Corey Flood is the Philly band you need to know

Corey Flood is comprised of three Philly musicians from different backgrounds, with different musical tastes, who are all working different day jobs. Their debut album, Hanging On, is nine songs and only 20 minutes long. However, that album weaves together complex narratives and haunting melodies. The trio is Ivy Gray-Klein (formerly of Littler, drummer Juliette Rando, and guitarist Em Boltz, who joined the other two a month after the band formed. They quickly signed to Fire Talk, which put out their debut in September 2020 after months of delays (that were nobody’s fault).

The best way to describe Corey Flood is to not describe them. The three musicians all have a style and taste of their own. They bring it all together to create something wholly unique. Their lead, “Heaven Or,” is the most traditional radio friendly song, but the others elevate the band to who they are.

I caught up with the trio via zoom, where they’re all spread across Philly unable to play together because their quarantining like we all should be throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. We chatted about their musical style, what it’s like to release an album now, and how they came together.

How did Corey Flood being?

IGK: Basically, the band I was in before for several years went on an indefinite hiatus because half the members left Philly. I was in a weird place were I was moving and had a lot of big live changes happening. I knew I wanted to do a music project and Juliette and I first started playing together as a one-off Ween cover band for a fundraiser. We decided to just keep playing together. I wrote rough demos in my room, which became our EP. A couple days before our first show Em joined the band.

EB: I met Juliette at a show that my other band was playing. I had just moved to Philly and when I met Juliette, they were just so nice to be around. Joining the band just worked out.

JR: I was such a huge fangirl of Em’s other band It’s Cool and I would talk about them all of the time. I was nervous to talk to them and they were really cool about joining a band with people they just met.

I was reading about how this album was recorded a while ago. I know the band is relatively new but how old are some of these songs? Since the inception of the band?

EB: Some of them we wrote in 2017. We’re new people now, actually.

I talk to writers a lot and in the book world, you’ll finish a book and it won’t come out for two or three years sometimes. I think people just think musicians hit a button and upload it instantly. What’s it like revisiting these songs that feel like a different lifetime ago?

EB: Honestly, it’s just like a cycle where when you record it, it’s like you’re excited about it but then you go through this phase of being over this and making new stuff. Then when it comes out you realize how much work you put into it and it’s great. There’s cycles of love and hate.

Are you transported to what you were feeling in 2017/2018? Can you feel it?

IGK: I think when I listen to or play the songs it’s very evocative of the period I wrote them in or we worked on them in. We recorded these in February 2019 and we ran into some post-production delays. The person who was going to mix it had a complicated schedule then Covid-19 happened. It rolled into this delayed schedule, but I am glad it came out when it did. Like Em said, I feel like I am the most critical person and it’s great to be in a band with Em and Juliette because they are such positive optimistic people.

JR: Even though the songs aren’t particularly happy, when I listen to them I feel happy. It reminds me of when we were playing together, writing together, or on tour together. It’s nice to have this archive of a happier time period.

The delays really were just bad timing then?

EB: It was really just a series of unfortunate events. It wasn’t even bad planning by anyone. It really was just a series of unfortunate set backs. They were acts of god.

IGK: The first roll out date we even had in mind was October 2019. Then January, February, June, then September.

So now it finally comes out six months into a global pandemic. I mean, how does it feel? You three came together and did it.

: It feels good. It’s a weird time to be in an album cycle for anyone. We can’t play shows and connect with people in that more immediate way. I’m not selling merch at a table.

EB: It’s a little sad. Everyone is experiencing these setbacks during Covid.

I can’t imagine being an artist during this time period.

: I feel especially for the artists who had releases back in mid-March. Their albums just fell into a vacuum. Soccer Mommy had an album come out right when Covid hit. They had this big, global tour that just evaporated. There were so many cases early on where people didn’t know what to do and we had a little more time to figure it out.

EB: I remember seeing people rescheduling tours from March for October and I thought maybe it could be a thing. As time moved along, we realized it wasn’t going to happen.

 I really love the sound of this album. I just want to hear from all three of you about what inspires you as a writer, musician, and artist?

EB: Musically, I am definitely inspired by some psych, 1970s stuff. Also some ’80s jangly pop. I love a jangly guitar tone. In terms of writing, I love poets. I pull a lot from my poetry when writing. I’ll be playing a song and then pull lines from different poems. I’m also really inspired by nature.

