THE FLITZ (from l-r): Ben Strong (bass), Mike Lees (drums), Dan Fishlock (vocals), James Kerrison (guitar)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
From London, The Flitz are an emerging four-piece specialising in an anthemic indie-rock sound that immediately draws listeners in, and takes influence from a diverse range of bands and artists.
Currently getting positive feedback for their latest offering – tracks ‘Shoutout/Dancefloor Dramas‘ – the collective spoke to me about such things as this, performing live, how they think coronavirus will affect the British music industry, and more.
How did the band initially form?
DAN FISHLOCK (vocals): Through necessity, really. I was asked just to play one show at our student union, and I didn’t want to play it alone, so I got Mike, who I was living with at the time, to play cajon and keyboards, then I called James, who I had just met again at a party, to join us. It was all good fun.
JAMES KERRISON (guitar): After that gig, myself and Dan then spent a month or so meeting up and writing songs together. When it came to someone else offering us to play another gig, I wanted to complete the band with a bassist, so I contacted Ben, who I had met recently in our uni music society, to ask him to play bass in the bass, and he was up for it.
BEN STRONG (bass): I was in my first year at uni, the other guys were all about to finish their third, and I hadn’t met Dan or Mike before James asked me to be in the band. At first, I thought he was going to ask me to be the drummer, and I almost said “no“, but after he explained that they wanted a bassist, I said I would give it a go, and now we’re a few years on, and it seems to have gone alright.
MIKE LEES (drums): I met Dan in my first year at uni, and we were in another band with him for a short while, then I moved in with him and some mates in the second year. Dan quit the old band, and asked me to join The Flitz soon after. He introduced me to James and we got jamming, with Ben coming in shortly after.
How did the name The Flitz come about?
DAN: A “Flit” is like a one-off, of the moment kind of thing, which suited the circumstances of our first show. We only ever planned to play that one show.
JAMES: The “Z” divided the group a bit, but I won’t say who was or wasn’t in favour.
BEN: We’re stuck with it now, I guess.
MIKE: Still unsure on the name.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
DAN: I’ve got no one approach. I suppose I just write when I’m inspired, and anything can inspire you at any time. That’s the wishy-washy answer, it’s mostly building on ideas all of the time – often, James has a load of riffs that need to be made into songs.
JAMES: Most of the time, Dan comes to me with an idea, maybe some chords, melody, and a few lyrics, and we flesh it out with more lyrics and lead parts. Sometimes, myself and Dan will chill together and play around with some chords and lyrics, and they quite often get worked on further into our new tunes.
BEN: When it comes to the band’s stuff, I’m happy to let Dan and James do the bulk of the work, and then I turn up at the end and fill in the gaps on bass, which, a lot of the time, has some interesting results. I’ll keep changing my parts up from one gig to the next, as well, until I find something that really feels right to me.
MIKE: Ben and I come into the process later on, and we have a lot of fun jamming through it a few times, adding whatever feels right.
What inspires the band lyrically?
DAN: Whatever rubbish comes out when I’m trying to sort out the melody.
JAMES: Dan likes to sing random lines when we’ve got some chords. I like to change lyrics to create a narrative, sometimes, this narrative is based on some of our own life experiences, like nights out.
BEN: There tends to be quite a few references to Northampton, which is the town where Dan and I grew up, which is strange, considering we never met until we had both moved away.
MIKE: Dan sings and plays a lot of Oasis and Stone Roses around the house. I feel like it really shows in the way the lyrics are written.
Recently, you brought out a new double-sided single, ‘Shoutout/Dancefloor Dramas’. How was the recording process for that?
JAMES: We had a great time recording those two tracks. We spent a lot of time in preparation by playing the songs live long before we demoed them.
Once we had made a demo in Dan and Mike‘s lounge, we took it to James Simpson (of Indoor Pets), who is also a great engineer and producer. He recorded the drums and bass for the tracks with us at 123 Studios in Peckham in a day, then we took those tracks to a home recording set-up, where we laid down all new tracks for the guitars and vocals.
Once everything was sorted, we then sent it all off to Jamie McIntyre (of The Covasettes), who mixed and mastered the tracks. It was a long but worthwhile process.
And how has the reaction been to the tracks so far?
DAN: We’ve had a lot of love for the B-side, ‘Dancefloor Dramas‘, actually! The A-side, ‘Shoutout‘, was a live favourite that we were inevitably going to record.
JAMES: We’ve had some really nice feedback on both tracks, likening them to The Beatles and Oasis, which is good to hear.
BEN: A few of my uni mates have said that the tracks have gone straight onto their playlists. I can definitely see ‘Shoutout‘ as a chilled essay track.
MIKE: ‘Dancefloor Dramas‘ is definitely the underdog, they’re very different songs, and I would say that they have been received very well.
The band have performed live at venues across London, and have supported the likes of The Covasettes and The Baskervilles. How is the experience – for you all – of playing on stage?
DAN: It’s the best way to determine if you’re any good or not, what areas need to be worked on more, and what areas you’re doing well in. A live reaction is the most exhilarating, because it’s honest, and if you don’t get people going, then they’ll be off to the bar.
JAMES: I always love playing live. I get a real buzz for the lead-up and the day of the gig. It’s a great highlight to my week, and I’m really missing it at the moment.
BEN: I grew up playing in orchestras, which have some pretty rigid traditions when it comes to playing live, so getting up on stage with my mates and having fun is just the best, although if anyone sees any videos of me on stage, then I might be better off on stage when I’m not allowed to dance.
MIKE: Playing live is always fun, plus it’s a great excuse for a night out. Even on a quiet night, it’s still always a laugh.
In your opinion, how will the current global coronavirus pandemic affect the British music industry?
BEN: It’s honestly pretty scary, but I do reckon the music scene will be back and better, as soon as we can. You just can’t kill British music.
DAN: It’s made bands more annoying on social media, as now, they think that people want relentless content every hour. However, it has given the opportunity for musicians to be more creative, so maybe there will be a surge of album releases after the lockdown is fully lifted.
MIKE: Obviously, it’s pretty crap for the live music industry, and frustrating that you can’t get out and play, or go to gigs, but I guess it’s a good excuse to get some practice in.
JAMES: It’s interestingly showing how important live shows are to people, as most people I have spoken to say that the first thing they will do once the lockdown is over is go to a gig. I’m hoping that once lockdown has been fully lifted, it’ll bring a new wave of interest in small gigs/events, as people may be put off being in large crowds for a while.
And lastly, what is your long-term aim?
DAN: To make it onto those jukeboxes you find in every random pub.
JAMES: To have a room full of people singing our tunes back to us.
BEN: To walk into a supermarket, and hear one of our tracks playing as the weird dated background music.
‘SHOUTOUT/DANCEFLOOR DRAMAS’ – THE LATEST TRACKS FROM THE FLITZ – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES: