Interview: Ryan and Rage from Flurish

Drawing from influences like U2, Depeche Mode and The Cure, Flurish banded together to create intense, beautiful rock and roll and that’s exactly what they do. Over the years, their craft has matured as their sounds range from a flurry of athereal orchestral rock to 80’s electronic pop that makes you want to get up and move. Not only does Flurish constantly strive to reinvent the limits of pop music, but their unorthodox live performance has been turning heads for years. For such a massive, sweeping sound, one would be surprised to find only 2 guys onstage. How do they do it? One might ask. With the masterful use of technology and an electrifying dynamic, Flurish has discovered that 2 is all you need. When taking the stage, the band is confident in their ability to take the crowd to the next level, giving them something they’ve never seen before.

We had the honor of sitting down with Rage and Ryan at a local Atlanta coffee shop to talk about music, touring, and their favorite television shows.

How did you guys get started?

Rage: I met him in 4th grade back in Tucson, Arizona. His family moved there from California, so we’ve been friends since 4th grade. We started playing music in 9th grade, because sports weren’t really working out for us. Our high school actually needed a freshman band to play a chapel, and no one played any instruments. I had kind of messed around on drums and he had messed around on guitar, so we decided to play that. And ever since we’ve been playing music nonstop.

A couple years after that we added a bass player/ keyboard player and became Flurish. We moved to Tennessee in 2001 to finish school, and we graduated in 2004, and moved to Atlanta. And it was down here that our keyboard player left us first, and our bass player left us not very long ago. At that point we decided not to look for anyone else, it had always been the two of us anyways. So we put everything down on tracks, and it wasn’t until then that we really started getting our sound. I wouldn’t call what we did before this Flurish. Electronic music and track-based music and just rocking out on top of that is what we’re all about.

Did you have a completely different sound before you lost the other two members?

Ryan: We’ve always had the ambiance that we have now. We were listening to a lot softer stuff in 2000, 2001, stuff like Gloria Record… Pedro the Lion, Bright Eyes, Sad Bastard… we were trying to emulate that. We didn’t know ourselves as musicians. It really just took us taking this big leap and saying you know we’ve lost our keyboard player, our bass player, but screw it, let’s go, let’s do this. I think that showed me what I could do electronically; I do all the programming and song writing. And it showed him (Rage) how he just needed to be the strongest drummer he could be. We had to fill the space of 4 guys, with just 2 guys.

So in total, what all instruments do you all play?

Ryan: I do all sorts of things on the computer. My brother played bass on our record, and we take that and use it our tracks. I do vocals and guitar.

Rage: I work the tracks from back behind the drum set.

Ryan: Bass, keyboard, drum lines it’s all being ran through an incredibly complicated track system that we had to come up with because of being a two-man band.

What about the name? What’s the history behind that?

Ryan: Flurish was actually the name of a band I was in with my brother, who was 4 years older than me. I was in 8th grade, he was in high school, we played with a few other guys, and we were not very good at all. But yeah, I thought of that name when I was in that band which lasted all of 2 or 3 weeks. So when we decided to make it a go 4 years later in 2000, we decided to go with that name.

As far as what it means, it means constant growth.

Rage: We’ve been learning a lot in the mid-late 20’s where you’re not yet an adult, but you’re definitely not a child… the constant realization that you’re never going to arrive at what you think you’re going to arrive at. But you have to keep growing and maturing, and not really conquering but adapting and learning. And that’s what we’ve been learning lately… that nothing is really going to end up the way you thought it would. When you’re 12 years old, you think you’ll be married and having a family by the time you’re 26… and it’s not even close.

Ryan: I’m not who I thought I would be at 26 that I thought I would be at 20 or 21. Not necessary negative, it’s just not what I thought it would be. I never thought I would be in Atlanta. Even 10 years ago, if you asked if I would be in the southeast, playing music, and loving it… I would have said no way.

So why move to Atlanta?

Rage: We had several friends that wanted to move somewhere after college, and Atlanta was the closest big city. We’d been down here before just going to the airport to go home. So we decided to move here, and it’s been great. The music scene is great, the people have been great. We’re also friends with Red Letter Agent, which I play drums with when I can. There’s a dozen bands around the city that are really awesome, and they’re good people as well. So there was no regrets, no looking back.

