Once you start a band, you never really know how long it will last or whether you will make any kind of impact. But one thing that’s usually certain is that once it’s over, it’s over. There are very few bands that get a chance at a second act.
However, Floor — formed in Florida in the early ’90s with the core of guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks and guitarist Anthony Vialon, plus a steady procession of drummers — have had numerous ups and downs, comebacks and breakups, and a history unlike any other band. little did they know that almost 20 years later, long after their breakup, they would get back together and put out a new record.
Even though the band’s first act was plagued with many starts and stops and member changes, they managed to record one classic album, 2002’s Floor, with drummer Henry Wilson. The band would break up soon after the release of that album, with Brooks going on to form Torche and Wilson forming Dove, but their legend only grew. In 2004, after the band members went their separate ways, No Idea Records released Dove (not to be confused with Wilson’s band of the same name), an album that had been recorded 10 years earlier in 1994 but had sat on a shelf ever since. Years later, in 2010, Robotic Empire released a massive box set, Below & Beyond, that collected all of their recorded output.
All of this attention spurred the band to get back together for a series of reunion shows. Of course, the band found that in their absence, their fan base had grown considerably since their previous incarnation, so they decided to give it another shot, playing more shows between 2010 and 2011 and again in 2013. Got all that?
A dozen years after last entering the studio, the band has recorded an excellent new album, Oblation, which was released in April 2014 on Season of Mist. We sent Vialon a bunch of questions via email concerning the band’s origins, the reunion, the new album and the future of Floor. His answers offer a glimpse into the world of this highly influential band.
Going back a bit, how did Floor come about the mix of catchy combination of indie rock and bowel-loosening doom that is your signature? And why did you decide to forgo a bassist?
We started out as a standard three-piece: guitar, bass, and drums. One day at the warehouse, [we found] a guitar with a broken E-string. On a whim, Steve picked it up and started hitting it; it sounded devastating, like a bomb going off. We’d seen Cathedral and were inspired to tune lower — so what could be lower than a busted E-string?
To complement that, I took off all the strings on my guitar and set it up with only three Es, one being the bomb-string and the other two Es tuned to each other, as low as we could get them while staying somewhat in tune. The sound was unique, and with both guitars tuned like that, we felt we no longer needed a bass.
What was the original impetus for getting the band back together? Did the reunion shows and the box set put out by Robotic Empire in 2010 factor into the decision?
The box set put out by Robotic Empire wasthe reason the band got back together. We did a few reunion shows to coincide with its release and saw that our audience had grown in size.
We had already established a cult following, even before disbanding, but not to the dimension it became during our absence. People had become familiar with our songs, particularly the ones off the self-titled album, and were singing all the lyrics. It was such a blast that we did a few more tours. It got to a point, though, that if we were going to continue doing shows, we had to do a new album.
Henry was really the one who said that if we were going to continue to tour, we needed to do a new album. Initially, Steve was reticent. But it got to the point where he said, “If you want to do a new album, then write some songs.” So I took some time and got enough material together for around 20 songs, worked on them with Henry, and sent them to Steve. The next day he called and was, like, “Yeah, we’re doing this!”
Did you ever think the band would get back together?
Me, personally? No. Actually, none of us ever thought we would. When the band broke up, it was over. Steve formed Torche and had — and continues to have — success with them. We lost touch, but Henry and I always stayed close. When Andy Low from Robotic Empire wanted to do the box set, we all reconnected and have been moving forward ever since.
How has the creative process changed since your first go-round, if at all? Is there a new found maturity in how you approach the music?
The three of us have been through so much since the release of the self-titled album and the subsequent break-up. We’ve grown as musicians and as people, and the new songs reflect that. I mean, it’s still Floor, but an evolved Floor, you know what I mean?
Previously, I had written my share of material, but Steve was certainly the main songwriter. Plus, there’s all the stuff he’s written for Torche over the years. With Oblation, he still contributed, but kind of handed the reigns over. And Henry’s great at helping mold ideas for songs into a cohesive structure.
However, some of the creative process remains, particularly when it comes to the vocals. Steve’s at the mic, with Henry and me helping guide him through an ongoing stream of melodies. Even after all these years and with all that he’s done, Steve’s a fountain of creativity. We each try to come up with lyrics that fit the melody and, when possible, I try to bend them into something meaningful. The whole thing is definitely a group process.
How did you approach the recording of Oblation? Was there a little trepidation, given that it has been a while since your last proper full-length? Did you feel any pressure, since that last full-length is considered to be hugely influential, and even a classic by some loud rock publications?
Yeah, I think that’s why Steve was so standoffish about it when the subject of doing a new album was brought up. The self-titled record had become this kind of legendary thing, perfect in the minds of fans. He didn’t want to screw that up. But when I came back to Henry’s after recording what I had, he’d written beats for everything. That was a good sign. And then after Steve’s response to it all, any doubts we might have had were gone.
How would you say Oblation is similar to or differs from your past album? And was it your intention to make it heavier, or is that just how it came out?
Man, we truly believe that Oblation picks up exactly where the self-titled left off. That was the intention. We believed enough in the songs that anyone who was into the self-titled album would dig this one, too. We’re very happy with it and can not emphasize that enough.
What are the future plans for the band?
Right now, gearing up for our US tour. Steve’s got a new record with Torche coming out this summer, and Henry’s band, House of Lightning, just released their album Lightworker on April 20th. I’ve already begun working on new Floor songs. We’re very grateful for being able to do this again and hope to keep moving forward.