Joel Barrios and Rodrigo Altaf of Sonic Perspectives recently conducted an interview with guitarist Michael Gilbert of Arizona metal veterans FLOTSAM AND JETSAM. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On FLOTSAM AND JETSAM's upcoming album, "The End Of Chaos":
Michael: "This is a good one. We're super-excited about this album. It seems like the last record, which was the self-titled one, 'Flotsam And Jetsam', it was like a stepping stone to what 'The End Of Chaos' turned out to be. It seems like we really hit our stride on this record. Our songwriting as a team has really just come together and it's well-oiled now. I'm just super-proud of it, just the way [vocalist Erik] 'A.K.' [Knutson] sings the songs, his choruses, his verses. He's stronger than he's ever been. This motherfucker just gets better and better. It's a pleasure to jam with these guys. They're all super-talented musicians. We've got a new member in the band, Ken Mary, new drummer. It's just working out great. I'm super-excited about it."
On working with Mary, who makes his FLOTSAM AND JETSAM recording debut on "The End Of Chaos":
Michael: "I've got a lot to say about Mr. Mary. He is one of the most soft-spoken people I know. He's really funny and he's a very polite guy, but when he gets behind the drums, he turns into a monster. When Jason Bittner decided to go over to OVERKILL, we decided to ask Ken because he was working with Steve [Conley, guitar] in Steve's studio and Ken's got his studio too, so they've been doing stuff back and forth. When we finally asked him, we weren't sure if he was going to want to do it or not. He said, 'Yeah, I'm definitely interested in it.' We watched a lot of videos of other drummers and stuff like that, but we also knew Ken is a monster. But that guy showed up at rehearsal that first day and I knew within about 15 seconds into the first song he was going to be our guy. His strengths are all over the board. He's a great songwriter. He's a great lyricist. He's a good — better than good. He's a great singer and he's a phenomenal drummer. What tools he brings into our arsenal or what weapons he brings into the FLOTSAM AND JETSAM arsenal are just making it all that much more stronger for this release."
On whether it was a conscious decision to make "The End Of Chaos" such a heavy album:
Michael: "That's just how it came out. Like I was saying before, there's something about this lineup, the way we're all writing together. We're jelling. We're basically on steroids right now as far as the songwriting. Everybody's got an equal contribution, so that's a huge strength. We've all got production experience, recording experience. It just makes it a lot easier for us. We can go through — we're veterans of recording, so that helps to speed things along. It also helps if we want to make changes to arrangements and stuff like that, too. For example, I can write a tune and I'll send it off to those guys and they'll give a fresh ear and they'll be, like, 'Hey, you know what might sound cool if we moved this part over here and did a little re-arranging?' I listen back to it and I'm, like, 'Yeah, that's stronger like that. Let's keep going, man. Let's do it.'"
On whether there's a whole new level of interest in FLOTSAM AND JETSAM this late into their career:
Michael: "We're definitely revitalized. There seems to be a whole different age group that's interested in us now. It's not just the old thrash guys that remember 'No Place For Disgrace' and 'Doomsday For Deceiver', but it seems like some of the younger kids. I see some kids in their teens and they've got the 'No Place' shirt on and they know all the songs; they're right up in the front row. They're singing the lyrics with A.K. I'm, like, 'Okay, that makes me feel good. That makes me feel pretty relevant in the business.'"
On his recollections of the 1990s, a time when thrash bands like FLOTSAM AND JETSAM started to drop in popularity in the wake of alternative and grunge music:
Michael: "It was a weird time for metal. We were trying to stay focused on what people wanted to hear and what we were listening to and what our influences were in the '90s, but it wasn't working for a metal band. We had major label support behind us and that wasn't working either because they didn't know what the fuck they were doing with a metal band. It was a little bit of disarray back then. I'm glad to know that's gone now and it seems like with the resurgence of metal, it's stronger. I sound like 'The Six Million Dollar Man': stronger, faster and rebuilt and whatever. [Laughs]"
On whether he would have preferred FLOTSAM AND JETSAM changed its sound earlier in its career in order to gain more fans:
Michael: "No. The only things I would have done differently about our past is I would have a couple of the records, I would have done some better production and better mixing, spent more time on it. When you get into the major labels, you get into time constraints and money and you have to have it turned in at a certain time. They were, like, 'Fuck it. It's not done. We got timelines. This has got to be released.' It's, like, 'What do you mean? It's not even mastered yet. How can you release something that's not even mastered?' But that's the mentality of it. What happened was there was maybe four records that suffered badly that I thought had great songs, but the production just wasn't all quite there. Definitely couldn't hold a candle to 'The End Of Chaos'."
"The End Of Chaos" will be released on January 18 via AFM Records. The album will be 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.