Exposure: Still Flyin'
Still Flyin' - Runaway Train
“Hammjamm is a physiological state of euphoria and optimism that occurs when a good time becomes better. There are no defined rules or ways to have a hammjamm but is usually obtained while amongst friends”. These are the words of OJ Hammond, San Francisco’s Still Flyin’s official guru. Still Flyin’ are the brainchild of singer-songwriter Sean Rawls, and feature a rotating line-up of over 40 members. They are set to release new single ‘Runaway Train’ on the 8th of February, and are making a transatlantic jaunt to these shores in support of it.
Playing delightful sunshine-fueled indie-pop, their concerts are known for their laid-back party atmosphere, and they should be just the thing to help you forget it’s a cold winter’s evening in Scotland. We caught up with them to have a friendly chat about burritos, cheap Mexican beer and their plans for 2010.
Sean moved to San Francisco from Athens, Georgia to start the band. Did the atmosphere of San Francisco help shape the way Still Flyin has turned out?
Well there are a lot of burrito joints where we live, so we eat at a lot of those. Some of our stomachs are big from all the burritos we eat. It's almost like there isn't even a choice - here in the Mission District about 90% of all food establishments are burrito joints. In fact, a member of the band just texted me to see if I wanted to go to El Metate (good burrito joint near our houses) with him and a pal. I refused because I'm doing this interview. Another thing that shapes us is the beer selection. We are pretty broke so we get the cheap beer, and the cheap beer around here is Mexican - Tecate, Modelo, Dos Equis, Pacifico - all tasty but not good for the shape of the body. We have beer gut plus burrito gut. Not the best look.
What is the creative process for you guys? Do you tend to come in with the songs almost complete or is it more like a giant jam session?
In the very early days I wanted it be a big jam sesh. "Let's just jam this one for like twelve minutes... I'll hop off stage and order some more brews for everyone during the bongo solo!" But all of us have backgrounds in indie pop, which is the opposite of jamming. So whenever I'd suggest a jam I'd get a bunch of silence launched at me. So it went from those lofty aspirations all the way to where it is now with me demoing the entire song by myself and emailing it to all the band members scattered across the globe and honing the song if and when we ever get together for a rehearsal.
Are you looking forward to anything in particular on this upcoming European jaunt?
YES. The Superbowl is the night of our Edinburgh show. I think it starts at 11:30 that night. What if we're playing our set? The website says the show starts at 7pm so maybe we'll be done. Apart from that, we are very excited to play in Scotland for the first time, as well as our debuts in Italy, Croatia (!?!?!?), and Austria.
You have a rotating line up of lots and lots of different members. Why did you decide to take that route rather than stick with a more traditional fixed band format?
In 2006 our old bass player was getting married in Sweden and some shows fell into our lap. Not everybody could get off from work or afford to go, so we had a huge makeshift line-up that was about half actual members and half fill-in jammers. Ever since it's been that way. It's impossible to have every single member on a tour, so we have to dip into our stack of spiritual members to help round out the lineup each time. Something like 40+ people have played in Still Flyin', and unless we get as big as Coldplay and can pay everyone enough money to quit their jobs, the rotation will stay intact.
And how many of you can we expect to see in Scotland in February?
There will be eight of us... the extreme skeleton crew of merely eight people. How will we cope? Don't worry - one of the dudes primarily dances so it'll still be pretty ridiculous.
Have you got anything else exciting lined up for 2010?
Tons of stuff. We'll have a limited edition new single with us on the February tour and in May a new EP will be out. We'll be back in Europe in May on a tour - the only show we have so far is Pavement's ATP festival! And we're planning to have another single out sometime in late summer or early fall which we'll probably be back touring behind as well.
The album ‘Never Gonna Touch The Ground’ is out now, and the new single ‘Runaway Train’ is released on the 8th of February, both on Moshi Moshi.
You can experience a hammjamm of your very own in the company of Still Flyin’ at the Captain’s Rest, Glasgow, on the 6th of February and at Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, on the 7th of February.