An Interview With Flyleaf Bassist Pat Seals
Only a couple years ago there was this unheard of group of kids from the virtually unheard of town of Temple, TX that loaded up in a van and headed out to RCA Records in New York City in the hopes of being signed. RCA may have passed on the then Passerby, but it wasn’t very long until Octane Records signed the band and Flyleaf was born. Their second full-length album, "Memento Mori," has just hit stores and expectations for this group that has experienced what can only be called a whirlwind of success are high. I recently spoke with Flyleaf bassist Pat Seals about "Memento Mori" and the history of this small-town Christian band, and discovered that not only is he very down to earth, he may just be sitting on a budding career as a comedian.
Nichole Nash: How does it feel to know the release of "Memento Mori" is finally here?
Pat Seals: Having the release of "Memento Mori" only a week away is extremely exciting. I can’t wait to see and hear how the fans react to the new material. Playing new material at the shows has gotten favorable reactions, but it definitely makes a difference when the crowd has already been acquainted with the songs. I'm really looking forward to see what a "Memento Mori"-indoctrinated crowd looks like.
Nichole: You just finished up a series of listening parties for the new album. What gave you the idea to do these, and how was reaction to it?
Pat: I believe the idea for the listening parties came from our management and record label team for the purpose of wetting the appetites of the fans for the upcoming release and album cycle. I was not needed for these events - I am only a useless bass player, (laughs) but I heard that they were much enjoyed. I have met several fans who attended the Road to "Memento Mori," and they always refer to their experiences fondly.
Nichole: I’ve heard a sampling of tracks from the new album. How do you think these songs compare to your first release?
Pat: In comparison to the songs on the self-titled release, the "Memento Mori" songs hold a greater deal of musical and lyrical complexity. In my opinion, there is also more continuity amongst "Memento Mori" songs, as they feel more like they fit together in their own conceptual story, blah blah. I enjoy the songs from the self-titled still, but the new batch evince a greater maturity. I hope.
Nichole: You’ve written more than 30 new songs in the last 4 years. How did you decide which ones made the cut?
Pat: Out of the 30 or so on the song pile, we selected the ones that we felt were the most compelling and interesting, although there are a few that were hard to strike from the list. I believe we made the best decisions – the songs we chose were all the ones that all five of us had no doubts about. Is 'about' a preposition? Aw crap.
Nichole: You’ve really been in a whirlwind of activity since your debut, with tours, special appearances, etc. When and how do you just relax?
Pat: When I need to seek shelter from Hurricane Flyleaf I usually run to my tried and true "storm cellars." At home, I hang at my house with my family, friends, and girlfriend. I shoot guns, make poor art, and watch the Soup. On the road, I've been taking comfort in the front lounge with the other Flyleaves and our world-class crew watching TV, laughing, crying, playing cards, reminiscing, napping, crouching, tiger-ing, hiding, dragon-ing, grouching, and wassailing.
Nichole: The story of Flyleaf is really incredible. Why don’t you explain how a band out of Temple, TX ended up becoming a household name?
Pat: I really can't explain how Flyleaf garnered its bit of renown, mostly because it was so unexpected and still doesn't seem that real to me. I can say we have been blessed beyond anything we have worked for or deserve. God has been very gracious to Flyleaf.
Nichole: Not many relatively new bands get featured on two big name video games like GH3 and Rock Band. Are you surprised by the press and attention you’ve gotten?
Pat: Again, any attention we get seems too surreal and/or remote to feel an actual connection to any sort of fame or notoriety. I love when people share how something we did influenced them for the better. Although I'm thankful for any press or attention our band gets, nothing can compare to actually talking to someone who genuinely has taken something good away from hearing our music and the ideas we are attempting to convey.
Nichole: You’ve done a lot of touring and are getting ready to do another series to promote "Memento Mori." You’ve appeared with lots of big name bands like Staind and 3 Doors Down. Who’s been your favorite tour mates, and who would you like to tour with?