Was there an album that you heard growing up that convinced you music was your life?

Rage: As much as doesn’t sound like us at all and it has no input on us at all… when I heard “Teenage Politics” by MXPX in high school, that was the first band that really got me pumped about music. I mean I had always enjoyed listening to music before that, but I always at the mercy of my dad’s Eagles cds and Simon and Garfunkel, which are good, but when I heard MXPX I just loved it, it was so angry and fast. It’s nothing like us, but it was the band that made me say ‘I think I can do this. I don’t think I really want to have a job and an office…a 9 to 5. I want to play music.’ I haven’t listened to MXPX in years though.

Ryan: We probably saw them 10 times, we were in high school, and it was the punk phase. We were obsessed. But I would say for me, I’m going to trump him with a cooler album, U2‘s “Live At Red Rocks.”

I remember watching MTV late at night, and I wasn’t actually allowed to watch it. And there was something about it, I still thought it was evil, maybe because I was told they were evil, but for some reason there was always something about U2 that struck a chord in me, that till this day, I always without a doubt say U2 is my favorite band.

But I would say that era of music, the 80’s… Under Blood Red Sky, U2.

What’s your favorite U2 album?

Ryan: Oddly enough, most people wouldn’t say it, but it’s Pop. I just love how out there it is musically, and I think if it had been produced differently, it would have been one of their bigger albums, but it’s just so crazy. I love and celebrate the entire U2 catalog though; I think they’ve had a pretty diverse career musically.

Is there a song that you guys have written that you feel is the most personal or the most powerful?

Ryan: Yeah, there’s a song on our new album called “Broken Silence”. Musically, it’s just really powerful and dark. As people in general, we tend to be very silent about things. Whether it’s politics, spirituality, even just helping people, we tend to keep to ourselves and keep quiet. This talks about this generation that I hope would break the silence and get out. If someone needs help, then help them. Not for any grander scheme than just love. Just paying attention to the people around us… friends, strangers, whatever.

Did you have a specific event in mind when you wrote the song? Or was it just more of a broader theme?

Ryan: It was just the broader theme. Just a general theme of how I was feeling myself. I am and was at some point one of those people. Sometimes I see someone that needs help and I just drive right by, and I hate the fact that I do that. It’s just trying to create something in myself and other people hopefully.

Do you ever collaborate on the song writing?

Rage: He usually writes it all on the computer. First with drum loops, keyboards, and stuff like that, and then runs it by me. And I’ll be like I like that. Most of the time I like it. Every now and then I’m like “you can maybe loose that….” Then he’ll go back to work on it, and then call me back in. It’s just this process of him working and me listening. Once we get to a place where it’s awesome, then we go into the practice phase, and I’ll add my drums on top of a fully written song.

For lyrical content though, it’s his show.

What’s the story behind the album cover? It’s beautiful artwork.

Ryan: I love it too. Our good friend, Victor, in Chattanooga, is absolutely incredible at everything he does. He has a team going, White Elephant Photography. The girl is actually his girlfriend. She’s the photographer, and he does the editing, so what they actually do is collaborate. She has all the equipment and the know how. They’ll do the photo shoot, and then he’ll edit it and make it look really cool. I don’t even know how to describe how they did it, they used some sort of filter, and something was open for 45 seconds, and I don’t even know.

After we decided we were going to use it for the record, we felt that thematically it fit with the feel of the record. You know faceless, and it wasn’t our intention to be that blunt with it. But with what Rage was talking about before about being in our mid-20’s and we’re not kids, we’re not adults, who are we? It just fit.

We just saw the picture and just liked the vibe of it. We thought it was pretty badass.

Do you guys have a label?

Ryan: No we don’t.

So what are you guys doing now? What’s next for you all?

Ryan: We’re actually talking with some management companies up in Nashville. We just signed a contract with a music placement company that’s going to get our music on movies, television, commercials, wherever. But other than that we’re just booking shows. We’re going to be going on a West Coast tour in April. It’ll be a 2 or 3-week tour starting in LA and moving all the way across through here and up the East Coast. Until then we’re just writing and getting things developed.

