Anyone with cable knows who they are. They were everyone's favorite act of last year's popular reality series "VH1's Band on the Run." It's none other than Flickerstick, that little band of lovable drunks that came out of Dallas to conquer our T.V. sets. Over 6 months later, they've released their major label debut "Welcoming Home the Astronauts," and have been tearing up the road ever since. Livewire's Barry Brecheisen recently had the chance to talk to guitarist Rex Ewing about being in a band where everyone knows your name.
Livewire: First off, Flickerstick, what does it mean?
Rex: What does a cloud mean? What does the rainbow mean? That's what Flickerstick means to us.
Rex: Okay, Cory and Brandin were in a band at one time. They needed a a name. They had a gig set up. They were under pressure and BAM! 'Flickerstick' just popped into, I think, Cory's head. It really means nothing. It's cool. I'm glad it doesn't have some sort of deep meaning behind it and then you have to explain it all the time.
Livewire: What's the deal with the astronaut theme? It's in the title as well as the graphics of your CD, "Welcoming Home the Astronauts." How did that come about?
Rex: Actually that's another thing. "Welcoming Home the Astronauts" is an instrumental the guys had before I joined the band. It was like this space odyssey jazz jam thing, that they designed to piss off rednecks that they played to in Wichita Falls. It was just a cool title and the song sucked. It seemed like a good idea to title the album. And with that kind of came the whole space theme. It's kinda harping back to the space craze of the late '60s and early '70s with NASA and Houston and all that.
Livewire: Obviously, you've been thrown into the spotlight because of VH1's "Bands on the Run." Looking back do you feel it was an accurate portrayal of who you are?
Rex: Oh yeah. Obviously it's a show where they had hours and hours of footage and they only showed what they wanted to show. BUT!...Over a two month period we fought maybe twice and they showed it.
Livewire: Of course.
Rex: But we got along great like hundred times and they showed that like never. But you know it's a pretty accurate portrayal. We're just an average rock band. We go out party and drink.
Livewire: With that in mind, you've been called by some as "lovable drunks." Does that bother you?
Rex: Hey everybody needs to be lovable some how. If we're going to be lovable drunks, so be it. At least we're not hateful drunks.
Livewire: If you're going to be a drunk let's be lovable...
Rex: We're practicing!
Livewire: What did you think of the other bands that competed?
Rex: Actually, to be honest with you, we thought it was a little strange that the quality of bands...not that we thought we were that hot, but we were so surprised that we immediately felt we were the better of the bands. Because we think we suck. So we get on this show with these bands. Josh Dodes Band were the better musicians. But their music was...I don't know what that was. Harlow and Soulcracker they're cool people and all but we just felt we had the better songs and the better stage presence and things like that. We were sort of surprised that the competition was sort of low.
Livewire: I think in the end there was no question. You guys always won because of your musicianship playing live.
Rex: And we're just completely lazy.
Livewire: I suppose in the end you won because of the music. That's all that really counts right?
Rex" We're really lucky we have that loophole.
Livewire: So are the women better looking since your fame with "Bands on the Run?"
Rex: No, I'm still getting the same ugly chicks. The fame doesn't matter. There's just a wider variety of fat ugly chicks.
Livewire: Congratulations. It's been 6 months since the show aired, right?
Rex: It's really starting to wind down. We're getting a lot of people out at our shows now that are like, 'Dude, I never even saw the show.' And it's like, Thank God! It was cool at first, we sort of had a built in crowd. Our record wasn't even out. We weren't even signed to Epic yet, and we were selling out these venues and everybody knew our first names. Now we're getting to the point where people have actually bought the record and have come out to see us. Which is what we really prefer.
Livewire: So, do you think the show has helped or hindered your career or is it too early to tell?
Rex: (A short pause) No, I think it's helped. It sort of made it a different road. In the fact that a lot of labels didn't understand what the hell the show was. If they should sign us or if VH1 created this band or whatever. But for us, it got our name out there. We just wanted to get our foot in the door. There are so many bands in every city and every state. The competition is way too high. So we thought at least, AT LEAST we'd be on six episodes. Just that would be good enough for us.
Livewire: So you had no idea you were going to win?
Rex: Hell no. Our main goal for the whole show was not to be kicked off first.
Livewire: Have you had any surreal moments with fans since the show has aired?
Rex: Every night. It's really crazy.
Livewire: It's different then a music video. People get to know your personalities a little bit more than a normal band.
Rex: Here's what's different from us and another band. How many bands that you know of now that you can name everybody by their first name? People go up and say hey nice to meet you and they'll say their name. And I'll go my name's Rex and they'll go 'I know.'
Livewire: That's got to be strange.
Rex: It's strange but it's also cool in a way. That reminds me back in the days before the Internet and before cds, when you bought albums. You sat there and listened to the records and you read everything on the record. What everybody played, the instruments on there and you learned their first and last names. You bought magazines and you read articles about them. Nowadays, everything is so information friendly that you're popping a CD in and you don't know the name of the song. You just push a track. You don't read the CD cover. I think from our exposure on the show it's sort of a old school environment, where you actually get to know the band. You get to see us, you kind of know our personalities.
