FLOTSAM AND JETSAM interview. New album, ‘Blood In The Water’ out now.

I spoke with A.K. from FLOTSAM AND JETSAM about all the important stuff. You know, stuff like Ken Mary joining the band, recording the new album under no pressure, what would be different if they started out today, building gazebos while listening to Michael Bublè. Like I said, all the important stuff. And also the killer new album, ‘Blood In The Water’ of course.

MAL-
Talking to AK from FLOTSAM AND JETSAM. Thanks for taking the time and talking to me, mate.
A.K.-
Oh man, thanks for having me.
MAL-
It's good to have you on, we'll get to the new album in a little while, but talking to someone that's been around awhile, no offense, with the way the industry has changed. I mean, even though vinyl is making a comeback, it's not so much as a physical album sale deal as it was back in the day. How is that looked from the viewpoint of someone such as yourself, better? worse? harder? easier?
A.K.-
Lot less money for us. But other than that, we put the monetary part of it aside, it's better and worse at the same time. You know, we used to sell a lot of records and a lot of people have the physical copy of the thing and that doesn't happen any more, but we can reach, you know, three times the amount of people with a push of a button, so, you know, you lose some here and you gain some here. You know, it's not really worse or better. It's just really different.
MAL-
Yeah. Okay. Another question along those lines. Imagine there's two of you and one of you is just starting out now. With the way the industry is now, which would you rather be?
A.K.-
Oh, that's a good'un? Do I get to know everything?
MAL-
All right, well, look at it from a different way. How do you reckon you would go just starting out now? How do you reckon you would attack it? Would you attack it differently? You don't know what you've been through. You're a young lad. Just starting out. Now, how do you reckon you'd find it?
A.K.-
Well, you know, that's a tough one because it's really hard to get noticed without getting too much cheesy, or without, you know, selling yourself out, because there's so many bands. You know, I used to tell people, there's a million metal fans out there and there's, you know, a hundred thousand bands. So everybody has a pretty good crowd at their shows. Now there's I mean, a million fans out there, but there's also a million bands. So everybody gets one fan apiece. I mean that's the way the internet has changed the game for everyone. You know. Not only can you reach a million people with the push of a button, but a million other bands have reached those same people, too. So it's really hard to stand out without getting cheesy.
MAL-
Would it be fair to say easier for fans to find you, but then on the other hand easier for them to forget you and move on to the next one?
A.K.-
Yeah, pretty much. I mean, you know, we're just as new at this game as anybody else really. We've, you know, we're just now maneuvering through the media frenzy of what it takes to get your band known and out there.
MAL-
Now I know, I mean, I know, friends personally who play in different bands of opposing, sort of musical styles, but I've got to admit, I was very surprised when Ken Mary joined. How did he come to join, and what has he brought to the band?
A.K.-
Ken Mary has been working with Steve Conley off and on on a bunch of projects because Ken's got a working studio you know five days a week he's in there either doing soundtracks for movies or you know the whatever for all kinds of stuff and he's constantly working there so he would hire Steve once in a while to come in and do some guitar parts for him, stuff like that. So they've been pretty good friends and he knew that Ken didn't want to really tour any more or play any more for a long time. And he just asked him one day, he's like, 'hey, we need a drummer. What do you think you want to go out and see the world one more time before you give this up', you know? And he listened to the music and he said 'this stuff is really really challenging and I love that more than anything'. So, he's been in full-bore ever since?
MAL-
Right. Let's talk 'Blood In The Water'. How did you go recording that with the way the world is at the moment? Walk us through the process.
A.K.-
The only thing really that was different than the way we've been doing things last couple of albums was that, at one point, we always get together face-to-face and run through at least the bare bones of some new songs and ideas and then everybody goes home and works on their own parts on it but this time it was pretty much all just sending files back and forth. The only cool thing was that we had so much time to work on it, that we were very, very not inhibited about what we could change and how many times we could go through something or rewrite something. We really didn't need to do too much of that, but it was nice to relax and just go, we're not under any pressure, we don't really have a time frame. We just can, you know, take our time with this and I think it made it come out a lot faster even.
MAL-
Hmm. Okay. With regard to recording are you still doing it Old-school? The analogue way? Talking to a number of bands that I do, a lot of them are very digital, some are still rooted in the old school way,  I'm not saying which is better, but how are you doing it? Have you adapted to modern recording techniques or do you still prefer the older way?
A.K.-
You know as long as it turns out warm sounding and real sounding, I don't care if it's a boom box in the parking lot you know what I mean? What we're after is the sound.  You know, we all have a little Pro Tools system in our houses. And that's how we write, when it comes to actually recording, I know the guitar players did their stuff on their Pro Tools and then, you know, me and Ken do everything at his studio because it's an amazing place, and Bill is on the East Coast, so he just did stuff at a studio there but we, you know, I'm I think Bill did a little old school stuff, Ken always does. But it gets converted into digital stuff that everybody's using any way.
