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Eric A.K. Knutson – Vocals for Flotsam and Jetsam

Date: 4/10/13
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. Talk about the new album, “Ugly Noise”, and if you tried anything different with the music?

ERIC: We are back to the original members, basically, Ed Carlson and Michael Gilbert on guitar, Kelly David-Smith on drums, myself, with Jason Ward on bass who has been with since “Cuatro”. We did this one on Pledge Music, which means the fans can buy the music before it is recorded and the fans pay for the record and get it a couple months before it is released. Like a guy bought a signed guitar and that went towards the recording, and your name gets in the credits. It worked out pretty good. With the music, this record seems to me like it should have been the one after “Drift”, and member wise it is basically the one after “Drift”. This album kinda feels like a natural flow if this lineup would have stayed together back then.

2. With the thrash resurgence, old and new school, and quality new albums from the pioneers like Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax, Overkill, Testament, Exodus, to newcomers Warbringer, Havok, Bonded By Blood, Gama Bomb, Lazarus A.D. etc, has that been an inspiration for Flotsam to become more active?

ERIC: It’s kind of sweet and sour for us. It’s part of the reason why we decided to make another go at this and treat it more as a career and not a hobby which has been the case for many years. And, because this type of music has come back around and become even stronger, so that was one of the deciding factors when I got back together with Kelly again. Also, a lot of our older fans who were back in the day were coming to the shows and bringing their teenage kids and friends who were also fans.

3. How did you become part of the Testament/Overkill tour this year?

ERIC: We have been friends with them for a long time, one of our first tours in the 80s was Megadeth and Testament. We’ve been in company with each other since then so we called them up and asked if Flotsam could become part of the tour and they said “hell yeah”.

4. It seems like Flotsam and Jetsam has been active, at least touring wise, on and off for many years. Has the band been on and off as an active band?

ERIC: The way it was run, the way we toured, in recent years, it was kind of a hobby. The pay off from it was we got to go to Europe for a couple weeks a year, see a bunch of things, and have a good time. That was my payment for being in the band for a few albums anyway. I’d say this was from “Drift” to the “Cold” albums, I knew it wasn’t going to be paying the bills. It’s been taken a lot more seriously now, songwriting, business, goals, and its more exciting now for the band also. After “Drift” things changed and that slowed the momentum down, things started going down. In the last couple years things that were in our way aren’t there anymore so we are at a rebuilding process.

5. Have you been offered to play the European festivals often?

ERIC: Over the past 4-5 years we have done a few, we kind of missed the boat for this year but for 2014 we will hit as many as we can. So we wanna let the Europeans sit on the new album and then do a bunch of shows next year. This year we probably won’t hit many, maybe a couple festivals later in the year. We’d like to hit Japan, Australia, a few other places we have not played.

6. Are you doing more touring in the U.S. after the Testament/Overkill run?

ERIC: Yeah, we are gonna try and get on a bigger tour later in the year. There are a few good tours coming up we hope to get on, we are doing a couple festivals in America also.

7. Doing any promo videos in support of “Ugly Noise"?

ERIC: Yes I think so. Maybe shooting some live footage, probably for the song ‘Play The Part’.

8. “Doomsday For The Deceiver” was reissued, remastered with bonus content. Will you be giving “No Place For Disgrace” the same treatment?

ERIC: You know we have been trying to dig into the history of the album to gain ownership of it because it was with Elektra back in the day and they switched companies so many times so its hard to get information. So it’s hard to get some answers that we need. There is a lot of songs from later years stuff that didn’t quite make it to the albums that we have been revamping and may do something with those.

9. Any other albums from the back catalogue that are out of print you are trying to get reissued?

ERIC: Not really. Our albums aren’t really hard to get a hold of but once they we will look into getting them reissued.

10. Are there any albums you are not completely happy with that you’d like to fix or remaster?

ERIC: My problem is every album has stuff on it I’d like to fix. The last two a lot less of that. But every album, even if as a whole its inconsistent, has a few great songs on it.

11. On the new album, “Ugly Noise”, who wrote the music, who wrote the lyrics?

ERIC: Mike Gilbert wrote most of the music and I wrote all the lyrics except a couple songs. That’s usually how it works for us. Whatever is best for the song is pretty much our motto.

12. What newer younger thrash bands do you like?

ERIC: I honestly haven’t listened to a lot of new stuff, the band 4Arm who were on tour with us and Testament and Overkill, were really good. Australia’s answer to Slayer. But I like Stone Sour, different kinds of stuff. I’m really not up to date with newer names.

13. When there is talk of the Big 4 (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax), or Big 10 adding Overkill, Testament, Exodus, Destruction, Kreator, Sodom…do you feel Flotsam and Jetsam are as important and should be included?

ERIC: It depends who you ask. If you ask a musician I think they would say “hell yeah, Flotsam should be part of that”. Ask a hardcore Flotsam fan they’d probably say “they should be in the Top 2”. But if you ask industry people they are just like “ehh, I don’t know”. I don’t know why there’s such a difference between the industry people who have their thumb on who goes where and who doesn’t, and the fans and musicians who support the music and put bands where they are. I mean I really don’t care what industry people think, I’m glad my peers and fans get us and what Flotsam’s contribution has been to thrash metal.

14. Are you still in touch with former bassist Jason Newsted (ex-Metallica), and do you still collaborate with him?

ERIC: Yeah we are. He wrote lyrics for a couple songs on the new album, the title track and second song. Our relationship with him is we are his grounding point, he’s got his artwork, music, studio, and when things get too much he will spend a few days with us and have some fun. It’s nothing consistent but we stay in touch when we can. But I don’t think he’d want to come back with us full time or anything like that again.

15. What are Flotsam’s plans for 2013 into 2014?

ERIC: We are going to push this new album and play as much as we can, play many territories we have not played before. Gain new fans.

16. Are you involved in any outside projects?

ERIC: I was in a band called the Human Condition and when I have some time from Flotsam we are going to record new music. Its pretty cool more hard rock than metal.

Official website: http://flotsam-and-jetsam.com


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