Musically, floral print are not terribly difficult to pin down, but that doesn’t stop the group from sounding unique and vital. The Atlanta duo, consisting of guitarist/vocalist Nathan Keele Springer and drummer Paul DeMerritt, write angular and offbeat songs that are rooted mainly in a variety of rock offshoots — indie, math rock, some traces of emo and psyche, and an occasional glimmer of taut post-punk or skewed pop. It’s experimental songwriting that oftentimes feels pleasantly familiar, a potent combination that so many artists strive for but rarely achieve.
In the year and a half since the release of their debut EP, woo, the duo have managed to significantly grow their presence in the scene while shirking the conventional avenues most local bands use to tread towards success. With some exceptions, Springer and DeMerritt largely avoid the party-first atmospheres of the city’s entrenched venues in favor of house shows and non-traditional spaces that focus more on creativity and inclusivity. As such, they’ve also evaded much of the cultural homogeneity that remains prevalent in the club scene, building an audience that’s more diverse and open to a wider range of music.
Recently, floral print announced that woo will be re-released on cassette by Sad Cactus Records out of Poughkeepsie, NY. To help promote the release, the band is hitting the road starting with a tour kickoff show this Saturday night at the Sewing Room. Earlier this week, I spoke with the band about the changes they’ve experienced since unveiling their debut and how Atlanta music has evolved (or failed to evolve) in that same period. Although our conversation was brief, the group’s passion for their music and the community that supports them was abundantly clear.
It’s been roughly 18 months since you released your EP. How would you say floral print has evolved in that time period?
Nathan Keele Springer: I think we’re just writing better songs. Playing together for a longer period of time has allowed us to kind of figure out how we both operate, and writing new material has become more natural. We kind of have a foundation of what floral print sounds like and can build on that while simultaneously branching out and exploring our influences more.
Paul DeMerritt: I think we’ve also learned how to communicate better and more organically so we’re both complementing each other more rather than playing in our own worlds.
George Pettis (100 Watt Horse, ex-Wowser Bowser) played bass and sang on the record. After his move, was there a particular reason why you chose not to replace him?
NKS: Actually, we’ve had a different bass player for each tour we’ve been on (George, Sam Petschulat, Ross Stansberry, and Noah Estrella for our latest tour). For some reason we just haven’t clicked with anyone in Atlanta yet or haven’t been trying hard enough to find someone to be a more permanent member. Our touring schedule is semi-demanding, so we just always get in a position in which we need someone ASAP. I have been playing bass on a lot of our recordings because of this issue, but there’s not any intention behind that, it’s more out of necessity than anything.
PD: Also, I think George’s voice and bass playing gave woo a specific sound that represented where we were at that time. But since George moved out to Olympia our sound has changed so trying to recruit someone who could replicate style wouldn’t reflect the way we play at the moment.
Your record is going to be re-released by Sad Cactus Records. How did that relationship come about?
NKS: Niccolo from Sad Cactus reached out to us earlier this year because he heard this song “Kevin” that we have on Bandcamp and said he liked it and to let him know if we ever wanted to collaborate on something. We talked to him about re-releasing woo, then it turned into our friend Graham Tavel remixing all of those tracks.
The re-release will contain all your recorded discography, correct? What other changes or additions can we expect?
NKS: So the whole A-side of the tape is woo, but it just sounds way better because Graham has grown a lot over the past year. The B-side contains the songs “Kevin,” “Alice Arm,” and “Running Joke,” which is everything we’ve released so far.
Much like the city itself, Atlanta music has evolved enormously over the past 18 months. What are some the major positives you’ve seen over that period? What are the negatives that you feel that need to be addressed?
PD: It’s been amazing to witness the hard work people like Chris Yonker, William Kennedy, Adam Babar, and so many others have put into creating creative, inclusive spaces. The Mammal Gallery and The Cleaners have been so crucial for lots of bands including us for providing a space that’s entirely focused on the music rather than a party atmosphere. Especially along South Broad Street, The Mammal Gallery helped to bring in spaces like Murmur, the new Eyedrum, Broad Street Visitor Center, and hopefully many more. The music scene is more and more starting to feel like it represents the breadth of Atlanta’s culture. However, I think a lot of ‘scenes’ are still fairly sectioned off from one another and bands (including us) need to do a better job of naturally bringing together a more diverse array of voices when creating lineups.
NKS: I definitely think we constantly need to be working hard to make spaces inclusive and safe for everyone; we can never get complacent in that regard. The fact that a lot of the awesome places that Paul just mentioned are in jeopardy because of rapid city development is definitely a negative.
