Eric “A.K.” Knutson of Flotsam and Jetsam – Doing it from the Heart!
Interview by Robert Cavuoto
Flotsam and Jetsam is a band from Phoenix, Arizona with a legacy that goes back well over 30 years. It’s hard to believe that their debut album release, Doomsday for The Deceiver, came out in the summer of 1986. Fast-forward 30 years and several member changes the band is now back and re-energized with Eric “AK” Knutson, Mike Gilbert, Michael Spencer, Steve Conley and Jason Bittner, essentially a new band with a 30-year history.
After their 2015 European tour the band took this new found energy and focused on writing another new CD. What started as 18 rough ideas turned into an album’s worth of killer material. The end result is the self- titled Flotsam and Jetsam CD due out May 20th. It showcases five very distinct personalities and influences coming together for the common goal of creating another soon to be metal classic.
I caught up with vocalist, Eric “A.K.” Knutson, to talk about their latest release, the band’s legacy, and the sacrifices made along the way.
U.S. thrash metal legends Flotsam and Jetsam have inked a worldwide deal with AFM Records. The band’s new album, simply titled “Flotsam and Jetsam” will be released on May 20th.
Timo Hoffmann (AFM Records A&R): „We’re honored that Flotsam and Jetsam have decided to join our roster. Of course we’ve followed their career for many years and always valued the band’s qualities. This new, self-titled album is a blast! We’ve been convinced right from the very first demos sent. It was obvious to us why the album is titled as it is: „Flotsam and Jetsam“ holds the essence of what defines the band – this album is a statement, something to be proud of. And we are proud to start working with the band with such a special release“.
The band states: “Flotsam and Jetsam really appreciated the fact that AFM laid out a legitimate, business plan for us when they made their offer to sign us. We believe they are as committed to us as a band, as we are to providing them with quality metal to get behind and promote. Along with signing to a new label, all the forward movement for the band in the last two years has also allowed us to partner with new team members; like Chris Collier of CMC21 Productions, who just completed the mixing and mastering of the album and Andy Pilkington of Very Metal Art out of the UK, for the album cover and stage production art, who are both doing a phenomenal job for us. We’re looking forward to playing the music on this album live, which hasn’t been a luxury for the band on past releases, as well as debuting our new stage look”.
INTERVIEW WITH ERIC A.K. KNUTSON
OF FLOTSAM AND JETSAM
Interview and pics by Arto Lehtinen
Flotsam And Jetsam returned to the summer festival tour with the re-recorded classic NO PLACE FOR DISGRACE album. Metal-Rules.com sat down with frontman vocalist Eric A.K. to talk about the re-recorded classic album and of course the touring life now and then.
New album “Ugly Noise” to be released April 16th, 2013
Flotsam and Jetsam, arguably one of the most influential and prominent acts from thrash metal’s birth in the early 80s, has returned to Metal Blade Records to release their new album, Ugly Noise. The lead single/title track is available for streaming now on metalblade.com/flotsamandjetsam.
Ugly Noise is the band’s eleventh full-length album, their first release on Metal Blade since 2001, and the follow up to their 2010 album, The Cold. The record also heralds the return of original members Michael Gilbert on guitar and Kelly David Smith on drums, who haven’t recorded with Flotsam and Jetsam since High in 1997.
Flotsam and Jetsam’s Kelly Smith comments on working with Metal Blade: “We have just inked a distribution deal for the release of “Ugly Noise” through Metal Blade Records. Ugly Noise will be released worldwide in late March/Early April of 2013. It was the obvious choice for us after our long-standing relationship and Metal Blades 30 year history of metal. You can’t match what they can do with 30 years of experience behind them. We are excited and looking forward to working with MB in 2013.”
