The Flowerthief is back again, with their third full-length record Natural Selection. After a few set backs in the writing and recording process, including an unforeseen trip to New York for Motos and the departure of long time bassist, Carissa Aguayo, the band pushed through with recording and mixing in November of last year. The record was engineered by Robert Garrity of local group A Scribe Amidst The Lions, who is also set to fill in on bass for some live shows.
Natural Selection delivers a collection of songs that span genres from classic rock, to indie blues all the way to campfire sing along and folk rock, while utilizing many instruments to create a very specific and studio produced musical experience. Motos says, “(We) understood that the song always takes precedence over style.” Claiming the bands outlook on their style can be, “at times rough around the edges, multi faceted and catchy.” Motos description hits the nail right on the head. Certain tracks off the new record will find their way into your head and will keep your foot tapping and head bobbing all day long. Catchy tunes? Acquired.
Track “Polaroid Girl” delivers a fun and danceable classic rock n roll style track, with its bouncy bass riffs accompanied by a screaming horn section. “Cowboy Song” gallops along with a softly strummed guitar paired nicely with a beautiful sounding country violin and harmonizing vocals through the chorus, and finds itself flirting the line of both campfire and indie rock. (Excerpt from ThreeBZine.com article, Jan 17, 2013)
(Full interview with singer-songwriter Christian Motos via ThreeBZine.com)
TBZ: What was the approach to writing Natural Selection compared to your previous records?
Christian Motos: We approached Natural Selection like The Beatles did with Sgt. Pepper. To make an album that is not limited to just a band arrangement, linear production, and live performance constraints. We want to give the song what it needed like the horn section on Polaroid Girl, fiddle on Manhattan Blue and Cowboy Song, we also have Indian instruments like the harmonium on Titanium Love and even incorporated cinematic 007 elements with Skyfall (originally written and pitched for the movie). In spite of that, we were very careful not to overproduce and suck the life off it. We still kept our 1-3 take discipline and not muck about tiny imperfections. I think there’s more of a democracy in how the song was arranged this time, unlike the previous ones where I came in not just with the song but also the arrangement I wanted.
TBZ: What are some of the bands favorite tracks off of the new record, Natural Selection?
CM: All of them are but we have a few we enjoy playing live like the jazzy keyboard groove plus rousing finale of Dear My Dear, the wave crash heavy chorus of Indefinitely, and the barnyard stomp of Cowboy Song. My personal favorites would be Titanium Love and Manhattan Blue. For me, they are a step up in what I think to be my development as a songwriter. It’s also very personal, AND like most of my favorites, they wrote themselves without effort. It’s like I tuned in to a clear signal from the ether.
TBZ: Natural Selection is filled with classic sounds and instruments. What are some of the instruments utilized in the recording studio to complete the final sound? Who were some of the extra players involved?
CM: We have incorporated some Violin/Fiddle work on Manhattan Blue and Cowboy Song via Melissa Barrison, a very talented musician who is the go-to violinist in the local scene. We had a horn section on Polaroid Girl. Sax and Trombone courtesy of Blaise Garza who is one of the best brass players in town (He toured with the Violent Femmes during his teens, I heard). We also have trumpeter Chris Block who earned his stripes with a number of Big Bands in and out of town. We also have other guests like Mike Hams who played drums and Kris Towne, lead guitar on the track Skyfall. We also have the harmonium, an Indian instrument primarily used for worship. You can hear it on the first chorus of Titanium Love.
TBZ: What are some of the feelings you wanted to portray in the writing of Natural Selection? What is a typical writing session like for The Flowerthief?
CM: Originally, I just wanted to capture the band at the time knowing full well that nothing is permanent. I also acknowledge the fact that our sound is constantly changing obviously due to the members, group dynamic, and what we are capable or willing to do to push things forward. That’s why we borrowed the Darwinian concept of evolution by natural selection and named our album after it. In this case our music has evolved and hopefully continues to do so into something else. Hopefully we could pass the good bits to the next one.
A typical writing session would be me coming in with a song, have the band play around it or jam, then organize things amongst ourselves; some songs from this album were re-arranged during the recording.
TBZ: When did you first start playing music, and what are some of your main musical inspirations?
CM: I picked up the guitar when I was 13 and got into a band 2 years after. I grew up in a very musical household with a huge vinyl collection and was exposed to a lot of 60′s and 70′s stuff. The Beatles were a big influence to me. They’re the reason why I picked up the guitar because I could no longer appreciate just listening to it, I soon wanted to learn how to play it, then I moved on to writing some of my own.
TBZ: What are the bands favorite venues to play? San Diego and otherwise?
CM: Locally, we enjoyed playing at the Tin Can Ale House, The Soda Bar, and The Casbah. We liked Lestats Coffeeshop too because they’ve got the best sound, (you can literally hear yourself!) and not just a wall of sound, too bad they don’t have alcohol. You can’t have everything.
TBZ: With the release of Natural Selection January 18th at Soda Bar, what can we expect next from The Flowerthief?
CM: I don’t like getting ahead of myself but ideally I want to get this band tighter, play more and bigger shows, and record some new music. I’ve been nurturing quite a few for a year or two now but I’m more inclined to hear what we can come up with as a band.
TBZ: Please finish this sentence… Without music…
CM: Personally, without music I’d probably end up in a boring desk job doing something I hate, end up in jail, or go mad and cut my ear off like Van Gogh.