Track By Track: The Flatliners, ‘Dead Language’
The Flatliners release their new album, Dead Language, today via Fat Wreck Chords. We caught up with vocalist/guitarist Chris Cresswell to get the meanings behind all the new songs. Check out the track by track he wrote below while listening to the AP-exclusive stream of Dead Language, then head to the Fat Wreck Chords website to order the new album.
RESUSCITATION OF THE YEAR
I grew up in a household where if you needed help with something, it was there for you. All you had to do was ask. There were no stupid questions, or feelings of shame or embarrassment for not knowing how to approach a particular situation. There were only lessons to be learned. Back in early 2011, due to some swift and unwelcomed personal changes in my life, I found myself needing much more help than I could ever comfortably ask for. Through any Canadian winter any small problem can seem so much worse, especially when you try to sort it out all on your own. As spring approached and the band broke out of our winter hibernation, that daunting feeling quickly began to wear off, and it was all at the hands of my friends and family. I was constantly reminded why I am an incredibly lucky person, and I was--and still am--truly grateful that I had the musical outlet at my finger tips to celebrate those beautiful relationships, and let out the aggression of the failed ones.
Everyone knows the feeling of having the wind knocked out of you. That desperate exasperation of air and energy affects you in such a profound way because it always happens when you least expect it. Literally or figuratively, you yield the same result. Inspired by my infatuation with bittersweet love songs paired with morbidly lyrics, which are always done so perfectly by Misfits, Danzig, Alkaline Trio and more, I wanted to explore that notion further and have the song paint a picture that would start from the very top of the sky and end deep underground.
BIRDS OF ENGLAND
The year my friends and family saved my life also turned out to be the year when I reached a fairly surprising realization. We so rarely get to see summer at home in Toronto, since that's the busiest time in our touring schedule every single year. After spending a decent chunk of time at home, enjoying great weather and the company of friends and family, we were about to head off to Europe for a six-week tour. I remember sitting around with some friends a day or two before we were set to leave for this massive jaunt, and feeling something I hadn't felt in a long, long while. I didn't feel like going on tour. I wanted to stay home and enjoy the rest of my summer in Toronto. I could not remember the last time I felt this way. Alas, the ship set sail and I was there, along with the rest of the guys, to give Europe and the UK our best shot. We spent almost two weeks in England with the Arteries and OK Pilot, and I realized that very quickly, my feelings had changed. Again. That tour, those shows, those laughs and memories shared with those bands, those friends, still stand as some of the best times I have ever had on the road. We were only a day or so into the U.K. portion of that particular tour, and I felt like I never wanted to go home again. Cheers to the Arteries and OK Pilot for being great friends, incredible bands and for all the memories. This song is all for you lads.
DROWN IN BLOOD
They say when you bleed it’s your body cleaning the fresh wound you've just sustained. As a kid I was never really afraid of blood because I was always told it was a good thing to bleed, to feel that pain and to learn from it. I began writing the lyrics to this song in the van on a European tour in 2009. I had no real melody or structure in mind, but I remember the drive through the Swiss Alps was all too inspiring, and for some reason it caused me to think about the mistakes I had made in the past, the things I regretted and how I wanted to escape those feelings and move forward from them. I ended up finishing the lyrics to this song on an airplane somewhere in 2012. Upon revisiting those old lyrics from three years previous, I was reminded about the certain mistakes that weighed heavy on my mind at that point in time. And I realized that since then I had truly learned from those mistakes and had moved forward quite a ways. It was a unique perspective that I accidentally created for myself, having so much time pass between the origin of the song and its completion. I would have never come to that important realization, though, if I had never made a mistake in the first place. No one's perfect, that's a given. But everyone is given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
SEW MY MOUTH SHUT
But now it’s apparent to you that I tend to ramble. Sometimes my rambling turns into me putting my foot so far in my own damn mouth that I'm shitting shoelaces. I have no doubt infuriated or confused people over the years by my love for run-on sentences. And though I am a firm believer in the theory that the simple tool of dialogue can clear up almost any qualm, the fact remains that sometimes things are better left unsaid. It's a bit of an odd thing writing an entire song about talking too much. To put it simply: There are lots of words in there about not using any words at all.
There are certainly some dubious delusions about being one that travels year-round on the basis of making and playing music, but there is an honor to the whole thing. I've found it's those who make you really happy to be there that make it truly worthwhile. From discovering that welcoming feeling, while your body is likely feeling quite disoriented on the interstate somewhere, it becomes apparent at some point that you've lost touch with some friends who at one time meant the world to you. Chances are they still do, you just haven't talked in a while. After a long time at sea, a fair-weather friend can sometimes appear like a shear in the sail, but there's nothing sadder than time creating distance between true friends.