IGK: For the EP, those are the first songs I ever wrote. I recorded the demos in my room with a shitty ‘90s drum machine and layered bass tracks over each other. They obviously because something much more different and fleshed up. When I wrote them, I was really inspired by Helium. The Dirt of Luck is one of my favorite albums. I was thinking of this more round about way of making music. It was stripped down but I also didn’t want to be tied down to a specific structure or genre. That felt freeing.

When we write together like we did on the album, it’s very non-structured. Anything can be put on the table.

JR: Usually, the first thing that comes out I just go with. I’m not sure what I’m inspired by. When I was in middle school and high school, I was taking jazz drumming and sometimes I hear things I think, “Oh, that’s too jazzy.”

EB: I love that though! Jazz drummers are the best drummers.

JR: I wasn’t a very good jazz drummer because I refused to improvise but it’s funny how it influences me down the line now.

With all three of you, what’s that structure – or non-structure – look like?

: They all have different origin stories. Sometimes we’ll just jam during practice and something will come out of that. Sometimes Em will bring a guitar line they thought of or I may bring a bass thing I was thinking about. There isn’t a set structure.

For lyrics, I really like being a co-vocalist. I love hearing Em’s lyrics because they are primarily a poet and they bring such a nuanced way of thinking about language that I don’t have. Playing with them has been such a good growth and learning experience from me.

EB: Lyrically, I feel inspired by you. I feel like sometimes the stuff I write is too rigid. You write a good song.

Are there ever times when you don’t mesh?

: There are times when we work on a song and it doesn’t get to where we want it to. Em is very good at advocating for when something isn’t working and that we should move on and not force it.

EB: There have been times when we’re trying to make a song work for weeks and we keep coming back to it. It’s like we’ve worked so hard for weeks on something and don’t want to scrap it. Then when we do we’ll work on a new song and it comes together so quickly.

JR: I just remember some situations where we were jamming for a while and Em would just say, “This is just some very bad jazz.”

This will sound really obtuse, but the three of you seem so far apart in your aesthetics. It’s just refreshing because so many bands try to have some sort of optic they look like.

: We’ve heard that before. We’ve heard, “I mean this as a compliment, but you all seem like such distinct humans.” A couple of years ago we played a show around Halloween and the bands were encouraged to wear costumes. We went as the Spice Girls which people felt fit us well because we are all so distinct but come together to create this band.

I love that we have such unique backgrounds. Juliette has such a strong background in music theory and drum lessons. In our first few practices, Juliette would write out her parts in notation.

EB: That’s funny! I grew up playing concert violin and also played piano and I don’t even do that.

JR: It’s because I’m an obsessive notetaker.

EB: It’s impressive though!

This album is nine songs and the songs are very short. Is that something you all consciously did or was it natural?

: I love short songs.

IGK: I also love short songs. I think Mitski’s songwriting fits all of these sweeping, emotional journeys in a minute and a half. You don’t need to hit that three minute mark to say what you need to say. I think we’re all just about not forcing ourselves to hit some certain expectation of what a song should look like or how long it should be.

EB: It’s so funny because so many of the songs I like are 15-minute long songs. I love that… from them. Not from me.

I wanted to ask about a few songs and would love love if you took me and listeners behind the scenes of “Honey.”

: I don’t remember how the instrumentals came but the lyrics were split between me and Em. Em came up with the chorus and the vocal pairing.

EB: We just didn’t have anything where we really sang together and I felt we needed to do it.

It’s definitely my favorite song on the album, but I found you through the single “Heaven Or.” Any behind-the-scenes details about that?

: The lyrics in that song, you know the refrain is “I know what I saw” and at the time I was dealing with a lot of complex relationships. I was feeling like my perception of a situation was radically different than what someone else was telling me it was. I was questioning a lot at the time. I adopted the phrase as a personal mantra to remind me to pump the breaks and really look at things.

I know you’re all quarantining separately and I’m curious what that’s been like for the creative process?

: It’s been hard. We haven’t played together since February. We have this album cycle so we are constantly communicating but we haven’t totally finessed how we want to tackle new material.

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Adam Vitcavage is the founder of Debutiful. His interviews and criticism have also appeared in Electric Literature, The Millions, Paste Magazine, and more.

Visit Corey Flood at their Bandcamp and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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