In The Valley Below

In The Valley Below

Flagship

Sat, August 19, 2017

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Rough Trade NYC

Brooklyn, NY

This event is 21 and over

In The Valley Below
In The Valley Below
IN THE VALLEY BELOW
“Once rich, once poor/We dance across the floor”

For In the Valley Below’s Jeffrey Jacob and Angela Gail, their Elephant EP represents the latest chapter in an ongoing relationship that is rooted in both the music they create and the family which has followed. Relocated from their tiny, one-bedroom Echo Park apartment in Los Angeles, the now-married pair have moved to a 93-year-old house they bought in Grand Rapids, MI. There, they installed a basement studio that served as the birthplace for their next collection of songs to be released on acclaimed Bay Area, ADA-distributed indie Bright Antenna, three years after The Belt and its worldwide alternative hit, “Peaches,” was released.

“After spending three years on the road, we wanted a place to come home to that was quiet, and not so claustrophobic,” says Angela about the decision to flee L.A. “We found Grand Rapids to be a city full of creative energy, fresh air, and rough edges. It’s been inspiring. A lot of people we’ve met here migrated at the same time we did from the West Coast. Maybe it’s some kind of human instinct.”

Solid touring in Europe and the US included festivals like Reading and Leeds, Austin City Limits, Rock En Seine and more. Appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman, Conan, and other international appearances all seemed to happen at once “like a dream”. However, this sudden success wasn’t sudden at all. They spent years in LA playing in bands looking for a break. They self released a 5-song EP and shortly after signed to several record labels across the globe. “Peaches” first found the airwaves in Europe, debuting on BBC Radio One and climbing the charts in France and Germany, becoming #1 on French Alternative radio. Over a year later, it became a staple on US alternative radio.

The Elephant EP continues the pair’s thematic concerns – sex, relationships, power, temptation, paranoia, existential angst and mortality. The hybrid, atmospheric dance-rock synthesis they introduced on The Belt – which incorporated Memphis native Jeffrey’s primal rock influences with Angela’s Stevie Nicks folk vibe – has now been seamlessly interwoven, the thick, drone-like buzz enlivened by surprisingly catchy melodies, sort of Jesus & the Mary Chain meets Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound.

Listen close enough, and you can hear Jeffrey and Angela’s story on these tracks, from the sparking synth squiggles in “Hold on Tight,” their own meditation on the miracle of the birth of their son – which coincided with their debut album starting to take off – to “Break Even”, written in their touring van, a droning reflection of their gratitude for success and the inevitable highs and lows of following your passions.

The pair took advantage of the freedom of having their own studio to expand their songwriting and production capabilities.

“Elephant” is an ominous dirge about the push-and-pull of being together and the difficulty of communication that started as a lullabye, one of many they’ve penned for their own child. They traveled to Mexico City with inflatable elephants to film the accompanying music video. With picturesque land and cityscapes, they wanted to highlight the beauty of our neighbor country and its people. A timely statement during the current right wing border tensions.

“The Pink Chateau” with its intriguing Memphis soul undercurrent is a metaphor for either erotic desire or the lure of hearth and home itself.

“Bloodhands (Oh My Fever)” was inspired by the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO. A story they hoped would fade but continues to haunt with documented police violence and racial tensions that beg “tell me why we do it”. The song ends with the benediction of a soaring gospel choir, which was recorded in Grand Rapids and led by local music phenom Debra L. Perry. The music video is a surrealist cinematic endeavor touching on race and sexuality and how we will all end up in the hands of our children.

The story of this couple is rooted in their music – the thrill of finding one another, the pitfalls and setbacks along the way – are all exposed in the midst of seductive, slabs of buzzworthy pop that is at once a dream come true, and a glimpse at the reality within.
Flagship
Flagship
The expansive, electric sound of Flagship was born one humid summer at a music festival in Illinois. Drake Margolnick was there performing on the heels of an EP he had recorded and some friends of his from the band Campbell were there and he asked them if they would be his backing band. It became clear from the first note that this makeshift group had musical chemistry. The group created a sound much greater than the sum of their parts. Back in their mutual hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina it was decided that this musical collaboration should continue.

Frontman Drake Margolnick was born in England, on an Air Force base, the son of a military couple. A few years later, his mother settled in the southern city of Charlotte where Margolnick focused his energies on skateboarding and dirt-bike riding, dreaming of pursuing the sports professionally. Through his teen years, however, music began to completely capture his imagination. After high school graduation, Margolnick moved to Australia to follow his muse. Disillusioned with the scene there, Margolnick returned to Charlotte where he quickly integrated into the burgeoning community of musicians, artists and filmmakers. It was the same soil that guitarist Matthew Padgett, drummer Michael Finster and keyboardist Grant Harding were growing in, a community that expanded across the state to include bassist Chris Comfort. It was here playing in multiple bands in multiple venues -- clubs, theaters and coffee houses -- that they honed their musical style, a sound that transcends the traditional south but seems right at home in the southern heat.

