The following interview is courtesy of Ralph Geiger and Rock Reunion.
Forbidden have split, Testament are doing death metal, Metallica are wimped out. FLOTSAM AND JETSAM are among the last survivors of old-school thrash metal. Their 1992 CD "Cuatro" is one of the best melodic thrash albums ever and should have sold more copies than Metallica's black album. The song "Monster" from the 1997 CD "High" is one of the best metal songs from the last decade. And the Flots are still an underground band. Life's a bitch... But bass player Jason Ward doesn't give up.
You are now recording your new album "Obsessive Repulsive". Are the songs finished?
Yes, they have been for some time, just not finished
recording. Also the title will change, I can say for 100% accuracy it will not
be called "Obsessive Repulsive". I will keep you informed.
Who’s the producer?
We brought back Bill Metoyer for this one.
Why has the album been delayed for so long?
Well, Mark Simpson (guitar) was in, then out, then we worked with Mike
Gilbert and nothing happend. Then we had to wait for Bill Metoyer to finish
another project. Then came some other technical problems in the studio which
were unavoidable. All in all it worked out well, since we got to refine the
songs for about as much time as we have had since we did the "Cuatro"
Can you already provide a track list?
1. Dig Me Up To Bury Me
2. Keep Breathing
3. Camera Eye
4. Weather To Do
7. My God (more than likely the title track)
8. Nothing To Say
10. Learn To Dance
11. Killing Time
In which direction will the new tracks go? Pure thrash?
In about 50 different directions, which is the way we like it. Some people have been giving us shit about the sound of the last couple of records and all I can say is, we write what we like and never try to box it into one particular style. There will be some very heavy stuff on this record as well as some very progressive stuff, and as always, It will come from the soul.
Who are the songwriters on the new album?
Mainly Mark Simpson, who has become one hell of a writer, but as always, everyone of us has contributed to the entire record. Usually that is how it has gone with us, one guy sort of the catalyst for the overall direction and the rest of us shape those songs into a final product.
On most of your albums, all band members are mentioned as songwriters. Are
your songs really developped during jam sessions?
When will the album be released? Are you still on Metal Blade Records?
Yes, and it will be out by June of this year.
Are you content with the promo work of Metal Blade?
We are content with making records. Metal Blade allows us to do that and does what it can to make sure it gets out there. They can only do so much, the real question is whether the listeners will respond. We think they will.
Why did Mike Gilbert and Kelly Smith leave the band?
Because of our shitty manager and a desire to get on with their own lives and projects.
Is it true that they formed a new band?
Not now, they did jam together for a while, but nothing really serious. Mike has got another band togther and will be doing some shows here in Phx soon.
Tell us more about the new members Mark Simpson (guitars) and Craig Nielsen
I will say it now for all to hear, Mark Simpson is by far the best guitar player I know and he will flatblast you all on this new record. If he is not on the cover of Guitar Player Magazine this year (with Ed Carlson, too), then they don't know anything about real guitar playing. I will be lobbying hard for that to happen. Craig is the best thing to ever happen to Flotsam. A true brother, he has more than filled Kelly's shoes. He is, in a way, the heart of this band.
Mark joined the band, then left and went to Lynch Mob, was replaced by Mike and then joined once again. Strange, hmm?
Yeah, but there was alot of strife at the time with us firing our useless manager and figuring out what to do next, so he took the next job offered. He did a job and got paid for it.
Eric AK and Ed Carlson are the only original members. Where’s the spirit of F&J?
What? I do ten fuckin' years in this band and you ask me that? Come on dude, help me out here, ok. I have written over 30 songs with this band. Mark has about half of that in two records. Flotsam is what it is, it is not a guy who played bass on one record, or two other guys who are gone, it is all of that and the journey in between.
How big was the shock in the band after the departure of Mike and Kelly?
Not very, I think everyone in this band has decided to hang it up every record, but it never happens because deep down we are suckers for this shit. Mike and Kelly finally got smart and looked out for themselves for once. I am sure they miss us, but they will be better off in the long run.
