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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
This is Lasse (songs, vocals, guitars) responding on behalf of the band.
We all have other day jobs, but in terms of alternatives to music, I would probably have gotten into writing of some form. Maybe not novels, but short stories or investigative journalism or something like that. I might also be spending more time on sports as in my case, music definitely saved me from a promising career in football.
What do you like to do when you're not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
In no specific order, I enjoy traveling, food and drinking, and apart from food, all of the above have definitely influenced how I approach music and what I write about. I also spend (too much) time following what is going on around the world politically and socially, and this definitely inspires our songs. Obviously, I listen to tons of music and that directly influences how the band’s music evolves, but I also try to study creative techniques and methods to be productively creative/creatively productive.
How long has your band been around?
The core of Flush was established decades ago when we were innocent teenagers dreaming of bright lights, big stages, an abundance of booze and pretty girls. We’ve obviously grown since, and after realizing that rock stardom is in fact a pretty silly concept, we’ve learnt that what drives us is the music itself. We don’t need external validation or materialistic goals, we’re in it for the art itself. After a few different band incarnations, the current line-up was established in early 2018. This is when we re-discovered our essence and voice, and became much more driven and focused on how we are as a band.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Flush is based out of Helsinki, Finland. Finland is obviously known as the metal country where everyone spends the dark half of the year learning to shred on the guitar. Helsinki is a lot more nuanced than that and we’ve played with all kinds of bands, but I don’t think we’ve taken that much direct influence from the local music scene. We love our hometown though and the song ‘Cheap Beer’ on our new album is a tribute to the city, to our local hoods in Haaga (a Helsinki suburb), and people we’ve known along the way. I assume the darkness in our music, and the themes around depression and alcohol, are typically Finnish too. I guess you can try to emulate Anglo-American rock music as much as you want, but you can’t take the dark desperation, melancholy and anxiety out of a Finnish band.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
It is so long ago that I don’t fully recall how we decided on the name ‘Flush’. I know it was the suggestion of a girl and that probably weighed heavily when making the decision, but we also like the idea of it having multiple meanings. It’s short and sweet, and fairly easy to pronounce for people who don’t speak English as their first or second language.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
The worst one is easy. We were young back then and there was a buzz going on, but we were also stupid in thinking playing gigs is mostly about partying. Too many shots before the gig and I find myself uncontrollably screaming through the songs, killing the vibe in the mosh pit and cursing at the sound guy. After all these years I still feel incredibly bad about that night.
I’d like to think the best show is either our previous or our next show. We still get better with every show and every new song. That said, two special shows come to mind. We played at this little cave bar called Goblin’s in Bratislava, Slovakia, and it was way too small for us and our volume, but we had a blast and so did the audience. As a performer, I recall the stage at Tullikamarin Klubi, in Tampere, Finland, where the sounds were crystal clear and everything was all smooth and professional.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
It feels a little unfair to pick between all these amazing live venues in our size category. They all do their best to survive, especially now during the pandemic, and they are all in it for the right cause, to keep music alive. To pick out some local favorites though, Semifinal in Helsinki is maybe the most important venue for small and upcoming bands. It’s not the prettiest or fanciest, but culturally probably the most important place in Helsinki over the last 20 years or so. Bar Loose is another well established and well managed venue that takes good care of the bands. Right now, our aspirations are more focused on next summer’s festivals and going places we have not been before. Northern Europe and parts of Central Europe is where we want to go, regardless of event type and venue size.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
Rage Against the Machine are still doing their come-back, right? I hope it only got postponed and is still happening. So we’d sandwich ourselves in between Idles, Against Me! and Rage Against the Machine. Good ticket, right?
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
If you really want to make it, then practice, perform and learn enough about the promotional side of music to make it. I know some people who are technically great but never perform because they either don’t feel ready for it or don’t know how to promote themselves. Playing shows is great practice too and most audiences don’t mind (or hear) the same imperfection you hear and feel when playing.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
This is easy and simple: Take music and the band a little bit more seriously because you are good enough to do this.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Almost all my songs are personal in one way or another, even the ones commenting on the state of the world. But if I have to pick one, it would be ‘Chemicals and Conversation’ from our upcoming album ‘It Began as a Mistake’ (released October 23rd). The song is about someone very close to me, who has gone through enough hardship for one lifetime. The song has a key line that goes “We rely on chemicals and conversation, lithium and listening”, which quite explicitly gives away what it’s about on the surface, but it’s also about fear of losing and of the unknown, and of learning things you didn’t expect to face at a mature age. It’s also a song that is quite different to the rest of our material. Some might even call it… a ballad!
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
‘Cheap Beer’ is the obvious answer here. Who would not want to join in screaming for ‘cheap beer, rock songs, Friday nights’ when the band plays a fairly straightforward hard rock song! Another live favorite seems to be ‘New World Order’, which is an angry, British style punk song commenting on the state of our society.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
There is one co-write track on our new album (the new single ‘Two-Minute Punk Song’), otherwise I write all material. My starting point can be many things. Sometimes it’s a guitar riff, sometimes a vocal melody or chord progression, and sometimes a lyric line or rhythmic pattern. I then start patching these together and when I feel there is enough in there, I bring it to the band rehearsals. Some songs are quite ready when I bring them, but increasingly often I bring just elements and let the band work it out together. Some songs end up sounding quite close to how I imagined it, while others turn into very different beasts. Obviously, some are scrapped in this process too. But everything ends up sounding like Flush.
Lyrically I prefer to write about personal things. Writing is my most important form of therapy and I can definitely feel it when I haven’t processed my emotions into lyrics often enough. In the personal songs I focus more on matching the emotion with the feel of the song. Lately I have also practiced observational writing and writing as a third person observing from the outside. In these cases, I pay more attention to word choices, rhymes, symbolism, etc. I have started studying other lyricists and poets, only to realize I have a very long way to go! It looks like a fun journey to explore this form of writing though and occasionally something good comes out. Writing the intro line “She is a two-minute punk song” essentially tied together what was originally a random collection of ideas into a coherent but still somewhat bizarre story about… well, you’ll have to listen to it, I guess.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
In an earlier interview I mentioned hope. Today I’m thinking it’s probably something around thinking for yourself and allowing yourself and those around you to be human. We all mess up and let our intuition, fears and other instincts drive our actions. Instead of passing judgement, maybe sometimes take time to understand why intuition guided us that way, although it might appear unfair or illogical. Our instincts and intuition are not as bad as their reputation would often suggest, and it can often be quite fascinating to try to understand why people behave differently than what we would expect them to, ourselves included.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Sure, we disagree, but as we’re all grown-ups we can manage this quite constructively. No fist fights or temporary break-ups. If it’s about songs or the art itself, then I usually have the final word as the songwriter. For all the other stuff, be it scheduling gigs, ordering t-shirts, picking the design for the sticker or whatever else, we have been successful in using a mix of democratic voting and individual mandates to drive things forward.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
Our debut album ‘It Began as a Mistake’ comes out on October 23rd 2020 and it’s obviously massively exciting for us! It’ll be available on all digital platforms as well as CD. Our latest single ‘Two-Minute Punk Song’ came out on October 6th and you should definitely check it out. It’s a proper rocker. It’s also on all digital platforms and we make it easy to find through our website at https://flush.rocks.