MAL-
The world is in probably the wrong sort of condition to ask that question because a lot less bands can actually get together as a band and do it that way. All right, let's talk about 'Blood In The Water' which is just, I'm Australian, so I'm going to say fucking awesome. Who's writing all these songs for starters, a whole band thing? You? Who is it?
A.K.-
No, I have a guitar writing team that is ridiculous. They try to outdo each other with every song they write. They both write similar and yet very different and you know, once everybody gets their flavour on each tunes, they're amazing. I do all the melody lines and lyrics, almost all the lyrics. Ken did a couple songs as far as lyrics and melody lines, and we all pretty much pitch in the same amount of everything on writing these songs.
MAL-
Who deserves the pat on the back for 'Walls'? Who wrote that one?
A.K.-
Steve Conley.
MAL-
Give him the pat on the back from me, the whole, the whole album is excellent, but that one stands out for me. 'Walls', 'Cry For The Dead', 'Too Many Lives', and '7 Seconds'. There seems to be, I don't know if it's just me, but there seems to be a lot more groove / melody on this album than in the past. Am I the only one to have said that?
A.K.-
No, but I think it. You're right. But I think it comes across in a very heavy way, you know, like I said, we had no pressures on us. We really had no drama going on. It was just very relaxed and pleasant to write and record these songs and I think that has a lot to do with how they turned out.
MAL-
Yeah. Yeah. A couple of days ago, before I got word of this interview, I did a review on my website and I said 'melodic aggression' so that pretty much ties in with what you just said, then
A.K.-
Well that  and we were all afraid that we couldn't top 'The End Of Chaos'. So we're trying really hard to do that too.
MAL-
Excellent, apart from my positive reaction how's the reaction been because it's been out a few days now.
A.K.-
It's been pretty amazing actually. There's a lot of like reaction videos and stuff on YouTube that that were extremely positive. Even guys who said right off the bat, 'I don't like this band, but...' yeah. It's been extremely positive, even better than we had hoped and you know, we'll see what happens when we get out on tour, if we draw a bunch of people then we'll know, we got something special going on.
MAL-
With regard to getting out on the road, how are things looking?
A.K.-
We've got things broken up a little bit. I think we're going to try to do, you know, two or three weeks in the western half of the US to get our, you know, our teeth sharpened and get ourselves back into shape and all that. And then January, I think we're going to start the ACCEPT tour in Europe. There's been a lot of talks about that. That's going to be a really good tour and that's with PHIL CAMPBELL AND THE BASTARD SONS too on that tour.
MAL-
You're upsetting me when you talk about these sorts of tour lineups..
A.K.-
And then after that, we're going to come back and maybe do two or three weeks on the eastern half of the US. And then we're going to try to go back to Europe and do a headline tour and had a bunch of festivals. So we have a lot of ideas in the works. Except for the ACCEPT tour, nothing is really concrete.
MAL-
Talk about some of the tracks on the album. What's your favorite and where did it come from? Tell me about one of the tracks that you wrote.
A.K.-
Man, people keep asking me, which one's my favourite and I don't know, I like so many songs on this.
MAL-
There's not a dud on the album, there's not a dud song on the album.
A.K.-
Well, that's good to hear. One of the funnest ones to sing is 'Cry For The Dead'. That when I get to get, you know, I get my emotional voice on and I get to actually do some fun singing. That one's on my top list for sure. My wife has 'Walls' as her ringtone on her phone, so I know which one is her favourite. I kind of like 'Too Many Lives' because I get to do my little Halford imitation on that one. So that one's a lot of fun too. They're all really extremely challenging to sing but that's what I like about them.
MAL-
Who else are you listening to these days?
A.K.-
Everything except gangster rap. Do you know depends on what I'm doing? What kind of mood I'm in if I'm remodeling the back yard right now, building gazebos, and waterfalls, and all kinds of stuff, and I listen to Michael Buble all day, when I get home and then hop on the computer, I will probably listen to, you know, some good old metal, some DEATH ANGEL or some METAL CHURCH or something you know kind of depends if I'm driving. I listen to a lot of FLOTSAM, actually I really like most of our stuff.
MAL-
Do you remember all the lyrics?
A.K.-
Not all of them. There's a couple of albums I haven't listened to in a long time.
MAL-
One more quick one. What's the what's the funniest thing that's happened on tour? (AK-Oof) that you can relate to us, that won't get anyone put in jail. (AK-Wow) What's the first one that comes to mind?
A.K.-
I don't know. There's so many, you know probably the funniest thing that comes to mind whether on tour or not. When we went over to record 'Doomsday' and Newstead got arrested and we had to all go down there pitch in our money and our coin to get it him out.
MAL-
And then he bailed on you.
A.K.-
Yeah, yeah. And that he bails on us. That's right. We've gotten him back since then. It's all right. Yeah. We've repaid him.
MAL-
A.K, so good to talk to you, thanks for coming on and having a chat with me. Good luck with the new album, man.
A.K.-
Thank you very much.
MAL-
It is absolutely killer. Love it. And hopefully when the world clears up and gets it's head together, we can see you down here in Australia.
A.K.-
I would love it. I can't wait. All right, brother we'll see you.