If you had to pick a song of your current CD to be your single, what would you pick?

Rage: I would go with ‘Broken Silence’ the song Ryan was talking about earlier. I think there are other songs that are as good, but I think that one has the perfect combination of the rock to get people’s attention, but then it also has some depth to it. We have other songs that maybe rock a little harder, but there isn’t as much depth, or have more depth but don’t rock as hard. I think it’s the most attention grabbing.

Ryan: I would agree. I try to never finish a song without some sort of vocal or musical hook that will hopefully stay in people’s minds.

The following song after that, “The Sound of Control,” I’m actually shocked by that one. It was the last one we wrote for the album, about a week before we started recording. Oddly enough, we were watching Grey’s Anatomy and we hear a slow song, and I thought “I want to write a slow song.” Just some sort of ballad… And being sandwiched between all these intense rock songs, that song has been getting a lot of reaction from people. I mean I wouldn’t necessary want a slow song to be our first single, but it could be one.

Yeah, it might give people a different impression of your music. “Ready Unready” is still stuck in my head, but it’s a little bit lighter than your other songs.

Ryan: Yeah, I wanted to have two sides to the album, a darker and then a little bit lighter side as well. We kind of sandwiched the two lighter songs in-between the other darker ones on the album. Just to kind of break it up and not be bruiting the whole time.

Rage: It’s kind of like an oreo.

Ryan: Yeah, how about that.

Rage: This guy loves oreos.

What bands would you say have influenced the current state of your music right now?

Ryan: Definitely U2. But I would also say Depeche Mode, New Order, Joy Division. Recently, I’ve been going a little darker like recent Nine Inch Nails. A little creepy maybe.

Bjork too actually, I know it doesn’t sound like it when you listen to Flurish. In terms of sounds that I go for with my keyboard and just the overall ambiance, it is influenced by her. I saw her live a couple months ago, and it was just awe-inspiring.

There is going to be a time when the electronic fad isn’t there anymore, and I would hope to think that we would be able to continue and adapt. Not necessary follow trends or anything, but understand our time… which a lot of bands have trouble doing. So if we decide to do a record that is guitar driven and less electronic, we could do that, and if decided to do one more electronically driven, then we could do that.

Rage: Or an all drums album.

Ryan: Yes, all drums and vocals.

We have a huge television show fanbase at FanBolt, so I have to ask do you have any shows that you’re fans of?

Ryan: This is not a good question to ask Rage.

Rage: I watch so many nerdy shows.

Ryan: I’m huge on Lost, Heroes, Grey’s Anatomy, Office, and Scrubs. Those are my shows. I don’t actually watch too much television except for when I’m flipping though, I’ll watch reruns of… Full House. [To Rage] I’m actually going make myself look stupid, so you don’t look as bad. Full House.

Rage: Every time I walk into the living room it’s “whatever happened to the predictability…”

Ryan: Yeah, Full House, I watched an episode today. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. That’s on like 10 times a day. For some reason I love reruns, but I don’t try to watch them or anything.

Rage: They find you.

Ryan: Exactly…. I think primetime television these days is better than it has ever been in my opinion.

Rage: For me it’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Ah, Joss Whedon fan?

Rage: I will watch anything Joss Whedon puts out. Also, Firefly and recently I’ve been netflixing Battlestar Galactica. I love sci-fi.

Ryan: The point of it all is on-stage we try to be rockers, but off-stage we’re a bunch of nerds.

Rage: We’re kids who weren’t good at sports.

Ryan: Yeah, you don’t have to be cool in what you watch.

Rage: I also liked Veronica Mars.

My favorite show!

Rage: I’m in the process of netflixing season 3. I’m about halfway through that season. Logan Eckles continues to be my hero throughout the series.

I’m very impressed you’re a Veronica Mars fan! So one last thing, when are you guys starting the tour?

Ryan: Middle of March going through the beginning of April.

How many venues is that going to be?

Ryan: Probably at least 14 dates over 18 or 19 days. We haven’t done much touring. We’ve done 2 or 3 dates at a time, but we also have jobs currently.

Rage: Gotta pay the bills.

Ryan: Yeah so this is the first real tour, and we’re really excited about what it will turn out to be.

Interview By: Emma Loggins


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