Flawes On Childhood, Autonomy, And Creativity In Ihe Time of Covid

Kess Leung

Bright, spacious, and seeped in colourful, synth-tinged euphoria, the sweet sounds of Flawes offer a hefty dose of escapism from unending lockdown mundanity. Titled Reverie after the state of fanciful musing, the band’s new EP is set to rocket them into the indie big-leagues, and set the tone for a riveting interview with Impact’s Kess Leung.

Comprised of childhood friends Josh Carruthers (lead vocals), Josh Hussey (drums), and Freddie Edwards (guitar), Huddersfield indie-alt band Flawes formed in the summer of 2015 after an enigmatic chance meeting. With the recent release of the second single from their upcoming EP, Reverie, the band was generous enough to take some time out to share some enthralling stories of life in one of the UK’s most propulsive indie bands. 

A form of escapism in a year where there has been a lot to handle, Reverie is amongst Flawes most introspective works to date. When asked about the band’s past year and how this impacted its songwriting process, Edwards muses thoughtfully: “It forced us to be creative, that’s where the EP came from. The term ‘Reverie’ refers to the act of being lost in one’s thoughts, and I personally think that really comes across when you listen to it. It’s uplifting and I’m really proud of it.” He smiles, recalling the recording process: “All of us actually invested in home studio equipment and got better at recording ourselves. Everything you hear is recorded in our individual studios 

“We used to make music videos where everything was all artsy and for the aesthetic – but that just wasn’t us!”

Touching on the recent single, What’s a Boy To Do, the bands mic-wielder Carruthers, recounts the cheeky childhood story that inspired it: “Around year seven, I had a huge crush on this girl, and I basically walked up to her and asked her if she would be my girlfriend. Unfortunately, she said no.” He chuckles before continuing, “so, I responded with an okay, and walked away. In fact, I was proud of myself for asking her and left with the mindset of – ‘well, at least I know now and won’t waste my time.’ That’s exactly what the song’s about! It’s empowering and tries to capture the good in a bad situation.”

With its opening lyric of “the neon lights shine across the hallway,” the listener is transported to the very school setting Carruthers describes, and the band’s gift for lyricism is on vivid display. “My favourite is the single we just released – What’s a Boy to Do,” he smiles when asked about the EP’s standout tracks, “not to say the rest of it isn’t as good, but I just prefer that song and can’t wait to play it live. It’s got such high energy and is super uplifting!” Encapsulating the wider spirit of the looming EP whilst leaving listeners imploring for more, it is truly an alluring track.

“I’d probably go for our first single, Holding Out for the Win,” Edwards opposes, “being able to film the music video and see the way it came out was something I really enjoyed!” The last of the trio, Hussey opts instead for a newbie: “For me, the next single, Higher Than Before, is my favourite. It’s the final part of the trilogy where the videos conclude, and from when we first recorded it, the initial idea is so different to the actual track. The journey it has been on to become what it is now makes it extra special!”

The trio proceed to unpick the creative process behind their music and more specifically, the new EP, as Edwards jovially explains: “You know, we had a lot of zoom calls over lockdown. We recorded a trilogy of music videos and had a bunch of ideas about how we wanted to shoot. It was getting the idea of how everything was going to come together.” He pauses to contemplate his next words: “We wanted to present ourselves in the most natural way – how we really are. We used to always make music videos where everything was serious – all artsy and for the aesthetic – but that just wasn’t us. It never really portrayed our personalities. But, what you see now, is what Flawes are – it was just us being ourselves, having fun!”

‘It is clear the vibrant trio have reached a point of total creative harmony, and the recent releases reflect this.’

Continuing on the topic of videography, Hussey enthusiastically chimes: “On set is crazy fun! Planning all the videos as a trilogy allowed us to film it where it would make sense as one whole thing. We came up with some crazy ideas and executed all of them! My favourite was getting my dad on set for What’s a Boy To Do video – I change into my father for one of the scenes and he did a surprisingly great job of playing the drums!” 

As the band bounce effortlessly off one another in conversation, the chemistry is electrifying. It is clear the vibrant trio have reached a point of total creative harmony, and the recent releases reflect this in abundance. Expanding on the creative process behind the recent EP, Carruthers elaborates on the band’s synergistic approach to music as a whole: “We don’t like to put any rules on the writing process. Sometimes, we would have an idea for a riff or chord progression, and we all work off logic. So, Freddie could have an idea and would send it over, then Hussey would put his part in, and I would add in the melody, vocals and lyrics. Alternatively, it could be the other way around – and I send over a melody and lyrics to the boys to produce. We don’t like to say, ‘Oh this is how we should write,’ and just try to keep it as organic and natural as possible – it’s not very cookie cutter-like, I suppose.”

