Flowers of Hell – Emerging Artist Spotlight

Flowers of Hell – Photo by Matt Vardy

November 6 2012 – Very few things are as exciting as finding something new you love. Much like archaeologists that dig to find hidden treasures, we here at T-Mak World really enjoy trying to find new bands that we love. Once we find such bands, we approach our favourites to request interviews for our Emerging Artist Spotlight series. We spent a large portion of our time on Toronto concert reviews but we also do enjoy interviewing the artists. Today we set our focus on a band from Toronto and London named The Flowers Of Hell. All bands we talked to are asked similar questions to each other so we can get to know them better. The description on The Flowers Of Hell’s website reads:
We are a trans-Atlantic experimental rock orchestra made up of 16 or so independent musicians living in Toronto and London, England. Greg Jarvis leads the group and writes much of its material, often basing his compositions and productions on his synaesthesia – a neurological condition that causes him to see all sounds as shapes surrounding him.
 Here is what they had to say to us:
1.  Hey Flowers Of Hell, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. Let’s start off with the obligatory introductions. Who’s in the band and what instrument does everyone rock?
FLOWERS OF HELL: The line-up and the instrumentation are always changing, for every show and every session. Generally though, you’ve got your standard rock band instruments plus a violin and a trumpet thrown in.
2.   How about the history of the band, when did you get started and how did it happen?
FLOWERS OF HELL:  Started in London in 2002 as just Greg Jarvis running it as a studio project, became a full gigging band in 2005, spread across the ocean to Canada in 2007 when Greg relocated to Toronto. 2005 was the pivotal year as that’s when a long time influence, Sonic Boom from Spacemen 3 expressed an interest in what we were doing and got involved. Flash forward to 2012 and we’ve recently had Lou Reed from The Velvet Underground playing us on his radio show.
3.   Who are some of your musical influences?
FLOWERS OF HELL: Windswept skies on cloudy days, ideas and concepts from avant garde music and jazz music (though rarely any actual tunes from those genres), the philosophies of Beat writers and abstract expressionist painters & sculptors. And a healthy helping of The Velvet Underground, Spacemen 3, and romantic-era classical music.
4.  So based on the above how would you describe your music to someone that has never heard it?
FLOWERS OF HELL: Like a collaboration between The Velvets and Wagner.
Flowers of Hell – photo by Terry Shirk
5.  Why should a music fan come and see your show instead of all the other choices available to them on any given night?
FLOWERS OF HELL:  We have lasers. Well, sometimes anyhow. Do people really think, ‘Gee I could see Springsteen tonight or the Flowers Of Hell. Oh but there’s also a salsa night on. Soooo torn.’ Yeah, not likely
6.  Well no that scenario is not likely, but we were trying to raise the fact that at any night of the week Toronto has at least 10 bars and clubs with various choices. Nonetheless, what is your favorite single line of lyrics the band has written and why?
FLOWERS OF HELL: Oh, oh, oh. Wah, wah, wah. It invites pontification doesn’t it? (BTW other than our current covers album, we are an all instrumental act – expressing ourselves with sounds rather than words is what we’re about. We’re musicians, not poets working overtop of recycled blues chord structures.)

7.   What does the rest of 2012 and 2013 hold for you?
FLOWERS OF HELL:  That largely depends on how right or wrong the ancient Mayans were. Our label Optical Sounds has just released a great free downloadable compilation of us and other Toronto acts that can loosely be described as ‘Psyche Pop’, and we’re all doing some shows together at T.O.’s Silver Dollar Room on Thurs Nov 8th and 9th. The Flowers are on the 8th. You can get the compilation and learn more about it here: If the world’s still around after Dec 21st, we’ll start working out a 2013 plan that might involve recording a symphony with an orchestra in the Congo.
8.   Imagine that you were asked to be the opener for any band’s world tour (both current and historical). Which band and tour would be your dream opening gig.  
FLOWERS OF HELL:  Well, when Kevin Shields reformed My Bloody Valentine in 2008, he had us open for them in Toronto, so kind of been there done that. Laurie Anderson (a great and celebrated experimental musician) did a show in Sydney the other year where only dogs were allowed to attend. If she toured that, I’d really like to open for her – writing a set for animals instead of humans sounds like a great way for an artist to move their work into new territory.
Flowers of Hell – Photo Femke Berkhout
9.  What is the future of the music industry? With the concept of the album and physical CD’s facing extinction, how will we be consuming music in 10 years? Are the economics feasible for emerging artists?
FLOWERS OF HELL: The future is unwritten; we don’t know what technologies we’ll have in ten years. But I think it’s now clear that musicians of all levels are going to be more shafted by Google and Apple than they ever were by Universal and HMV. The new bosses are worse than the old ones. At least in the past the industry was run by people who lived and breathed music. Now the fate of music and musicians lies in the hands of a bloody bunch of ruthless asocial nerds whose egos are tied to their companies’ stock prices. And stopping piracy is bad for votes, so lets not do that – and hey it’s not like we live in a democracy where your MP will stand up for artists rights anyhow.
10. Where can people get your music/CD, is it being sold anywhere? 
FLOWERS OF HELL: The Pirate Bay, Kickass Torrents, HMV, iTunes, you know, the usual suspects. Or if in Toronto and you see our saw player Brian Taylor busking around town, he’ll sell you one.
11. At the end of 2011 we did our picks for top 10 albums of 2011. What album do you think we should include in our top 10 albums of 2012 article? 
FLOWERS OF HELL:  Well, definitely our covers album ‘Odes’ and the ‘Psyche Pop From Toronto’ compilation (quite honestly that comp and the artists on it are most of what I’ve been listening to for the past months.) Planet Creature’s ‘You’re On Planet Creature’ is a great one too and the ‘Searching For Sugarman’ soundtrack pulls together the best of Rodriguez’s two early seventies albums. I’m generally into music that’s classic rather than of the moment and I think a lot of this year’s buzz records are too reliant on electronic production to age well…sorry Grimes, Luyas, Rich Aucoin, etc. Meanwhile Godspeed, Grizzly Bear, Spiritualized and Feist unfortunately just rehashed old ground. Really, the 2012 Polaris Prize list and Mercury Prize list looked as bad as the Junos usually do – nothing excited me at all. I think you should be moving on Top 10 singles not albums. Youtube is the main way people listen to music these days and they ain’t listening to albums – that’s a format that’s increasingly just for dad’s and retro hipsters.
Flowers of Hell
12.  Any closing remarks for our readers?
FLOWERS OF HELL:  Wow, I’ve never been interviewed by a template before – but Exclaim have been doing that for years haven’t they?
Not sure what Exlaim does, but we did state at the beginning we use mostly the same questions for all bands. Anyways, thanks so much to The Flowers Of Hell who are playing the Silver Dollar Room in Toronto on Nov 8th along with Ostrich Tuning, Planet Creature, The Disraelis, and The Auras.
The band’s website is here and as you would expect they are on Twitter and Facebook. In the meantime check out their video below from YouTube.
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