Flotsam and Jetsam

Queens Hall Nuneaton 19th May 2015.

Tonight was my first outing covering a Razorline Music Ltd show, which is kind of a big deal, when you consider the man behind this promotional outfit is non other than Simon Hall! Straight after work I made the thirty minute trip to Nuneaton, which isn’t too bad really, but what was surreal was being able to find the venue in the day light, usually I arrive when it’s dark and drive straight past the place. Thankfully, this occurs more ofter than not, which I discovered after talking to other people at the venue tonight, phew, it’s not just me then.

As I’d arrived, I made myself known and was then swiftly whisked off to a big tour bus where I conducted an interview with non other than Michael Spencer, Flotsam and Jetsam’s bass player – I’ll have more on that in a bit. After the interview I made my way back upstairs to mingle with the metal folk, who were gathering in their masses for tonight’s event!

First up were a new band to me, a female fronted outfit from Belgium, who go by the name of Bliksem, which is a word that describes the phenomenon of lightening in their native tongue, which is pretty fitting as this bunch are electric!

Tonight’s performance was hindered by sound issues which really didn’t help this lot out as you could see they were battling to find their rhythm, however, despite the set backs all the members in the band gave a sterling performance and showing they were worthy of the main support slot they’d been given (except for tonight) to the titans that are Flotsam and Jetsam.

Jan Rammeloo - Bliksem

I was so impressed with this bands sound, which I’ll describe as metal/thrash, so much so that when I got home, I looked them up on the usual music streaming sites to discover and listen to their album “Face The Evil” which I’m loving at the minute! I’m aware they have some new material being released soon as they played a couple of tracks tonight, so I’ll be on the look out for that, but the crowd knew of these guys and called for more of the older stuff. Personally, I thought they sounded great from start to finish!

As stated, tonight’s main support came from the local lads Beholder and quite rightly so as if I’m honest, especially when you consider all the time, effort and planning it must take to put a show on of this calibre, I think it’s only fitting Simon and the rest of the guys got this spot on the bill!

I was talking to a guy tonight, who asked me why I liked the band Beholder, which I’ve never really thought about before, but found it interesting to explain why I do in fact support these guys as much as I can.

Anyone who knows of Beholder, knows they ain’t scared to discuss the more unsavory topics that plague our lives on a daily basis. Where some are happy to stick their heads in the sand, these guys try to make people aware of these facts and demand change. Personally, I think Simon Hall should run to be his local MP, but I dare say that would go against every moral fibre he has in his body, yet he’s still willing and open to discussion. My reasons for liking these guys so much isn’t for their political beliefs, but more for the morals they live by and the fact these guys stand up for what they believe in and don’t give a fuck about what others think, which is very similar to my own personality. Truth is, every single member of this band are down to earth, nice guys and very approachable. Every time I’ve see them, they always make me feel welcome and are happy to see me at their shows, even if I’m slightly out of their demographic, as far as friends go. These guys are just good human beings, who choose to thrash out their frustrations on a stage, join them, or oppose them, they’ll be there regardless and for that, I’ll always admire them!

Truth is, Simon can ramble on a bit at a show (he even admitted it himself tonight) but tonight was a completely different affair as he and the rest of the band seemed very happy and a lot more relaxed, which helped to set the mood. The primarily reason for this has to be the fact that Beholder were supporting one of Simon’s musical idles, Eric ‘AK’ Knutson, who he openly admitted was one of the people to inspire a younger Simon to start singing in the first place, amongst others, so he must have been on cloud 9 to have the man himself here tonight!

Simon Hall - Beholder

There may have been other factors at play as to why Beholder sounded so good tonight, one factor may have been the fact that temporary stand in guitarist Jay looked a lot more comfortable than when I saw these guys in February. Back then he’d only had two practice sessions with the band and as anyone knows, it takes a while for a new member to fit into a bands groove. Tonight I felt that Jay was in that groove and gelled well with the rest of band!

Beholder’s set tonight was a short one, as Simon said on stage, “Lets get Flotsam & Jetsam out here, as I’m very excited to have them here and want to hear them play!”

