So Randy Larsen and Bernie Romanowski from long-running noisecore antiheroes Cable launched a new project a little while back called Empty Flowers to explore 90s-style smart, seething gut-punch post-hardcore. And the mix actually works! Really fucking well! The band’s debut, Six, created some impressive atmospheres and undercurrents, but the sophomore release Five sees Empty Flowers truly hitting its stride, finding the sweet spot between angular, dynamic riffs and rhythms — think Unwound, Slint, Hoover, etc — and a kind of old school Superchunk clanging pop sensibility. Add to this solid, diverse vocals that range from punk rock shouts to Guy Picciotto-esque abandon to — especially on the track “Car Fires” — a Geoff-Farina-not-Ralph-Macchio Karate-like brooding croon, and you’ve got a pretty damn compelling aural journey on your hands.
Check out our exclusive premiere of the song “The Water” along with a full album track-by-track elucidation below. Other samples are available at the Empty Flowers Bandcamp.
Christian McKenna/vocals: One of the last tunes written for the record. I like how the first part is pushed to its limit. We do not get together or practice very often. When we ran through some tunes in Randy’s basement before our first gig to open for the mighty Red Hare this past May everything sounded like dog crap. I just remember thinking, “So this is how it’s going to go down?” We opened the show with “Five” and when we hit that first transition I knew we were going to be okay. We ended up having a great time and Red Hare blew our minds.
“I Get to Know Its Name”
McKenna: The lyrics came together quickly. Credit goes to my friend Ed. He used the song’s title in relation to a conversation we were having. It was the genesis of what followed.
Bernie Romanowski/guitar: One of the early songs we wrote for this album. I wrote the song and the finished version is identical to the first demo, which is rare for us. I didn’t expect the bass part that Randy wrote in the first part of the song, but it really defines the rhythm of the song. We took a chance with the first guitar riff because with the wrong drum beat, it wouldn’t fit in with the album. It’s a little more “bouncy” than the rest of the songs, but the bass and drums keep it on track. The last riff of the song has one of the few guitar overdubs on the album. There are actually 3 different guitar parts mixed in the last riff.
“Time Feeds the Dose”
Romanowski: This song was a long time coming. Randy and I had been kicking around ideas for a faster, more swanky song since we began playing together. One thing that makes this song really stand out for us is the fact the guitar and bass are never playing the same thing at any time in the song. When we play it live it feels like a thirty-second song — it just flies by.
McKenna: This song is the oldest in the bunch and was another that came together quickly. It predates the band. Bernie had sent me the music via email. The first arrangement was perfect. I just added the words. It is my favorite song on the record.
Andre Galiffi/drums: I had left my guitar at Randy’s house, the day I proposed “Quit.” He picked it up one night and wrote “The Water.” Later, at practice this piece came together in about five minutes. Emailing song ideas among ourselves makes writing songs possible as the band members do not live in close proximity to each other. I think Empty Flowers played twelve or fourteen times before recording this record.
Galiffi: I started messing around with the idea for the verse/chorus for “Quit” about nine years ago while working on my own music. One day I took the idea to Randy. Then we worked on the piece together. Christian and Bernie added their input with an unexpected outcome. While in the studio recording, old friend, Rebecca Mitchell from Whore Paint, vocalized. Hence…”Quit.”
“Trained Not to Worry”
McKenna: This song is a homage to a fallen friend. Randy and I wrote the lyrics together the night before we recorded it. I love Bernie’s solo on this one.