June 2011 - THE FLYING EYES
Everything is going smoothly for THE FLYING EYES. Not long ago, the band was on a successful tour in Europe for the second time where they also played a lot of new songs from their recent album 'Done So Wrong'. The new record proves impressively that THE FLYING EYES have more to offer than a mere rehash of the heavy psychedelic sounds of the 1960's. They continue to develop and it is clear that the band's creative potential is still far from exhausted. It seems as if they don't want to limit their sonic dreams and that is really a good thing. It was therefore high time to do another interview with drummer Elias Schutzman. Unfortunately there was some kind of confusion, which means that Elias did not answer the updated interview questions, but those I've sent to him before THE FLYING EYES came over to Europe in March 2011. Despite this, the result is still very informative. Please enjoy all the details and don't be confused.
Since last year, THE FLYING EYES are pretty active. After the release of your self-titled debut album you were for the first time on tour in Europe and next week you will return to Europe for your second tour. It ought, of course, also to be mentioned that the new album 'Done So Wrong' will be released on March 18, 2011, via Trip In Time. All in all, it seems as if you had done everything right. But before we talk about the current activities, let us take a look back on the last year. How was your European tour? I can imagine that one of your highlights was your performance at Burg Herzberg...
It was an intense experience as you can imagine. We're in a new country, completely hung over with jet lag, new equipment, new electricity and we have maybe two days to collect ourselves before tour starts. It was great, I mean we were giddy with excitement. Burg Herzberg really started the tour off with a bang. We were so lucky to get added last minute to the festival, it felt almost fateful. Walking onstage that day was one our most thrilling experiences we've had as a band so far, and the the crowd reaction was better than we ever could have hope for. That festival really kick started our exposure in Europe.
During this tour you entered a German studio to record 'Done So Wrong'. Where exactly have you been and what was the reason for this choice?
We had three days off around mid tour so we used that time to start recording 'Done So Wrong' at Perplex Tonstudio in Walldorf. It was a perfect decision because we were so locked in. The middle of a tour is the best time to record, because your warmed up and you still have plenty of energy. In the beginning of the tour we wouldn't have been tight enough and by the end we were too exhausted.
Congratulations on 'Done So Wrong'. It is an excellent record. Compared to the first album, it is considerably darker and most of the songs are much heavier. But what was it that led to the creation of such a gloomy album? Did you went through difficult times or did it came from the need to reveal a darker side of THE FLYING EYES?
Well, we had been playing these songs for awhile before recording them so by the time our first album was released we were already deep into the 'Done So Wrong' material. I think your right in saying the album is dark but I'm not so sure about gloomy because to me that implies that it's a downer. For me, dark and heavy music is powerful and uplifting and I think that's what we are going for.
The tracks certainly don't project sunshine and happiness, but I kind of hate purely happy music. Our songs are about sin, heartbreak, loss of hope but they are meant as relief from those very feelings. It's the blues. We release these heavy emotions through the channel of music and hopefully the audience can groove with us and find a similar release. Then everybody feels great, like they've just screamed their lungs out. I think the best music should make you feel good, but not be about feeling good.
Additionally, the beautiful cover artwork is also very fitting. Once again you cooperated with Kiryk Drewinski. How did that come about?
We toyed around with some other ideas and looked at sketches from other artists. But in the end Kiryk was our go to guy because we knew whatever he did would be high quality. We felt secure working with him again. Also, at this point being a mostly unknown band it's good to stick to a recognizable look for our albums. We only gave him one direction: Make it simple and classic.
As you had already mentioned in our first interview, it is furthermore noticeable that you have expanded your musical spectrum with 'Done So Wrong'. There have been changes, but welcome ones. For me, the good old blues only plays a subordinate role in some of the tracks but instead there is, for example, much more psychedelia in your sound. So there you have my observations summed up in a few words, but what do you think is the biggest musical difference between both records?
'Done So Wrong' definitely captures the quality of our live sound much better, because we recorded all four of us live in the same room, with minimal isolation. It's also a much dirtier, noisier album, not as much space as the first one, which might be a good or bad thing depending on your taste. But I think the most important difference is that it actually is an album, a complete musical statement, whereas the first release was just our two EPs mashed together, which recorded over a two year period. But regardless of musical quality, 'Done So Wrong' is a better album because it has one sound and takes you on a unified journey from beginning to end. It really flows and the musical themes and lyrical content feed off each other.
How many days have you spent in the studio? Please tell me more about the recording sessions.
Well, we spent three days in Germany recording the foundational live tracks without vocals or overdubs. Actually we did almost all the songs the first day, 'Sundrop' the second day, and the third day we just argued. Then we took the tracks back to the U.S. to record vocals and overdubs. From the original German sessions we used 'Death Don't Make Me Cry', 'Poison The Well', 'Nowhere To Run', 'Clouded', 'Sundrop', 'Done So Wrong' and 'Greed'.
Then we recorded 'Overboard' in it's entirety in the U.S. (because we wrote it after the tour) and added 'Heavy Heart' (an instrumental me and Adam had recorded during the previous year) and finally 'Leave It All Behind' which we had almost already finished before the tour. 'Leave It All Behind' is actually one of my favorite songs on the album despite being such a different sound. It has such a lonesome yet comforting feeling, a great comedown from all the noise and feedback. Really pulls on the heart strings for me. It's saying when life is driving you insane, just take a deep breath and try to appreciate the beauty in little things. Drive out to the country and leave it all behind. Or just pluck a banjo if you don't have time to get away.
Let's change the subject. The next week you will start your second European tour. Are you just as excited as last year or do you see things more calmly?
(The tour is in the past now so I'll answer as such) We were equally excited as we were for the first tour but also more calm and collected since we knew what to expect. It was a lot easier to adjust once we arrived and we hit our stride much quicker.
This time, you will be part of the WDR Rockpalast Crossroads Festival in Bonn. Such a show will get THE FLYING EYES further, due to the fact that the whole festival will be recorded for television. How did this cooperation with the WDR come about?
We really have to credit that gig to Wolf from our label World in Sound. He talked us up to Peter Sommer and convinced him to give us a shot. It was a really great experience, one of the most professional environments we've ever performed in. And the lighting was otherworldly. Again we really kicked off the tour with a bang.
Everything is going smoothly for THE FLYING EYES in Germany, but how is the situation for the band in the USA? Do you receive a good feedback from the people and the press?
Things are definitely more difficult here in the U.S. We have a lot of wonderful support in Baltimore and we've played some great shows all over, in Philly, NYC, Cleveland, Austin for example, but as far as press goes we don't really to much of it. There are just so many bands it's stiff competition. And we don't exactly have a "hip" sound as far as many people are concerned. At this point it feels as though Europe is much more in tune with what we are trying to do but I hope Americans will come around sooner or later.
What happens when you return from your tour? Are there any plans for a U.S. tour? By the way - is your Farm Fest in Maryland still alive?
Yes, we are doing a ten day North American tour that starts next week, where we'll visit Canada for the first time. And Farm Fest is happening this year on July 2nd, which involves a lot of work and organization. This year we have Lower Dens, Arbouretum and Golden Animals playing and we are really excited for it as always. It just keeps getting bigger and better. This summer we are also working on a softer, more acoustic based album that will come out in some way sooner or later as well as writing new songs for the next electric record.
Ok, that all for now. Thanks a lot for your answers! Anything else you would like to add?