevin: No it was my 30th birthday and you guys fucking refused to play “Jazzman.” When you played it in Fullerton, it was my 32nd birthday.
Well, fuck you, that’s why. So we just play your birthday every other year? That’s awesome. There you go; you’re welcome. I mean, we are all turning 30 this year. Age and time are strange things.
Mat: It’s a fantastic thing! I’m in the first year of my 30’s.
How is it?
Mat: I’ve been riding it out, it’s been great.
Kevin: Have you made it to the part yet where people will tell you that you look like shit for absolutely no reason?
Oh, since I was 18. I think that’s when that started. It’s not getting any better.
Kevin: The Great Awake is getting the ten year repress this year –
Mat: Would you be willing to buy some autographed copies we have stashed away?
How much are you guys selling them for?
Mat: How much you got?
Uhhhh, not much. I got a couple Toonies. Do you guys take Canadian? It’s a shitty exchange rate, so I mean….
Kevin: Yeah, sure. Fuck it. I mean, Canada is right there across that lake. You guys wont let me in though, I have a DUI. Is that a real thing, not being let into Canada because you have a DUI?
Yeah it is. You shouldn’t drink and drive; it’s bad for you. And now you’re not allowed in my country, so I hope you learned your lesson. How long does it last? I know it’s not for life. It’s, what, like five years?
Kevin: I think it stays on your record for at least ten years or something, until you can get it expunged.
Mat: Oh, I just thought after you were 21 that shit was just impossible to have happen in general. Like anything you do before you turn 18 just doesn’t even fucking matter.
So kids, if are reading this right now, and you are under 18, do whatever the fuck you want! Now’s the time to get in trouble.
Mat: Some really good friends of mine were doing an interview with a band when they were in high school and were like, “Hey, do you have any advice for the kids out here that might be listening?” And they gave the best answer. “Don’t do drugs. Sell them.”
Yup. That’s good advice. I was always worried, because we are in a touring band, and I always wanted to sell weed. But I was always worried because we had to come into the states all the time. And now it’s basically fucking legal and all my dirt bag friends that were growing and selling weed have houses and are established people. It’s fucked up.
Kevin: My girlfriend wanted me to let you know she was very disappointed the last two ska songs on Division of Spoils were digital only and not on the vinyl. We just assumed it was a space issue and not a personal attack on her.
No, it was a personal attack on her. There was so much space on there. It was a double LP man! We could have put so many more songs on there, but we knew we would let her down. Those were the really old ones. “Spill Your Guts,” that used to be our go-to song. We use to close every show with that one. The good ol’ days.
Mat: I have a question. It’s something that’s always been weighing on my mind. Years and years ago, you never came south of New York, to like, the Buffalo area. You toured a lot in the upper Midwest and Eastern states. And then I come to Chicago, and I’ve see you guys hop across on a Canadian tour and do a Chicago date. Was it always hard in the beginning to get into the states to do a tour?
Yes it was. Since a pretty early age, we always tried to do it legit, to get the work visas and all that shit. And half the time you’d still have to wait and get held up at the border all the time. It’s tough. And it’s fucking expensive. I feel like we did a lot of touring in the South. But I mean, there are so many fucking cities in the states. It’s tough to hit them all. Where are you from?
Mat: Maryland originally, so you never came down to Baltimore.
Baltimore kind of sucks for us. NOT IN GENERAL! I love Baltimore! PaperMoon? Is that a diner? Ottobar? The Wire? Baltimore’s got some cool shit.
Mat: You guys were touring with NOFX, I think it was on one of the Fat tours…
Yeah, we played Ram’s Head Live. I don’t know how I remember all of this. Guys! Weed does not affect your memory that bad.
Mat: I mean, I was super excited. You guys, Teenage Bottlerocket, and NOFX.
I remember that. It was super great. And then we haven’t come back since! It’s because you guys don’t have a hockey team, so like, why the fuck would Canadians go there?