FLOTSAM AND JETSAM Dark Roots of Thrash Tour
w/ Testament, Overkill, 4Arm
02/20 Cincinnati, OH Bogart’s
02/21 Grand Rapids, MI The Intersection
02/22 Milwaukee, WI The Rave
02/23 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
02/25 Denver, CO The Summit Music Hall
02/26 Salt Lake City, UT In The Venue End Tour
02/28 Las Vegas, NV Hard Rock Café
FLOTSAM AND JETSAM bassist Jason Ward has released the following update:
“As you may have heard through the grapevine, I will not be touring with Flotsam for the upcoming North American tour in support of TESTAMENT. While I would like nothing more than to be out there doing what I love more than anything, I have too many personal commitments that need my attention at home including the care of my ailing father and family. The length and commitment of time to the tour is simply too great for me to participate considering the needs of my family at this time. Nevertheless, I want nothing but success for the tour and for Flotsam, and hopefully will be able to rejoin the band sometime in the future should my personal commitments to my family allow. Thank you all for your support! Hope you all enjoy the shows as much as I know I would.”
Jeff Barbaree will be filling the slot for the upcoming Testament tour.
The band comment on Ward’s absence: “We support and encourage Jason’s decision, as family is number one in our lives. We wish him well.”
Dates for the upcoming tour with Testament, OVERKILL and 4ARM are:
30 – The Filmore – San Francisco, CA*
31 – House of Blues – Anaheim, CA*
1 – The Marquee – Tempe, AZ*
2 – House of Blues – Hollywood, CA*
4 – Sunshine Theater – Albuquerque, NM*
5 – Emo’s – Austin, TX
6 – House of Blues – Houston, TX
7 – House of Blues – Dallas, TX
9 – Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
10 – The Filmore – Charlotte, NC
12 – The Filmore – Silver Spring, MO
13 – Trocadero – Philadelphia, PA
14 – Best Buy Theatre – New York, NY
15 – The Paramount – Huntington, NY
16 – The Palladium – Worcester, MA
17 – Town Ballroom – Buffalo, NY
18 – Phoenix Concert Theatre – Toronto, ON
20 – Bogart’s – Cincinnati, OH
21 – The Intersection – Grand Rapids, MI
22 – The Rave – Milwaukee, WI
23 – First Avenue – Minneapolis, MN
25 – The Summit Music Hall – Denver, CO
26 – In The Venue – Salt Lake City, UT
27 – Knitting Factory – Reno, NV
28 – Ace Of Spades – Sacramento, CA
Bay Area thrash metal legends, TESTAMENT, have scheduled two exclusive shows in Japan alongside thrash titans DESTRUCTION and DEATH ANGEL. The event will take place on March 9th and 10th of 2013 at Club Citta in Kawasak-Shi, Japan. Fans can pre-reserve tickets starting December 8th at the following link http://clubcitta.co.jp/ticket.Tickets go on sale everywhere on Saturday December 22. For further information visit http://clubcitta.co.jp/.
THRASH DOMINATION 2013 ANASTASIS
TESTAMENT, DESTRUCTION, DEATH ANGEL 3/9 Club Citta – Kawasak-Shi, Japan
3/10 Club Citta – Kawasak-Shi, Japan
TESTAMENT are proud to announce their first U.S. headlining tour since their phenomenal chart success with their new album, Dark Roots of Earth. The trek promises to be one of the best thrash metal lineups of the year, with support coming from the world renowned OVERKILL and FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, as well as Australian thrashers 4ARM.
VIP packages are now available for each show but will be on a limited basis per gig. Act now before they’re all gone!
VIP ticket packages will include the following:
*Meet and Greet with members of TESTAMENT.
* Photos with members of TESTAMENT.
* Special VIP collector pass.
* 8×10 photo of TESTAMENT.
* 1 Merchandise item.
* Discount Coupon for online shopping.
* VIP purchasers will receive a raffle ticket. Two lucky raffle winners per show will get to watch a portion of TESTAMENT‘ s set side stage with the opportunity to sing background vocals on “Into The Pit!”
* All VIP purchasers will be in an end of the tour drawing for a signature Eric Peterson Dean guitar signed by TESTAMENT.
TESTAMENT, OVERKILL, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, 4ARM
1/30 The Filmore – San Francisco, CA* (BUY TICKETS)
1/31 House of Blues – Anaheim, CA* (BUY TICKETS)
2/1 The Marquee – Tempe, AZ* (BUY TICKETS)
2/2 House of Blues – Hollywood, CA* (BUY TICKETS)
2/4 Sunshine Theater – Albuquerque, NM* (BUY TICKETS)
* – Denotes FLOTSAM AND JETSAM will not be playing
TESTAMENT recently took home the award for “best music video” at the American Indian Film Festival for their clip for the track “Native Blood!” The song, whose lyrics are about vocalist Chuck Billy’s Native American heritage, was filmed at the Hopland Indian Reservation in Hopland, CA. The clip was directed by Mike Sloat (MACHINE HEAD, STAIND).
