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’.
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.
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.
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.