5 writers, 5 questions, 1 band, hand-picked by the MWA writers. Welcome to FIVE x FIVE. This week: Columbus garage-soul rockers, The Floorwalkers.
The Floorwalkers have been creating their unique soul rock sound for the better part of 15 years. This past April, the longtime friends and Cleveland natives released their second album, Kids, Are You Listening which was funded by the band and their fans. We had a chance to talk to Ben Meinhold of The Floorwalkers in anticipation of their annual Thanksgiving show at the Beachland Ballroom about their latest album, crowdfunding, and what being friends for so long means to the band and their sound.
Soul music sometimes feels like a lost art. What goes into writing a song for you guys and how important is it to highlight all of your sounds (keys, bass, guitar) in each track?
Soul music is harder to come by these days, but it’s still out there. We as a band emulate classic R’n’B, classic rock and pop music. We draw a lot of inspiration from it. In turn we desire a similar sound in instrumentation and production. Everyone contributes their own flavors into each song and thus the group’s sound is formed organically from the seeds of our influences.
Do you think that the lengths of your relationships have helped the band as you’ve grown? Have there been any downsides to working with guys that you’ve known for so long?
Our shared history has helped our band grow and evolve. It’s been said that being in a band is like being married. There are plenty of ups and downs, plenty of disagreements. For every new step and stage the band’s bond grows stronger. However, with age, everyone’s individual lives change and develop. We each garner more responsibilities. Balancing the band’s needs and dreams with everyone’s individual situations becomes a bit more difficult. It is the strength of our relationship which allows us to strive to achieve that balance.
What problems have you come across being an independent grassroots vs. signing to a label? Do you find it more rewarding or satisfying knowing you own it all? What advice would you give to a band considering using a crowd-funding platform?
Being an independent band isn’t easy. Some opportunities may be more accessible with the backing of a label, but being on a label comes with its own set of challenges. The level of authority we have over our music is very rewarding. These days in the struggling record industry it’s in a bands interest to form their own enterprise and build it into something valuable. That’s what draws the attention of the bigger players. Our latest record, Kids Are You Listening is completely independent. We wrote, recorded and produced the album ourselves with the help of our friend Jay Alton. We appreciate the process much more and we are very proud of the final product. We are extremely grateful to all our fans, friends, and families for generously donating to our Kickstarter campaign. Without crowd funding we wouldn’t have been able to make the record we did. I would advise other bands to embrace crowd funding. Get your fans involved. They want you to succeed, and you can’t underestimate their desire to help.
With almost five years between releases, what has changed? Are we still listening to the same band that played together in 00-04 years?
By the nature of time, this is not the same band we were when we started out. Our tastes have changed. Our sensibilities have changed. Our personnel has gone through many evolutions. That’s what makes a band interesting, the struggles of time and place. Yet we still hold the same philosophy because our core hasn’t changed too much. Therefore our music has not alienated its lineage. We’ve been a band for nearly 15 years. That’s a humbling amount of time, but through it we’ve accomplished great things and learned a lot along the way.
So far, your shows have been mainly based in Columbus and surrounding areas. Are there plans to tour nationally again? When you come to Cleveland, what can concertgoers expect from the show?
Columbus and Cleveland have been really great for us. However, our plan for this coming year is to play a little bit less in our hometowns in favor of gaining some ground in our neighboring cities and states. We just finished up shooting our first concept video, which we plan to release in the next month or so. We’re working on new music and we may have a special treat around the holidays for you all. So look for some exciting stuff on the horizon! We are really excited to be playing our annual Thanksgiving eve show at The Beachland Ballroom November 25th. We will pull out all the stops and unleash our inner Clevelanders. It’s always a sweet homecoming and family reunion each year. We’re really looking forward to it!
The Floorwalkers will be playing their annual Thanksgiving show with John’s Little Sister and Chip In at the Beachland Ballroom on Wednesday, November 25. Tickets are $10.