I was first contacted by Jen on behalf of Flotation Walls for wardrobe consultation. After many emails, photo swapping, music listening and story telling, not only did I gain a great friend in Jen, but an everlasting affection for one of the most compelling bands of our time!
Flotation Walls was conceived by singer/songwriter/instrumentalist Carlos Avendaño in Columbus, Ohio several years ago. Ryan Stolte-Sawa violin, guitar, piano, synths, vocals), Zak Moses electric bass, upright bass, vocals) and Luke Brevoort drums) join Avendaño to comprise Flotation Walls. Their sound is what I would call trippy-psychedelic-folk-pop, from four talented musicians who manage to project the energy of 25! There is just something magical that sets this band apart from the rest.
The group has recently received national and international press attention, including interview segments for MTV2, a piece on Newsvine.com that was featured on MSNBC’s entertainment front page, British webzine Punk77 and several others.
What I love the most about their new album “Nature” is that it takes you on a journey. Every song is carefully thought out and arranged perfectly. The piano solo in “Wet With Light” is hauntingly beautiful and the energy of “Willis The Fireman” is unparalleled!
I asked if Carlos would be available for an interview, and even in the midst of a gruelling tour schedule, he managed to take time out! Below is the exclusive interview, some photos of the band, a few tracks you can listen to, and info on where you can purchase “Nature” for download or on CD.
HC: I know that “Nature” has been a labor of love that has taken longer than expected to produce. How has this affected the final outcome of the album?
Carlos: I think the songs are better for the time spent on them. All the fat has been trimmed and every single sound has a purpose. Since I had a long time to listen to the first batch of songs it gave me a chance to make sure they were as equally enduring as the newer material.
HC: Why did you choose the name Flotation Walls?
Carlos: It’s a beautiful name isn’t it? It suits us. I didn’t choose it. It was a hand-me-down.
HC: Your band could possibly fall under the genres of “Psychedelic Folk”, “Indie Rock” or “Nouveau Hippie”. What do you feel best describes the heart of your music?
Carlos: I love psych folk music but that is only about 1/5 of what we do. I don’t care much for indie rock in name or in music. I like the idea of Nouveau Hippie but I’m not sure we’re that exactly either. Genre stuff is mostly for marketing and from the artistic side doesn’t mean much except limitations. That being said I think I’d pick “art pop” if I had any say.
HC: Who or what are your greatest influences?
Carlos: Scott Walker, My mother, Os Mutantes, National Film Board of Canada shorts, The original Wicker Man movie, Leonard Cohen, Aphex Twin.
HC: What motivates you to create music and spend a great deal of time on the road?
Carlos: In creating music it’s fighting depression, anxiety and also to make the music/visions in my mind manifest. Trying to create beautiful things out of thin air is one of the best things about being alive. Touring is adventure. It’s a brilliant thing to be on a road trip with 3 people I love and get to play shows every night.
HC: Not only does Flotation Walls have a unique sound, you seem to have a distinct fashion style. Where do you get your outfits?
Carlos: Well the yellow thing has been around forever. Visual representation of the music is really important in a live show I think. Yellow has always seemed like the odd man out on the color wheel and that idea represents us in some ways. Some outfits are things we make and some are made for us. These new outfits were made by Brannon Jennings and they are amazing. I’m wearing mine right now.
HC: What is your favorite road food?
Carlos: Anything that is free and cooked by someone other than me. Other than that, I’m really liking carrots right now.
HC: What turns you on?
Carlos: It may sound cliche but people who are expressive, honest, free and unashamed. People who choose dreams over security and stability. The wall of women in Immoral Tales. FMRI technology and it’s implications in studying emotion. My girlfriend Jen. The harp.
HC: What turns you off?
Carlos: Injustice. Illness. Impostors.
HC: Aside from tenacity, what is your advice to artists and musicians desiring to make a living at their creative endeavors?
Carlos: Rock stars do not exist anymore. That time is over. The last one was Marilyn Manson and that was almost 15 years ago. You need to evaluate whether you are willing to give up most everything to have a vocation based in the arts. You will not last if playing music night after night is not it’s own great reward. If that sounds good to you, you will have a wonderful time and I highly recommend it.