Flotsam and Jetsam Recent Biography

Change is good. And the 10 aggro songs on Unnatural Selection are proof-positive. The Phoenix, Arizona lineup's seventh album features the classic Flots vibe...plus a fresh take on the aggro, intelligent, passionate and unrelenting approach that has become the quintet's trademark. "The two new guys, Craig and Mark, really were the catalysts and started the fire going on this record," explains bassist Jason Ward. "Mark really wrote some fantastic guitar work, and it took off from there." Teaming in the studio with recorder/mixer James Lockyer, Flotsam and Jetsam strove "not to be redundant and to create the 'newest' material possible."

They succeeded. With an impressive legacy that includes Doomsday for the Deceiver (1986, Metal Blade); No Place For Disgrace (1988, Elektra); When The Storm Comes Down (1990, MCA); Quatro (1992, MCA); Drift (1995, MCA); and High (1996, Metal Blade), it was up to Flots to break new musical ground while retaining the core sound that has eamed them a legion of fans in the States and Europe, airplay on MTV ("Wading Through the Darkness," "Monster"), and a reputation as uncompromising but ultra-cool guys. As for the stylistic and personnel shifts in the last few years, Ward believes that "people will hear a lot of different things on this record, see the progression from Drift to High to Unnatural Selection. There's new writers, and new twists on themes people will recognize as our own style. People who like our records will love parts of this record, and there's new stuff for our old fans to check out."

The power of Craig Neiisen's staccato, forceful drums, Eric A.K.'s memorable, recognizable voice, Ward's authontative bass, and the creative riffing and melodies of Mark Simpson and Ed Carlson is undeniable. And, as always, the lyrics are as provocative and fully realized as the music, if songs like "Brain Dead" and "Welcome to the Bottom" have anything to say about it. "The music dictates the theme and eventual lyrics of the song," Ward explains. "About three weeks into the writing process, we got into a groove. When we finished the song "Chemical Noose," things started falling into place. l think "Promise Keepers" came next. We have some real nice surpnses, too, like "Falling." With lyrics like "Here's blood in your eye, the tension taken / Who are you to say that I'm forsaken," Flotsam and Jetsam are brutally truthful. "All our songs are about our expenences of things we've deait with on one level or another," admits Ward.

The album title. too has a definitive meaning. Unnatural Selection is the question mark about our mortality as a band," Ward begins. "We've been around for 15 years, and we're making records in 1998! For us to still be alive and viable is amazing to us. We should be gone by natural selection, but we're still here by unnatural selection!"

With tours with everyone from Megadeth to European festival dates to a "crazy tour" with Anvil and Exciter last year, Flotsam are showing no signs of going away....or slowing down. The band's European tour for High was "like the United Nations of knuckleheads." laughs Ward. "I think we scared Anvil and Exciter, those Canadian goofball bands. We were right off our two month tour of the States, and we were like hardened Vietnam soldiers. They definitely were frightened of us."

They're not the only ones. Flotsam's big sound can be intimidating. "The bottom line?" asks Ward. "We carry a big gun, and some people are more than a little scared of us." But, despite the unnatural selection that has allowed them to survive and thive. Flots are not scared of the future, planning a major tour for 1999. "For the first time in a long time, Flotsam and Jetsam's overall health is really good. Our morale is great, we love jamming together, we know what we want to do, and we do this for purely our own enjoyment. It's pretty selfish," confesses Ward. "I don't complain for one second any time I get to play the bass for a living, especiaily in this band," he concludes. "I'm the luckiest man in the world to have that opportunity."