I caught The Fling on FutureSound’s The Rumble Tour in May so of course when I was offered an interview with frontman Dustin, I was stoked. Their recent release When the Madhouses Appear is available now on Dangirbird Records and it it’s hot from start to finish. Somehow When the Madhouses Appear draws inspiration direct from the classics, and manages to stay fresh, with twangy guitar riffs, lots of cymbal, winding guitar solos and classic rock voice, often breaking into four-part harmonies. They certainly slot well among the psychedelic-rock alt-folk acts like Dawes and Delta Spirit and I’m excited to hear more from them in the coming months.
Listen to “Wanderingfoot” by The Fling
A Chat with Dustin…
S: Dustin, you started out making music for The Fling as just a one-man project. What were you doing before The Fling? And did you always see The Fling becoming a five-piece?
Dustin: I have been in bands since I was a teenager. I was always the guitar player. I’d write a guitar part, and have somebody else write a melody and lyrics over it. To me, it was like making a painting and having somebody else give it color. A lot of times the colors wouldn’t match and the painting would get distorted until you couldn’t even tell what it was originally supposed to be. I kept getting tired of losing control over my ideas, so I started writing my own melodies and lyrics to keep myself happy. I did a batch of home recordings and came to Long Beach with the idea of putting a band together. Eventually we all sort of found each other and evolved into a five piece band with four main songwriters.
S: Graham, the bassist and other vocalist, is your little brother. Does it ever become difficult to work together? Do you guys pick on each other during practice? Or do you find a way to differentiate “band time” from “family time”?
Dustin: Everyone in the band gets along well enough. You have to when you are driving in a van for 30 hours straight trying to get from Chicago to San Francisco in 2 days. We have our differences and sometimes they get the better of us. Graham and I got in a fist fight in Boston last tour. I blame the booze. Most of the time our band is pretty civil.
S: Are all four of you originally from Long Beach?
Dustin: Graham and I were actually born in Long Beach, but grew up in the suburban desert cities. Roeland is from upstate New York. Ivey is from Lake Arrowhead and Joel who recently joined the band hails from Fullerton.
S: I know Long Beach tends to have a tight scene of bands, playing The Prospector and Alex’s Bar and so on. Are you friends with a lot of the bands down there? Who are some of your favorites?
Dustin: There are a lot of great bands out here. Our friends Greater California and Crystal Antlers are both awesome. Some aren’t as well known, Milk Babies, Crazy Christ and The Loneliest Grapefruit are among our favorites.
S: You guys also recently played at Long Beach’s highly prized Fingerprints Records in honor of the release of your vinyl. Have you seen other bands play in-stores there? What have been some of your favorites?
Dustin: I saw Dr Dog play there once and it was pretty rad. I go in Fingerprints like four times a week. I love that place.
S: The Fling’s music seems to cross genres and decades of influence. What musicians and bands have influenced you the most in your songwriting?
Dustin: I get inspired the most when I hear albums that sound different every time I listen to them. The Velvet Underground, Captain Beefheart, Fugazi, the Pixies, and David Bowie are masters of making albums interesting enough to hold your attention for years. I still never get sick of Surfer Rosa.
S: What, outside of music, tends to inspire your writing?
Dustin: For me, its constantly changing. What ever is surrounding me at the time is what is influencing me. Everything can be inspiring depending on your perception of it. I guess it depends on how I feel when I wake up and what happens throughout the day. There are days were I am drinking coffee all day because I feel like a zombie on the couch and can’t stop thinking about outer space. Some days I am really motivated and want to build something or walk around all day. Whether you are stuck inside your thoughts or you are paying attention to what is around you, there are a lot of strange things happening all the time. You just have to notice them.
S: Your new album When the Madhouses Appear is available now on Dangerbird Records. Which track on the album do you think is the most personal for you? Can you tell me a bit about it?
Dustin: I think “Dry The Rain” is the most personal for me. It was the first time I was able to write a chord progression that was weird enough for me, but also had somewhat of a pop melody. I remember writing that song and being happy with it as soon as I finished it. That never happens. I always have to sit with a song for a few days to make sure I like it. I knew what I wanted it to sound like recorded and the version we did is exactly what I had in my head. That never happens either.
S: You were the touring band for Futuresound’s The Rumble Tour in May, on the road down the West Coast with a ton of great bands. What was your favorite part of the tour? Any bands that you were excited to see live?
Dustin: Seattle was our favorite because we got to play with Deep Sea Diver. They used to be Long Beach locals, but relocated to the northwest. It was good to see them and play with them again. Their new stuff is insane.
S: Aside from your show in Fresno in August, what’s next for The Fling?
Dustin: We have a 3 week tour in July/August. Mostly West Coast except for Vegas, Phoenix, and Denver. Fresno is part of that tour. After that, we should be on tour for the rest of the year. We might do an EP later this year. Or maybe a handful of 7 inch singles. We have a lot of songs we’d like to get out there.
S: What makes The Fling special?
Dustin: None of us are vegetarians.
S: Thanks a ton guys!