FLOTSAM AND JETSAM's ERIK KNUTSON Decries Use Of 'Cookie Monster' Vocals In Thrash: 'That's Not A Complete Band To Me. That's Being Lazy'
June 5, 2018
Jimmy Kay of Canada's The Metal Voice conducted an interview with vocalist Erik "A.K." Knutson and guitarist Michael Gilbert of veteran Arizona metallers FLOTSAM AND JETSAM prior to their May 28 concert at Les Foufounes Électriques in Montreal, Quebec, Canada as the support act for HAMMERFALL. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the reaction to the band's 2016 self-titled album:
Erik: "It's been really good, actually. We've heard comments that it kind of sounds like it's got pieces of every album so far on it, so that's a good thing."
Michael: "Everybody says that if we released it right after the  'Drift' record, then it would have sounded like the newest release."
On the band's forthcoming "The End Of Chaos" studio album, which is set for a November release:
Erik: "This actually sounds like a little more up-to-date extension of the last one. There's a little bit of everything on it. A lot of vocals, a lot of vocals. A lot of guitar; there's so much guitar work on this record, it's really kind of nice. It runs in and out of melody after melody."
Michael: "Yeah, there's a lot of guitar on it. Me and Steve [Conley, guitar] battle it out. What's kind of cool is that he records his stuff, his solos and guitar work at his house, then I record at my house. It's a little bit of a competition. He'll send me something and be like 'Hey, check out the solo I did.' And I'm like 'Shit! I got to redo mine to match what this guy's doing.' We get that competition going back and forth, so it's kind of fun. We actually push the bar up for each other and this guy [pointing to Erik]. I can't wait to hear what this guy did on the new record coming up. It's pretty badass."
On whether the current state of American politics influenced the band's lyrics on their upcoming album:
Erik: "There are a lot of little stabs at things. Nothing really direct or particular about anything. If you're a [Donald] Trump hater, you can find stuff in there, too, to link to that. If you're a Trump lover, you can find stuff in there to link to that. There's little stabs at all kind of political stuff in there, but nothing full-on 'This is what we believe.' It's really kind of open to interpretation, a lot of it."
On whether there are any new thrash bands who they think have a promising future:
Erik: "There are some newer thrash bands out there that I kind of like, but they all kind of have an old-school feel to them. I feel like there's a lot of really good bands out there and they didn't have the energy or the means or the patience to find an actual singer, so they go to the 'Cookie Monster' route. That's not a complete band to me. If you have a great band who is great at writing riffs and a good drummer and a great bass player and all that, and you throw a Cookie Monster vocal over it, that really doesn't complement it. That's being lazy."
On whether FLOTSAM AND JETSAM would ever consider using growled vocals:
Michael: "If it's going to enhance the song, I think that would be kind of cool in some areas, but not all the way through the song. That's just not for me. I'm a little overwhelmed with all the bands that are out there right now. There's a lot of bands that sound alike, just doing the same stuff. A lot of it sounds really repetitive to me. It's just the same. Inspiration-wise for newer bands? It's just hard for me. Like I said, I'm overwhelmed with how many of them there are. Where do I start? There's tons of them."
On working with German-based independent AFM Records versus a major label:
Michael: "We really couldn't ask for anything better. They treat us like the major labels did back in the day. It's great treatment."
Erik: "Yeah, they don't really have the reach of like an MCA [Records], something like that. They're a world power with endless money, stuff like that, but these guys do everything they possibly can to get us pushed out there and make sure we're comfortable and have a nice record and we're not cutting corners and stuff like that. They do the best that they can. They're big FLOTSAM fans, which is a big part of it."
Michael: "Who was MCA reaching back in the day with all that money? They weren't reaching the right crowds."
FLOTSAM AND JETSAM recently officially welcomed Ken Mary (ALICE COOPER, ACCEPT) as the band's permanent drummer. Mary began touring with the group last year after Jason Bittner was invited to join OVERKILL.
"The End Of Chaos" is set for a November 9 release via AFM.