FLIGHT, a four-piece grunge resurrection from Taylor, Mississippi, is the brainchild of Steven Bevilaqua. Before a single song hit the stage with the full band, Bevilaqua hunkered down in his garage, alone, with a makeshift setup and nobody else. After Zoo Music took notice and approached him about producing a 6-song EP, Bevilaqua embarked on a piece mission whereby he scanned his catalogue of compositions to find the perfect six that would fit well together on a single album. What he emerged from the garage with is truly some of the best music of 2010. FLIGHT offers a taste of early ’90s grunge the likes of which we aren’t seeing anywhere else, boasting sing-a-long hooks awash in the heaviest pop imaginable. Bevilaqua’s compositions are done bouncing around under temporary monikers.
FLIGHT’s new EP titled Lead Riders is out now on 12″ vinyl via Zoo Music (limited to 500 copies).
I spoke with the FLIGHT frontman about the dynamics of Mississippi, playing CMJ for the first time and crowd surfing with a bag of Doritos in Arkansas.
Right Hear: I imagine you’re the lead singer?
Right Hear: So how many of you guys are there in the band?
SB: In the live band right now there’s four of us; three of us play guitar and a drummer. I do all the recordings myself.
Right Hear: Okay, I’ve got this picture on MySpace with three of you guys, one of you guys wearing a mask. Do you know which one I’m talking about?
SB: Yeah yeah, that’s me in the center, and then on the left is Print and on the right is John, they both play guitar.
Right Hear: And you record all the guitar lines or they record with you?
SB: No, I record everything, like all the instruments myself. I just overdub everything.
Right Hear: How’d you guys meet? Were you just looking for band members or are you guys friends?
SB: Well, yeah, I was friends with two of them, the drummer and one of the guitar players. The guitar player on the right there, [John]. I was familiar with his band, he has a band called BASS DRUM OF DEATH. It used to be a one-man band thing and now it’s just kind of a punk like 2-piece. So I was familiar with them and then the kid on the left, [Print] the blonde kid, he’s quite a bit younger and I guess we just heard some of his stuff somewhere; I had seen him around town or whatever, he just introduced himself and we talked about a lot of stuff. He’s from this little redneck town outside Jackson, Mississippi. So I thought that was kind of cool.
Right Hear: Are you all from Mississippi?
SB: Yeah, yeah, I mean off and on like I’m the only one who’s bumped around a good bit, I’ve kinda lived all over the states, but Mississippi’s where I always come back to. It’s just cheap and people are sweet. It is what it is. It’s cheap and it’s easy to live here, laid back.
Right Hear: Do you have any suggestions if I were to visit Mississippi? Where should I go?
SB: Yeah, I mean, Oxford is the best place to be. The coast is okay. Anything in between is pretty rough. It depends on how freaky you want to get, there’s a lot of really odd small poor towns and there’s like these towns in the delta that are really rich people and then really poor people. There’s a ton of cool shit to see here but it’s just, it’s a weird place you know. A lot of the clichés are true, and some of them aren’t but a lot of them are. Oxford’s like the only place that has a decent amount of culture and we try to bring good shows in, and there’s writers. It’s the most interesting place to be. But as far as social observation, complete cultural bankruptcy, there’s a lot of other smaller towns that are pretty cool to see.
Right Hear: Were you in any bands before this?
SB: Yeah, I’ve been in a lot of bands off and on, but I’ve never stuck with anything consistently. Up until FLIGHT I’ve been pretty finicky and just all over the place, you know I’m down to play for anybody with any kind of music, but, I don’t know, I mean this is the first one that I’ve stuck with for a long time.
Right Hear: Is this the first one where you’ve written all the material?
SB: Well I mean I’ve done a lot of other projects that I just put random names on for myself, but this is the first one that’s stuck that I’ve actually tried to turn into something.
Right Hear: Did you write the new EP Lead Riders in one shot? Did you write it meaning to record a new album or was it just a bunch of songs you’d written and put together?
SB: I don’t know, I have a lot of stuff and these are kinda just the six that fit together the best. Zoo offered me a 12-inch EP, I guess they really liked that format so I just sorta stuck these six together. But the more I listen to it, and obviously I rewrote some stuff for it to fit, the more I listen back to it, to me it is pretty cohesive, like the music and all that, so I don’t know. I kinda wrote them at different points but I made them sorta fit together, you know, just moved the puzzle pieces around a little bit till they fit.
