The Flowers of Evil are an underground band from Carbondale, Illinois. They are very active and have already released a couple of albums on their label Black Monk Sound Records. To have their own label gives them opportunity to experiment and have total artistic freedom. Their music is related to 1960s garage-psych but you will definitely hear other influences too. We had a brief conversation with Kaleb Hunter about their music.
The Flowers of Evil are:
Chris Wittman - drums-percussion, production, tapes + loops-sounds.
Josh Hunter - guitars.
Steve Henderson - guitars, synth, keys-drone box.
Stacey Camden- bass, drum machine.
Kaleb Hunter- vox, geetars, noise.
The Flowers Of Evil Facebook
Black Monk Sound Records Facebook
Formation of the band
I first really became interested in playing music when I was 12 years old, thanks to my older brother. We both got guitars, and around that time I was just discovering The Beatles and punk rock. We had some garage bands that never made it out of the garage, basically just bashing away, learning how to play etc. I played in a few local bands later on in my teens in Carbondale, Illinois, the scene of our little story. The Flowers of Evil first started in 2008 as a recording project between my childhood friend Steve Henderson and myself. We were just learning how to write good songs and learning how to record. I had bought my first Tascam 8 track recorder, something I still use to this day for most of our records. We spent the next couple of years just recording, no gigs or anything that a normal band would do. We lived in Chicago for a year - year and a half, did more recording there, and then I moved back to Carbondale in 2011 due to dwindling funds. Carbondale is about 330 miles south of Chicago. As soon as I got back to Carbondale, something went off and I began writing feverishly. I soon had the first Flowers album, Exile On Brain Street done and out at the local record shops and online (2011). The reaction seemed good and people seemed to dig it, so I quickly followed it up with 11:11 and the double album Transit To Venus (2012). After those first three, the band morphed again.
I found some local cats who dug the records and wanted to play, so we put together the very first real live band of The Flowers. It sounded great, that first show was one of my happiest moments. We played for about a year here and there, lost a drummer, gained an amazing one, and another guitar player. Then in 2013, we made our first record as a real band, Rubber Seoul.
In 2014, we put out our fifth album, Dreamhead. During this time we played in Carbondale quite a bit, played in Chicago a couple of times, Nashville, a few times in Indiana, all of the neighboring states. Then in late 2014, the band went through more changes. We added a different bass player and became a four piece for a little while, now we are a five piece. Last year we put out our 7th album Mystic Copout, which I was really proud of.
We stopped playing shows late last year, because we want our next record to be something really special, we have been writing and writing and we are getting ready to start official recording. I am sure we will play again soon, whether it's a local gig or a mini tour or whatever. I am interested in anything like that for the future, but at the same time I don't worry about those things like most bands do. We put out all of these albums on my record label, Black Monk Sound records. I started BMS Records basically to put out Flowers albums. I knew from a young age I had absolutely no interest in messing with record labels, really not even independent ones. I am the type of guy who needs complete control over my art, so I may be broke but at least I can put out whatever I want. We have put out some EP and other cool stuff by local artists, also The Flowers have put out several EP's over the years as well. I would love for it to be an ever expanding thing, but I suppose it's more of an aesthetic than a traditional record label. Carbondale has an amazing underground music scene, from the infamous punk house Lost Cross, to the amazing basement venues The Skihaus and The Swamp. There are so many great bands and artists, a lot of which center around the local good record store, Plaza Wuxtry Records (also a brother record label of BMS). We have all kind of created our own world, a "scene" of outsider, weirdo artists who are free to push the limits, thanks to our somewhat isolation. Secondary Modern, Hans Predator, Scifislands, Jenny Johnson and so many more. It is a real incestuous scene, every one is always sharing band members and helping each other out. I love being in a place like this to create, I don't think it matters whether you are in a New York, or a Chicago, or a Dayton or Sticksville. The point should always be to create your own world, create your own dreams. We have that in spades in Carbondale.
As far as my/our influences, I would have to say first and foremost, my biggest influence is The Velvet Underground. I first heard The Velvets when I was 13, and they made me realize I could be in a band, and maybe even write songs. Those guys along with The Beatles and punk rock gave me the gumption to get it going. After that I started getting into the good stuff. Captain Beefheart, The Monkees, The Elevators, The Kinks, Nuggets/Pebbles comps, Hasil Adkins, The Fall, Chrome, Throbbing Gristle/Psychic TV, early P.I.L., Joe Meek etc. Most Sixties beat music and psychedelic music in general. Everyone in the band is into a lot of different stuff, so our influences stretch from Bacharach to ESP-Disk Jazz to the Butthole Surfers and even some Heavy Metal (two metal heads in the band!). There are just too many to name. As far as album making, we have made all of our albums with a Tascam 8 track cassette recorder, a 6 track cassette recorder, and various 2 and 4 track reel to reels.