Pat: Our favorite tour mates, from my perspective, would have to be Stone Sour. They are an incredible band that have accomplished a great deal during their careers and they still are approachable and genuine on a personal level - definitely a sterling example for all. I also loved sharing the road with Resident Hero, Blindside, Family Force 5, Korn, the Deathstars, the Paper Tongues, and Dizmas, the Chariot - I'll be listing bands forever so I'll stop now.
Nichole: You focus a lot on small venues and intimate gatherings with fans. So, any plans to play a smaller venue, say like my hometown of Monroe, LA?
Pat: The current "Memento Mori" headliner is traversing many small venues, although in mostly major cities. Plans are being hatched to cover a lot of lesser-trod territory, though, which we all greatly enjoy. Audiences are typically more responsive and grateful in places where national acts visit less frequently. I will put Monroe, LA on the list.
Nichole: I’ll hold you to that! (laughs) What’s the worst live catastrophe Flyleaf has endured?
Pat: As far as live catastrophes go, Flyleaf has experienced more than could be accurately catalogued. We've weathered a dozen mid-song power outages, at least fifty or so "my bass doesn't work right now’s," headstocks to the face, headstocks to Lacey's head, tripping Lacey, microphone failure, microphone knock-out-of-singer's-handage, falling into the drum kit, Jared falling off the stage, stage diving and everyone moving so you fall on the ground, tripping yourself and others, Lacey walking off the front of the stage – accidentally - vomiting, pants ripping open and everyone can see your sweaty underwear on the jumbo-tron. Flyleaf's touring career has been like a 3 Stooges blooper reel, but it's getting a little more organized.
Nichole: I don’t want to harp on the topic of Christianity, but perception is that a lot of metal listeners don’t typically rally behind openly devout bands. Do you think the growing success of Flyleaf and other Christian groups like Skillet is changing that perception?
Pat: I would hope that bands like Flyleaf and Skillet change the perception of "Christian bands," but I would also hope that people would view us as just a band with something they believe in that drives their music, versus a band that is safe for Christians to enjoy. Our faith in Jesus is the centerpiece of our Flyleaf and our personal lives, but it is not our goal to simply churn out music for churchgoing parents to buy for their kids to prevent them from listening to Metallica and Eminem. Our greatest desire is for people to really ingest and contemplate the message in our music, and the best and usually only way to make that happen is to create the most honest, genuine, and appealing music that we possibly can make, given our abilities. I feel like Skillet does this to a "t," as well as Blindside, the Chariot, and many others.
Nichole: One thing that I think makes Flyleaf different from a lot of metal groups is your sense of community service. You did a show for troops in Afghanistan, and donated part of the proceeds from your Music As A Weapon 3 Tour EP to World Vision. Do you consider yourselves activists?
Pat: I wouldn't call Flyleaf activists, but we feel a need to be a good example when we can. We've been given a platform, and we don't want to make light of it by failing to take advantage of the chance to help some people help some other people if we can. We're not having drum circles to save any whales or anything, but we do enjoy a good hackey-sacking.
Nichole: What music influenced or inspired you growing up?
Pat: Growing up, my dad's music really influenced me. He played the acoustic guitar and listened to a lot of folk and Americana-ish music that has since stayed with me. Simon & Garfunkel, Jim Croce, etc. was usually playing in the kitchen before I discovered Weezer, Green Day, Bush, Deftones, and a brief but embarrassing ska phase.
Nichole: Where do you see you and your music going in ten years?
Pat In ten years, only time will tell. We might be too fat to play by then. I've been eating cookies all night for the past week and a half.
Nichole: If you weren’t playing in Flyleaf, what would you be doing?
Pat: If I wasn't in Flyleaf, I would probably be going into debt trying not to fail out of art school. Plan B might be trying to sell mobile phone covers out of a mall kiosk.
Nichole: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Pat: Please check out "Memento Mori," releasing on November 10th! Come see us when we come to your town! Check out the Paper Tongues, too. And read a book - “Twilight” doesn't count.
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