Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chicago band Flatfoot 56 taking its Celtic punk to Ignite Fest

Going to see Flatfoot 56 today at Ignite Fest? Read this interview first:


For Chicago Celtic punk band Flatfoot 56, playing together is a family affair.

Singer Tobin Bawinkel, 27, formed the group in the summer of 2000 with his brothers, Justin and Kyle.
I got the chance to talk to Tobin about the tour and the daily grind of being in a band.

Q - How are the songs from "Black Thorn" translating live? Are they fun to play?

Oh, absolutely. We're trying to do some new things, get new things to do the "Braveheart" to.

Q - How did that whole thing start, with the audience recreating that scene from the movie "Braveheart."

I think we just tried it one day, and said, 'Let's see if this works.' It just blew up and it was awesome. It's one thing that gets the entire crowd moving.

Q - So when you guys sat down to record "Black Thorn," what were your thoughts? What did you want to accomplish?

We wanted to get the idea out that the band has been maturing. We had a lot of new subject matter for the record, things we had been going through. We wanted to get down some good production, which I think happened. 

Johnny Rioux was involved in it from the Street Dogs. He had a lot of good insights. He has a long history of really good ideas.

Q - How did you hook up with him?

We had toured with the Street Dogs about two years ago, and he said he would be honored to work with us.

Q - What did he bring to the table?

He brought to the table a lifetime of playing with some of the best bands in punk in the United States.

Q - Your schedule for the rest of the year looks pretty intense. For some stretches you don't even have a break. Do you like your schedule to be so intense?

We do and we don't. Being home is nice. It's nice to be around family. Two of us have our wives out on the road with us. It gets pretty intense, but you have to work.

Punk rock is not necessarily the thing that everybody is clamoring for, so you've got to work and pay the bills and get your record out there and make sure people hear it.

It's kind of a daily grind thing. A lot of people who work in factories and stuff have to work a schedule that is ridiculous in order to make ends meet. 

I think that is the same thing for some bands. You have to keep going for it to stay afloat, you know.

Q - How is it like being in a band with two brothers? How does that work out?

It works well, honestly. We all get along with each other. I think working with two new members, Brandon and Eric, it was kind of an adjustment. 

You learn how to work with your brothers and work with new people as well.

Q - How did the band form? Did you guys just decide to stay playing with each other? Did you have any goals in mind when you guys formed?

I was 17, Justin was 14 and Kyle was 12. We just wanted to play live shows. It wasn't like we had a goal of playing Warped Tour or anything. That kind of came as we started going to a lot of these events. 

It was just a desire to play at shows and it just kind of kept going.

Q - You guys grew up on the south side of Chicago. Are you all Sox fans?

All of us are Sox fans except for Eric. He's a Cubs fan. We were kind of suspicious of it at first.

Q - Who were your influences growing up?

Musically, we were really influenced by a lot of old British bands like Blitz. We also listened to a lot of New York hardcore stuff like Cro-Mags. We were also listening to a lot of traditional stuff. 

Obviously The Pogues are an influence for any Celtic punk band. You want to understand what the roots of this movement is, the scene it started in.

The first street punk show I ever went to was the U.K. Subs at the Bottom Lounge in Chicago. It was a life changing experience. It was part of a whole new world. 

We played our early shows at a place called Rubes in Harvey. At the time, it was the only all-ages place that punk bands could play in Chicago. A lot of good shows happened at that place.