Track by Track: Flesh Tape – ‘Flesh Tape’
Posted: by The Editor
In 2020, Larson Ross adopted the name Flesh Tape to drop a track called “Petrified Wood” that he didn’t think would suit his more punk-leaning band. In ’22 he teamed up with Heavenly Creatures Records to drop Flesh Tape’s official debut, a one-man shoegaze EP called Sorry Year. In the time since the project expanded to a full band, and today sees the release of their self-titled LP. It’s a massive, massive step up from the seven songs that preceded it, half an hour of immersive, abrasive shoegaze that sits somewhere between the They Are Gutting a Body of Water’s noise-rock eruptions and Hotline TNT’s emo-inspired fare; whirling opener “Horizon Pt. 1” pretty ably demonstrates the range of the record in four minutes. Single “Gargoyle” demonstrates how Ross and company can turn snarling riffs into something beautiful and magnetic, while “Public Servant” is a two-minute fuzz rock freakout.
We spoke to Ross about the writing of Flesh Tape, and he broke down the process behind each of the eleven songs on the album. Read those below and stream the LP while you do.
“Horizon Pt. 1”
This was the first song I wrote for this album and it was the easiest, done almost entirely in free verse and one night of jamming. After recording a demo I figured I had to write a whole album to justify releasing it. I came out of that writing session with a Too Ambitious plan for a concept album about work, Luddism, conditions in warehousing, and the idea of molding yourself to a machine that then falls out of use due to economic whim. Didn’t end up completing the concept album, but a lot of the songs on the record still have that residue.
“Time You Don’t Have”
The first line is a subtle homage to the Sancho song “Something to Talk About.” The lead line in the bridge is a modified version of a solo I wrote that my wife said sounded too close to the Friends theme song. I wanted to combine what I was listening to during my time working in warehousing, which was a lot of PNW indie rock, Television, and Another Sunny Day.
When I first heard Nick Visocky’s drum part for this during our practice, I couldn’t stop thinking about the constant feeling of low grade civil and class war that hangs over Colorado. I tried to stich together some concrete images of things I’ve experienced here to give a sense of that feeling. School shooting, industrial accident, and police repression. Pinched an Ultravox lyric for the end because it felt appropriate.
A true collaborative effort. Jae Smith did an amazing job on the drums and it wouldn’t have come together at all without Jake Lyon writing the verse guitar part. This song is about enemies. Two enemies in particular: 1) a coke-dealing manager at my old job and 2) a union busting consultant with a huge paycheck and a recurring column in a series of small town papers where he writes bullshit about the spirit of Christmas.
I’ve long been fascinated by Colorado Springs. It’s a town with the most sprawling, suburban, boring town life is propped up by the Air Force and Focus on the Family. Really beautiful place, though. Great place to write a song about. This was the only song on the record where I used a bow to get at that aching guitar feeling.
“Life in Debt”
The lead line at the beginning was really hard to record. We tried tremolo picking, heavy boost, all kinds of things that didn’t get the almost-synth type of sustain that I wanted. Finally I figured I could use my Freeze pedal to get an effect that was kind of vibrato and kind of tremolo. After my wife got into a fight with a street pharmacist, I got to thinking about how much time in life is spent just paying down debt you accrued trying to be better off in the first place and what else that time could be used for.
This song and Sunny were originally two different guitar parts in the same song. I accidentally exported the demo with only this guitar part audible and I felt that I had to make it a song in its own right. Changed up the tempo, wrote a bridge and an outro and it worked. The lyrics borrow a few lines from a Joe Hill song in an IWW songbook that a friend gave me. I wanted to make it feel like getting hit in the head at an emo show.
My 2001 Honda CRV (with rims spray-painted purple by the amateur mechanic I bought it from) was stolen from outside the warehouse where I worked. The managers got to park in a well-lit lot after a rash of thefts, but the rest of us parked in the dark away from the building cameras. Aurora cops, after a thorough investigation, found it three weeks later dumped two blocks away and without its catalytic converter. One night in those weeks, a heavy pallet fell off of an unsecured (standard safety equipment was too expensive to install, we were told) shelf and hit three of my coworkers, leaving two bleeding and passed out on the ground. Two managers actually had that conversation mentioned in the first part of the song. My goal musically was to convey the overwhelming torrent of events all rushing toward that one statement.
My friend’s dog was going through a medical emergency and hearing about Sunny’s slow recovery made me reflect on wounds and healing. CGCGBE is a perfect tuning, and it suited Sunny well with its natural growl.
“Hammer Blow to the Back of the Head”
This one gave Nick, who drummed, hell during recording. We must have switched the timing of the chorus like four times between the demo, practice, and recording. No idea how he pulled it off after all of that. Hammer is about forgiveness and how hard I find it. Brief moments where it feels possible fall back into anger.
“Horizon Pt. 2”
This is meant to be a companion to the first song, and mirrors its structure. The other side of the “twisting your body to a machine” narrative. What happens after the machine is retired? How do you go on?
Flesh Tape is out now.
Zac Djamoos | @gr8whitebison
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