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Tom Pimlott (The Flex) interview by Chiller Than Most fanzine / Part II.

Tom Pimlott (The Flex) interview originally published in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4. Pics by: Natalie Wood, Angela Owens, Meline Gharibyan.

“The Flex are BACK! These UKHC legends bring you their signature blend of early 80s UK punk and late 80s NYHC in time for their East Coast USA tour with Arms Race. Thundering ‘Inferno’ goes straight for the jugular with a wall-of-noise beating, swiftly followed up with the ever so catchy and funked up ‘Soma Holiday’.  Meanwhile ‘Flex 4’ is a moody rumbler, with quieter bass and drum led sections, powerful vocals that seem to have been recorded from the top of a mountain, and turbo charged speed change. The new songs will feature on an upcoming LP, and this recording also includes a cover of Gut Instinct’s ‘Disturbing the Peace’ from their 1990 EP, representing Baltimore HC!


The title of this edition of Flexual Healing comes from the last ever scene on British comedy show Blackadder ‘Goes Forth’ series, set in World War I. This is visually alluded to with the devilish character in the artwork, by Tin Tin Savage, wearing a hat similar to those worn by the German army at the time.” Quality Control Records

Listen to ‘Perhaps the war is over? Perhaps it’s peace?’ here: Flexual Healing Vol. 7

Flexual Healing Volume IV. – Live At Flex House

1. Don’t Bother (Don’t Bother With The Outside World) 2. The Flex (Scum On The Run) 3. Virtual Reality (The Demo) 4. Life Balance (Don’t Bother With The Outside World)
5. W.D.N.Y. (Wild Stabs In The Dark) 6. Macho Jock Hardcore (Do Ya Think I’m Flexi?) 7. Back For More (Don’t Bother With The Outside World) 8. Waste My Time (Wild Stabs In The Dark) 9. Loud And Clear (The Abused cover)

CTM – Please tell me about the recording process for Volume IV.!

Tom Pimlott: I recorded this one on my Yamaha four-track cassette recorder, which incidentally I inherited from the Boo Radleys, as their bass player Tim is my uncle’s best mate. I stuck a mic on the drums then just put three more around the basement walls. It turned out OK, the machine wasn’t in great condition at the time though so it could have been better, but not to worry!

CTM – A lot of people don’t like live recordings, they are deemed as too sterile or raw. I really love listening to live sets. Are there any bands out there whose live sets you like more as opposed to studio recordings?

Tom Pimlott: YES. The Ramones are one of my favourite bands and ‘It’s Alive’ is my favourite release by far. The guitar tone on that is incredible. I’m not sure how many overdubs are on it, but fuck it, it sounds amazing. So much energy. Also, my favourite Mental recording is their WERS set. Other notables, although not quite superior to their studio recordings; Led Zeppelin ‘How The West Was Won’, Floorpunch ‘Live At Lintfabriek’ bootleg, AC/DC ‘If You Want Blood’.

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CTM – I would like to talk about your lyrics. The Flex sings about social problems and makes smart remarks about the current situation in your country. Social issues, oppression and ignorance, restricted sense of freedom, cycle of disillusion etc. Most of your lyrics are really aggressive, critical, angry and violent so the mood of the songs are violent and aggressive. Denis (singer of Freedom) said in a fanzine that Freedom helps him not to punch people. What do you think about this?

Tom Pimlott: I think that’s a good thing, Denis is too funny to be punching people. Sam’s lyrics are fucking great. I don’t think a lot of people expect that. People see this huge crew cut powerlifter with an indecipherable accent and the last thing they expect is well written insightful lyrics haha.

CTM – A Clockwork Orange is one movie that I have loved to watch innumerable times, I think I have seen it probably ten times and it has yet to lose its appeal. The first time I saw it I might have been sixteen or seventeen years old and I was completely shocked by the amount of violence in the film. If I am not mistaken British subcultures (suedeheads, skinheads, punks, football casuals, mods) are/were heavily inspired by A Clockwork Orange. What is your opinion, how did the “A Clockwork Orange” impact society and sub-culture within Britain?

Tom Pimlott: It definitely had a huge impact on youth culture at the time, no question about it. I’m not sure how much of that has carried on to present day subculture though, as things are considerably safer and less violent these days. Definitely not a bad thing in my opinion.

CTM – If Alex De Large listened to hardcore/punk besides Beethoven, which current UK hardcore bands would have had an impact on him? In a futuristic English city would there be a place for bands like The Flex, Violent Reaction?

