Chris Volz - vocals
Lance Arny - guitars
Chris Ballinger - drums
Jason Daunt - guitar
Alex Cando - bass
"Why buy three different records to find the types of songs you like--from an intense wailing song that kids will dig, to a more ambient and hypnotic tune, when one band does it all?" Flaw queries. Why indeed, when the 13 tracks on Flaw's dramatic and cohesive Republic/Universal debut, Through the Eyes, including its aggro, dynamic and multi-faceted first single, "Payback," cover a wide-ranging emotional and musical gamut, "heavy" and "melodic" being the common denominators. But within Flaw's aural and emotional power and honesty, captured deftly by producer David Bottrill (TOOL, Peter Gabriel), an atmospheric soundscape prevails, expressing and exorcising vocalist Chris Volz's personal and provocative lyrics.
"In the past, I've written songs about current events, but I believe songs and music come from the heart, and you shouldn't have to use outside references," opines Volz, who, like the rest of Flaw, resides in Louisville, Kentucky. "Music is very personal to me," he furthers, "because my adoptive mom, who died when I was 12, is the one who started me in music. She was an opera singer; she performed at the Kennedy Center several times and got me into singing."
The song titles only begin to tell the tale: from the whispered breakdown in "Only the Strong" to the moody intensity of "What I Have to Do" to the crushing groove of "Reliance," it's clear Flaw have lived and learned, and use music as a catharsis. Flaw formed in 1996 around the core of Volz and Jason Daunt. Volz answered an ad in the local paper. "It said, 'guitar player looking for a singer for an industrial/alternative band,'" recalls Daunt. "Anything alternative was cool," remembers Volz, "though industrial wasn't my thing. I just wanted to get back into writing music again after a rough period in my life." Volz called the ad and found he lived two blocks from Daunt. The two hooked up that night, each playing their music for the other.
Soon, both musicians were living in the rehearsal space: "It was a pretty intense work scene, occasionally a little partying, but we worked on music when we were awake, crashed out on the floor at night, then got up and did it over again," Volz recalls. While rhythm sections came and went, bassist Ryan Jurhs joined in 1997, and Flaw's direction began to solidify. "Ryan was only a month or two out of the Marines, and he was playing guitar and singing backup for a band we knew locally... and we kinda stole him!" Daunt recalls. "In Flaw, he plays five-string bass and sings background vocals, although he also plays a lot of different instruments and used to teach guitar. Within a week of Ryan joining, we recorded our first indie record."
That 1997 disc, the eight-song American Arrogance, which featured "Reliance" and "Amendment" (both on Through The Eyes), was recorded with ingenuity. "Well, The Musician's Friend, the musical ordering catalog, has a 30-day return policy if you're not satisfied," explains Volz. "So we ordered all the equipment we could possibly need to record an album, and then sent the stuff back and said we didn't like it. So we recorded the album for shipping and handling costs! "None of us had the income to do anything else. It was either do it that way or not do it at all," grins Daunt.
The outcome was impressive, and in addition to scoring openings gigs for acts including Fear Factory and Econoline Crush, a local radio station, The Fox, spun songs from Flaw's indie disc. Two more well-received independent records, 1998's Flaw and 2000's Drama EP, saw Flaw continuing to grow, finalizing its current lineup in 1999 with the addition of second guitarist Lance Arny and drummer Chris Ballinger. "For a long time, we had only one guitarist," notes Volz. "It got a lot more atmospheric when Lance joined, and spacier. When you're playing the kind of driving, heavy alternative music we do, in a live situation, two guitars sound so much better and fuller." Both Daunt and Arny use seven-string guitars with standard tuning, but, notes Daunt: "Lance is more the technical player; I'm more of the live player. As far as the writing, he's more into atmospheric effects, but I like coming up with odd sounds, things that guitars aren't really supposed to do."
It's that emotional musical freedom that works so well with Through the Eyes' ardent lyrics. If there's a theme throughout the CD, it might be best expressed in "Inner Strength" and be about "finding your own road and really developing that "inner strength" part of your personality," explains Volz. "My general focus in lyrics is about childhood and life being a healing process. My adoptive mother committed suicide when I was 12," Volz says. "The song 'Whole' is about her death. Going through her suicide sucked and I wouldn't wish it on anybody, ever, but in a weird way I wouldn't change it either, because I went through several years of intensive psychotherapy and different building processes that aren't in people who don't go through that. I learned so much about myself and other people. I talk about hurt and how I got through it in Flaw's music. I'm very personal with lyrics; I don't like to write about other people."
It was that openness and distinct musical personality that caught Republic's ear when Flaw showcased at New York's CBGB, leading the label to ink the band in October 2000. Recording commenced in early 2001 in Los Angeles, at Sound City then Larabee, with Bottrill, the band's dream producer. "We were totally confident in David's ability to get the sounds we wanted," enthuses Daunt. "We're fans of his older work with Peter Gabriel and Aenima, by TOOL encompasses every sound we have in our arsenal. He had a good feeling for our vision."
That vision is well honed, and as with everything Flaw does, there's a reason behind it. First, the cover artwork, featuring a child with his mouth zippered shut, illustrates part of the Flaw philosophy. "It represents what this album stands for," observes Volz. "The child doesn't look like he's in pain, but it screams that too many people don't say what they need to." The band name, too, has a raison d'etre: "Originally it had a different meaning: we spelled it F. Law. Then we realized that musically and lyrically, it didn't truly suit us, so we dropped the period and made the name a bit more general," Volz explains. "We didn't want to be perceived as a mad-at-the-establishment rock band," Volz concludes. "Flaw could mean a flaw in your personality, the planet, in your emotions; it was just more open, like we are. "
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