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Progressive Rock Interviews

Flash

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Colin Carter of Flash from 2013
MSJ:

If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?

Hard to imagine life without music being the main focus. Writing of some kind…maybe a journal/history of my path through my life so far. I've been tracking my family's history recently and there are questions I wish I had the answers to. So the least I could do for my son is to pass on the story of my trials and tribulations while on the musician's path. Sex ‘n’ drugs ‘n’ rock ‘n’ roll…the usual.
MSJ: Did it seem strange working on a Flash album without Peter Banks? I know you guys were recording the disc before he passed away, but how did his death change that experience?
The original Flash was a band with a four-way tension operating. So in that way Mike Hough was as important as Pete Banks or Ray Bennett or myself. It required all of us to make it happen. As Ray and I have said before elsewhere, we tried to regroup with the original members more than once but it was not to be. So to answer your question more directly, it was not strange working without Pete because we knew from the outset that it would be Ray and myself guiding the style and writing the material. Pete of course will be forever associated with us and it was a sad day when we learned of his passing. The new Flash album was already finished before he died and later I was pleased to hear that he had heard three of the tracks from the new CD and especially liked our version of "Hurt.” Mike Hough lives in upstate New York now and we still talk on the phone every couple of weeks or so.
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
Everything I've ever heard. My brain acts like a sponge pulling in influences from many styles and many eras. Growing up in England where there was nothing but the BBC transmitting its conservative variety of entertainment, we were doused with a mix of classical, Dixieland jazz, pop, WW1 music-hall songs — everything from Vaudeville to Welsh male-voice choirs. As a teenager, it was frustrating getting to hear new music until the pop revolution with the Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks etc. and finally getting some relief provided by the pirate radio ships anchored off the coast blasting music we really wanted to hear. Our local clubs in Portsmouth (UK) had bands like the Graham Bond Organization featuring Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce, John Mayall with his cast of blues superstars, The Who, the Small Faces, the great mod band The Action, the original Pink Floyd. I saw all of these bands in small 200 capacity clubs, people shoulder to shoulder, crammed up against the stage, sweat running down the walls. Great stuff!

Influences? All of the above, plus many others. Motown, Bowie, Dylan, Byrds, Arthur Lee and Love, Velvet Underground, on and on…too many to name. I don't want to place any one artist above another in this list either. I'm just a music fan like everyone else out there, taking it all in.

MSJ: What's ahead for you?
Finishing this interview. Seriously though, Ray and I are focused on promoting the record, trying to get the word out, rehearsing and getting some more gigs under our belt. Down the road I'm sure there'll be another Flash album, maybe some solo stuff too.
MSJ: I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labelled, but how would you describe your music?
It's chaos over easy with extra fries on the side and no ice, of course! As you say, labelling oneself is the last thing on any musician's mind. We'll focus on the music and you lot out there can conjure up whatever rings true for you. Some get it right.  
MSJ:

Are there musicians with whom you would like to play in the future?

There are, of course, many good players out there. I'm assuming this is not a Flash project you are asking about but something I'd be doing. Let's see. A well-schooled drummer that could set the groove like a machine, but then could syncopate, swing, and blow it wide open when needed - always playing for the song. That would be a good start. Together with a bass player who could interpret my simple chord structures and run busy and wild, wringing out every last note from them, but who could then then nail it down, anchor it, and keep it simple at others. Put those two together with my awkward, lurching guitar chords and I'd have the perfect vehicle to pin the song to. Not much to ask for. There must be somebody out there.
MSJ:

Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

Joe Public has been working hard all week, it's Friday, and he's just reaching out for his paycheque, when I lean in and grab it from him. "I'll take that. Thanks." How would that feel? You can buy a track for 99 cents from iTunes - no excuse.
MSJ:

In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

Same thing. Real fans should realise that touring bands need every income source they can find. It might be different if airfares, gasoline, motels, instruments, food, car rentals, and everything else were free but obviously they're not.
MSJ:

Have you read any good books lately?

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad. Currently on a long overdue Crime and Punishment.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Many years ago they announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen: Flash." The roadie comes to the dressing room, leads us out backstage in this huge arena somewhere. We all follow, down this corridor, up these stairs, around this corner, locked door, turn around, back around another corner, down more steps, Oh no — back at the dressing room where we started, hearing echoes of people yelling and whistling in the arena, down another hallway, round another corner, etc. etc. We made it in the end - very Spinal Tap.
MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
Not Ghandi, not Jimi Hendrix, not Attila the Hun - nobody famous.  No name dropping required. Something more modest and personal. I was 21, playing some grim dive stripclub in Munich, Germany when I learned my mother had been killed in a car wreck in the UK. She never had the chance to see me get lucky in the music biz. Never knew I'd be touring around Europe and the States, have records out, have a son of my own and lead a charmed life. I'd like to have that conversation with her. Who would join us? My Dad and brother, of course. A family affair. Pretty simple. 
MSJ: What would be on the menu?
For me? Indian food.  A nice vegetarian vindaloo, mango chutney, the works. Not sure they'd dig it though. Maybe they would.
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Yes. Rush out and buy that new Flash CD and tell all your friends to do likewise. Thanks!

 

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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