FLOTSAM AND JETSAM Guitarist: 'We Stay Away From Politics Because Music Is People's Exit From Reality'

May 26, 2019

Alex Haber of Heavy New York conducted an interview with guitarist Michael Gilbert of Arizona metal veterans FLOTSAM AND JETSAM prior to their May 22 concert at Gramercy Theatre in New York, New York. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On the band's latest studio album, "The End Of Chaos":

Michael: "We have a new addition to the band right now; Ken Mary came in as drummer. He stepped in for Jason Bittner, who left and went to OVERKILL, which is very cool. Ken brings a different aspect to our band. He makes it five people who actually write, and [it's] very cohesive. He's got a studio, so we do drum tracks at his house. We do guitar tracks and vocals at Steve's [Conley, guitar] and my house, and put it all together. Having everyone be able to work at Pro Tools and be part of the production process is really helpful. It's a little change in format for us in how we do it, but generally pretty close to the same."

On how "The End Of Chaos" compares to the band's 2016 self-titled studio album:

Michael: "I would say it's a stepping stone from the last record into this one. The next one [that] we're already working on, it's going to be another level again. 'The End Of Chaos', the self-titled seemed to put us back on the map as a speed metal band. 'The End Of Chaos' coming up for us now, it has added us to a new genre of metal, which is power metal, which we've never been a part of before. We're getting those fans coming through, especially in Europe and stuff like that. We're hearing from the Vikings. [Laughs]"

On power metal fans now appreciating FLOTSAM AND JETSAM:

Michael: "It's seeming more like that. I think this record, 'The End Of Chaos' is really helping that out. Instead of being just a thrash band, we're not just a thrash band anymore. Maybe in our early days you could do that, you could say that, but not now."

On what constitutes a thrash metal band for him:

Michael: "I don't really know. I guess it's the reaction to it. If it makes you feel like punching someone in the face or getting in the mosh pit, that's probably what the classification would be. For me, I don't know. I can't really tell the differences in some of those genres."

On how the writing and recording process has changed for FLOTSAM AND JETSAM over the years:

Michael: "For me, I was one of the main songwriters when I joined back in '85. 'I Live You Die' was one of the first songs I wrote with this band. Over 30 years seeing the classic way of going into a studio with a huge mixing board and spending 150,000 dollars, from then until now, when you can do a record for 5,000 dollars, it's really cool to see those changes and being involved with how it all works and knowing how to do all of that. But also the songwriting process, I don't know — it's still been the same as far, like, how I come up with a riff and put it on tape. Before, I used to put it on a cassette tape and multi-track with that, which was insane. It takes forever to do that. Now, you just turn on your Pro Tools and play the riff and drag some drums over to it and you have an idea."

On whether FLOTSAM AND JETSAM tries to replicate their studio material exactly in the live setting:

Michael: "We try to imitate exactly. They come to hear something. If they hear a memorable guitar solo or if there's a solo on the record that's memorable, they want to hear that live. The Europeans, they're really strange about that. They'll be, like, 'Your solo was shit tonight.' They'll tell you right to your face; they're really cool. It makes me smile, but it's, like, 'I know. We're all entitled to fuck up a little bit.' Sometimes I do a little improv and that doesn't go well with the Europeans. The Americans are, like, 'Fuck it. I'm going to get another beer.'"

On whether the changes in the world have affected FLOTSAM AND JETSAM when songwriting:

Michael: "Maybe a little bit. We stay away from politics, because I think music is people's exit from reality. When they go home, they want to listen to something that takes them out of their shitty day. If they want to hear political preaching, they can turn on the news and listen to that. We're not into that; we don't want to manipulate anybody into believing what we believe. We just want to make good music and have fun while doing it."

"The End Of Chaos" was released in January via AFM Records. The album is available as a digipak, on clear orange, gatefold vinyl (limited to 450 units),black gatefold vinyl (limited to 450 units),limited picture vinyl (limited to 500 units),gold black splatter gatefold vinyl and limited boxset with T-shirt.

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