Flotsam and Jetsam Interview

Interview used by permission of Metal Rules!!

Metal Rules!!
Interview With Jason Ward of Flotsam & Jetsam
December 13, 1998

Commercial success has eluded Flotsam & Jetsam since their beginnings. They came quite close to breaking out with the ground-breaking CD "Cuatro" followed by the mellower "Drift" which received such little promotion by their label that it went basically nowhere. Then came what seemed like a godsend, F&J; were back home on a label that stood for metal – MetalBlade Records. With the release of their CD "High" you could tell by looking at the CD, and listening to the music, that this band was completely pissed off. The promotional caption they used that generated a lot of press was "It’s metal so fuck off." As well, fonts used for the song titles were derived from some of the most well known metal bands (i.e. Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Van Halen, etc…). It seems like F&J; had a winning combination right?

Despite having a killer sounding CD and being on the right label something went wrong. F&J; have yet to make it from their underdog status. According to bassist Jason Ward, the latest CD High simply "…went over their fans heads."

So has Jason become frustrated because of this and their underdog status? You better believe it! "Frustrated enough to have been strung out, broke, pissed off, used, back-stabbed and still rocked when the time came. Life’s not easy. Neither is metal" says Jason.

Many think that metal is making a comeback of sorts. Do you think that the industry will be supportive of metal again? "I think the whole music business sucks. I hate to see art so corporate."

And what about the lack of promotion in most mainstream media? Do you care for their support? "It really would not matter…"

Are you then proud of or happy with the tag "metal"? "We could really care less. The many fickle tastes of listeners and critics have labeled us as ‘sell-outs’ as well. No one really understands this band for real but us!"

Some new hard-edged bands out there are making it, what do you think of these bands? "They make more money than us so it’s hard to criticize. Someone seems to think they rock."

Metallica are still doing fine, even after their last two embarrassing releases (Load/Re-load). "I think that they sold about 5 million more ‘embarrassing’ albums than we did. We hope our next album is half that embarrassing."

Many metalheads don’t even consider Metallica to be a metal band anymore, so what about "true metal" bands like Death, Hammerfall, Slayer and Judas Priest? "It’s hard to classify ‘true’ metal. Judas Priest has written lots of bubble gum hits but still rip yer face off."

Some people have moved onto the death metal / black metal scene that is fairly popular now in the 90’s, what’s your take on that scene? "It sucks, I never could understand that crap."

Wow, harsh words…what about a band like Deicide – are they silly or awesome? "Those guys are potentially dangerous psychopaths, other than that they’re nice guys."

Flotsam & Jetsam have seen a few personal changes in recent months including your manager…what’s up on that front? "We recently fired Eric (Braverman – longtime sixth member of F&J;) as our manager. You can’t trust anyone!!"

There have been other changes as well right? "Yeah, Mark T. Simpson replaces Mike Gilbert and Craig Nielsen replaces K. Smith."

Drug use is often a touchy subject with most bands. Some are totally against it, some hide it, and others actively promote it. When it comes to F&J; it’s not hard to tell what side of the fence they are on. When I asked Jason what the band stood for he bluntly said "Smokin Pot." I also asked him if the title of the CD "High" had a double meaning – one for the feeling they have when playing their music, the other for the drug reference…he agreed to both. Let’s fucking hope that his head is not so far in the clouds that he and F&J; really arn't "Smoked Out."