Volume 95, Issue 3

Thursday, June 7, 2001


If the Lights are on, dance

Who would have guessed: Canada is art?

Only Superstars are Hardcore

Rancid alter ego misses mark

If the Lights are on, dance

By Andrea Chiu
Gazette Staff

Photo by Catherine Stockhausen
The Flashing Lights bring their music and their well-tested live show to Call The Office tonight.

The ever-in-motion Matt Murphy, lead singer and guitarist for The Flashing Lights, barely has time to breathe, let alone analyze his own music. Afterall, he's just arrived home to Toronto from Vancouver, British Columbia.

Still, he manages to derive the perfect description of how his band's most recent album Sweet Release differs from their debut album, Where The Change Is.

"The actual feel of the new record is very different from the first record. It's more laid back and more comfortable in itself. It's not racing or pushing forward like the way the first record does," Murphy says from the comfort of his bed.

"On this record, we've got [songs] that sit way back, relaxed, but also songs that are over five or seven minutes that develop and evolve into something. So there's more transformations happening within the set and, overall, the set can develop in a nice natural way. It's not monolithic anymore," he explains.

The band had a chance to test their live set while travelling throughout Canada's West coast. They spent the latter half of May travelling from Winnipeg to Vancouver, playing to hundreds of fans at a time. Although he admits there is quite a different feel to the new songs compared to the older ones, he and the band enjoy juggling the varying sounds.

"We're happy with our live show, but sometimes we come off as lacking confidence because we push forward so much and force all the songs. We need to balance that with something else," Murphy says.

The bands' willingness to allow the songs to create themselves inspired the different sound on Sweet Release. "The first record was about the band finding its feet and we pushed these songs around for a whole record," Murphy recalls. 

"On this [album] because we laid down the songs on acoustic quick track first, the songs pushed the performers around for the whole record."

Like many Canadian bands, recognition in the United States is a major goal. The Flashing Lights were fortunate enough to play at the prestigious South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas earlier this year.

"Bands like ours often play these conferences and we're never quite sure why we're playing them or what we want to get out of them. But when we were playing South By Southwest, we knew exactly what we wanted out of it. We wanted someone to book us down in the States," he admits.

Evidently, the hard work has been paying off. The Flashing Lights are planning more performances south of the border and are also hoping to travel to Europe. Having mentioned their intent to play to an American audience, Murphy assures fans it is not necessarily about seeking international approval. 

"It's not really about approval [in the US]; it's about playing to people and there's more people in the States and they're closer together than they are in Canada," he explains. 

"America is sitting right there. We should be putting a lot of energy into it. We drove 24 hours to our first show in Winnipeg to play to 200 or 300 people, but in the States, you can drive a couple hours and hopefully, over time, develop an audience that large."

However, Murphy adds, The Flashing Lights are still about the music and playing to fans. "It doesn't have anything to do with nationality or prestige it's just about playing to people," he says.

Luckily, The Flashing Lights only have a short, two-hour drive to tonight's performance at Call The Office.

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