I first came across Blatant Flaws supporting the excellent Vanilla Gloom (writes Andy Wood). I’d mainly traipsed along to watch Blood Indians but found myself being quite enamoured of Blatant Flaws whose sound mixed a quite fierce sound with more nuanced songs, some sung/shouted, others with a spoken word feel which particularly appealed to me. The penultimate song in their set was a particular highlight, gentle verses building into quite epic choruses, full of regret and yearning as well as desperation, ebbing and flowing into a sense of indignation and loss but beautifully defiant.
Blatant Flaws have just released their debut E.P. They’ve captured well the energy of the live set over the five songs. It’s difficult to pick a favourite track here, there is a lovely variety. Opening track ‘Lost To The Sea’ begins with gentle waves lapping at the shore before the storm hits. It’s both ominous and enervating, pretty much capturing the heart of what Blatant Flaws are about. ‘Glimpse’ is a fantastic song. From its opening line ‘Am I drinking too much? / Or just worrying too much’ intoned over the must delicate of guitar lines to its raging chorus it sounds fantastic. ‘Sex Sells’ is an edgy number, a nagging guitar sound, spindly and infectious, works its way over the thundering rhythm and distorted vocal. It’s a pounding, raw song with catchy hooks. ‘Battles’, in contrast, is a more reflective, almost sombre song, building slowly from the gentlest of melodies. Another spoken type thing the delivery is spot-on, moving from reflection and even paranoia to confusion and anger building up into a coruscating climax with the instruments soaring into a wonderful, coruscating racket. ‘Good Grief’ is more brutal in its intentions but no less fine. It’s a wonderful racket but moves between dark and light with ‘love’ and ‘hate’ tattooed on each set of knuckles.
There’s a really fine range of sounds on Blatant Flaws debut E.P. and both live and on record they have a real fire in their belly. I really like this record a great deal, it grows on me with each play and although there are a number of influences in here that could be inferred Blatant Flaws wear them lightly to make a sound that is recognisably their own. Many bands have tried and failed to pull off the whole loud/quiet thing, often because they sound, at least to my ears, as though they are trying too hard and it ends up being simply bombastic. But Blatant Flaws have a fragility at times that makes their music both more appealing and interesting, both musically and emotionally. As a debut calling card this E.P. is an excellent statement of intent and I’d highly recommend you check them out sooner rather than later.
I spoke to Nathan from the band ahead of their Cool Cat Club debut on Saturday (7th).
Please introduce yourselves. Who are you and how did Blatant Flaws come into being?
Hello, we are Blatant Flaws from Aberdeen. Me and Kyle (our bass player) played in another band before which was Dundee based. That band ran its course and ended but we decided to form another band straight off the back of that. The music is fairly different and it all together feels like a different beast but Blatant Flaws was essentially a continuation of what me and Kyle had done before.
What inspired your choice of name?
A guy at my work who is from Shetland was telling me a story about a guy he knew up there called ‘Leighton Flaws’. I really liked the way this sounded but thought it sounded a bit sharper as ‘Blatant Flaws’ and had a more distinctive meaning as well. We tossed a few ideas around, we contemplated simply calling the band ‘Flaws’ or sticking with ‘Leighton Flaws’ but in the end we went with Blatant Flaws. Making mistakes and the aftermath of that whole thing is a pretty strong theme throughout the music so it has fitted well.
What are your influences, musical or otherwise?
Musically, it really varies. I think we are pretty strongly influenced by the whole grunge thing but its boring just saying ‘Nirvana’ so I’m gonna mention METZ, who are a really noisy Canadian grunge band who are kicking about just now and also Japanese Voyeurs, who have unfortunately split up but were a female fronted grunge outfit from down south. Insanely dark and heavy and definitely a distinct influence on me. The stuff we play also has a softer, more melodic side which is harder for me to pin down but I guess it comes from bands like Mogwai and also from listening to a lot of singer songwriter stuff like Elliott Smith. Also I think Joy Division, The Cure and The Smiths have all worked their way in there too.
Non Musically – booze and misery; the old Scottish favourites.
