There are bands that say they are rock n’ roll and then there are bands that are rock n’ roll.
Combining the swagger of AC/DC with the southern blues-rock of ZZ Top, Toronto band Flash Lightnin’ are the real deal. Together with St. John’s, N.L. band The Novaks, Flash Lightnin’ are set to tear The Manhattan Bar & Grill apart with a show on Thursday, Dec 9. Formed in Toronto around 2007, Flash Lightnin’ members Darren Glover, Darcy Henry and Chris Yates cut their teeth with a residency at that city’s Dakota Tavern where they performed every Wednesday night. Gradually, word of the band’s potency began spreading throughout the city, attracting a wide swath of fans and the curious alike including members of bands including Billy Talent, Broken Social Scene and Metric.
“We had the whole country come to see us it seemed,” guitarist-vocalist Glover starts. “At first, we were playing these really obscure cover songs, stuff by ZZ Top, Queens Of The Stone Age; stuff that only some die-hard fans were able to pick up on. Everyone else thought we wrote the songs,” he laughs.
Glover says much of his inspiration to form a guitar-heavy band stemmed from a ZZ Top show in 1980 that he downloaded off the Internet.
“I heard that show and was blown away by the intensity. I always had the idea to form a heavier type of band but that show completely rejuvenated my interest in doing so.”
Indeed, the days of the power trio seem long passed however the same spirit that fueled Cream, Hendrix and more can definitely be found among the members of Flash Lightnin’.
“There is a ton of bands that play this style of music but there is not a ton of bands doing so commercially or getting the ear of commercial people. I really feel that this is what we have done differently.
“When we had first started playing, we constantly had people coming up to us asking ‘Did you guys make up this style of music?’ and it left us stunned, kind of like a ‘Are you joking?!’ kind of thing.
“But younger people these days don’t really have the past knowledge of music that my generation seems to have and while I don’t think that it is their fault, I do think there is something to be said for it,” Glover says.
“In the past, rock n’ roll was something you listened to because it was what your parents didn’t listen to but now parents are listening to rock n’ roll so it pushes the younger kids towards other genres of music.”
With Glover firm in his belief that “old” rock n’ roll is harder and more dangerous than anything coming out of any modern rock radio station, he says he feels the major difference with the older style of rock is that you have to be immersed in it as opposed to the superficiality of so many bands today.
“There are a lot of cool things that you can do in the studio with samples and stuff like that. But when it comes to playing rock, you actually have to know how to play your instruments. It isn’t a style of music that you can just pick up off the cuff and learn over the matter of a couple of years. I feel that it really takes your life to be able to know how to play it with soul,” he continues.
“Back when you had bands like Led Zeppelin, Cream and Blue Cheer going strong, there were probably a lot of other bands like them but the cream always rises to the top and it shows. Those guys were the best at it.”
Glover believes there is a lot to be said for those kids who study records from front to back in efforts to learn how to play them, an experience that he feels just isn’t the same when compared to playing along to a song on YouTube.
“I don’t feel that you can immerse yourself in a YouTube video as much as you could by spinning a record in your bedroom.”
Produced by their good friend Jimmy Shaw of the Canadian band Metric, Flash Lightnin’s self-titled full-length record was captured unexpectedly quickly by Shaw and the band at Shaw’s Giant Studios.
“Jimmy was always a good friend to the band. He helped us get our agent and had built a studio just down the road from the Dakota. Soon after Metric had finished their newest record Fantasies, we went into his studio just looking to record a little something. We didn’t go there with the intention of getting anything worth keeping but by the end of that first weekend, we had half of the record completed.
“It just fell into both of our laps.”
Once Flash Lightnin’s tour dates with The Novaks have wrapped up, Glover says the group will take some time off before heading to California to record. The fact that things seem to be happening for his band so quickly isn’t lost on the musician however.
“It has been a little over three years and I have toured the country seven times, made two records, met a lot of amazing people and toured with a lot of equally amazing bands.”
Article published in December 3, 2010 edition of the Times & Transcript