Flint Eastwood will put you to the test: Are you so cynical that you’re dubious any band can truly connect with their audience, let alone build one from scratch? Or are you more optimistic, to believe a band can stand out amid the shuffle of tweets, streams and updates. If anyone can stand-out (shout-out, even), it’s Jax Anderson.
Based out of Metro Detroit with her mates Clay Carnill, Mark Hartman and Bryan Pope, Anderson fronts a resolute rock-outfit that’s quickly gained notoriety around the Great Lakes for their spectacular, stumping live presentation. But their connectivity goes beyond that tired cliché of bands claiming special defiance of the (…big air quotes…) “barrier…” between performer and audience. No, Flint would more likely come talk to you after the show, before the show, and, hopefully, make you remember just why you came out to a show. Any show. Flint Eastwood, with their heavily rhythmic, hooky rock blend of danceable beats, samples and strikes of synth, are, in fact, quite a show, onto themselves.
“The Internet has changed the game, 100 percent, basically, for all of society,” Anderson says. “If your band are assholes, if you insult a fan, then people are gonna know, three minutes later it’s on the internet and then five minutes later it’s retweeted 100,000 times. Music listeners want to know more the people behind the music, they want a story, they want something that’s personable rather than something that’s ignoring them.”
Anderson says, quite plainly, that they want their music to be a helpful factor in people’s lives; to change listener’s lives, even, at least in the same way that music has changed their lives.
So, Anderson isn’t giving the same old rock-zine pat answers here. She’s demonstrating a marked appreciation for “online” listenership while also never discounting any show as just another gig. Every show for Flint Eastwood is another opportunity to connect with their fans, she says, and that has to be a two way street.
“The only way to make your band even semi-permanent,” Anderson said, “is to solidify the relationships, the face-to-face contacts and friendships that you build inside the community that you’ve created…”
That choice of words, “community,” is telling; they also lovingly inaugurate “fans” into something more special: “the Flint Family.”
Anderson is keenly focused on the trickier facets of fostering a band in the post-Internet era of digitization and streaming-listenership. Raised just outside of Detroit, she assigned her teenage-recreations almost exclusively to making music with her brother, Seth. Self-regimenting a range of genres to experiment with, Anderson has grown into her songwriting-self simultaneously with the growth of the Internet’s impact upon modern music-making in this new century. She was working on music and licensing songs professionally with Seth out in L.A. during most of the last decade before resettling in Detroit.
“I was jaded about Detroit when I left, but I that’s because I was still only seeing the rock bands. I stepped outside of my comfort zone and started experiencing other genres. That’s the best way to become un-jaded, experience the community outside of the community that’d caused you to be jaded.”
And so we test your optimism (or cynicism). Can a band foster its own community?
“You can’t be a part of something unless you’re passionate about it.” And, by ‘it’ this freelance video editor and filmmaker is referring to the immeasurable legacy of all-humankind participating in the act of making music. Yes, this is something she regularly considers, inclined to argue that it’s undeniable human nature, dating back to our cave-dwelling days, to want to dance.
“You can’t be part of this unless you’re okay with the downfalls as well as the victories. I think some bands think it’s just about playing music that’s just for them. Don’t present it to the world unless you’re ready to give it, to put it out there, and have it not be yours anymore.”
Flint Eastwood (with Anderson on vocals and guitar, Carnill on bass, Hartman on drums and Pope on lead guitar,) are observably charged-up on stage, all four bodies jostling to their own music as its blasted from the amps—a blend of Spaghetti Western soundtrack samplings swoop under Pope’s fiery guitars, with Carnill grooving atop measured snippets of sequenced-beats syncing hip-hop rhythms to the more forceful hits of Hartmans live kit.
Anderson, meanwhile, seems almost to be sermonizing the good word of, well, not “rock,” but, any kind of enlivened music, really; pointing at and waving crowds forwards, closer, as she lurches, lunges and fitfully pogos upon the edge of the stage. Tacitly tucked into their anthemic indie-rock ballads is the instigative message: Hey punk, what’s your problem? Start moving, start dancing, start…anything. Not that we’d call this dance-rock, though.
Anderson is only just entering her mid-20’s, even though she sounds wiser. She stands just a bit above five feet tall but she’s a bonafide live-wire frontwoman, (that Stetson on her head and that those fiery eyes help). She’s not talking like a self-deluded rock star drunk on her power to get packs of people moving. Also, as we’ve intoned, she would not describe Flint Eastwood’s music as strictly: rock. She thinks possibly that rock music, as a genre, might just be dwindling, actually, (thus her recent course correction into genre-blenders to stave off jadedness).
Flint’s thing sounds like rock, sure, but then…it doesn’t. Flint Eastwood samples so many other genres, just as Anderson’s decade-plus of songwriting has given a varied arc to her own sensibilities, not just in style but in her outlook, like, how to make a band work. In her hour-long chat with Paste, she thrice reiterates her admiration and gladness for the talented musicians (Carnill, Hartman and Pope) backing her up—as this is her “first real full band” having heretofore exclusively worked with her brother, Seth, on a range of projects (one of them having matured into the bedrock that formed Flint Eastwood’s main batch of songs, via their debut EP Late Nights In Bolo Ties).
Yes, she recognizes the Internet as an unavoidable major character influencing the story of every millennial band’s biography, for better and for worse. “There was the realization that you can make an entire career without being on top, or on the radio or on TV, that’s very inspiring. But, the Internet might have convinced people that they don’t have to talk to people face-to-face. A million bands release things at once but if you’ve made that physical connection with people, and not in a business sense, I sometimes talk about the band as a business, but really, in all honesty I view this band as a method to help people.”
Flint Eastwood is an opportunity to be “what all those past iconic bands were to me, that kind of inspiration.”
“You put something out and then people listen to it and hopefully help spread it. No one gives a shit about you if you haven’t invested in them.”
Anderson concludes, reminding that the core of rock music was always to be pissed-off at something.
“If we can harness a community of musicians who’re okay with each other, not talking shit about each other and supporting each other, if there’s enough bands that are positive, the negative and jaded bands will be pushed to the side.“
Stay positive and anything’s possible, even despite of (or because of) the Internet.
At press time, Flint Eastwood were wrapping up plans for out of state touring. “For now, we’ll continue working on our next release to follow up the Bolo Ties EP,” Anderson said, “and continue our attempts at fostering a community around Flint Eastwood.”