After forming Flagship, Padget, Harding and Finster immediately began to work with Margolnick on a tight collection of songs -- self-producing and engineering the Blackbush EP. Here, the group began to formulate an atmospheric mixture of pop-minded melodies and passionate, aggressive performance. It was the strength of these songs that attracted the attention of Bright Antenna Records, a label that wanted to see the group grow beyond their regional fanbase while maintaining their distinct musical personality. After playing stages across the U.S. for a year, Flagship recorded their first full-length LP with the producer Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Washed Out). Set to release on October 8, 2013, the album is both a culmination of all that came before and the sound of what comes next.

Drake, you had a singer-songwriter career before this, and there of the other guys played in Campbell the Band. How did that turn into Flagship?
Drake Margolnick: I started Flagship back in 2005 with a specific sound in mind. To make a long story short, I met Matt Padgett first and asked him to play guitar in a solo project I was doing. Months later we all ended up at a music festival together and the guys of Campbell backed up one of my performances, and then a few more. In working together we all felt a strong creative chemistry and a tight bond forming. It just made sense to play together and in turn Flagship was revived and reformed. Flagship and Campbell was not a merging of bands, as they are two very different sounds, it was a merging of artists.

Was there something missing in your solo career?
Margolnick: I quit being in a band that I started, and then I did a solo project for a little bit. The other bands that I had been in felt off-balance. I found myself doing 90% of the work. These guys have a work ethic, so everybody works, and everyone is happy when everyone is pulling their own. The songwriting changed because I wasn't writing every part anymore, people were writing their own parts, so the more minds that connect, the more it develops into something that's just not one person. It expands.
Tell me about Campbell the Band.
Matthew Padgett: Campbell the Band was formed by Grant and Michael and I. I met Grant when I was in high school. He was playing music with Michael already and I was doing my own thing. We met and we were like "let's get together and start a real band." So that's probably 2003 when that started. Then it's been a lot of small steps. We started gaining success in Charlotte, we were getting crowds of 700 to 800 people. But we didn't feel right about it, we didn't feel like it was going anywhere so we broke up, and I started playing with Drake's side project, and I loved it and asked the rest of Campbell to come and play and we called it Flagship.

Drake, as the main lyricist, what ideas were on your mind when you were writing the album?
Margolnick: I reread "The Call Of The Wild," and it affected me. I was just obsessed with the wilderness and that really bleed through most of the album. The wilderness as a literal thing, and how sometimes you feel like you're in the wilderness and there's not much happening. I was going through a lot of big changes in my life and my beliefs and getting more comfortable with myself. Maturing, and reevaluating priorities and figuring out what actually mattered to me. I found peace and solace in music.

What was the chemistry in the band like once Drake joined?
Grant Harding: The chemistry was...when we first got in the studio, and recorded demos, it was like magic. Everyone was feeling it. When you start a new thing, you have this intense connection and you know its real and you know its right, and then after a couple months you'll have some rough stages, and that is when I think you start maturing as a band, and you learn when those rough stages are coming and how to deal with each one. I think that's just as important as the magic that happened in the beginning.

Tell me about the working relationship that you have together. What is it about the five of you that makes the band's sound work?
Christopher Comfort: On a personal level I enjoy being around the guys, they're great friends and they're brothers. We spend so much time together. They're probably the closest people I have in my life. For the most part, it's pretty easy making music. It's not laborious when we come together to work out music. The thing about us is that we have so many different musical interests that when they do come together, there's a lot to choose from to make something creative.

How did you come to work with Ben Allen?
Braden Merrick (Manager): I am friends with Ben Allen's manager Paul Adams. Ben Allen was on the band's list of producers to work with. So through many conversations with Paul and Ben, we were able to work out a deal. Ben only works with artists he truly loves. He has that luxury. He said of all the artists he could have made an LP with at the time, he chose flagship due to the power of the songs and Drake's voice.

Tell me about your first time working with Ben Allen. This was your first time working with a high profile producer.
Michael Finster: It was very different than the way we normally do things. Grant is actually an engineer himself, so for the longest time we recorded things on our own. When we did that we would usually go the studio and spend the whole day setting up and goofing off, and probably end up recording around 11 or 12 at night, because that's when we felt the best. But Ben, he did things more scheduled. He was there to push us to use our time a little bit more wisely. He knew what he wanted and he would push you and push you until it sounded as good as it was going to sound. If he complemented something you did then it was really good, because he was not to open with complimenting you.
Venue Information:
Rough Trade NYC
64 N 9th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11249