Five & Five: Oleander
I have always loved music considering that it inspired me to pick up the guitar and play. Along the way in my journey, I have been exposed to many wonderful bands that have shaped me into the musician that I am today. One of those bands that I pay homage to is the band, “Oleander”. Ever since they first hit the scene, they have had a dramatic impact on not only me, but on countless musicians today. Many have tried to imitate them, but Oleander is the epitome of everything that rock music should encompass….honesty and pure integrity. That is why it is an extreme honor to present to you my interview with the humble lead singer of Oleander, Thomas Flowers. A musician who’s talent and drive is the stuff that makes musicians legends in the world of rock and roll… Part I KC: What artist/bands/songs/albums influenced you? TF: Not to sound typical, but everything from the Beatles and Zeppelin to Miles Davis and Elliot Smith have had an influence on me as a songwriter. I grew up listening to AM radio Motown artists and eventually found rock n roll. KC: What are you currently listening to right now? TF: Sigur Ros, Mogwai, Muse, Rival Schools, and Shudder To Think are currently in rotation on my Ipod playlist. I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to Oleander as we prepare for live shows and touring in support of our new album. I’d forgotten how much I love what we’ve written over the years! I may be a bit biased… KC: You’ve had a long career of live performances, but which show/performances has been your favorite? TF: Every show means something to us, especially if we don’t suck and fans have a good time, but the USO shows in Bosnia and Kosovo are high on my list of gigs that we’ve played over the years. Our troops make incredible sacrifices. They leave their families and put their lives on the line for us everyday. It was an honor to be apart of that experience. More so, Woodstock ’99 was another sentinel moment in our career. We learned a lot about ourselves that day! We walked away craving the big stage and confident that we could rise to it. KC:What made you decide to become a musician? TF: Sex, drugs, and rock n roll! I bought in at an early age and never looked back. I was always too skinny to be relevant in sports, unmotivated to do well in school (regrettably) and had always looked up to rock stars as, “What I want to be when I grow up”. Motivations have changed over the years… KC: If you want people to remember one song from you it would be? TF: No Can Do! Being in a rock band and writing an album is a journey of sort, fraught with gutters and strikes. While Oleander at this point is most remembered by our most successful singles, “Why I’m Here” and “I Walk Alone”, during the process of writing an album and whatever reason (i.e. absolute collaboration, personal achievement, level of honesty, etc.) there are songs that resonate with each band member. If you posed this questions to each of us individually you would likely get a wide variety of answers, but with each album (journey) there are songs that seem to levitate above all the others and defy what we define as our own potential. The following list of songs fall into this category: How Coulld I-Februrary Son 1999/ Tightrope-Unwind 2001/ Fountain & Vine-Joyride 2003/ Daylight-Something Beautiful-March 2013 (forthcoming). httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkOV0L5Wp0k PART II KC: Oleander has made a significant impact in the world of music with such great hits as, “Why I’m Here”, “I Walk Alone”, “Champion”, and “Are You There?” Describe to us what the journey has been like being in Oleander and where you plan to go from here as a musician? TF: Thank you for the kind words…We’ve been fortunate to have made a significant impact in the lives of some of our fans, which is by far the most rewarding aspect of what we do. We started out as kids getting together to have fun, write music, play shows, and see where it would take us. We’re still there to this day…having fun, writing music, playing shows and seeing where it will take us. The difference now is that we don’t take anything for granted or take ourselves too seriously. KC: Since you last release, “Joyride”, Oleander parted ways with one another, with you collaborating with Black Summer Crush. Why did Oleander suddenly stop making music? How did this affect you as a musician? TF: It was time for a break. We’d recently come off years of grinding out tours and it was taking its toll. Time off and away from the business of Oleander was necessary. It was time to come home and stay put for a while The Black Summer Crush was an outlet for me to continue being creative, but in a forum that was completely different from what I’d been writing…more of a classic rock vibe. It was fun, the other musicians are phenomenal and it was a stepping stone back to my roots, my first love….Oleander. It broadened my appreciation for music in general, refreshed my creativity, and brought into focus how much I wanted to get back to basics with Dough and Ric. Oleander never broke up, just took a minute off. That absence was just the ticket for us to get back into the room together and write the best music of our career. Seriously, my favorite songs are in the this body of work! KC: Since reforming Oleander, you have put out a few new songs, “Fight!’ and “Daylight” that display the classic Oleander sound that we’ve all come to know and love. What was the inspiration behind these two songs, especially the song, “Daylight”? TF: “Daylight”, is a narrative of what life was like for us before time off…what I was becoming. If you want to peak behind the curtain, look no further than that song. The whole album is an honest depiction of who we are today, experiences… KC: There is a new face in the Oleander line up, Rich Mouser. Has the entrance of the new guitarist changed the dynamics of Oleander and how has it affected you as a frontman? TF: We’ve never sounded better as a result of his joining us. His presence has allowed me to focus on singing, fronting the band, and engaging with the audience without having to compromise guitar work…he’s family. Not sure if you’re aware but he’s been our producer from the very beginning, and been hugely influential in developing “our sound”. Asking him to join the band, after all these years, felt very natural. We wouldn’t have it any other way! KC: As the new year steadily approaches, fans are excited to see what’s in store for Oleander in the year 2013. What can we expect from the newly reformed Oleander? Can listeners expect a new CD and touring? TF: We couldn’t be more excited about 2013! We will be releasing a new album, “Something Beautiful”, and touring in support of it. With social media being what it is today, we are encouraging fans to follow us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/oleanderband?fref=ts) on Twitter (http://twitter.com/oleanderband), email us (email@example.com) and to be apart of everything we are up to!!! You’ll reach us…and we’ll respond! I’d like to thank our fans for their love and support over the years and to this day….You mean the world to us…and to me! It’s not every day that a fan gets to speak with one of his all time favorite musicians. Thomas Flowers is an extremely humble person who has come full circle as a person that continues to push the creative boundaries as a musician. It is musicians like Thomas and bands like Oleander that makes me believe that there is still hope for music. I’d like to thank Thomas again for giving fans an intimate look at Oleander and what is to come. Fans new and old of Oleander better prepare because the band is back and things are about to get interesting!