The American Indian Film Festival recognizes outstanding Indian cinematic accomplishments from Native media makers and talent. The Festival also provides an opportunity for filmmakers, tribes, media and public audiences to come together and share in the creative experience and celebrate cinematic accomplishment. For more information visit http://aifisf.com.
TESTAMENT scanned 20,720 copies of their new album Dark Roots of Earth in its first week of sales in the United States according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album debuted at No. 12 on the US Billboard Top 200 chart, making it their highest first week sales since the inception of SoundScan. This also marks the highest first week sales for a Nuclear Blast artist yet.
Dark Roots of Earth was produced, mixed and mastered by acclaimed British producer Andy Sneap (ARCH ENEMY, NEVERMORE, ACCEPT, EXODUS). Special bonus tracks were recorded, mixed and mastered by Juan Urteaga (MACHINE HEAD, EXODUS, TED NUGENT, NIGHT RANGER) at his Trident Studios. Eliran Kantor, who has previously worked with ATHEIST, SIGH, ANACRUSIS and GWAR, among others, provided the cover artwork.
Chuck Billy – Vocals
Eric Peterson – Guitar
Alex Skolnick – Guitar
Greg Christian – Bass
Gene Hoglan – Drums
They have arrived in the ever warm Caribbean, a place where you can party all night outside even in the winter! On the search for their beautiful island destination, they sighted some FLOTSAM AND JETSAM! Are these the seats of the theater of another cruise ship? They are not sure, but one thing is for sure: On July 28, 2013 they will have found the destination of 70000TONS OF METAL 2013, The World’s Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise where they spare no expense to even take out the seats in the theater. Or do you really want to attend seated Heavy Metal concerts?
Imagine starting the year in style: In January 2013, 40 Heavy Metal bands and 2,000 fans from all over the World will go to the Caribbean to take over the luxury cruise ship “Majesty of the Seas” for 5 days and 4 nights.
This is 70000TONS OF METAL, The World’s Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise where you can enjoy unrestricted festival access to all live shows on board, Open Mic Nights, Clinics, Work-Shops, our infamous Metal Karaoke, Bars that never close, two full days at Sea, a fun-and-sun-filled day on a beautiful Caribbean Island and an opportunity to mingle side-by-side with the artists that all join us for the entire trip. It’s like everyone has a backstage pass! Book your cabin now at www.70000tons.com and be part of Heavy Metal History made in the Caribbean once again!
The following 15 out of 40 bands have already been announced:
DIE APOKALYPTISCHEN REITER
FLOTSAM AND JETSAM
RAGE and LINGUA MORTIS ORCHESTRA
SUBWAY TO SALLY
70000TONS OF METAL, The World’s Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise, will sail Monday, January 28, 2013 aboard the Royal Caribbean “Majesty of the Seas” from Miami, FL and will not return you to the real world for four days until Friday, February 1, 2013.
This leaves only one question: What will be the destination? Well, you know they like to keep you guessing, so they’re not telling until… SOON!
Ticket prices start at US$666 plus US$299 taxes and fees per person and include all on-board entertainment, non-alcoholic and non-carbonated beverages, all meals at the dining rooms, most on-board restaurants and even 24 room service!
What are you waiting for? You might even need a vacation from this vacation when all is said and done! Check out http://www.70000tons.com/ for more information.
For the first time in nearly 15 years, guitarists Michael Gilbert and Ed Carlson will be performing with legendary Arizona thrashers FLOTSAM AND JETSAM for a pair of exclusive Arizona shows. The dates include:
FLOTSAM AND JETSAM have licensed their new album, The Cold, to Nuclear Blast Records in Germany who will handle distribution and marketing for the album in Europe, Japan and Australia.