The Japanese versions of the last albums contained bonus tracks. Will there also be one this time?
Don’t you think this label politics sucks?
Yeah, so does everything else in this god forsaken business, hopefully more bands will quit so we can get paid more.
I think "Cuatro" and "Drift" were the best F&J albums ever. What’s your opinion?
I love em all, usually feel stronger about the newest one, like right now.
What do you think of the "When The Storm Comes Down" album?
It had some good songs...
Your last album "Unnatural Selection" was a bit of a delusion for some of your fans. What do you think was the reason?
I can't tell you what fans think, most either love our shit or hate it. Take
your pick. I thought we did ok, considering half the budget was stolen from us.
Do you think you will be able to reconcile the fans with the new album?
Reconcile what? Are you asking us to apologize for our music? Phhhh, yeah right.
If people don't like the music, that's their opinion. You state you think
"Drift" and "Cuatro" are the best records we have done, yet
I have been told point blank by countless jackasses that they think both suck
cock compared to "Doomsday..." or "No Place...". We don't
owe them any explaination either. Take it or leave it, we do things our way.
According to my humble opinion, the best track on the "High" album from 1997 was "Monster". Tell us more about this track with the outstanding guitar riff.
I wrote the track and it was about a time when I let myself fall into a deep hole of depression and drugs. Right from the horses mouth, it was about those times exactly.
Did you get any legal problems with the typeface of the song titles on the back cover of the "High" album (Flotsam used the typeface of famous metal band logos like Kiss, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Slayer, Judas Priest, Metallica etc.)?
No, they didn't even pay attention.
Who chose the band logos you used on the back cover?
My idea, Brian Aimes at Metal Blade did the work.
Why did you lose the deal with MCA after the "Drift" album?
Change of CEO and direction at MCA led to us being dropped despite good sales
and a tour with Megadeth and Korn.
If you look back on the MCA years, was it a blessing or a curse?
All good, it was nice to have bigger budgets.
What can you tell us about your predecessors on the bass? Jason Newsted, Phil Rind, Mike Spencer and Troy Gregory?
Nothing other than they are nice guys. Luckily I own this job now and have for some time now.
You recently got interviewed by Metal-Sludge. What do you think about their site?
I love it.
Did you only answer the Metal-Sludge questions because it gives some promotion?
Naa, they were nice about my cock size.
In the Metal-Sludge interview, you only had a short comment about Eric Braverman. Some years ago, you mentioned him as "sixth band member". Why this cooling of emotions?
Ok, nice try at pulling out some venom. All I will say is, it sucks when someone acts like a brother and then totally betrays that trust. He will get his one day, I am sure of it. We just won't lower ourselves to the level of airing dirty laundry. Not now, not ever.
Do you really not know HardRadio.com and Knac.com?
Why does no one get that joke? They used to be a kick ass radio station. They aren't anymore. Too bad, we loved them, but a website is not a radio station that pumps metal into the airwaves all over LA, like they once did some time ago.
What’s your opinion of Eric AK’s country album?
I hope he gets all the enjoyment he can out of it, he is a talented bastard who can do whatever he wants, not like half the cookie monster screamers who call themselves musicians out there.
One question about Metallica: How big is the possibility that Metallica will once again steal the F&J bass player?
HA HA HA HA HA, yeah right. They don't even know I am alive, plus they would not want to deal with an intimidating player like me anyway. But hey, if they want me to write some metal for them, there is always a price.....
There are several F&J fan sites (www.flotsam-and-jetsam.com and www.flojet.net). Will there also be an official webiste?
All of them are.
What are your plans for the near future?
A few bongs, then a couple of beers.
Have fun. Thanks alot for the interview, Jason.
For more info, check www.Flotsam-And-Jetsam.com and www.flojet.net.
Copyright Rock Reunion and Ralph Geiger