Contributing Writer: Val Tapia
Let’s be candid for a minute. A band or artist lasting thirty-five years in the music business is pretty rare, if not remarkable. But having the desire (and ability) to keep the artistic fire burning after that length of time is something else entirely.
Interestingly, both scenarios above apply to Phoenix-based metal band Flotsam and Jetsam. 2021 sees the band celebrating three decades together with an exceptional new album, Blood In The Water, which released on June 4.
The band is also set to tour this month with a “homecoming” stop at Mesa’s Nile Theater on Sat. Aug. 28.
Longtime guitarist Michael Gilbert didn’t hesitate one bit when he said in our recent phone chat that Blood… may be the band’s finest hour to date.
The current incarnation of Flotsam and Jetsam also features vocalist Eric “AK” Knudson, co-guitarist Steve Conley, bassist Bill Bodily and drummer extraordinaire Ken K. Mary.
“I know, I know… every band says that their newest album is “the best”, Gilbert says with a chuckle. “But in our case, we were all on the same page creatively, during a very awful time for the entire world. Yet somehow, the music just came pouring out of us.”
Yes, at a time when many musicians took to Zoom and merely played cover tunes with friends and colleagues, it’s admirable that Flotsam and Jetsam seemingly weren’t interested in doing that. Gilbert explains.
“I think the last five years have really led us to this point, artistically speaking. Starting with our self-titled album in 2016, followed by The End Of Chaos (2019), our creative juices have really been flowing. By the time we comenced recording for Blood, we knew that we had a pretty strong record.”
“Throughout our history”, Gibert continues, “I don’t think I’ve ever played our records after they were completed. This one though, I’ve played it multiple times”, he stated proudly.
Sonically, songs like Blood In The Water, Reaggression, and Brace For Impact contain a satifying blend of classic and contemporary elements. That’s probably the reason why Gilbert has seen many younger fans embrace the band in recent years, and the main reason why they’ve lasted so long.
“It’s kind of mindblowing to look out in the audience and see a 20-year old kid wearing a Doomsday For The Deceiver tour shirt from 1986-87. On the other hand, it also tells you that, yes, I’m old.”, he laughs.
As to what fans can expect from their upcoming live shows, Gilbert’s answer was somewhat surprising. However, he also admits that putting together a set list isn’t exactly easy these days.
“Honestly, I’m perfectly fine with playing mostly our new and recent music. Yes, I’m proud of those earlier albums, but our fans have responded very enthusiastically to the newer material. That’s a great feeling.”
“Look, I know there a lot of bands out there who are perfectly fine with only playing their classics. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s something that we simply have no desire to do. We’re much more interested in looking foward, not backward.”
Please check out their latest YouTube video of “Brace for Impact” from the album:
Flotsam and Jetsam Tour Info:
August 28 – Nile Theatre, Mesa, Arizona
w/ special guests Empire of Desire, Dawn Of The Risng, and Kill Command
TICKETS: $20 in advance, $25 day of show (not including fees).
Tour Site: https://www.flotstildeath.com/tour/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/flotsamandjetsam.official