Like the many before them, Flags’ interesting approach to songwriting has certainly turned some heads in the music industry. With the mid-2014 release of their latest EP Oils and Sparks, the four-piece alternative rock band took influences from their surroundings in an attempt to create something fresh and different.
“The four of us come from three different areas of the country, Rory and Mikey from Devon, Pete from Nottingham and Duncan from Kent. In hindsight, forming the band at university was a very special time for us as it gave so much opportunity to hone our sound and filter out all the usual difficulties that come with four very different people and thought patterns trying to form a distinctive sound with separate and eclectic influences. This very quickly became our strength as we grew for three years, playing shows, touring, writing music and becoming more open minded to each other. Growing as people also helps a lot too. With Oil and Sparks, it was the first time we had the opportunity to write music that wasn’t under any time constraints, there wasn’t any expectation of what the finished product had to sound like. We wrote the EP purely out of love of being in Flags and spending time with each other in a beautiful location.” – Flags.
Seeking an environment that would inspire the creative flow on their EP, Flags chose an 18th century cottage in Woody Bay, North Devon. By secluding themselves in this small house by the sea, the band deliberately injected their tracks with a festivalesque vibe that is reflected upon in the form of a beautifully produced soundtrack about the everyday person.
Duncan Silvey, bass guitarist from Flags, comments: “I would say we write music as four friends who deep down want to connect with other people, as this is the best way we know how. Our songs are very much about the average person who is trying to make sense of the world around them, the difficulties that life involves, finding a sense of meaning within that and nothing more to be honest. We are just the same as everybody else.”
The band’s measureable success has been a slow one, however, Flags have gained positive coverage across numerous radio platforms including: BBC Introducing, Brian Kennedy at XFM, Amazing Radio, Dermot O’Leary on Radio 2, and praise by former Radio 1 presenter Zane Lowe as being “One’s to Watch.” Flags have played gigs at popular London venues such as Proud, the Barfly, and the Queen of Hoxton, alongside various festival appearances at The Great Escape Festival, Strawberry Fields Festival and Knee Deep Festival.
As a part of Clowdy’s regular Staff Picks column, we have featured Flags’ ‘This Old House’ as one of our favoured tracks this week. Each song on the band’s four-track EP is credible in its own right as having a mass appeal, but this single was chosen in particular due to its vast number of memorable hooks throughout. Initially beginning with a groove on the rhythm guitar that acts as a constant pulse for the verse sections, this riff works around the other instruments by utilising the space in the mix and providing a foundation for Rory Gilmore’s vocals. The shoegaze elements in the chorus make this track perfect for the festival season. This includes a wall of sound guitar part that uses effects (e.g. reverb, delay, distortion) with the intention of adding energy to the band’s performance and giving the overall track a bigger sound.
What makes Flags so unique is the way that they play on the idea of ambience. Lot’s of artists do something similar to this idea of using the reverb as an instrument, but it’s not so common for a band to use it in a way that works well for the mainstream market, and that is what draws you in when listening to Oil and Sparks for what it is… a collective discussion of everyday topics that you can relate to as a listener.
Future plans: In the Spring of 2015, Flags returned to the studio, deep in the Kent countryside to once again record a new two-track EP with Kristofer Harris (Bears Den, Story Books, Smoke Fairies), that is set for release in September 2015.
Giving a brief overview on their upcoming EP, the band says: “The new material is an extension of Oil and Sparks in the sense that we haven’t changed genre or brought in completely different instruments, however it may be considered a little more sing-a-long, anthemic and groove based. We are fans of simplistic elements, washy soundscapes and defined lyrics that people can call their own.”