Tom Pimlott: I think the droogs would definitely be getting down to the sounds of the MURDER demo. That’s the new band from Liam and Tim (DiE) and I already like it better than DiE. It’s basically ’83 Poison Idea meets NYHC, and they cover Krakdown. There isn’t even a place in a present day city for our bands.

CTM – The Abused. What is your favourite The Abused flyer and why? (Kevin Crowley is a legend! The pointillism art technique that he used was really labor intensive and the flyers took a long time to complete. Totally blew my mind how much Crowley communicated with his flyers.

Tom Pimlott: Like I said before I’m not a big art guy but I do love that style and the influence that it’s had. I bet that’s blown his mind how influential it’s been. I’m actually gonna go with the 7″ artwork, as I’m sat in a van in Germany and can’t check out the flyers to jog my memory haha. I will say this though, I love the Abused demo even more than I love the 7″.

Flexual Healing Volume V. – Do Ya Think I’m Flexi?

1. The Cull (exclusive track) 2. Macho Jock Hardcore (Live At Flex House)

CTM – This time it wasn’t a tape, you delivered a nice looking red flexi disc in a usual red and black sleeve. Flexual Healing volume 5 featuring two exclusive songs “The Cull” and “Macho Jock Hardcore”. How would you describe these songs as far as music and lyrics? Do you feel like you accomplished something with this flexi that you hadn’t before on earlier releases?

Tom Pimlott: These are both actually studio tracks, MJHC was from the same session. I wouldn’t say these songs are any more of an accomplishment than the other releases, we just thought it’d be funny to make a FLEX-i disc haha. I do really like the story behind ‘Macho Jock Hardcore’ though. We played Sheffield and this crusty melt at the show was overheard describing us as ‘Macho Jock Hardcore’. We thought this was pretty funny as we are all punk fans and music lovers in general, and the idiot in question is the ‘listens to Anti-Cimex and Deep Purple once’ type. I like Budgie too mate, I just don’t feel the need to rock the leather cowboy costume. We’ve had a few of those kind of jabs, so the song is about that. Fuck that one guy though, he bullies women in punk and only narrowly escaped a beating.

theflex07 Meline Gharibyan

CTM – This was a kind of “trailer” for the project that will become the new 7 inch on LOC. How did The Flex make it on Lockin’ out records? How did the 7 inch on Lockin’ out come about? Was it Greg Mental who found you folks or was it you who sent some The Flex releases over to him? Or did he catch you on the first US tour?

Tom Pimlott: I don’t think Greg was at our gig in Boston on the 2014 tour, but a mutual friend called Dooley told us at the show that Greg wanted the band on Lockin’ Out. Didn’t really think too much of it but then Greg got in touch and away we went. Really happy about it, I’m a big fan of the label and so are the other guys. I’m sure a lot of LO super fans from the UK are pissed off that out of all the bands in the UK it’s The Flex on Lockin’ Out haha but oh well. It’s known for a certain style and era, but LO is a solid and diverse label and always has been. Shout out to Greg!

Flexual Heling Volume VI. – Live From The Paincave

1. Intro 2. We Don’t Need You (Wild Stabs In The Dark) 3. Like You (Scum On The Run) 4. Life Balance (Don’t Bother With The Outside World) 5. The Flex (Scum On The Run) 6. Virtual Reality (The Demo) 7. Waste My Time (Wild Stabs In The Dark) 8. Back For More (Don’t Bother With The Outside World) 9. Just Can’t Hate Enough (Sheer Terror cover) 10. The Herd (Wild Stabs In The Dark)

CTM – On the last day of your last US summer tour you rolled into the Paincave studio. Recording at the Paincave must have been cool. It seems to me you just walked into the studio and recorded this session in one take. what was the paincave recording process like?

Tom Pimlott: Insider secret – we actually recorded the vocals separately for this, but only because CC’s computer wouldn’t handle one more input. All the music was recorded in one take (hence the drum fuck-up at the start of ‘Back For More’ and Jonesy’s out of time bass at the start of ‘Like You’ haha), and Sam did all his vocals in one take, so there’s no difference really. I like how Sam for some reason turned into Jasta for this one. This is my favourite Flexual Healing and probably my favourite Flex release in general. I was really happy to do this one, as so many modern classics have been born in the Paincave, and I love the live-in-the-studio style. Some of my favourite recordings are live in the studio ones, AC/DC ‘Live From Atlantic Studios’, Undertones 1978 Peel Session, Warzone ‘Some Records Tape’, White Stripes ‘Live From Maida Vale’ and numerous Don Fury and WNYU sessions.

