Ryan Jurhs-Bass, vocals
Just like a bottle of the bourbon that shares their Lousville, KY, hometown, there's more to Flaw than meets the eye. And for a band that sold more than 300,000 copies of their Universal Records debut while touring with many of the biggest names in the business, that speaks volumes. Building on the success attained with the release of Through The Eyes in 2001, follow-up Endangered Species is the byproduct of a band who aren't afraid to take risks, the spirit of their hard rock and heavy metal fundamentals becoming all the more potent when blended with the sense of musical adventure that too many of their peers lack. In fact, if there was any one thing that was unanimous in Flaw's approach to their sophomore release, it was an unwillingness to compromise their artistic integrity, the very integrity that forms the foundation of ENDANGERED SPECIES.
"Basically, the entire band felt like we needed some level of progression. Not only musically, but also in terms of showing the listener that we will stay true to both the realms of music that we draw from, from the heavy to the soft, while still remaining intricate," says frontman Chris Volz. "So on this record, we wanted to make sure that there was an audible difference in the way that we were approaching the music. We wanted to make sure that we weren't releasing the same record twice." Added bassist Ryan Jurhs, "It was an issue of bellying up with something that we and the label could be proud of."
From the manic jabs that jar the senses through metallic album-opener "Medicate," through the peace of mind that permeates the subdued "Not Enough," Flaw's latest body of work encompasses the highs and lows of the human spirit, tackling the physical ramifications of abuse, tending to the emotional scars of life's daily battles, and embracing the spirit of a generation they represent. When it came time to "belly up," Flaw-Volz, Jurhs, guitarist Lance Arny and new addition Micah Havertape on drums-rose to the challenge, delivering an album as lyrically profound as it is musically profane.
"It was a lot easier writing the first record, we had more time. Six or seven years of writing and playing out locally," says Volz, living proof of the adage, 'you get your whole life to write your first record, and a year to write your next.' "After touring for 16 months, we went home for some time off, then needed to get a record done. There was a definite difference in pressure from that aspect, as well as the fact that we wanted to make sure there was enough material on this album to solidify our future and career."
ENDANGERED SPECIES succeeds in offering audiences plenty to sink their sonic teeth into, from the charge of metal guitars sledge-hammering drums at the epicenter of "You've Changed," through the progressive rock melodies of "All The Worst," and into the supple strings and acoustic guitars that pace "Wait For Me." "'All The Worst' is a song that the band, as a whole, is very proud of," says Volz. "It's about the things that we've been through and the times we're living in-We were out with Mudvayne when 9/11 happened, and that whole experience was pretty eerie."
From a more personal perspective, "'Recognize' is a song about being honest with yourself, admitting where your faults are," Volz says. "It's a self realization song. It's taking a long hard look in the mirror at yourself and trying to figure out who you are. Everyone goes through major changes in their life and I think that's what I was trying to get across." "Medicate" is Volz's way of looking at the habits he slips into while on the road. "It's my psychological way of trying to figure out if I'm overdoing it while we're on the road-You get up in the morning, and there's a case of beer and a deli tray in the front lounge of the bus. There's got to be a balance between getting a buzz and overdoing it, and that's the point I'm trying to find." While the song's adrenalized rush promises to be a fan favorite on the live front, "Wait For Me" is a smash hit in the making at the opposite end of the spectrum, a tender and touching plea for a love placed on hold. Supplemented by a string section and a mammoth bridge and hook, the song is an epic in the making, and a testimony to the breadth of influences Flaw can draw from.
In addition to Mudvayne, the outfit left their mark on the road alongside such metal power-players as Cold, Kittie and Mushroomhead, and were also a part of OZZfest 2002, sharing the sidestage with heavyweights Soil, Chevelle, Down, Mushuggah and Hatebreed, outselling each of them, and converting new fans with every performance. The results may not have been a gold or platinum album, but they were something more organic, and more important, resulting in one of hard rock's most devoted followings, something that wasn't overlooked when preparing the new release.
"Our fans were really happy with THROUGH THE EYES because they found an album that they could listen to from front to back," says Volz. "We wanted to do that again with the new album, keeping the flow even, but still making the adjustments that we had to make." Of primary concern, was how the band would respond to being pared down to a four-piece-It was clearly the right move from a peace-of-mind perspective, but what about the songwriting? To that end, Jurhs credits a great deal of the album's success to Arny, with whom he wrote the bulk of the music. "I was proud of the album's development, the techniques we used to write, and the different designs Lance would use to put things together," says the bassist. "All the songs are inspired by one of us getting an idea, then working together from there. It's never a situation of just sitting down and trying to write a song. It's a lot of time on our own, then getting together and spending countless hours breaking down the ideas and deciding where we want to go from there."
"We're much better as a four-piece," continues the bassist. "The band's much tighter, it's much easier to work that way, and we can really pull things off live. It's better to me, now, and I think that's because of the individuals in the band. Through all the trials and struggles and tribulations that this band has gone through, we're still here, we always will be, and our focus has never changed." Adds Volz: "At first, we thought it was just about getting signed, but now our goal is to have a career that lasts."
The irony is, while their new release is entitled ENDANGERED SPECIES, the album boasts everything it takes to make certain that Flaw has just that -- a career that lasts.