Thrash and Speed Metal icons FLOTSAM AND JETSAM have seen many of their peers that started at the same time, including Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Venom have their day in the sun. Considered in metal circles as “legendary”, the mighty FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, over their long career, has seemed somewhat plagued by label snafu’s, changes in trends, or other unfortunate events. On album number fourteen, and without a doubt making the best music of their career, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM finally smells blood in the water this time around. Slated for a release on June 4, 2021 through AFM Records, Blood In The Water literally shreds the listener’s ears and pummels FLOTSAM AND JETSAM’s message into the hearts of the most diehard metal fans, the album must be heard to be believed. Featuring twelve brutal and powerful tracks that will rip your head off, the outstanding guitar work of Michael Gilbert and these killer vocals by Eric AK – one of the most gifted metal singers in music history – FLOTSAM AND JETSAM's Blood In The Water will see the band deliver one of their heaviest records to date!
With the unveiling of the previously-released single “Burn The Sky”, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM gave a first and impressive sneak peak of their forthcoming album. Now, the thrash heavy weights have unleashed the thunderous album opener and title track with a brand new video! “Blood In The Water” let’s you know right off that these guys aren’t messing around as the song comes screaming out of the speakers with a frenzied rhythm section, these passionated vocals by AK and guitars blazing on ten!
"This last year was a very different year for many of us, and we will say that the tragedy and difficulty had an impact on this song and this new album.” Says drummer Ken Mary. ""Blood In The Water" is one of the most aggressive Flotsam songs ever, but that wasn't planned. We just tried to pour everything we were feeling into each song. We didn't want to analyze it or qualify it, and we just let the song be what it was going to be. What you're hearing is the result of what I'd say is the closest you can get to looking at the inside of Flotzilla's brain!"

It’s been 35 years since FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, formed in Phoenix, Arizona released their landmark debut, "Doomsday For The Deceiver", the only album to ever receive a 6K rating from the influential British magazine Kerrang! Bassist Jason Newsted would jump ship to Metallica while the band released the unstoppable “No Place for Disgrace” in 1988. "Cuatro" (1992), "Drift" (1995), "High" (1997), and "My God" (2001) all still rank extremely high in heavy metal circles. But it was the first part of this unofficial trilogy in 2016’s self-titled FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, followed by the the crushing 2019- successor, "The End Of Chaos", that a certain rejuvenation and reset was clearly felt. Fast-forward five years to a planet that was forced to its knees: While spending most of the past year in a holding pattern like the rest of the world, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM made the best of a struggling situation and just let those creative juices and angst flow. What emerged was twelve brand new blistering tracks under the moniker Blood In The Water.
“We really had a hell of a time figuring out which songs to actually include in this album, because we don’t feel we had any fillers,” describes Steve Conley about the new songs clocking in at nearly 55 minutes of thrashing glory.
Says singer Eric “AK” Knutson, “We’ve seen our fan base increasing, and we’ve seen the response to the last two albums getting louder and louder. We have some of the most committed and crazy fans in the world. We charted higher on our last album than at any point in our career. Maybe our career path will run similar to Motorhead’s, who although was always considered iconic, didn’t really break through in a big way until later in their career. We feel our time is now...” says AK. “We’re like that dog that’s been kicked...we’re ready to break the door down and take what’s ours.”
And the FLOTSAM lineup has never been stronger. AK keeps bringing the magic every album and tour, and oddly seems to be getting better and better as time goes on. He’s backed by the incredibly talented, exceptionally brilliant guitar duo of co-founder Michael Gilbert and Steve Conley, the powerful, precise and lightning fast engine of drummer Ken Mary, (whose Hall of Fame resume includes over five million albums sold with artists such as Alice Cooper, House Of Lords, and Accept), and the “fresh blood” and extraordinary technical skills and prowess of bassist Bill Bodily.
No filler, all killer, Blood In The Water was once again mixed and mastered by Jacob Hansen (U.D.O., Volbeat, Amaranthe, Powerwolf) and sees FLOTSAM AND JETSAM exploding with creativity, moving forward but nodding to their past.
The band has come a long way from the kids that stepped onto the world stage with their first album in 1986, but the one thing that has never been in question since that day is their dedication to their fans, their incredible talent, and relentless pursuit to produce their best music ever.
“Following up ‘The End of Chaos’ was no easy task.” Guitarist Michael Gilbert adds. “We weren’t really sure what we had left in the tank, as we put so much work, sweat, and blood into that album. As it turns out, we had plenty left to say. With everything that’s happened in the world, the friends we lost this last year, and not being able to perform or tour… you hear all of that in our music. It’s angry, it’s aggressive, and our emotions pour out all over this album.”

01. Blood In The Water
02. Burn The Sky
03. Brace For Impact
04. A Place To Die
05. The Walls
06. Cry For The Dead
07. The Wicked Hour
08. Too Many Lives
09. Grey Dragon
10. Reaggression
11. Undone
12. Seven Seconds 'Til The End Of The World

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