Livewire: In a sense, you re-released your CD "Welcoming Home the Astronauts" on a major label. Was there pressure from them to remix it, add a song, drop a song. Or was that something you wanted to do?
Rex: Honestly, they liked the CD, pretty much. They wanted to get it out by the end of the year. Kinda wanted to get while the iron was hot. Basically this is stuff...we fixed things that we wanted to do anyway. We made that record on our own by borrowing money from everybody. We obviously were limited on money and time. So we said, 'hey, wouldn't it be cool if we did this or I hate that solo there or the drums sound like shit there. Wish we could change it.' Well, Epic said, 'hey, you can do all the changes you want.'
Livewire: I noticed on your song "Coke" that you changed the lyric slightly. The original of course was, "Come on I'd like to buy the world a Coke and lie here naked with my girl." And on the the Epic release you've changed it to "lie here taken with my girl."
Rex: We had a problem with Coca-Cola. They were playing hardball. They were like, 'dude, you can't do this.' We honestly thought they were going to make us scrap the song altogether. But then they came back kind of cool and were like, 'hey why don't you just change "naked"?' We really wanted the song on the record and we still sing it normal live and all that. To me it's a slight change. I don't think it really changes the structure or the dynamics of the song. But we had to do it. Coca-Cola is the biggest company on the planet.
Livewire: I was surprised you were allowed to use the word "Coke" at all.
Rex: I was sort of surprised by that too. But it's almost like a public domain thing in a way. In the fact that it's part of our society. It's like using the word "Kleenex" or whatever. Well, people say hey give me a Coke. They don't say go give me a Pepsi. And it's not because they're siding with a product. They're just saying hey I want a Coke.
Livewire: Synonymous with cola.
Livewire: Ironically enough, I'm drinking a Coke right now.
Rex: Sweet, I got a Diet Coke right here.
Livewire: I can't do the Diet Coke thing. It's all about the Classic Coke.
Rex; It taste like shit. Don't get me wrong.
Livewire: Is this all about your image now?
Rex: Hey, I got to stay thin man. I'm getting old.
Livewire: How old are you?
Rex: I ain't telling you! No, I'm 34.
Livewire: Well, you're a year older than me.
Rex: I'm older than everybody.
Livewire: You're the oldest one?
Rex: Yeah, I am.
Livewire: Your antics can be pretty wild on stage. Have you ever been seriously hurt?
Rex: Dude, we are a walking M*A*S*H unit right now. Dom's back hurts. My knee's are both scabbed and swollen. Brandin is all bloodied and stuff. I mean, it's hard to do this shit every night. Plus, my bones don't heal quickly anymore. You have to almost schedule your craziness. We ain't "At the Drive-in" man.
Livewire: Where do you see Flickerstick in one year?
Rex: Hopefully in a year we will still be touring. And have our new record out. That's our big goal to get a second record out. We've been playing these songs now for two years or more. We're working on new songs. It's hard to grow and advance as a band if you can't get fresh and new ideas. Yet, technically our record just came out to a lot of people. So we still have an obligation to tour off this record. But in the background we're writing new songs. I love to have a whole new set. It's not going to happen. You got to play what people know and what they want to hear. But in a year, I hope we have a record that sounds better than the last one and we're still touring.
Livewire: When do you see yourself going back into the studio?
Rex: Good question. Probably be about a year. We plan on going to Europe. Nowadays, you have to tour on albums for almost two years. Especially when you're on a big label. If you're on a small label you have the freedom to say, 'hey, every year let's get another album out.' But with Epic we might have to tour a little longer.
Livewire: Are you getting sick of playing these songs?
Rex: Yeah, a little bit. We try to keep it interesting. We got a couple new songs that are in the set already.
Livewire: I can't imagine being Sting and having to play "Message in a Bottle" or "Roxanne' at this point in his career.
Rex: I'm sure Sting hates playing "Roxanne." It's sort of sad when you go see X or Cheap Trick and they want to do all new material. Well hey dude, no one wants to hear it. And that's the sad reality.
Livewire: Well, I suppose it's a scary reality. Like Kiss, you only want to hear everything they did in the '70s.
Rex: Does anyone want to hear "Psycho Circus?" No. If you play anything 1980...forget it. Kiss is a walking jukebox and that's how it is. You can either acknowledge it or ignore it.
Livewire: Okay, last one. Describe your music in one sentence. If that's possible?
Rex: Actually, I can't. One thing I do like about our band is that we have a lot of different influences. So when we all get together it all sort of bleeds in. It's hard enough for me to describe bands I like.
Livewire: Okay, fair. Let me change that. With the new material that you're working on, is it a similar sound or are you going in a different direction?
Rex: It will be similar. Only, not so much in structure. Kreig adds a lot of leads. I add my guitar part. Brandin adds his sort of vocal range to it. Then it starts to take off with it's characteristic. But right now, as we're working on them it's sort of a basic bare bone structure. Which I think are different then we had on the last record.
Livewire: I guess we're just going to have to wait and see.
Rex: Right on!