Right Hear: On this new EP your songs seem to be a lot poppier, but I guess you wrote them around the same time as your other songs, so it wasn’t a concerted effort, you just chose poppier songs for this. Like Turns to Blood, Witch Hunt Town and Real Estate are real poppy, catchy sing-a-long songs. I imagined that you wrote them around a similar time but I guess you just puzzled them together?
SB: Well it’s funny because actually Real Estate is about three years old and I just reworked it for this band. But, I don’t know, I think all my stuff’s…I try to make it all poppy, you know. I guess I see what you’re saying but it’s hard to tell that much of a significant difference, it’s still like the same stroke to me.
FLIGHT: Real Estate
Right Hear: You guys are slated to play CMJ later in October, do you know where the shows are gonna be yet?
SB: Well, there’s gonna be one, possibly two in Manhattan and then two or three in Brooklyn. There’s a couple that they haven’t announced yet so I can’t really say anything, I don’t want to be that guy, but the one that I do know for sure that they’ve announced is at Bruar Falls [in Williamsburg] and it’s with WOVEN BONES and FRANKIE ROSE & THE OUTS and that’s on a Saturday, I think. There’s some good ones coming up but I can’t really say anything about them.
Right Hear: What are your favorite places to play live? Do you like New York or do you prefer Mississippi shows?
SB: Mississippi’s kinda whatever, I mean it’s fun to play for your friends but it’s kinda weird. I don’t know man, Arkansas is the craziest place you’ve ever played. Those kids were just fucking nuts, they’re like crowd surfing with Doritos in their hands. Super just crusty punk kids that just, you know, they’re like kinda fake anarchist punk kids and so they’re just ready to party. But yeah, I mean, obviously New York’s really fun. People are definitely a little more on their heels there in my opinion. But I like playing everywhere man, everywhere’s good if you find the right person to promote it and they tell the right people about it, there’s always people that show up and it’s always fun.
Right Hear: Any bands you looking forward to seeing out at CMJ or are you just there to play?
SB: I’m there to play but I know there’s a shit ton of bands I want to see, I don’t even know, I mean, I have friends up there and I want to see all their bands. There’s nothing in particular, I guess, that I’m waiting for.
Right Hear: Anything you think the readers on Right Hear don’t know about. Any bands that you love that just don’t get a lot of media coverage, you could tip us off on?
SB: Actually, yeah, going back to your last question, we played Cropped Out Festival this weekend and my buddy Justin who’s in PC WORSHIP, that’s his band, I’ve missed them like every single time I’ve been close to seeing them so I’m really stoked to see them up in New York. They’re new stuff’s kinda, it’s a little bit BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE but quite a bit more psychedelic and weird. Justin played in GARY WAR and this other band called THE SUPER VACATIONS and he’s a good buddy of mine, I think he’s incredibly talented and should probably be bigger. I’m stoked to see them play.
Right Hear: I noticed on your MySpace page your headline, it says “Stay Puft.” Do you just like really love marshmallows, what is that?
SB: Hahaha. Well it used to say “Get Lifted,” like get high, that GEORGE McCRAE song, so I thought “Stay Puft” was kinda funny, sounds sorta like “get high, stay high.” Hahaha, I don’t eat too many marshmallows I just thought it was funny.
FLIGHT: Witch Hunt Town
Right Hear: It’s real funny. If you could put together a dream tour with three other bands that you love, that have inspired you, who would you choose?
SB: I don’t know man that’s a tough question. I’d love to play shows with BORIS and I’d love to play shows with GARY WAR and, I don’t know man. Something electronic probably, but there’s not too many electronic bands that I’ve seen lately that I really really enjoyed, so I don’t know. Shit, maybe ELECTRIC WIZARD.
Right Hear: Have you ever played at CMJ? Have you played at a festival like this before?
SB: No, no, not at all. I mean, honestly, we’ve only played like 15 shows total. We’re just busy, can’t get out that much, you know, have day jobs and all that.
Right Hear: So where did you record this album?
SB: In my garage.
Right Hear: Oh yeah? Do you have a setup or did you just do it impromptu?
SB: Some people would not call it a setup, but it works. I’ve got a very small rig and a couple of pieces that I use over and over and that’s why things consistently kinda sound the way they do. But yeah, I mean, the garage is nice. It’s a big big open room so I can get good loud sound and it sounds like a real band, you know, it doesn’t sound like some dry room recording. It’s like a two car garage so you can back the mics up and really get some space in the room, so that helps a lot.
Right Hear: Well the EP is amazing, we all love it. I wanna wish you the best of luck at CMJ, and that’s basically all I got for you.