Michael Finster – Flagship
By: Lindsay Flanagan
Michael Finster and Drake Margolnick make up the band Flagship. Their new album, The Electric Man, is set to release in March. In addition to our recent feature about the band, we had the opportunity to ask Michael Finster some in-depth questions about their new album—and a few other things, too.
Q: In an interview you did when you recorded the EP Faded, Drake said you two wanted to create music that would be “around for a long time and people will still listen to it.” Would you say that’s the goal with this album, too? And would you say it’s still the goal and purpose of the band?
A: When it comes to Drake and I, we don’t pay attention all that much to trends going on. I think that’s kind of the reasoning behind that first comment. We’re never trying to hop into some niche that exists, you know? We never like, “Oh, this is a thing now, let’s get out something that sounds like that before that trend is over! We gotta be a part of it!” We don’t really make music that way. We always make music that is very real to us. I think that’s always essentially kind of the goal. We always make music that is genuine. But we always hope that it can last and be just as good in twenty years, and not be super dated. So yeah, I mean that’s definitely something that we would love to do is to make music that is classic and good music.
Q: The first LP, Flagship, is basically a compilation of a bunch of older and newer songs Drake had written. But then with Faded, that was a bit different. In an interview Drake did, he said the EP was the “most mature writing” you guys had done together. What about this record? “The Ladder” is one of Drake’s older solo songs, so what about the rest of the record?
A: Yes. Well, the rest of the record is even more so. I might be biased to it, but I think it’s the best music we’ve done to date. It means a lot to me. I think it’s just because every year that we make music we learn more and we grow as artists. We learn how to keep our minds on straight [with] each song. Not let things get muddied up with anything else. You know, really just set out to do something and then do it. I think it’s the best. I think Drake would agree with me. “The Ladder” is an older song, one that we pulled in because we just really liked that song. When it comes to the business aspect, if Flagship does a song, we have management and labels to get behind it. So we just wanted people to be able to hear it so we threw that one on this album. I think it’s the best music we’ve done, personally. I think it’s more mature than anything else we’ve done. It was a very different process, too, from the first album, because this album was just Drake and I and then our good friend Leo…he was there as a writing partner. We wrote over twenty songs for this album, and then demoed them all out and slowly kind of threw away the ones that weren’t as strong. So, I mean, doing it that way, I think really makes all the songs that are there shine in a really cool way. So yeah, it’s the best that we’ve done to date. And I would hope that we’re only getting better.
Q: You guys pulled a prank on your label mates, The Wombats, back in 2012, when you were on tour with them. You blew up red balloons and threw them up on stage during their set. I just wondered—is that your signature move? Because I was in Houston when you guys threw balloons on stage at A Silent Film when you were touring with them.
A: I guess it could be! I don’t know. I guess it’s the easiest thing to mess around with and the clean up is easy, so I guess it’s us trying to have fun while also being considerate. If it was whipped cream or something like that it would just destroy everything.
Q: I read that one of the members of the Wombats tried to jump on one and almost fell?
A: Well, not almost. He did fall. The thing is that the balloons we found were very large. I don’t even know what you would use them for. Probably a little bit smaller than an exercise ball. We’d blow a few of those up and send them out. Well, we threw some out and they were getting batted around through the crowd like beach balls and one got batted onto the stage, and Murph, who’s the singer of the Wombats, went jumped on it and he thought it would pop. But it didn’t pop. He literally just slipped on it…it took his own feet out from under him and he just landed flat on his back on the floor. So yeah, I mean, that happened. [In Houston while on tour with A Silent Film], I guess we just wanted to have fun with [them]. I don’t know, to this day, if the A Silent Film guys like that we did those balloons, but, you know, we didn’t care. [laughs] “It’s the last show! It’ll be funny!” We try to do something fun here and there.
Q: What was the very first concert you ever went to?
A: I grew up very much a young church boy, so I listened to a lot of Christian music. So it was probably some sort of Christian rock concert. When I was in high school, probably the first really big concert I went to was to see was Coldplay and I loved it. It was awesome. I loved every bit of it. It had a big impact on me, just in the way they did their show and how it made me feel.
Q: So what was your favorite concert?
Do you know the band Sigur Rós? They’re from Iceland—they’re very cinematic; it’s really beautiful. Some of the songs are really long. Just moving kind of songs that go up and down. It actually wasn’t them—it was their lead singer, Jónsi. He did a show in Atlanta, probably 2011 or so, and something about the way he did that show gave me goosebumps. I can be difficult to give goosebumps to sometimes because, I try not to be, but sometimes I’m very jaded towards music because it’s what I do. I’ve always made music, so sometimes I’m like, “Well, there’s that.” But it really gave me chills when I was there and it just sucked me in, in a way that I had never been sucked into music before by another artist. I’d always been able to feel that way making music but I always had a hard time getting that drawn in by someone. I don’t know why. I think I tend to sometimes notice things, because I’m such a production-minded guy. I’m like, “Oh, I think that snare mic went out for a second.” I always notice these things, and it’s hard for me to get lost in the sound because I’m so aware and thinking in a behind-the-scenes kind of way. So yeah, that was probably my favorite concert I’ve ever been to. I remember sitting in my chair and my whole body tingling and loving it.
Q: What band have you never seen but would like to?
A: Is this a dead or alive thing? It’s gotta be alive. My favorite band of all time, which is kind of cliché I suppose, is The Beatles. I’m a little bit obsessed with them. I’m a Beatles maniac dude. I love them. I’m obsessed with everything about them. I listen to this podcast that goes through every album, and every song, and how it was recorded. I just love them. I’m sure there are millions of people that would feel this way, but I would do anything to see a Beatles concert. That’s the dead version. Not that they’re all dead, but you know. You get what I’m saying. I’m very different than most people when it comes to music. I like odd things and so I’m trying to think of a good answer. Oh, you know who I’d like to see right now that I haven’t seen? Sufjan Stevens. Listen to Sufjan. You’re going to freak out. It’s one guy and he plays this beautiful, beautiful music, and some of his albums he does with a small orchestra. It’s just really good. Look it up, listen to it. You’re going to love it. It’s really soothing music, but it’s gorgeous, and I just love it so much.