“We play straight forward, unrestrained and untainted metal.” Singer Travis Johnson commented. Flatline, hailing from Los Angeles, CA, are set to release their debut album for Stand and Deliver Records, Pave the Way this winter. “Pave the Way was an important album title for us. We chose it because we’re not going to compromise ourselves and our creativity to follow the pack. We’re going to stay true and try to follow our dreams with metal.” Johnson continued. Flatline’s sound is a classic thrash attack with modern metal sensibilities, and has often drawn comparisons to Pantera, Slayer and Lamb of God.
The album was Produced by Flatline’s guitarist Randy Weitzel, with mixing and mastering by Logan Mader of Machine Head and Soulfly who also recorded the drum tracks. Johnson commented about producing their own album, “Our guitar player Randy did all of the productions of the record, going back to the Pave the Way theme, we didn’t want to put our vision in someone else’s hands and have it changed by someone else’s taste or ideas.” The theory is working for them; the band has not only been featured in Decibel, Hails and Horns, AMP, Metal Edge, and more but also garnered the praise of their peers. Chris Howorth from In This Moment said “The new Flatline CD is a solid slab of pure American metal; it’s very refreshing in this age of trends and fads.” Jon Miller from DevilDriver said of the band “Flatline is untainted, undefiled and as tight as it gets. One of the best live bands I have seen in years.”
Since their inception the band has also been rocked by trips to the hospital, money problems, and lineup changes, but have stabilized and solidified. Alongside singer Travis Johnson is Randy Weitzel (guitarist), Tim Hassemer (drums), Hector Gonzalez (bass), and Joe “Paulo” Guerra (guitar).
In their four years as a band, Flatline has released four albums, traveled to New Zealand on their own dime to play at the 666 Metal Day Out fest, and toured relentlessly with the likes of Walls of Jericho, 36 Crazyfists, It Dies Today, Sea of Treachery, Becoming the Archetype, In This Moment, Five Finger Death Punch, Threat Signal, Straight Line Stich and many more.
CWG: What makes FLATLINE tick? Tell us what your band stands for and why you guys decided to take on a life of metal!
Travis Johnson (Vocals): Well, we stand tall for every single Metal Head in the world. We didn’t really choose to take on a life of metal…I guess you could say it chose us! We are proud and honored to be able to do what we are doing.
Randy Weitzel(Guitar): I have a 666 birthmark on the back of my head so I have to like Metal ha ha… Yeah, no, we love Metal and we help fight for this style of music to be more relevant. That is our mission!!
CWG: You guys are bringing back the black metal sound, what made you decide to forgo playing “safe” metal music?
Travis: Hmmmm, I don’t really think we are “black metal” by any means. I think we are more of a straight up thrash band and there is nothing safe about metal music at all! Especially in the pit!
Randy: We do kind of have a side of us that plays a little lighter from time to time, for example the intro to “God As My Witness” or the middle part in “Generations Fall”, but generally we just like to play fast and hit it hard, say “fuck” a lot and drink beer ha ha, so I guess we didn’t really make any conscious effort to forgo playing it safe…it is what it is.
CWG: As a band, you all have very diverse influences that you bring to the music. Tell us a little bit about everyone’s influences.
Randy: Well, basically we all agree that Metal rules, but we all listen to different forms of it which I think really broadens our sound and keeps it fresh. I personally like to add old school thrash riffs in the mix but when the song is completed and everyone has added their flavor it never sounds dated. I channel Metallica, Megadeth…Exodus.
Travis: My influences are pretty much endless…From Testament to Death to John Mayer to Foreigner and Judas Priest to Pink.
Tim Hassemer: (Drums) As far as musical influences go, the one band I’d really have to give credit to would be Metallica. They were the band that got me into Metal. After teaching myself to play drums with the help of Lars, I discovered a different, heavier band called Pantera, that’s when the shit hit the fan!
CWG: How did you hook up with Logan Mader (Machinehead, Soulfly) to play on your album?
Travis: He actually didn’t play on the album unfortunately. He recorded the drums and mixed and mastered the record.
Randy: Yeah, when it came time to do the record for “Stand and Deliver” we really wanted to focus on improving the sound quality of the drums and Logan’s name kept coming up as “the Metal drum guy.” Trav called him up and we got exactly what we wanted. Tim’s drums sound fucking great on “Pave the Way…”
CWG: You’ve toured with 36 Crazyfists and Walls of Jericho, what was it like to share the stage with two of metal’s heaviest bands?
Travis: It was completely amazing! Both of those bands are great and we learned a lot from touring with them. We hope to share the stage with them again really soon!
Tim: It was pretty awesome for me, because to date, that was the biggest tour package we had been on; it was our first real tour. Besides playing with a couple of bad-ass, seasoned bands, I got to learn a lot about the inner workings of the touring thing. Very fun stuff!
CWG: Tell us your craziest road story.
Tim: Hmm…….the craziest road story? Well quite literally the craziest “road” story happened just recently. While driving through Indiana, Randy’s head pops up in the back of the RV and from experience when this happens it’s usually a bad thing. Anyway, Randy’s head pops up in the back and he tells Hector, who’s driving, to pull over.
Turns out not only the tire, but the entire hub fell off of our trailer and we had been dragging it with one wheel for miles. I followed the line that the spindle had engraved in the asphalt for about a mile and a half up the road looking for the tire, and found nothing but a dead, rotting deer carcass. Our trailer is still in Indiana.
Travis: There was this one time when this crazy midget came on stage with a leaf blower and added gasoline to the mix and well ,…that explains why I have no hair! Haha No! but on a serious note, there are so many road stories that it is way to hard to narrow it down to just one…
The road is just plain crazy and sometimes you capture it on film and other times it just seems like kind of a crazy dream….. but it is all good at the end of the day. This is what we live for!
CWG: How did the sweet, sweet endorsement deal with Monster Energy come about?
Travis: We are close friends with one of the reps @ Monster and she knows that it can get pretty tiring on the road. She hooks us up before tours so we can make it through those long ass drives…haha.
CWG: When can we expect another national tour?
Travis: Hopefully very soon! We just got back from tour with Threat Signal, The Agonist, and Thy Will Be Done a couple weeks ago so we are looking for our next tour now. Keep an eye on our myspace for dates and we hope to see all our bad-ass fans on the road really soon!!