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CTM – If you have any Paincave session fun facts of your own, let us know!

Tom Pimlott: It was recorded at the Paincave II, as they moved from the OG cave years ago. Present at the session, aside from CC and the band, were DFJ, Dave Sheehan and Danimal. DFJ actually had to sit on a bass cab in front of the kick drum because of my caveman lead foot, and he let me use a couple of cymbals as I cracked a few of mine. Also the last time I was at the ‘Cave was in 2013 to practice with the one-time-only Violent Reaction lineup of me/Flynn/Danimal/CC/DFJ.

CTM – Who created the cover art for the Volume VI. and what’s the influence/meaning of it?

Tom Pimlott: That’s a Liam penned classic! I couldn’t tell you about the influence or meaning haha but I do know that it looks sick.

CTM – I have noticed that, if we look at the art carefully we can find a Cancerous Growth “Late for the Grave” cover on it (beside the Impact Unit, FU’s, DYS, Jerrys Kids covers). Cancerous Growth is a quite unknown band, do you like them?

Tom Pimlott: I’ve never actually heard them before personally, but Liam is def a fan.

CTM – If you could release a Boston hardcore compilation with underrated, unknown bands from the 80s, which bands would be on it? What would you have named this compilation?

Tom Pimlott: It would be a double LP of just the Impact Unit demo 40 times in a row.


Tom Pimlott (The Flex) interview by Chiller Than Most fanzine / Part I.

This Tom Pimlott interview was originally published in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4. Pics by Patrick Orozco, Call Me Killer, Michelle Olaya, Natalie Wood.

Flexual Healing Volume I.
1. Shiftless (Scum On The Run) 2. Scum On The Run (Scum On The Run) 3. Take A Stand (YOT cover) 4. Open Up (DYS cover) 5. Kickback (Breakdown cover)

CTM – This was a cassette with rough demos of songs from your “Scum On The Run” 7 inch and a few covers thrown in for fun. Looking back, how do you feel about this tape? What memories does it bring to you?

Tom Pimlott: Lots of memories here, as this was shortly after I joined the band so this was the first act of Flex 2.0. We recorded the music live with just my little Zoom H2 handheld recorder in the middle of the room, and we just messed with levels until everything sounded about even. I was still living in Merseyside at this point, and I would come up to Leeds every Sunday for practice, then we would go to Lucky’s Pizza on the way home then buzz off all the dickheads on Take Me Out back at the Flex house. Good days.

CTM –  There has been a lineup change since the band first started. So how did you join to the Flexuals?

Tom Pimlott: I actually remember where I was when I got ‘the call’, I was in a service station on the way to Barcelona with No Tolerance. I’d already been putting the word in with Liam, cause I heard the demo and I was like “fuck this is sick I need to be in this band” haha so I told Liam if anyone drops out then to give me a shout. It turns out that their guitarist Rick was being flakey. The band actually started as a favour for this guy’s birthday, as he lived in the Flex house and had asked the others in the house if they’d start a band with him for his birthday party. Liam played drums at this point. But anyway, they had a show booked in Dublin and Liam lent Rick some money to get his passport sorted, and Rick spent it on burgers and weed. So they gave Rick the boot, Liam moved himself to guitar and put me behind the kit, and it’s stayed like that ever since. It’s been really cool cause Liam has always been the only riff writer, so he could stretch out a bit and mess with stuff that he might have had a bit of trouble with on drums. That original lineup was inimitable magic though, absolute freak occurrence. So sick.


CTM – How did you start playing drums, and who were your biggest influences growing up? Who are your favourite hardcore drummers? Who left the biggest impact on your drum style and why?

Tom Pimlott: I started playing drums just before my 18th birthday, because my friends in school who were all Pink Floyd hippie prog rock guys, had this band called Flynn’s Piece that needed a drummer, so I started learning so I could join them. I’d never played any musical instrument before though, so tackling covers of ‘Comfortably Numb’ wasn’t really within my realm then and still isn’t, so they got a proper drummer. But me and my cousin had a band that covered Hendrix, The Clash, Oasis etc, that was fun but we sucked. I listened to hardcore through school but none of my mates did, so my early drumming influences had nothing to do with hardcore really. John Bonham was my first hero, Charlie Watts, Gene Krupa, Nick Mason, Phil Rudd etc. Matt Kelly from Dropkick Murphys was a big one too early on, because I used to sit in on drums or just a snare with my uncle’s Irish folk band Reckless Elbow, loved that marching snare style.
As for hardcore drummers, Jeff Nelson from Minor Threat, Chris Foley from SS Decontrol, Dave Brown from Negative FX, John Evicci from Out Cold and Mackie from Cro-Mags are big ones. I think friends of mine have had just as much influence on me though, often way before I even knew them haha. I’m huge fans of DFJ (Mental, RJs, Step Forward, Rival Mob, Boston Strangler etc), Tim D (Shitty Limits, Murder), Connor Donegan (Red Death), Robin Zeijlon (Protester, Stand Off, Pure Disgust etc), Ryan Abbott (Green Beret, Chain Rank).