Following the news that for the first time in 14 years, guitarists Michael Gilbert and Ed Carlson will be performing together on Flotsam And Jetsam’s upcoming Mexican dates, it has now been announced that guitarist Mark Simpson will be leaving the band after 13 years. His statement reads as follows:
“I’ve decided to leave the band. No bad blood at all, of course. Those guys are my brothers, nothing will ever change that and I will continue to support them always. I’m ridiculously happy The Cold is doing so well in the press and with the fans but I’m just taking this moment to move on and try something new. It’s as simple as that. Thanks to everyone that I’ve had a chance to work with and a huge thank you to all the passionate and loyal fans that I had the honor to meet over the years. Buy The Cold! Flots out.”
Flotsam And Jetsam will be performing in Mexico City on January 15th and 16th at Club Caradura.
Legendary Arizona thrashers FLOTSAM AND JETSAM recently confirmed a September 14th release date for their new album, The Cold, via Driven Music Group.
The Cold will include the following tracklisting:
‘Blackened Eyes Staring’
‘Better Off Dead’
The Cold features original guitarist Michael Gilbert, who rejoined the band this past March.
About the return of Gilbert and the departure of long-time guitarist Ed Carlson in March, drummer Craig Nielsen explained to BraveWords.com that “it was a surprise to everybody, because Ed really has done some great things for his life as he’s been sober for years now. He really feels the benefit from that development. Last couple tours we went on in Europe, everybody thought the band played better than ever. I know people say that a lot, but we really are playing better than ever if that’s possible, and Ed was part of that. But he felt that, for whatever reason, his heart was drifting a little bit from the process from the actual touring. I mean, he loves to play and he feels everybody’s his, you know, blood brother, but he just wasn’t getting the same thrill out of touring or recording or writing. I don’t know if that’s connected with what process – the sobriety, in general from having been a musician for his whole life, I mean who knows what the basis of why he feels that way, but all I know is he just didn’t want to tour anymore and his writing sort of fell by the wayside lately in terms of content. So, he just felt he wasn’t contributing much and he didn’t really want to do this coming tour, so we were all kind of surprised by it ‘cause we felt we were just as strong, strong as can be. But he has to do what he has to do, so Mike Gilbert immediately stepped in and said, ‘hey, you know, I’m more fired up than ever,’ and we’ve done a couple things with Gilbert throughout the years, when either Mark Simpson or Ed Carlson couldn’t make it, so we knew his heart was still in it. And he’s been playing constantly all these years, with one band or another, so his chops are fully together, and he’s just a very reliable guy, so we felt very comfortable asking him to come back and do the tour and be a permanent part of the band again.”
Nielsen commented recently about the direction of The Cold: “The writing for the record started 2007, which we started recording in 2008, or 2009. I mean, basically let’s just call it 2008-2009 ideas. You know, Mark (Simpson; guitar) had some time for this, and he spent some time writing, whereas Dreams Of Death was sort of rushed and we probably didn’t use the right producer for a metal record on that record. This is going to sound like a metal record. It has a lot of guitar edge and drums are, you know, faster, better, stronger. You know, Jason Ward could basically play bass over almost anything and it’ll have depth. So, you know, we’re very happy with the technical aspect of the song-writing. There’s far more faster, heavier songs on this one. A.K. (Knutson; vocals), he was changing the lyrics up until the minute when he was recording them. I think Dreams Of Death kind of went off in a few different directions. I think this is more cohesive and I won’t call it a concept record. There’s one thing to be said for spontaneity and that’s great to write a few inspired riffs, but to write a whole record and arrange it, you need some time. And Mark had the time and he’s developing more as a songwriter/arranger as time goes on, and he’s getting better at it, and he knows what to get out of the studio better and he knows how to, what, for tones and process, he’s more educated. So we’re way happier with this one than the last couple.”
Flotsam And Jetsam have been in the metal scene as long as other so called big and legendary names for example Exodus, Testament, Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica to name a few. The Arizona thrashers have struggled through the years by facing both ups and downs. However, after the vocalist Eric A.K.?s departure and return, and after the megalomaniac Japan tour together with OverKill and Death Angel, the band has finally started working on the follow up to the 2001 release MY GOD. Flots? drummer Craig Neilsen politely unveiled about the upcoming ninth studio album? Enjoy!