Flotsam and Jetsam: A Report from the Forbidden Territories of the World Tour
The legendary Flotsam and Jetsam recently concluded a North American trek with the almighty Hammerfall, making a stop at the world famous Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip. Hitting the road in the support of their recently issued Self-Titled release on AFM Records, Flotsam and Jetsam would uinleash selections from the current album as well as classics from their vast and glorious thrash metal catalog. Highwire Daze Online caught up with front man and founding member Eric “A.K.” Knutson for an interview just prior to Flotsam and Jetsam’s explosive set at the Whisky. A report from the Forbidden Territories of the World Tour shall now commence! Read on…
How has this tour been going with Hammerfall? What have been some of the highlights?
It’s been surprisingly a really good tour. It’s kind of a weird mix – power metal and thrash metal together, but we’re winning a lot of Hammerfall fans. So, it’s been really good for us. Those guys are really easy to tour with. And the worst thing about touring with them is they’re songs get stuck in your head for like four days. So I wake up in the morning like: “Hammer high na na na…” God, get out of my head! It’s been a really good tour. A lot of people on tour. I don’t know about highlights. There are so many good shows on this tour. I don’t really know if there’s been a lot of highlights. There have been some lowlights but not really a lot of highlights. Well, you know, spend a few days fixing the bus and you know stuff like that. Found myself covered in grease laying underneath the bus repairing the engines and stuff so it’s been a little crazy. But, the rest of the tour is killer.
You recently welcomed a new drummer Ken Mary into the fold. How did he become involved, and what was your very first performance with Ken like?
Ken, he’s got a list of stuff he’s done in his career that’s ridiculous. I mean everything from he’s on four Alice Cooper records to the original drummer of House of Lords, just all kinds of stuff. On tour with Accept for a long time. He’s been kinda sitting on his butt in his studio for the last ten years or so. We just kinda asked him. He did drum tracks for our last record and produced them. So we asked “hey, do you wanna get off your chair and come out on the road?” And he’s like “yeah, that might be fun.” And next thing you know here we are. So the first show with Ken was a little unnerving for us. We’re used to Jason Bittner. We’re used to Kelly David-Smith before that, and Ken’s a completely different style of player. But, the timing wise was really nice. I mean his meter is right on the money so it makes it a little easier to play onstage.
According to Wikipedia your upcoming album will be called The End of Chaos. Is there any overall story or concept to that title?
The title itself is actually a mixture of a couple of the song titles on a record. It stems from a new story about Flotzilla who’s on the cover. And it’s basically, you know all the chaos that goes on in civilization and politics and all that crap. And Flotzilla comes to life every thousand years or so and destroys everything. So it’s the end of all chaos, all of the political split between the nation and he pretty much puts an end to everything. Everyone’s concentration switches to survival instead of petty little things that everybody’s worried about.
Who did the cover art for The End of Chaos?
A company called Very Metal Art. A guy named Andy Pilkington out of London. He did our last cover art. He does all our band art. He does all our backdrop scrims, all our shirt designs. He does all of our lyric videos. He’s yet to let us down. Everything we ask him to do just comes out better than we imagine. So we’re going to keep using him until something better comes along I guess.
Are you doing any of the new songs in concert yet?
No, nobody’s really heard too much of the new stuff yet. And we’re putting the last record few songs on there, but we’re kind of sticking to old school stuff on this one.
How has it been to revisit your first album, Doomsday for the Deceiver and play it in its entirety on some shows?
Yeah, Keep it True Festival in Belgium asked us to do the first record in its entirety. Was a little weird. There’s some songs on there I haven’t played in thirty years or even listened to in thirty years. We kind of had to relearn everything from scratch. But, I’m learning that our old catalog is extremely fun to play and people really dig it live. We keep trying to throw more old stuff in as we go along.
Your second album No Place For Disgrace recently had its 30th anniversary. Looking back, what do you think of that second album in retrospect? I know you re recorded it in 2013.
We recorded it because we wanted to remix it and no one knew where the masters were. It was on Elektra Records and they’ve been bought and sold so many times now, nobody that used to work there still works there. Even their catalog – we asked them about the masters and they went, Flotsam who? So, it was kind of a situation where we keep digging, trying to find the masters or just re record the thing. So we recorded it, tried to keep it as true to the original as we could. A lot of people liked the way it turned out.
Has Elton John ever heard or commented on your cover of Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting from the No Place For Disgrace album?
Not that I know of, but I’m sure there’s got to be 50 bands out there who covered that song. It’s hard – when you’re think of covering songs it’s really hard to exclude Elton John. He’s got so many hits it’s ridiculous.
What made you decide on that particular songs, besides it really rocking? [laughs]
It was really the first Elton John Greatest Hits record. It was like, the first record that me and Kelly ever bought when we were little kids. It became an instant thing, let’s go to the Elton John record. What’s the coolest song on there? Saturday Night.
What were your impressions when you first heard that Slayer was going to call it a day?
Not surprised. Those guys have been touring for 200 days a year forever. So, I’m really not surprised. They don’t need to tour. I’m sure they’ll make a few more records. They don’t need to tour to support their record sales. They have such a fan base, they don’t have to worry about that stuff anymore. They’re still going to sell merch, they’re still going to sell records. They’re still going to have the same fan base, whether they ever play another live show or not. It doesn’t surprise me – like I said, they’ve got to be tired of it now.
That being said, what’s has kept you so passionate about Flotsam and Jetsam over 30 years now, and still going?
Our fans, basically. Without me, there is no Flotsam and Jetsam. So, my fans talk to me all the time on Facebook and Email, call me – whatever. They just beg me not to stop doing it. As long as my throat cooperates with me, I’ll just keep going.
Any news about the A.K. Corral (Erik A.K.’s country metal endeavor)?
No, that was a fun demo thing to do. I may revisit that, eventually, someday but right now there’s nothing in the works. It’s got a weird cult following, the demo, but it’s not enough to really warrant putting a bunch of time and money into it. Eventually someday, I’ll step back into that realm and have some more fun with it. It really was just a fun thing for me and my musician friends to do.
Are you a fan of country music?
I’m a fan of all music, almost. I’m not really into the gangster rap stuff, but pretty much everything else. I listen to everything from Sinatra to Maroon 5, everything. So – I listen to country every once in a while, especially if I’m out in the backyard mowing the grass, I’ll put the country station on. I like to try to keep up with the metal stuff, so I listen to a lot of that too.
What’s up next for Flotsam after the Hammerfall tour is over?
We’ll be sitting at home for a little while. We’ve got a couple of things in the works for next year, but not really a lot for the rest of this year. We’ll take some time off, get our arsenal going for when the record comes out in November. We’re gonna film a few videos, get some lyric videos ready to go. New shirt designs – stuff like that, get our ammo ready for when the record comes out. So that’s what we’ll be busy doing for the next few months anyway.
Any messages for Flotsam and Jetsam fans here in the LA area?
Just that – we’re not going anywhere. Our records keep getting better and better, so Flotsam fans need to hang on and keep an eye on us because we’re definitely not going anywhere. We’re here for the long-haul and we’re gonna keep spitting out as much good stuff as we can.
(Interview and Candid Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photo by Jack Lue)
Flotsam & Jetsam on Facebook