CTM – The cover of the Volume I. cassette is really simple but very expressive. Art is one of the coolest forms of expression next to creating music. You express yourselves very clearly in your music and I mean you want to clearly define who you are with your art as well. How important is the aesthetic side of the band to you? How important is the layout, imagery and packaging for The Flex?

Tom Pimlott: I’m not much of an art guy but I really love the aesthetic we have with The Flex. Classic, simple, bold, strong colour scheme, somehow it’s memorable without being wacky. We have also never used any colour other than red, black and white except maybe on some friends editions of the demo and some shirts that erroneously got printed with navy blue ink in the US. Liam is the mastermind of most of the art shit, just like the riffs. He’s a genius.

CTM – The band did a DYS cover on this tape, you chose a song from the “Brotherhood” LP. Personally, what do you prefer more, SSD “Get it Away” or DYS “Brotherhood”? Both classic records were released in 1983. I often hear criticisms or perceptions that DYS always seemed a few months behind SSD. What do you think about this?05 The band did a DYS cover on this tape, you chose a song from the “Brotherhood” LP. Personally, what do you prefer more, SSD “Get it Away” or DYS “Brotherhood”? Both classic records were released in 1983. I often hear criticisms or perceptions that DYS always seemed a few months behind SSD. What do you think about this?

Tom Pimlott: A very tough decision for me, as I think those six X-Claim! records are all solid 10/10s. I’m gonna have to go with DYS though I think. SS Decontrol are definitely the more important band, and have some great lore and aesthetic about them, but ‘Brotherhood’ is such a perfect short sharp shock of greatness that it takes the prize here. Besides, in my opinion ‘The Kids Will Have Their Say’ is SS Decontrol’s masterpiece. I don’t think DYS were following SSD too hard, musically at least. DYS have more ‘pop’ sensibility, which is a weird thing to say about them but compared to SS Decontrol’s almost tuneless brutality it’s true.

CTM – The Flex is a hard-working band that loves what they do, and it shows on stage and on records/tapes. Over the last few years you published more than ten releases. It seems to me you are still enjoying the creative process and you are still full of new ideas, you always create new music. Jon Anastas said that Boston has always had flinty, old-school work ethic. It’s in their blood and they ran with it because whatever the Boston crew did, they were all in. Professionalism and precision. What’s The Flex’s work ethic like?

Tom Pimlott: I’m not sure professionalism or precision are good ways to describe us haha. Like you said we just love playing hardcore and I think that shows when we play. As for the creative process, basically Liam will sit in his room with his guitar and a pound of weed, then when he thinks he’s got enough riffs together we start to work them out together in the basement. Liam writes all the riffs, I help him out the parts and structures together and the others pitch in whenever they need to. Our writing definitely comes in bursts, but it’s always a pretty painless process. I’d say we have a good work ethic generally, as all of us are in at least two bands and are always working on new things, but not all of that work ethic goes into The Flex haha.

Flexual Healing Volume II. – In The Doghouse

1. Excess (The Demo) 2. The Flex (Scum On The Run) 3. Virtual Reality (The Demo) 4. Kickback (Breakdown cover) 5. No Justice (The Demo) 6. Like You (Scum On The Run) 7. Scum On The Run (Scum On The Run) 8. Repressed (Scum On The Run) 9. Take A Stand (YOT cover)

CTM – One of the things that made me love hardcore when I was first introduced to it was the power and intensity of the live gigs. I love how The Flex has so much energy on this tape. The funniest moment on this tape is that between songs, we can hear two moshers talk about how tired they are at this point in the day. What are your memories of this Mongrel Fest show?

Tom Pimlott: That Mongrel gig was amazing day. That was the first moment where we realised that we (as a larger group) had actually started to build something in the UK. Great turnout, moshing for every band, first sets from Arms Race and Guidance, and early good reactions for some other bands that are way more prominent now. My favourite part of the tape is that during that bass intro you can hear Jon from Repentance shout “fuckin’ hell!!” haha.

CTM –  What is the intro and outro on this tape? What is the sample at the beginning and outro on this tape?

