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The Flies: “I want us to be devastatingly good” – Interview



The Flies

The Flies

As a member of both Spiritualized and Lupine Howl, Sean Cook can genuinely claim to have been in two of the most inventive bands of recent years. Now, with Lupine Howl disbanded, Cook’s formed a new band The Flies. He talked to musicOMH about starting at the bottom again, and what went wrong with his previous groups…

“Fucking hell, playing the Doncaster Leopard is depressing no matter how you look at it”. Ah, the joy of playing those first few gigs with the new band. It seems that it’s not all giddy Art Brut-esque formed a band, we formed a band disbelief and nervous enthusiasm. Then again, things are different when you’ve been playing music for 16 years and the band in question is going to be your hat trick. Not that Sean Cook is a misanthrope, it’s just that 10 years with Spiritualized and five years fronting Lupine Howl has given him an extra mile of perspective. “It’s just that I want us to be devastatingly good,” he muses, “and starting out playing dives isn’t great, it’s just something you have to do.”

The whole notion of taken the songs on the road is something that has been reversed by the less familiar development of The Flies. “We started in the studio over the course of about four years. Bob (Lock) and Tim (Norfolk) are both studio bound men. They’re use to doing a lot of soundtrack stuff. Neither of them would really want to take it on the road. We just got this little project going , a collaborative thing where I would come in when I could and put vocals and lyrics to the music and out of all this we got the beginnings of what’s now going to be the album.”

This leisurely approach to music is about as far removed from the gruelling, sleep deprived life of a touring band as you can get. Still, he doesn’t plan on the spending the rest of his days in his studio slippers. “I’m looking forward to touring really, it’s just that I have no idea how I’m going to do it. Obviously I know a lot of musicians but it’s finding the right people who you’ve prepared to spend 10 weeks touring America with. And it’ll be interesting to see how it sounds live.”

“Playing dives isn’t great, it’s something you have to do.”
– Sean Cook on the downside on starting on the bottom rung again.

If the single Walking On The Sand is anything to go by, along with the obvious opiated mood, the one remaining thread between bands past and present an impassioned voice. The result is an album that sounds somewhere between a stripped down Spiritualized and a David Lynch score.”We’ve still got that mellowness. It’s not different in that sense. I was never going to suddenly change and do a thrash metal album. Some of the stuffs quite electronic and there are some bigger, lush sounding songs but the key was to simplify everything. And to push my vocals to the forefront.”

This push has been slowly but steadily building for years like some sort of musical tectonic shift. Starting as a bassist in Spiritualized, then singing bassist in Howl, he’s now finally settled as a front man. And having experienced first hand how bands can implode with the destructive force of 10 Babyshambles, it is easy to see the source of his contentment.

On Jason Pierce and his erratic behaviour in sacking the entire band, Sean is to the point: “It ended acrimoniously.”

Lupine Howl ended on good terms but had a different set of frustrations: “It did me in having to play bass and sing, especially when my bass lines tend to be different from the vocal melody. It’s like trying to get two parts of your brain to do different things at the same time.”

And of course there was the problem with the name. “It wasn’t a bad name, just that nobody could remember it . The word ‘Lupine’ isn’t particularly catchy. People would come up to me and go ‘great band…what are you called…Lobo Howl?’ . It was fucking annoying to be honest. That’s mainly why we chose The Flies, it’s easy to remember.”

“It wasn’t a bad name, but nobody could remember it.”
– Cook on previous band, Lupine….anyone?

To finally have every detail in place after so many false starts must induce a mile wide smug grin. Yet but with everything in his grasp, doesn’t it feel like there will be nothing else to achieve? “Not at all, the thing with music is that there are no rules so you never really reach your goal.”

Surely that’s frustrating? “It is and it isn’t. Plus, this is all I’ve ever done and what I’ve always wanted to do. If I wasn’t doing this I’d be in admin or packing boxes in a factory. I mean, imagine going to an interview and they ask what you’ve been doing for the last 16 years. What can I tell them? Erm I’ve been playing bass and singing in a band.”

So it seems that no matter where The Flies finally settle, it’s going to be a job for life.

“Of course. I can’t do anything else.”


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The Flies: “I want us to be devastatingly good” – Interview