Out front little girls are screaming, lost in the throes of juvenile infatuation. Backstage, the sounds are muted, the scene, less juvenile.
“This teacher told me if I was one of her students, I’d be out on my ass.”
Playing public schools can be such a drag. I guess she smelled beer on his breath. The conversation shifts.
“Wait, so this guy’s house had a cabinet full of pharmaceuticals?”
My thoughts come slowly.
“And he said they could have whatever you want?”
“Drugs aren’t really our thing,” says the voice. “It sucked because we had to sleep on the floor.”
As glamorous as it all may seem (screaming girls, drunken debauchery, and open medicine cabinets) the guys in Flashlight Brown are hardly rock stars. Cramped in a small van and cruising from one floor to the next, these guys are bohemian rockers, dedicated to a singular mission – to spend two consecutive nights in a hotel room.
The Canadian quartet, Matt Hughes (vocals/guitar), Fil Bucchino (vocals/bass), Mike Conroy (lead guitar) and Tim Thomson (drums), got their start on the Toronto music scene (that’s in Canada, silly) toting punk-tinged pop songs. Some five years later the band is on its first American tour, sporting a new album on Hollywood Records. My Degeneration continues the band’s tradition of writing songs that reek of punk, but also maintain an accessible pop sound.
So they’re no Bon Jovi, but what Flashlight Brown lack in visibility, they make up for in street credibility. As far as that whole “getting the girls to scream” thing, they kind of have that going for them too.
Hatchet: Lots of girls screaming.
Matt Hughes: Yeah, I guess that’s what it’s all about.
H: Has that been par for the tour?
MH: Yeah, we’re just following the American Rejects around right now. And every show’s been sold out.
Fil Bucchino: Yeah, we did the Homegrown tour with them. And they were just staring to blow up. And they were like ‘When we blow up, you’re coming on the road.’
MH: You always hear that from bands like, ‘Hey man, when we get big we’ll bring you on the road.’ It never happens. These guys are real friends.
H: What’s it like driving around on this tour?
FB: It’s amazing.
MH: What we’re doing right now is like 10 times better than we’re used to. We’ve been touring for years.
H: What are you guys used too?
MH: You play a show, you try to get paid and you try to get enough money to get to the next show.
FB: We toured Canada for like five years. We built it from the ground up. For the first three years we slept on floors every night.
H: No more floors then?
FB: Well I mean, we slept on a floor last night. But once in a while you get a hotel. It’s nice.
MH: It’s nice to have the support. It’s cool. It’s still not the easiest job. But it’s still way easier than working.
H: How much sleep do you guys get a night?
FB: Four hours, maybe five.
H: You sleep in the van?
FB: Every chance I get.
MH: I have to get really wasted before I can even remotely pass out in there.
FB: Sleeping pills help too.
(my cell phone rings)
H: Oh shit guys, I’m sorry. I hate when people do that, it makes me feel like such an asshole.
MH: It’s OK.
FB: No man, you’re an asshole.
H: You going to kick me out of the show now?
MH: I don’t think we have the authority to kick you out.
H: One thing that you certainly sing about, and have continued to sing about, is beer. Do you guys drink a lot on the road?
MH: We’re trying to avoid the beer right now. It goes right to the hips.
FB: I used to drink a lot of beer before playing, and then I’d get on stage and I couldn’t even play. So now we drink hard liquor. See, in Canada beer’s really strong. So you can drink beer and you’ll get fucked up.
MH: You got to have like eight beers in the U.S.
FB: And the you’re all full of water when you go on stage.
H: Can you even play like that?
MH: I play much better drunk on stage. But there is a limit. When you’re too drunk, that’s bad.
FB: There’s a point of no return, where you drink so much, you’re just fucked.
MH: And the alcohol just congeals in your veins because of the sweat. You’re looking around going, “Oh no, I’m fucked. These guys all know I’m gonna fuck the show up.”