The Flies

Bill Cummings 08/12/2005

Sean Cook knows all about the pitfalls of the music industry, having been unceremoniously “sacked from Spiritualized.” After years in the touring band, once the “Spiritualized Live at the Albert Hall album” was released, front man Jason Pierce no longer required him and his bandmates. He admits, “It had gone tits up anyway. It was only a matter of time.”

Sean went on to form Lupine Howl with Mike Mooney (also of Spiritualized) “We were already gathering stuff before we left. We started making music on computers. It was when pro tools became vaguely affordable.” Experimentation led them to create “all sorts of pieces of music” rather than songs without a singer they “We were trying to get various different singers to sing on it like a rock version of Massive Attack or something like that. We actually recorded a track with Euros Childs from Gorkys Zygotic Mynci which is still unreleased.”

Indeed, Sean wasn't a singer by trade so his move to vocals seemed to come initially from necessity: “It got to the point where we realised getting people to sing on it was impractical, so Mike shoved me up to a microphone and said give it a go. It sounded ok. Singing isn't something you just can or can't do it takes a lot of practise - so over the years I got better at it. “

After Lupine Howl, Sean took a break. It was only by chance that The Flies, came into existence whilst he was hanging around with a production team called the Insects: “It happened in a weird, incremental way. I'd known the other two guys, Bob and Tim (The Insects). They do film scores. I was up at their studio; they were playing a bit of unfinished music. They said they thought someone should sing on this. So I thought 'I'll give it a go'. They liked it: it worked well. So we did more tracks.”

Sean didn't see his work with The Insects as some kind of “come back” - there was nothing to prove to anyone. In his eyes it was initially just a hobby. “It was natural. We had no aspirations to be a famous group. We had no aspirations to even make a record.” Eventually though it got more serious when they realised that the way their way of working was not only easy, but they all liked what they were creating. “It started with just bits of music we had knocking around.” He recalls. “It was only later it became more complete and we started making new tracks from scratch. Only this year we got down to making an album.”

Since the whole Flies musical experience seems to be based upon natural experimentation, it's no surprise that they “haven't performed live yet.” Sean wants it to “sound good” before they step into the live arena, the unique sound they create just wouldn't translate in the places he's played in the past. “We are touring next year, we are forming ideas of how we do that. We won't be doing the toilet tour. I've played them a million times. I've played most of these venues when most new bands were sucking on my Mum's tit. We are trying to find a way of doing it that will translate live. The whole thing has got to be good straight away”

After the success of live cover of 'Ruby Tuesday', a cover of the Rolling Stones track - over 25,000 tracks by The Flies have been downloaded since August.

The Flies have opted to rework the track into a downloadable video format to be released on the 5th December. There will be no CD or DVD and the video download will cease to be available after 31st December. The newly recorded version of Ruby Tuesday is only available as a digital video download. The Flies are the first band to release a track exclusively in this format.

The Flies seem determined to do things on their own terms and Sean likes the way the internet can reach fans like no other format before, cutting out the industry middle man: “Yeah I like that aspect of it. I also like the way you can integrate all the elements you do. The contact and feedback: with the fan. It seems to be the future of music. I still like albums the artwork etc. it seems to reflect the image of a band but the internet seems to be getting there with that too”. The treadmill of tour, release and promotion seems to be somehow defunct by this new method of musical release on the net, Sean admits the old way was frustrating: “The interminable wait for your records, articles about you to come out. There's an inherent boredom comes with that.”

The Flies “enigmatic” full length record is slated for a March 2006 release in the press it's already been compared to Spaceman 3, the Jesus and Mary Chain and the older work of Spiritualized. Influences seem a bit clichéd when the press can often force square pegs (the sound) into round holes (the influence). But I was more interested in what Sean and the Flies were listening to at the time of recording, because sometimes people try and make influences fit to suit: “Yeah not many people say that actually. I often suspect bands make the album then decide what influences fit some bands say “We were listening to the Pistols when we were doing this” I always think were you? Or did you make that up afterwards? I like old stuff Roy Orbison and Little Richard, Miles Davis to Kraftwerk to Black Sabbath. All sorts of garage rock stuff from the 60's.”

I wondered how the Flies went about creating their sound, was it a case of trying to somehow produce music the way it sounded in their heads, or was it just how it emerged? “Something emerges then you recognise that it has an ambience.” Reckons Sean; “You can't help but recognise a similarity to something because there's only eight notes in the scale. On some tracks a Sixties Spector girl group sound came into play. There were some tracks that have a kind of Latiny feel. There's also some electronics we play around with and all electronic music is influenced by Kraftwerk in my eyes.”

The influences are there with the Flies but Sean is clear that the Flies don't fit into the musical climate of 80's and 90's influenced NME bands. “The clear blue water between us and other bands is what we are influenced by. Other groups look to bands like Radiohead, I'm like “What! They're still going! I supported them in America” We are looking back to the 50s and 60s and before that. But experimenting within that. Some bands stretch the meaning of the word influence. They sound exactly the fucking same”, which is not something that could be levelled at the Flies. Casting my ears over their unmastered album, it's clear that the Flies are creating a sound for a modern era and releasing it in a different way. The unreleased album is full of interesting dark trippy soundscapes, '60 psychedelic desert rock and electronic beats, and Sean Cook's floating voice has never sounded so at home.