Being based in the North East is that a help or a hindrance? Is there a healthy scene in and around Aberdeen?
This is a weird question because there certainly isn’t a yes or no answer. I will maintain that Aberdeen has one of the best music scenes in the UK, some of the best bands, small DIY labels, lots of DIY promoters putting on good gigs etc but there’s one problem, its completely contained in Aberdeen. I’m not sure if its the location or what but there doesn’t seem to be much national interest in the Aberdeen scene unfortunately. I guess it’s probably the same for everywhere, worsening the further away you get from Glasgow. However because there is such a thriving scene in Aberdeen, you meet a lot of people who can offer advice and help you out and there is a great sense of community. Always good.
Why be in a band? Isn’t it just a heck of a lot of work only to reap a hell of a little reward?
I think the thing behind this is that even after you’ve put in all that work and usually, money as well that even the smallest reward feels huge. For instance, every order we’ve received online has felt massive to me, to think someone is paying for our music when it’s available for free is incredible. Overall, I don’t think its something most people do for a reward larger than just creating music you love and as long as there are people out there with that mind set, people will keep forming bands. If you’re doing it because you think you’ll make loads of money or whatever then you’re probably delusional or a 13 year old.
What has been the best moment of being in Blatant Flaws so far?
This is a hard one because we’ve had a tough couple of weeks but I guess what springs to mind is last Friday coming back from Inverness after just playing a gig we got the first proper review of the EP back and we all kinda read it together and that was pretty cool. I think Sean was actually asleep though, ha ha.
And the worst / most awkward?
A little bit of symmetry here. We’d all had a shitty week and were in the car heading to Inverness with all our troubles seemingly behind us and decided to stick the EP on to all have a listen together. At this point, we realised that despite me sending the company the exact track order for the CD’s, they had been pressed completely wrong. This was particularly deflating.
How would you describe your music to someone who has yet to have the privilege of hearing Blatant Flaws?
Blatant Flaws specialise in CD’s where the tracks are in the wrong order… Em, I’d say noisy grunge with a post rock overtone. Early on, a friend told me to describe ourselves as ‘Imagine Nirvana fronted by Aidan Moffat and you might be somewhere close’ and that seems to have stuck. Mostly I think it is bleak sounding, sometimes heavy, sometimes soft and always fairly fragile.
You’ve just released your debut E.P. Can you tell us a little bit about that.
It’s a 5 tracker with a very distinct feel. I’m pretty proud of it because I think all the songs make sense together and the artwork fits with the music and it is all a wee package. Its’ been pressed on CD and is also available for download on a pay what you want basis from our Bandcamp. Some of the songs are old, some were still being written in the studio but somehow it all came together in the end.
If you could put together your ideal gig (with time, money and mortality no objectives) who would you invite to be on the bill and where would you hold it?
My mind is now rummaging through all the bands I’ve wanted to see but I knew I never could. Nirvana, The Smiths, Arab Strap, Joy Division, Elliott Smith would all be amazing I’m sure. I’d also love to have seen the Beach Boys back in the day. My ideal venue would probably be somewhere small like Nice n’ Sleazys or somewhere but if I was feeling charitable it’d be lovely to have it outdoors in a nice warm country. Can you imagine having to walk away from Joy Divison because it was pissing it down and you’d forgotten your wellies?
What do the coming months hold for you as a band?
Just gigs gigs gigs really. We are in the process of bringing in a new guitar player and I think we have a couple of weeks free in September to do that but otherwise we’ll just be trying to play as much as possible in order to get the EP some exposure. It’d be nice to start writing a new set of songs but I think it might be a while before we can begin on that unfortunately.
Anything further that you’d like to add?
Just if anyone is at all interested in us, please take a wee bit of time to check us out. Also we are not all doom and gloom even if we seem like that ha, ha. Also a bit thanks to yourself, Andy and everyone else who has been helping us, Deathcats, Marionettes, Vladimir, Min Diesel and The Rag N Bone Man to name a few. Check all those guys out! Cheers.
Blatant Flaws support Vladimir at the Cool Cat Club in Dundee on Saturday 7th September.