Early 80’s thrash pioneers Flotsam and Jetsam have never shown signs of slowing down. In fact, their latest album ‘The Cold’ is being continually praised as one of their finest pieces of work to date. Australia is one of the very few countries that they haven’t been able to make it over to yet. While that tour is hopefully on the horizon, have a read of our interview with drummer Craig Nielsen.
Hey Craig, this is Jake from Killyourstereo, how’s things?
Yeah I’m good man, thanks for asking. Having a great day.
Good to hear. Well Flotsam and Jetsam are well into their fourth decade as a band now, and you’ve been with them for a fair stretch of that time, 10 years ago would you have thought that you’d still be playing now?
As long as we have a record deal, I don’t see why we’d ever stop. The challenge now is going to be to replace Mark Simpson, he was the main songwriter. We did just get Michael Gilbert back though, and he’s obviously a great songwriter, but I think now our band will probably take on a different flavour because Mark had been the main writer for a long while.
It’s been out for a while over there, but in Australia we’ve only just got your new album ‘The Cold.’ The reviews have been very positive, have you been happy with the reception?
Yeah we’re blown away. There was actually a magazine in Belgium that gave it album of the year, over bands like Nevermore, Death Angel and Slash. We couldn’t believe it! We really keep in touch with our fans as well, and everyone is really impressed with it so we’re very, very happy.
I’m aware you just signed with Nuclear Blast as well, is that exciting for you?
Well yeah, they’re a very well respected metal label. They seem to be a public relations machine as well, I have been doing a lot more interviews than I’ve ever done before and there have been a lot of reviews, so they really get the job done well.
While it distinctively sounds like an F&J record, it’s also got quite a modern sound, who are some of the more modern metal bands you’ve taken influence from?
Well Mark did all the writing on this record, but me and Mark really listen to the same music. These days, [we listen to] a lot of Opeth, Gojira and Katatonia. Lots of progressive, edgy modern metal.
Wow I think you just rolled off my three favourite bands mate, no wonder I love the new album so much!
[Laughs] Really? Good to hear, they’re incredible bands.
Too right. You’ve got a string of shows lined up for South America, anywhere else in particular you’d like to tour this year?
Australia’s pretty much the last frontier for us. We really, really want to play there. Hopefully Nuclear Blast can find the right agent or promoter to make it happen.
Looking back, what would be your biggest highlight with the band?
Personally, it would have been the two smaller Wacken shows we played quite recently with Slayer headlining. I remember it standing out as probably the best concerts we’ve ever played. Touring with Nevermore was great too, I used to play with them and had a lot of respect for them.
Do you have a favourite F&J tune?
I like playing The Master Sleeps, it’s a lot of fun to play as a drummer and I always g
et a rush out of it. Also, Blackened Eyes Staring off The Cold is one of my new favourites.
I’m 18 years old and my introduction to your music was about four or five years ago when my bass teacher told me that Newsted used to play bass with Flotsam and Jetsam were a better band. As much as it’s good that I was introduced to your music, it seems that most of the people my age that have become aware of your music are Metallica fans that have done some bookwork. Is it something that annoys you or are you just happy for the extra support?
On the Jason Newsted subject, I could never say anything but positive things. If not even for the legacy that he helped create with this band, but for something he did quite recently. When Metallica was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a few years ago, they got Jason got up to speak. In front of the millions of people streaming the induction, he thanked his family and a few other people, then he got a little bit emotional and said ‘and I want to thank the band who started it all, Flotsam and Jetsam.’ Everyone was kind of waiting for him to say Metallica, but he gave us props over Metallica on live television. So I couldn’t say any more about Jason, he’s done a lot for this band.
What do you think the strangest question you’ve been asked is?
[Laughs] In some countries in Europe, which I won’t name, they have this way of coming at you with all the negative stuff first. They’ll be like ‘So, obviously Dreams of Death was very disappointing for the band, it didn’t sound real good. What do you think about that?’ Sometimes they just stay hostile for the whole interview and never say a positive thing, some cultures are pretty strange!
Well Craig, it’s been a pleasure talking to you, hope to see you over here soon!
Ok brother, it’s been nice talking.