Tom Pimlott: I’m not actually sure to be honest, but I’m willing to be it’s an Andy Jones find from some 70s or 80s UK documentary!

CTM – Breakdown. I’m currently working on an interview with the WNYU’s host DJ Spermicide. I really like their Crucial Chaos ’88 set, this is the radioset where they played their song called “We’ll Be Back”. This unreleased song is definitely the fastest of the early Breakdown tunes. What is your favourite Breakdown WNYU live set and why?

Tom Pimlott: Spermicide is sick! Make sure you ask her if she went on that date with Raybeez! As for Breakdown I actually really like the 1992 one with the Youth Of Today diss at the start. Also opening with ‘Breakdown’ is a sick move, one of my favourite and hardest Breakdown songs. I also love that they fuck up the last song so bad that they have to start it again and it never got edited out haha.


CTM – Youth of Today. Personally, which version of “Take A Stand” do you like more? A shorter (Connecticut Fun compilation 1985) or a longer (Break Down the Walls 1986) version?

Tom Pimlott: Ah it’s gotta be the BDTW version, those comp songs are a little bit too loose for me, and I like me some loose chaotic hardcore haha. Plus the intro is fucking sick. The real question is which mix of BDTW do you prefer…personally it’s probably the OG Wishgwell mix, but I think the Rev ’97 comes very close. I don’t like the Rev ’88 mix that much, too much reverb on the drums and that guitar cut on ‘Thinking Straight’ sounds terrible.

CTM – It was early 1989 when Youth Of Today came to tour Europe. I know that there was some trouble on this tour: ongoing conflicts with Lethal Aggression, metalheads threw beer on stage while Youth Of Today were playing in Belgium, Zürich show was unreal where a dog was running around… They played some awesome cover songs on that tour (Minor Threat, Better Than You, Glue, Pushed Too Far, Malfunction etc.). What do you know about the British shows (London, Liverpool, Wigan…)? Do you know cool and interesting stories about these UK gigs?

Tom Pimlott: I have been told some stories by older guys but I can’t think of any off the top of my head. But I do know that pictures from those shows are in the back of the Schism book. In fact a lot of those pictures are from the UK, including the Slapshot ones where you can see future Vans skateboard pro and ex bandmate of mine Howard Cooke at age 11 right before he sang ‘No Time Left’ for them. Also in the same picture is my mate Clifford, of ‘bartender in the movie Haggard with the Jackass guys’ fame haha.

Flexual Healing Volume III. – T.H.E. F.L.E.X.

1. R.A.M.O.N.E.S A.K.A. T.H.E. F.L.E.X. (Motörhead cover) 2. The Herd (Wild Stabs In The Dark) 3. We Don’t Need You (Wild Stabs In The Dark) 4. Ain’t No Feeble Bastard (Discharge cover) 5. Waste My Time (Wild Stabs In The Dark)

CTM – Oi! and UK82 type bands seems to have a strong musical influence on the band, but this was probably the first release where we could really hear that influence. Do you agree with my opinion?

Tom Pimlott: To be honest it was never really our intention, I think it just shines through because of Liam’s writing style and the fact most of us love that stuff. This is probably my second favourite Flexual Healing, we were so excited about people hearing ‘The Herd’ on tape, we are really proud of that tune. I also remember re-writing the Motörhead lyrics on the bus at 6am on the way to work when I worked at a model train warehouse. A cool time.


CTM – If The Flex could play a bill with British bands from the 70s, which bands would be on the bill and WHY? The Stranglers? Angelic Upstarts? The Lurkers?

Tom Pimlott: This is just my pick, I know the others would choose different shit haha.
The Undertones – I don’t wanna step into any political minefields here but I love them so much I’m gonna go with the technicality that they’re from a British ruled land. Probably my favourite 70s punk band outside of The Ramones. ‘Get Over You’ is one of the most perfect songs ever written.
Jook – not a super well known one, but I’ve no idea why. This band had the fuckin’ HITS. Just listen to ‘Watch Your Step’. Tough as nails street rock and roll straight from the pub.
Cock Sparrer – let’s not mess about, ‘Shock Troops’ is their greatest work, but the 70s stuff was incredible too. ‘Chip On Your Shoulder’ is a barnstormer. Hard to believe they’ve been a band longer than AC/DC.
The Jam – but I’d only want em to play material from ‘In The City’, absolutely amazing record. Not sure what happened after that.
Slaughter And The Dogs – because they were the toughest sounding band of the 70s. PUT A BOTTLE IN YOUR FACE!