FLOTSAM AND JETSAM “The Smell of Blood” 

By Dr. Abner Mality

FLOTSAM AND JETSAM should really need no introduction to any real metal fan. The Arizona band has been one of the hardest working and most determined outfits in underground metal over the last 30 years, riding many ups and downs in the music scene and staying relevant.

With their latest album “Blood In the Water”, FLOTSAM is more than just relevant, they are triumphant. This is a classic album of melodic thrash metal that compares very favorably with their legendary debut album “Doomsday For the Deceiver”. After some more “experimental” albums, this one and its predecessor “The End of Chaos” are the band we know and love, delivering crushing yet tuneful metal designed for vigorous headbanging. Lead singer Eric AK in particular has never sounded more impassioned or convinving.

In the following interview, Eric along with guitarist Michael Gilbert and drummer Ken Mary let us known everything that’s going on in the world of “Flotzilla”...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings to FLOTSAM & JETSAM! The new album “Blood In the Water” is a ripper! When you went into the studio, was the plan to “one up” everything on “The End of Chaos”? 

MICHAEL GILBERT: Well, we really weren’t sure that we actually could one up “Chaos,” as that was an album we were all extremely proud of and put a great deal of energy and creativity into.  We certainly wanted to do a better album, because you always want to improve and get better, but there was no plan that we had. We just tried, once again, to make songs and music that moved us and hopefully the fans around the world agree with what we do. 

WC: How old are the tunes on “Blood In The Water”? Do they date back before the Covid pandemic?

ERIC A. KNUTSON:  Most of these were written during the pandemic. Some of the seeds of the ideas from Steve and Mike had originated perhaps earlier, but all of the completed works were done after the pandemic. 

WC: Did the Covid lockdown actually make the band more creative and hungrier? 

KEN MARY:  I believe so. It was a difficult time, and an unprecedented time. We were unsure how long this would last or if we would be able to tour again except maybe years into the future. We were hit pretty personally by the virus, with AK almost losing one of his parents and two of the guys in the band getting sick along with their girlfriends. So it hit very close to home, and we feel the album resonates with some of the anger, frustration and a feeling of uncertainty for the future. 

WC: FLOTSAM & JETSAM have experimented with their sound over the years, but with “End of Chaos” and now “Blood In the Water,” you seem to realize that the “classic” sound of the band works best. Will you be sticking with this template or could you see yourself doing something like “Ugly Noise” again? 

EK: Well, we never know what we’re going to do since we really just try to make music that we love first and foremost. That being said, it does seem that on the last three albums we’ve hit on a chemistry between all the writers in the band that makes for a very strong record. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue that trend. 

WC:You do change things up a bit on “Seven Seconds Til the End of the World,” where orchestral instruments appear for the first time. What was the genesis of this track and how did you pull it off? 

MG: Well, orchestration appears on other songs as well, like “Blood In The Water”, “Cry For the Dead”, and “Burn The Sky”. Ken does quite a bit of orchestration and brought in the song “Seven Seconds.” The orchestration was something that he had on the demo of the song and the band dug it, so we left it in. It’s really as simple as that. There was no master plan . . . if we like it we use it! 

WC: The vocals of Eric AK are better than ever! Is it something he works hard at or does it come naturally? Any special techniques to keep his voice sharp? 

MG: Yes, he smokes and drinks some Jack regularly, lol. Yes, we don’t know what the deal is with AK. He seems to be super human and can do anything and still sing amazing. One run we did 41 shows in 43 days, and he sang great at all of them. We honestly don’t know how he does it. 

WC: Is there one particular song on the album that maybe stands out to you the most? 

EK: It depends on what mood I'm in. Sometimes I'm in a driving fast mood, and I will listen to “Re-aggresion” or “Too Many Lives.” If I'm in the mood to sing, I will listen to “Cry for the Dead”  or maybe “Wicked Hour.” 

WC: You’ve got videos for “Blood In the Water”, “Burn The Sky” and “Brace For Impact” out. Which shoot was the most memorable for you? Do you enjoy the video process or find it tedious? 

MG: We enjoy the video process. Almost anything associated with the band is usually a good time, except for some of the business items that we need to tend to. Anything creative we all usually have a great time. 

WC: I always described the best FLOTSAM & JETSAM are the perfect meeting between thrash and power metal. Do you agree with that description? 

EK: Yes, I think that is a very fair description. I think musically we are very aggressive, and at the same time the songs have discernible and memorable melodies. 

WC: Are there any influences on the band that might surprise people? 

MG: Yes, the band has many influences from Sinatra to Jazz artists such as Miles Davis. I think that’s part of our versatility when we write. 

WC: Does Eric still play around with C & W music? 

MG: Yes, he’s writing some songs right now for his country project. 

WC: “Cry for the Dead” is very heartfelt. Is that inspired by a real life tragedy? 

MG: That song was inspired by AK’s mother being in the hospital for 8 weeks with Covid. She had a very difficult time and several times the family was told to expect the worst. Again, the virus was felt very personally by the band. 

WC: Now that the pandemic seems to be letting up, any touring plans for 2021? 

MG: Yes, we are testing the waters in August in the US and we will be in Europe in early 2022 depending of course on what exactly transpires. 

WC: If you could ask any three people from history to dinner, who would they be? 

EK: Albert Einstein, Frank Sinatra, and Morgan Freeman. I can only imagine the stories told at that table.  

WC: Any real life “Spinal Tap” moments where things went haywire for the band that you could share with us?

MG:  I always have to pick a time where the bus had caught on fire in Europe. It was pretty serious but definitely a Spinal Tap moment. 

WC: Last words for the faithful?  

KM: We always want to especially thank our incredible fans the world over. If not for you, we would not be able to do what we do. Thank you for your incredible support over all these years, and we hope you are all happy, safe, and that we will be able to see you very soon!!