So what changes would you like to see happen in Atlanta music in 2017?
PD: I would like to see more bands become participants in Atlanta’s music scene to create a community so musicians expand their role from just playing music. And that’s something we’re also trying to get better at.
NKS: I’d just like to see Atlanta grow as an encouraging and nurturing city for musicians.
You guys are getting ready to head out on tour. What’s you favorite part about touring? How do you feel it helps the band grow?
NKS: Touring is probably one of the most comfortable feelings for me at this point. It’s super nice to just have a couple of things to focus on a day, and seeing other cities and meeting new people is super invigorating. I’m really looking forward to this tour because we’re only playing a couple of our old songs; almost everything we’re playing is from a record that we’re finishing up at the moment. It really helps to see people’s reactions to songs that we haven’t released yet, and it helps to play the new stuff and work out the kinks.
PD: Touring just gives an entirely different rhythm to every day. The weeks leading up to tour tend to be anxiety-inducing but once you’re actually in the car it’s a really freeing feeling. I love traveling and I love meeting new friends, getting to experience their art and learning from their perspectives. I’m especially psyched for this tour because we’re unveiling a few new songs that sound a lot different from woo, so it will be interesting to see how people react. I’m also excited to play with Noah because Nathan and I both really enjoyed his other band Delphinium and it’ll be a lot of fun to see how we all complement each other.
It is still a ways away (February 1), but you were recently added to the Joan of Arc bill at Drunken Unicorn. Tell us what that means to you to be able to play that show?
NKS: I have been listening to Joan of Arc since high school and that band is super, super important to me. I think as far as influencing how I approach playing guitar and writing lyrics, they are near the top. It feels really great to have been working so hard on our music the past couple of years, and then to have the opportunity to play it in front of musicians whom you really look up to. Also, I have never been able to see JoA live before, so I’m just really looking forward to seeing their set.
PD: I’ve only really gotten into Joan of Arc in the last few months, but Live in Chicago has quickly become a favorite. Playing with a band that has influenced us is definitely a pretty significant milestone. In a small way, this show feels like a validation of all the work we’ve put into the band for almost two years now.
To help prepare himself for their upcoming tour, Springer compiled a playlist based on artists floral print will be performing with over the next two weeks — a mix which he has graciously agreed to share with us.
“This is a playlist I put together with songs from many of the bands we’ll be playing with on tour,” Springer says. “One of my favorite parts about getting ready to leave on these trips is listening to a bunch of songs and getting excited for the shows. I feel like we’re playing with a pretty eclectic mix of groups, and I’m really energized by how good all of these songs are.”
Check out the tour mix and list of tour dates below.
Floral Print Tour Dates
Oct 29 – Atlanta, GA – The Sewing Room w/ Suffer Dragon, Dux, Loner
Oct 30 – Knoxville, TN – the Pilot Light w/ Ex Gold, Sweet Years
Oct 31 – Raleigh, NC – RadioShack w/ Truly, Brown Widow
Nov 01 – Richmond,VA – The Underground Orchard w/ Lance Bangs, Young Scum, Super Ghoul
Nov 02 – Washington, DC – LTTL w/ Peaer, Pupppy, Uvee, TBA
Nov 03 – Philadelphia, PA – Baird Mansion Atrium w/ Frontyards, Bears, Blue Smiley, Daniel Daws
Nov 04 – Philadelphia, PA – All Night Diner w/ Tall Friend, Young Scum, Spring Onion
Nov 05 – Brooklyn, NY – House Show w/ The Widest Smiling Faces, Nicholas Nicholas, Sergio Aragon, Stay Woke
Nov 06 – Brooklyn, NY – Shea Stadium w/ No One and the Somebodies, Yucky Duster, Sweet Baby Jesus
Nov 07 – Providence, RI – Aurora w/ Beverly Tender, Teddy Farkas
Nov 08 – Boston, MA – TBA w/ Soft Fangs, Strange Mangers, Tiffany’s House
Nov 09 – Albany, NY – Relief Theater w/ Slowshine, Pinesheets, Tomoreaux
Nov 10 – Oberlin, OH – Big Blue w/ Woof, Julia Julian
Nov 11 – Chicago, IL – Subterranean w/ New Color, Bunny, Mirror Coat
Nov 12 – Cincinnati, OH – The Comet
Nov 13 – Nashville, TN – DRKMTTR w/ Body Origami, Plant Parenthood, Beige Curtains
Floral Print will perform on Saturday, October 29 at the Sewing Room in support of Suffer Dragon. Fellow locals Dux and Loner open the show. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $5.