William S. Burroughs writing is a big influence on me, also Mike Stax and Ugly Things. Just the fact that the dude has kept that thing going for 30 plus years, I respect that type of dedication so much. He is the real deal.
Oh also, I am deeply into and influenced by Private Press albums, mainly psychedelic ones from the '60s-'80s. Groups like The Contents Are, The Bachs, Kath, Owen Maericks, Arcesia. The Acid Archives book in general is basically my daily bible, Patrick Lundborg was a holy messenger from another dimension. This whole secret world has definitely had an effect of The Flowers.
Oh of course, how could I forget Krautrock?! We all love Can, Faust, Amon Duul etc. I am forever digging through Kosmische records I have yet to hear.
I am definitely not an anti digital person, but that is just what we had at the time, and it works for what we want to hear. My writing process is chaos, I carry a notebook with me everywhere, so I am always writing down ideas, words, lines. I usually go through tapes of recorded musical ideas and put it together with words. That is how most of the songs are born. After The Flowers come out with our next album, I think we will just keep making records and playing. I can't say what exactly will happen, I doubt we will make it to "The Big Time", and that is fine. I have no interest in that shit. I became comfortable with the fact that people will be discovering our records in 10, 20 years time. I like that, no, I love that! Many of my favorite bands had the exact same fate, so it seems logical to me. Psychedelia today, that word encompasses so many meanings to so many different people. I think on the generic front, yeah it is kind of in again, I mean you even see commercial artists kinda starting to cash in on the Psychedelic Retro train or whatever the fuck it is. I know that there seems to be an overabundance of new "psych" bands that are very tame, very generic and really just boring. Lots of reverb, delay and a Brian Jonestown Massacre like riff don't equal psychedelic. I think that will pass though, it always does. It is cool on one hand that Psychedelia is having this resurgence, but on the other hand it is kind of weird, I remember just a few short years ago it wasn't so cool to even mention the word, let alone let people know that you were in a psychedelic band! Psychedelic to me means freedom, much like Punk Rock. Albert Ayler was a Psychedelic Punk Rock motherfucker.
The Flowers of Evil sound
It is pretty difficult for me to describe our sound, we get tagged with the psychedelic garage- psych punk-avant psych thing a lot, and yes all of that type of stuff is an influence, but I don't feel like any of those buzzwords describe us at all. We just make Flowers music, and that is all I can say when people ask us that.
The Flowers have played with some cool, notable bands in the underground psych-beat scene. We have played with White Mystery, Staring Problem, The Peoples Temple, Apache Dropout and a bunch of other bands I have forgotten about. I have said many times that I will stop making Flowers records when I am dead, and I mean it. The Flowers will always go on in some form or another, I never wanted this to be like a rock and roll band. I wanted it to be pure expression, almost like a jazz artist, how they just did album after album in search of.... the search. The band right now is the best version I have ever had, we are getting further away from the rock and roll sound and getting more into making sounds we haven't heard before.
I know it is silly to provide so much information for a virtually unknown band, but I believe in this band and I believe in our music. I know we are better than 80 percent of the stuff I see and hear out there in the commercial realm, and the underground to a degree. I think right now we have a couple thousand songs, lost actual count a long time ago. We are always working on the next new song. That is something about live shows, I feel like every gig has to be different and has to be special. We never play the same set twice. I am just incapable of doing that, I honestly don't understand how groups do that. It just seems boring and dishonest to me. We always want the shows to be entities unto themselves, completely different than the records. Chris has co produced or produced most of our records, and I don't know what I would do without him, or any of these guys (girl). We are really a band of regular, every day artist weirdos. One of the things that bothers me about the underground scene today is that every one always seems to be putting on a front. Like everyone has to be the coolest mother in the room... and that is just a waste of time. There seems to be a lot of style over substance. We are anything but cool. We found each other because we are eternal underdogs. I don't really go to parties or do social, cool things. I work at a record store, and I write constantly and live in Flowers world. I don't wanna sound negative, I think we are living in an amazing time for creating -being an artist-making music! I mean just with the internet alone, it has basically cut out Major Labels completely to a degree, and I love it. Fuck em, it's a dying breed. The fact that all of this music from all over the world is at your fingertips, it is truly mind blowing. It can be a dangerous thing if not used for good. I mean to even be talking to you, it's such a trip! I love It's psychedelic Baby! I think Psychedelic music will keep going like it always has, developing into new, unclassifiable future sounds.
- Klemen Breznikar
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