This song is dedicated to my old home, the Grace Street Sport & Social Club, and all of it's lovely inhabitants. I have forged incredible friendships from my time spent under its roof, and from them I hold onto a whirlwind of memories. I could go on tour for weeks at a time, only to return and feel as though no time had passed at all. The reason for that is one I've never been able to put my finger on. Living in that house taught me many lessons about growing up, about life in general, that I carry with me every day. This song is a toast to all of those great people who had a hand in that.
It's almost second nature at this point to compare the feeling of being in this band to being in a pack of wild dogs. An extremely cheesy and clichéd metaphor? Hell yes. But I wouldn't say it if it weren't true. Much sacrifice occurs for someone to build their life in and around performing on stage, writing music and trying their hardest to make a living out of it. It's the most fun you'll ever have, but it's far more work than many people could ever understand. The beauty of it though, is that if something goes wrong, you have the outlet to create something out of that pitfall. In exploring that creative outlet, you become so much more latched onto the idea of making this your life. If I wasn't able to write songs about what I've gone through in my own life, or what I've seen happen in the world around me I would go absolutely bat-shit fucking crazy. So this song is for the hounds. It's about being loyal to the idea my friends and I had when we were kids, and seeing how far we can take it. I'm lucky to have this band, and to have these great friends. To every pack of wild dogs, we'll see you on the road.
No one is a stranger to the theory that sometimes life evolves in unpredictable ways. When you're a kid it’s easy to be inspired by the feeling that anything is possible. That when you grow up, you'll get married, start a family, grown old and happy, and die old and happy. To me, that all begins with holding someone's hand for the first time. When you're just a kid, and you're exploring life for yourself, the first time you hold the hand of someone else is a momentous occasion. As time goes on, as people begin to change and drift apart, you realize that sometimes that hand feels cold and dead inside yours. And sometimes you feel the cold, dead slap of that hand on your face. Through music, and particularly with this song, I've severed those dead hands, fashioned them to some rope and wear them around my neck like a fucking trophy.
When I was younger I would get terribly homesick. The irony of that is certainly not lost on me, given what I've decided to spend my life doing and the amount of time I'm away from home. I will say though, that I'd take a bad day at home over a bad day on the road. At times the almost-constantly disorienting feeling of always being on the move can be overwhelming. I think even the most weathered road dog would agree with me on that. The Groundhog Day feeling of touring can certainly cause people to say things they don't mean, and act out in ways they normally wouldn't. But it's important to remember that you've got a golden opportunity at your fingertips. And although it's difficult to keep that in mind sometimes, especially when you're on day 52 with a couple more weeks to go, it's always where you should land. Here's to the bad days for making the good ones shine so much brighter.
To me there has always been something beautifully mysterious about the sky. My father has been a recreational pilot for as long as I can remember, and I still remember my first few flights with him. As we'd begin to ascend and approach the clouds, they seemed to exist as some sort of buffer zone between the reality I knew and all the things I could never explain or understand. Since those first few flights with my dad, I've been resigned to the feeling that being up in the air is the perfect escape from all your troubles on the ground. I will never forget the first time my dad took his hands off the controls and let me steer the plane on my own. The amount of power in my hands at that moment was easy to recognize and impossible to deny. But my feeling of solitude never ever faded.
There is a saying that is often lobbed at those without the reputation of being a “good person” or a “stand-up citizen.” The phrase "he/she will outlive us all" usually drums up the image of a cockroach in post-apocalyptic times, and it's something every one of us can say about at least one person we've had the regretful experience of meeting. There is a large population of snakes, bridge-burners, liars and thieves who deserve to be called on their bullshit, but always seem to get away with whatever they want. I believe ambition is a line you draw yourself, but when it's needlessly drawn too thin it becomes extremely evident who has talent and motivation and who simply has “connections.”
Sometimes it's worth it to trek through the fog just to see what's on the other side. In doing that you may run the risk of getting lost in it for a while. You can get lost in the fog for so long you miss out on a large portion of your youth. You can get lost in it for so long that your memories start to shift, and you start to forget the way you used to feel. They begin to skew and you arrive at a point where the things that used to get under your skin don't really affect you in the same way anymore. You can go so deep into the fog that it's years later once you reach the other side. You've lost touch with many of your childhood friends. You've found yourself on the receiving end of being stabbed in the proverbial back. And you've noticed a profound change in yourself. But it's a change that, in the end, yields the result of truly knowing oneself. The fog only serves as the many lessons, struggles and opportunities that life continues to throw at you. Your reaction, though, is solely up to you.