Of course, for a band that has been in the industry for almost five years now, such evolution is inevitable and necessary. From the slick production of 2016s piano-driven Don’t Wait For Me, the trio having come an immeasurably long way, and each have their opinions on how the band has grown: “I think the sound has definitely developed quite a lot. I mean, the first couple of singles, the sound was very ambient and had a slow tempo. Progressively, as we have learnt how to write, the tempos have gradually gotten faster. It is a lot more upbeat and uplifting now. Some elements like real drums are a feature now. In the old songs, it used to be more of an electronic bass. Now, we have got more of an organic band set up.”

There is a sense of nostalgia as the band tenderly recall their beginnings. Musing on the inspiration of what sparked their love for the art form, Carruthers explains, “my parents forced me to play the piano when I was five and I really hated it with a passion. I used to have lessons on Mondays which meant that I hated Sundays because I would have to practice!” Taking an enthused turn however, the cheery vocalist seizes the silver lining: “When I was ten though, I realised this could actually be cool, that I could use it to my advantage. All of a sudden, I started playing in a band and it all went on from there.”

‘Though the world of live music has come to a bitter halt, the Northern threesome are clinging onto hope.’

Gesturing to the duo in the other screens and bringing the conversation back into pandemic-tinged reality, Carruthers continues: “We had a conversation the other day about music influences from our parents. Honestly, my parents didn’t really give me much in terms of artists to listen to. So, I used to have this cool musical journey where I would go to the library and rent the records and got obsessed with artists. That was the start of my love for music.” Tilting his computer to showcase the vinyl records decorating the room behind him, he continues jovially: “These are my three favorite records of all time – OK Computer by Radiohead, Grace by Jeff Buckley, and Parachutes by Coldplay. I think we all have quite varied taste! Hussey’s into R&B – we are all quite eclectic.”

Whilst Carruthers’ parents were not at the heart of his introduction to music, Edwards smiles fondly as he recalls his father: “My dad’s a musician and I used to find it really inspiring. I remember when I was eleven or twelve, and I saw his band playing live in front of a huge audience. He played the bass, and as much as I loved the instrument, it was the guitarist who I wanted to be!” Enthused by the topic of musical beginnings, drummer Hussey chimes in: “For me, I always wanted to be in a band! I always looked up to musicians and my parents were really musical. They loved musicians like Prince and I always wanted to be a drummer!” He then laughs before sharing: “Funny story actually – I used to play the guitar, but was really bad. So, I switched to the drums and was like ‘Oh, this is easy!,’ and managed to get better.”

As the year draws to an end, the band can’t help but reminisce on the tough realities of musicianhood in 2020: “We’ve had this whole year cancelled and we lost out on a bunch of opportunities,” Carruthers sighs, “but as with everyone, we tried to remain positive because we know that we’ll get those opportunities again.” Though the world of live music might have come to a bitter halt, the Northern threesome are clinging onto hope for the coming year: “Personally, I would love to play some live shows. Just touring and meeting fans that we promised a show last year! It will happen, and we can only dream.”

As the trio talk amorously of their future, Hussey suddenly remembers: “Our last show happened a little over a year ago. We played at Manchester Academy and supported AJR around Europe.” He pauses for a moment with a lopsided smile before recounting his sudden realisation: “I went to my first ever gig at Manchester Academy, and my last ever show was there as well! It was amazing. There was a whole crowd and it was fully sold out. All my family were there, and it was a really memorable experience for me. The whole tour was incredible!” Supporting his bandmate enthusiastically, Carruthers jumps in: “The crowd was just so up for it, and I can’t wait to get back to it!”

Set for release on February 26th, Flawes hypnotising indie-dashed tunes are destined to impress.

With upcoming EP Reverie’s early singles earning the Huddersfield trio an abundance of critical attention, it is difficult to imagine that the eventual shows will be anything short of mammoth. Set for release on February 26th, Flawes hypnotising indie-dashed tunes are destined to impress, and should be firmly on your list of post-pandemic must-sees. 

Kess Leung

Featured image courtesy of Flawes via Chuff Media.  No changes were made to this image. Images granted to Impact by their owners.

All article image courtesy of Flawes via Facebook. Image license found here.

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