Kevin: I’m trying not to ask the same fucking questions everyone always asks you guys…
What’s your favorite color?
Mat: Where do you go when you’re in Chicago?
Mat: Oh, you too?
So you’ve heard of it?
Mat: I’ve never been. It’s always just so packed.
Yeah, we couldn’t get in today, so fuck Chicago Diner!
Kevin: Speaking of…. everyone always asks dumb questions about your insane touring schedule. What I want to know is where have you not played yet that you would like to play?
Oooooh. Alaska? Hawaii? How do you get out there? Drive? Maybe one of those buses that do the city tours, but it also turns into a boat. The duck boats. We could tour Hawaii in one of those. There are a lot of states we have never been to surprisingly, but I think for a good reason for most of them. We went to South America for the first time this year which was excellent, but we only did one show. We played a festival in São Paulo, Brazil. It was fucking awesome.
Mat: Was Iron Maiden there? I feel like Iron Maiden always plays Brazil.
Slayer was there. There were a lot of metal bands. But Rise Against played and Pennywise. It was fun. We’ll go anywhere. I think it’s pretty obvious at this point. Just ask us to come, and pay us a lot of money, and we’ll come. It’s that easy, guys.
Kevin: That actually brings me to my next question. Exactly how much do you get paid per show and what’s on your rider?
We have socks on our rider, which we get sometimes. Everyone runs out of socks. We put weed on our rider, but I don’t think anyone has ever given us that. People gave us cigarettes before. We get hummus… a lot of hummus.
Mat: Are you guys vegan or do they just bring you hummus?
We’re like half vegan. I just think hummus is like the go-to backstage snack. No one gets mad at hummus. And yeah, we get paid peanuts. Nothing. But like, we’re in it for the “art.” You do it because you love it, right?
Kevin: I think you guys had a hand in PUP’s explosion into the public eye. Who else are you guys hiding up there in the Great White North?
I like to think we did. For some reason we have so many good bands that come out of there. Pkew Pkew Pkew is a band we played with last night (at the 3rd Annual Soothsayer Pop Punk Pizza Party!) that is incredible. Solids from Montreal is incredible. Pretty much whoever PUP is touring with; they like to bring along a lot of really good Canadian bands. PUP is just such a really fucking great band that just writes great songs and there’s not a fucking ego in the group. Everyone is really cool, not like us where we are all jaded assholes. I can’t believe I’m missing Dinosaur Jr. for… what is this again? Who are you? Is this a VLOG?
Mat: We are Danzig.
You guys are Danzig? You sounded shitty yesterday. Why does Danzig play during the day? That’s not cool. No one wants to see Danzig during the day. I was at The Lawrence Arms. So I didn’t even watch him.
Kevin: Last question. You guys obviously like San Francisco and you just did the West Coast tour while out for It’s Not Dead Fest. Who do you think has the better burrito? Northern or Southern California? And please answer truthfully. We will not be mad… even though I have a tattoo of a burrito right here that says “San Diego or Die.”
Thats very tough. I think I’m going to have to give it to San Francisco only because I want to hurt your feelings and fuck your tattoo. Whenever we would go into town, Fat Wreck Chords would always get the best burritos. And you know, it’s tough for Canadians. We don’t know what’s what when it comes to burritos. We have places in Canada that puts spaghetti in burritos, man. It’s fucking weird. I just think burritos in California are something to write home about. They are a very special thing, all across California.
Mat: Well, do you have any questions? What do you want to know from the other side?
From the other side? Like someone thats dead?!? Or you guys?
Kevin: What do you want to know about us, the idiots that write about you?
Are you guys having a nice weekend?
Mat: It’s been great! Basically, our mantra is: we just get really drunk and have a good time. So we’ve just been doing that all weekend.
Kevin: Well, thanks for stopping by and hanging out with us for a little bit.
This has been lovely. I hope it’s been educational and fun. Thanks for having me, cheers.