Chris Cresswell, Paul RamirezDine Alone Records / Rise Records
By Sara Mai Chitty on December 6th, 2017 at London Music Hall - London, Ontario
It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since The Flatliners have put out “The Great Awake,” the sophomore album that kicked off their careers and also laid the foundation for their friendship with Massachusetts melodic hardcore virtuosos A Wilhelm Scream.
To celebrate both these accomplishments, The Flatliners teamed up with Wilhelm to play four shows in Ontario and Quebec which will see the band playing “The Great Awake” in its entirety; and because the album shares its 10th anniversary with Wilhelm’s “Career Suicide,” their pals will also do the same.
The mini tour began in London on December 6th at the Music Hall to a crowd of about 250. Before the show frontman Chris Cresswell and drummer Paul Ramirez sat down to discuss the significance of the anniversary.
“I haven’t yet been able to figure out if it feels like it’s been ten years or it doesn’t,” mused Cresswell. “It feels really good obviously, it feels like quite an accomplishment.”
A Wilhelm Scream and The Flatliners first met in 2007 on the release weekend for that album, and have been tight ever since, he explained.
“I would say that they’re probably the best friends that we’ve ever made touring in a band,” Cresswell said, with drummer Paul Ramirez nodding in agreement. Wilhelm‘s “Career Suicide” album remains a favourite of Ramirez and Cresswell’s and they both can’t say enough good things about it.
“The biggest bummer is that we have to play after them though, because they’re so good,” laughed Cresswell.
The show opened with Niagara’s Burning Spring, then Wilhelm took the stage. They performed flawlessly, with lead singer Nuno Pereira boasting at one point that he thought it was possibly the best performance they’ve ever given of some of the songs.
“They’re the masters of their craft in every way,” said Cresswell.
The Flatliners played through “The Great Awake,” perhaps a little slower than they would have played ten years ago, but Cresswell’s fears of Wilhelm being a tough act to follow never manifested. The crowd did not seem disappointed at all as voices joined in to sing the words and a mosh pit erupted.
When The Flatliners played their last show on the original “The Great Awake” tour in London, ON, back in 2007, Wilhelm showed them some tracks off “Career Suicide,” which had yet to come out at the time, said Cresswell. They were blown away and their love of their album hasn’t faded since.
As for The Great Awake, “that was the beginning of it all, that’s why it’s the one to me,” said Cresswell. “It might not be our fans’ absolute favourite record, but it was definitely the one that allowed us to be this band.”
The album was on Union/Stomp Records in Canada and then Ramirez’s mom called him one day while he and Cresswell were sitting in his car to let him know someone named “Big Mark” called the house.
It was actually Fat Mike of Fat Wreck Chords based in Los Angeles, CA, calling because he wanted to put out “The Great Awake” on his label.
At just nineteen years old, they were the youngest band to sign an album with Fat Wreck Chords.
Cresswell described it felt as if he were having an out-of-body experience, watching himself react to the news from outside himself. Soon after that the band found themselves interacting with their heroes, and being so young at the time, it was completely surreal, he said.
“They definitely took a huge chance on a band comprised of 19 year old kids, they didn’t have to do that and we’re so happy they did,” said Cresswell.
“The Great Awake” was their first internationally distributed album, and they did a U.S. tour with No Use For a Name.
“We hit the road running kind of even before the record came out,” said Ramirez. “We were just busy. We took every tour we could get.”
“We said yes to everything,” said Cresswell.
And it’s true. The Flatliners in retrospect were, and still remain, one of the hardest working punk rock bands in the Canadian music scene. They toured mercilessly to even get the exposure that brought Fat knocking on their door.
London was one of their first out of town shows, which is why it was fitting to play such an instrumental album in their career, in a location so supportive of their band from the beginning. Cresswell recollected his parents having to drive him to their first show at Call the Office.
“It’s definitely the best place to come up playing music, is Southwestern Ontario,” said Cresswell. “You can drive 45 minutes in each direction and play to a whole new crowd,” said Ramirez.
The connectivity, and accessibility of all the scenes in every small town in southwestern Ontario was integral in building their band’s following and their eventual success, making the constant touring feasible said Cresswell.
“And I think there’s a lot to say not only about southern Ontario, or anywhere we’re going on this tour, but just Canadian work ethic,” said Cresswell. “I think we’re a nation of really passionate people.”
Depending on how these shows go, they might extend the tour to a few more cities and dates. The band just put out their fifth album “Inviting Light” on Dine Alone/Rise Records and they don’t anticipate their lives slowing down any time soon.
The Great Awake was pessimistic in many ways when they wrote it, with no idea where it would eventually take them.
During the album’s first track “July! August! Reno!” you hear Cresswell sing “What do you do when doing what you love gets you nowhere, it gets you nothing?”
“Now though, doing what we love has gotten us everything we’ve ever wanted, really, that’s the biggest change probably, is probably perspective,” he explained. “I mean this is the 15th year this band has been around. That means we’ve been in this band for half our lives. It makes you really grateful and appreciative for what you have.”