Flaural is releasing its debut EP, Thin King, tomorrow at the hi-dive. It's a project that's come together relatively quickly: Until last year, keyboardist Connor Birch, drummer Nick Berlin and guitarist Noah Pfaff were members of the promising indie-rock outfit A Band In Pictures, and singer/bassist Collin Johnson was in Bloodhound, a group that his current bandmates admired. But their respective musical projects were winding down around the same time, and at the end of October 2014, the four got together — with Johnson reluctantly taking on the role of vocalist — and started to do rough demos at their practice space.
Because of their respective musical backgrounds, the members of Flaural didn't have to completely start from zero to get shows and garner the interest of radio stations like OpenAir and Radio 1190. The former championed Flaural early on and tapped the group for an in-studio performance, which Flaural repeated at Radio 1190 last month. But to its credit, Flaural delivered quality music almost from the start, even though it couldn't fall back on earlier songs from any of the players.
“I think we're pretty good as a band at jamming together and [zoning] out and [starting] crazy noises, because we're into textures and layers, and then [we] let the songs write themselves,” says Johnson.
“Connor asked me a question that I didn't really know how to answer correctly: 'Are we making the music that you want to be making?'” remembers Pfaff. “The only reason I would say anything close to 'No' or 'I don't know' is that I want to be making new music every time we make music, rather than make genre music.”
“I think it was a merging of A Band In Pictures and Bloodhound,” adds Birch. “A Band In Pictures was indie rock, but now the umbrella we've been placed under is psych rock. But we're not unhappy with [that association].”
Flaural's first gig was a house show called Summer Bummer at a friend's practice space; the band's first official show was at the hi-dive during UMS, which overlapped with the DIIV set at the main stage. But more than a few people stuck around to check out Flaural. One of those was Megan Stoll, one of the organizers of the Treefort Music Festival in Boise, who enthused about Flaural's music on social media. The members of Flaural saw that and subsequently met up with Stoll, who connected the group with Treefort founder Finn Riggins and Eric Gilbert, a key figure in national underground music who has long made connections through his relentless touring. Gilbert helped Flaurel fill in some dates on its upcoming tour, which kicks off after the hi-dive EP-release show.
Thin King comprises five songs with colorful, bright, urgent yet expansive melodies that feel breezy and headlong but never anxious. Fans of Deerhunter, Cornelius, Black Moth Super Rainbow and the recent Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger will find something to like here, too. Though Flaural has been dubbed “psych rock” by some, its music seems at least a couple of steps removed from a movement of any kind. And certainly the band's choice to use rejected, bad band names as the titles for all the songs and for the title of the EP suggests a playfulness that you might expect from a punk or pop band.
Flaural's four members plan to release music regularly in EP or full-album format as the material comes to them, then take that music on the road. Other Denver bands might want to try the same, they suggest, to see how their music plays outside the Mile High City. “I think a lot of bands here try to be the best band in Denver — and you're just setting yourself up to break up in a year and a half,” observes Birch.
Next year, Flaural intends to hit SXSW and Treefort. In the meantime, here's the itinerary of its debut ten-day jaunt.
5 DENVER, CO at hi-dive
6 SLC, UT at Diabolical Records
7 BOISE, ID at The WaterCooler
9 PDX, OR at The Liquor Store
10 SEATTLE, WA at The Black Lodge*
11 TACOMA, WA at Real Art Tacoma*
12 MISSOULA, WA at The Real Lounge*
13 BOZEMAN, WA The Filling Station*
14 FORT COLLINS, CO at Downtown Artery*
*with Spirit Award
Flaural performs with Freaky North and Scary Drugs, with RUMTUM doing a DJ set at the hi-dive this Thursday, November 5. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., with the show at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10; it's an 18+ event. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the hi-dive website.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.