Si Fielding - Beholder

Their Set List tonight consisted of; 1.The Awakening 2.Here I Stand 3.Dance (new track) 4.Host (new track) 5.Razor line

As stated earlier, we got an opportunity to talk with Michael Spencer, the bands bass player who is in fact from Sacramento, California. Erik, Steve and Michael Gilbert are from Arizona and new guy, Jason Bittner, who takes up drum duties is from New York. I meet with Michael and he suggests we conduct our interview in the tour bus, sure, I said, as I’ve never really been in a big tour bus like this before! Here we conduct our interview.

Michael Spencer - Flotsam and Jetsam

First things first, who was the Lord of the Rings fan, that got you lot to change the bands name from Paradox to Flotsam and Jetsam?

Jason Newstead!

So when did you first join this band?

Well I originally replaced Jason Newstead when he went on to join Metallica, the first time. I stayed with the band and helped to write material for the album “No Place For Disgrace” but I then left the band and took four tacks away with me. When I rejoined the band in 2013, it was suggested these tracks I’d written back then should be included on this new album. This is pretty exciting as these tracks will have that old school trash feel that our fans love from us.

Flotsam and Jetsam have been very successful as far as finding a balance between touring and writing new material, what’s your secret?

The band have been very lucky, as far as the rotation of musicians over the years. A band of this stature demands a lot of time and effort from its members, sometimes personal lives dictate who can do what so it’s been great to have other musicians stand in and keep us going.

How is the writing for the new album coming along?

We currently have seventeen tracks that we have drums tracked for so far. We have a couple of tracks we are looking to use a drop B, almost a Slipknot tuning, but we’ll not play that low, like they do, we’ll make them our own style. For now though we’ll get the summer shows out of the way, then in August and September, we’ll go back into the studio to finish it off. We should then have a greater understanding of a concept for this album, based on vocals, songs etc. from there, we can then get the album art work done and obviously a title, which can then be released, which is always exciting.

Do you all have different personal tastes in music and would you ever consider incorporate those personal styles into your music, namely, this new album?

Personally, I’m into 70’s mo-town, the Beatles and Iron Maiden, which is basically what I grew up listening to, but my son has recently got me into dubstep, so I’m currently listening to Skrillex, which I never thought I’d be interested in but I like the drum and bass aspect from that genre. As for incorporating more modern styles, we are a trash band so you have the purists who want their trash as it was back in 1981-1984, but Michael does try to incorporate some industrial beats into the music and people don’t like it, so we tend to stick with what our fans love. That doesn’t mean to say we’will produce the same album fifteen times over, we will mix it up.

You’ve openly suggested the new album will be released this year, will it?

That’s the plan, the last two albums have been released by Metal Blade but for this album, things are a little up in the air, as far as timing goes but we’d love to release this latest album with them again, so we need to see, but its release will be towards the end of this year.

The current European tour only has three UK dates, so us here in Nuneaton are pretty lucky, would you have liked to have had more UK dates?

We would have liked the UK leg to have been longer, we tried to tour with Saxon last year, which was a twelve date run, but the timing didn’t work out, which was a shame, so we missed out on that one, but were here now. Once the new album is out, that will give us a great opportunity to come back!

Are you attending any festivals this summer?

We have Rock Hard Festival coming up in Germany this year after the European leg, we fly back to the USA for a run of five dates on the East Coast, we then come back to do Head Bangers Open Air Festival, which is back in Germany.

You played Blockstock last year, do you think these kinds of festivals play an important part in your musical genre?

Absolutely, they help to get the band a maximum level of exposure which gives us an opportunity to taylor our set to attract new fans from younger generations. This set would be different to a headline show like this one, where our fans already know us well. This helps us to mix thing up and keep things fresh for us, within the band.

Thank you for speaking to us Michael, it was great to have the access and to be able to ask these questions. We look forward to hearing the new album.

Eric 'AK' Knutson - Flotsam and Jetsam

As for tonight’s show, for me, it was better than the show I saw at Bloodstock, the music was just as good, but where Bloodstock has 15,000 people between you and the band, the intimacy of tonight was great, up close and personal – just the way I like it. The band were phenomenal and for many in attendance, who last saw these guys play here in the UK, was back in 1987, which everyone seemed to remember very fondly indeed.

Steve Conley - Flotsam and Jetsam

Thanks to some professional video footage from tonight, I’m aware a very happy and slightly inebriated Simon managed to get up on stage to help Eric out on the vocals for a track, sadly, I’d already left to try and get some sleep before work the next day, shame on me I know, but I had a great night at Queens Hall tonight and I look forward to the next show Razorline Promotions Ltd put on.

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)