Flying Colors

Flying Colors are here with their new, sophomore release, after two years since their debut, showing that prog rock music can be blended beautifully with pop-rock, melodic rock, hard rock and symphonic elements. Grande Rock caught up with the band’s bassist Dave LaRue and had a very interesting chat, about the band, the new album and music in general.
Flying Colors band pic
Hi Dave… “Second Nature” is a great successor to your homonymous debut album. You have taken things several steps further… but after all isn’t that the very essence of progressive music?
D: Absolutely! I think all musicians should strive to continue growing; otherwise you end up playing the same things over and over. Having down the first studio record, and with some touring and a live record thrown in, the band was more comfortable doing “Second Nature”.
Can you spot the differences between your debut album and “Second Nature”? Did time work, this time, for the band’s own benefit?
D: Time is always a problem for Flying Colors. It’s very difficult to get the 5 of us together, but I suppose having such a limited amount of time to work forces us to be disciplined and get a lot done when we are able to get together. “Second Nature” is definitely different from our first record, but it was not planned – It is simply the music that came out of the writing sessions. It has more of a prog feel to it, but, as I said earlier, it was not planned that way.
The press, the fans and almost everyone call Flying Colors a “supergroup”. Do you agree with that classification? What makes a “supergroup”? Does that characterization cause anxiety to the band members?
D: I don’t really worry about that classification, it’s more of, as you said, something created by the press and the fans. When we were touring recently, I did take a moment every now and then and think, “man, this is a really good band”. I’ve been fortunate to have been able to work with some great musicians at a very high level for a long time, so, for me, it’s really what I am used to, what I expect. All of the guys in the band are well grounded, so I don’t think the supergroup label affects anyone. We are all really concerned with making the music the best it can possibly be.
What is the “Second Nature”? What does the album title declare?
D: I guess it’s kind of what you’d expect – It’s our second project together, and it all happens very organically, or naturally. I don’t know – I’m not one to read too much into things.
I’d like you to tell us a few things about each track…
D: “Open Up Your Eyes”: Great prog opener for the record and the live shows. I think this track demonstrates the evolution of the band right from the top.
“Mask Machine”: Really fun, simple, rocking track. I experimented with the bass part on this one, and realized that the less I played, the better.
“Bombs Away”: Also pretty straight forward, but with some cool progressions and a little bit of prog weirdness thrown in.
“The Fury of My Love”: Cool ballad, bridges the gap between the first and second record.
“A Place in Your World”: I love this tune, lots of different sections, very interesting musically and still plenty of melody.
“Lost Without You”: Another one that could be from either record, nice hook.
“One Love Forever”: Cool groove, lots of great melodies and interesting sections. I like the “Celtic” vibe (or whatever it is), makes this song unique.
“Peaceful Harbor”: A very emotional song, the live crowds really got into this one. Casey did a great intro to the tune, and Steve just soared over the top of it at the end.
“Cosmic Symphony”: Another prog tune to close out the record. There are a lot of great sections (of course I’m partial to the bass solo), taking the listener through several musical peaks and valleys.
What’s the songwriting procedure? Do you start from a single idea upon which you build, build and build till you’re satisfied? Can you tell us a bit about the band’s songwriting sessions?
D: You’ve pretty much nailed it. Everyone brings in ideas, no complete songs. When we like an idea, we start from there and, as you said, build on it. There are some ideas that get thrown out, others that get completely changed, some that stay pretty much intact. We do try a lot of different ideas within one song. The writing sessions are pretty intense – we move fast, due to the limited amount of time we have. The band works well together, so if there is a disagreement about something, usually the majority rules and we just move on. Everyone compromises at some point, so the work flow never gets stopped.
How did you approach the recording sessions this time? Did you record live or what?
D: No, we tweak the songs until we have them done, and then we do a rough live version that we can use as a template. Mike records his drums once the writing session is done, and then it goes to the rest of us to start recording. I try and get done next, so that the guys have solid rhythm tracks to work with. It’s a good way to work for me, because it allows me to experiment with the bass lines, to try several things.
Was working on the album’s production by yourself more liberating and cooler than having a producer over your heads telling you this and that? Are you satisfied with the final outcome?
D: Peter Collins was great to work with, easy going and he had good ideas. Having said that, I didn’t feel it was necessary for us to use a producer this time. There are 5 producers in the band, and I knew we could make a grab record and work through any differences that might arise.
How easy or not is it to ease that “musical ego” which each great musician has, so that there won’t be any issues along the way?
D: Well, I guess we have kind of covered that. Everybody in the band is concerned primarily with making great music. All of us have been doing this for a while, and we understand that there is a give and take in any group situation. There are really very few “ego” issues with this band.
You manage to blend various music styles together… how would you describe the band’s music style on the whole?
D: A unique synthesis that draws on the influences brought by each member of the band. I think it’s hard to nail it down to one style. There is a prog element, a melodic pop element, a strong instrumental/improvisational aspect to the music. I really do believe that this combination of musicians does make our sound very unique.
What does the future hold for Flying Colors? Will you keep making music and giving live shows around the world whenever you can?
D: Absolutely. We all hope to be able to dedicate more time to FC at some point in the future.
I’ve caught up with you during your European live shows. Are there any further touring plans for 2015 as yet?
D: Not yet, but we are always looking for windows of time where we might be able to get together.
The video for “Mask Machine” has already been out for a couple of months. Will there be any other video released anytime soon?
D: Online now… (i.n.: Watch it below – the interview took place when the video was released…)
Flying Colors band pic
It’s time for our “weird questions”!!! How did you come up with the name Flying Colors at first? Does it have anything to do with the Jethro Tull track?
D: No, nothing to do with Tull. We were searching for a name for a while, and I believe Mike came up with Flying Colors. Kind of appropriate, in some ways, but, again, I don’t read too much into it.
Best 3 prog rock albums of all time according to you?
D: I’m the wrong guy to ask about prog. I love some of the early Yes stuff, “Fragile” and “Close to the Edge”, does that qualify? I listen to Rush, Dream Theater and I used to listen to Gentle Giant quite a bit. I know I’m forgetting a lot of great bands, apologies in advance. (i.n.: You do know a lot about prog music dude – no doubt about it!)
Top 3 rock singers of all time?
D: Robert Plant, Paul McCartney (does he qualify?) and, uh, Neal Morse, no, wait, Casey McPherson. OK, both. (i.n.: So we have 4 if we count Paul!!)
What are those things that you do not like in the music industry nowadays?
D: I guess the sense of entitlement, that everyone thinks all music should be “free”.
How do you see the “free downloading issue” of our time? What can a band or a label do to change that thing?
D: That’s what I was talking about before – I don’t know what can be done to change it. For every advance that is made in protecting intellectual property, there is someone frantically trying to find a way around it.
What do you think about this “Views, tweets & Likes” mania of our time?
D: I try and ignore most of that, there is only so much time in a day. I have a web site and a FB page and I try to post news there every so often, but that’s about it.
Which character from the “Game of Thrones” would you be – if you lived in the Seven Kingdoms? The other guys from the band?
D: Not a big fan. I read the first book and bailed. I’m more of a LOTR guy. (i.n.: Who isn’t?!!)
Which of the Seven Deadly Sins do you reckon is the one, that’s more likely to send you straight to Hell, in the afterlife?
D: Gluttony. I like pizza and ice cream. And pasta.
Imagine that your girlfriend/wife is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react? J
D: I’d be puzzled!
It was a pleasure talking to you Dave… I wanna thank you for the music all these years! Any last words? Take care!
D: Thank you! Just a quick commercial – I will have a new solo album out early next year, check for updates at or at