XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
Alexis Valentine: We are continuing to release music for our upcoming EP ‘Theatre Lucy’ arriving in 2020- a concept album that is the many ghost stories told in the abandoned musical theatre- Lucy. Each song off the record is inspired by a different Broadway musical, the band already teasing ‘Les Miserables,’ ‘Moulin Rouge’ in their first two releases. The latest release ‘Hang Hymn High’ is infused with jazz stylings as an homage to the musical ‘Chicago.’ ‘Hang Hymn High’ was released on 5/1 along with a lyric video and a powerful message for victims of domestic violence to get help if they are trapped at home during the pandemic. ‘Theatre Lucy’ is the first record by Once Upon a Flatline, and is the beginning of what is hopefully a long history of the band’s mission, which is to tell stories along with their music.
XS ROCK: So how long has the band been together?
Justin Flatline: The band began with myself, Alexis Valentine and our drummer Scrib on October 30th of 2018. However we did not announce the band until we had a full and final line up in June of 2019. We consider the band’s birthday to be 10/30/18.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for originally starting or being in a band?
Justin Flatline: Honestly, it was when a friend of ours suddenly passed away. We found ourselves seeing how short life can be, and we realized that we weren’t happy and we had a message of hope and positivity, as well as a gift of music that wasn’t being spread to the world. When we found our bandmates, it was asking them the question we had been asking ourselves- “Are you happy with your life? Because me neither. Lets at least TRY and create something great for this world, before we don’t have much time left.”
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
Alexis Valentine: We all have pretty admirable music backgrounds, and have been just kind of sitting on this knowledge of music for most of our lives. Justin has been playing guitar for a long time, but started with a bass at 13, Matt is classically trained on piano as well as guitar, Josh has grown up learning piano since he was 12, I was classically trained in a chorus setting for at least ten years, Dalton has known bass for four years and Scrib…I think he was just born that talented.
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
Alexis Valentine: We are really passionate about the imagery of our band. Our goal is to be a theatrical rock band that paints a story along with our music and takes our listeners to the place we were when we wrote the songs. We try and incorporate a lot of the spooky, fun elements of the things we grew up loving into our songs and build a fanbase of people who are as equally passionate and geeky about music as they are horror stories, or musicals, or even anime like us.
XS ROCK: What are your current music career goals?
Justin Flatine: Our goals are to tour the world and get our music to as many people as possible. We want to see the world and play shows with each other, meet other passionate musicians and continue to write story-infused songs for our growing fanbase. A personal goal is to reach kids who were as hopeless as we once were and show them that there is a future and we must hope for everything, keep fighting and continue onwards no matter how dark and dismal things may seem at the time.
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Alexis Valentine: We will never not LOVE writing, but when it comes to recording vs playing live, I will always rather be playing live. Playing live is just pure, raw power and energy between all of us on the stage and everyone in the crowd where mistakes are seldom made or even if they are, they are seldom noticed because of the high and magic that is playing a show. Whereas recording is you and Nate (our engineer) and Nate telling you to redo your takes for hours. It’s fun….but a different kind of fun for sure…
XS ROCK: What are your songs’ lyrics about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
Justin Flatline: Our lyrics are both based on the Broadway musicals that inspired the theme of the EP, they are also autobiographical in nature and can be applied to real-life issues and experiences. Our most recent release, “Hang Hymn High,” is inspired by the musical Chicago, especially the number ‘The Cell Block Tango,’ but also has a dramatic story and message regarding domestic violence.
XS ROCK: What is the single most important thing to you as a musician?
Alexis Valentine: The most important thing to us as musicians is the message. The message that there is so much love and positivity and togetherness found in music and if we can bring people together with our songs to experience that- to feel less alone, to know they aren’t alone- then I will have done what I set out to do. Music saved my life, now it’s time to give it back.
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? If so, please fill us in.
Justin Flatline: No outrageous stories yet, smooth sailing so far.
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
Alexis Valentine: It’s not essentially strange but we were turned into anime characters by one of our fans and it was heartwarming and still our favorite thing to date.
XS ROCK: Are your friends and family supportive of your choice to play in a rock band?
Alexis Valentine: We actually all have incredibly supportive families- not in the money sense, but all our parents have been encouraging and supportive every step of the way in the sense of never saying no to our rock and roll aspirations and of course being the first people to believe in and teach us music. Our biggest fans I think will always be our parents.
XS ROCK: What advice do you have for new bands trying to get started?
Alexis Valentine: Just keep going! Don’t give up, good things take time. Don’t skip steps and announce your band without a full line up, and make sure you all have the same goal. BANDS DON’T FAIL THEY BREAK UP!
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
Alexis Valentine: Our favorite track is For the Wretched of the Earth, probably because it’s the first song we learned as a band together.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Alexis Valentine: We’re all pretty big fans of artists who use theatre and story in their music and live performances like Alesana, My Chemical Romance and David Bowie.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Justin Flatline: We want to tour with Alesana or Creeper. That would be amazing. We also would love to play with some our friends’ bands like Sarah and the Safe Word, Second Salem and Sixth Gear.
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Alexis Valentine: Putting out our music video ‘Those Last, Fatal Days,’ was pretty surreal, but I feel like anything and everything we put out just continues to blow away our own personal expectations, so as long as we keep this party going, every accomplishment as a band is great.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Justin Flatline: Pretty much this entire band works at either a Panera Bread or a Target so…this is it. This is what we need to be doing.
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Justin Flatline: We use Orange Amplifiers, Alexis has an incredible limited edition all black Super 55 mic that I am certain she’ll want to be buried with.
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
Alexis Valentine: Currently in pandemic America, things are really scary. Will shows ever come back? Will we be allowed to have concerts again? No one knows but we have to keep positive when we can and keep moving forward. Right now it seems that “emo” bands might be on a revival, and we would love to have as much involvement in bringing back the scene as possible.
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
Alexis Valentine: This band is full of DnD playing, anime watching, cosplaying, vampire-obsessing NERDS. Most of us are in a cosplay troupe called Weeb City, and we also all play Dungeons and Dragons together- Matt is a phenomenal dungeon master. Half the band also lives together, and the other half couch crashes most of the time. We call our residence the Flatline Haus.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
Justin Flatline: We just released our single ‘Hang Hymn High,’ a jazz infused metal song about a victim of domestic violence who has finally had enough. Hang Hymn High was written as an homage to one of our favorite bands, My Chemical Romance and that’s where the tracks name comes from. We have two more releases before our album drops in the late summer. Pending social distancing restrictions, we have a headlining show booked for July 11th where we will play our entire unreleased EP and hope all can attend.
XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS ROCK!