Flat Worms' Unified Force

Garage punk legends, Flat Worms, are set to release their upcoming album Antarctica on April 10th. Recorded by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago, there's no doubt that the project will be another face melter in their fuzzed out arsenal.

Photo by: Owen Schmit

Sometime during 2014, Tim Hellman (Oh Sees), Justin Sullivan (Night Shop, Kevin Morby, the Babies), and Will Ivy (Dream Boys, Wet Illustrated) came together to fulfill their garage punk dreams. Being in notable groups beforehand, the threesome was well accustomed to playing gigs and all the other shenanigans that come with being in a band. Right off the bat, Flat Worms wrote songs and practiced in LA, ready to dive headfirst into the local scene. Once they emerged onto the stage, they quickly gained a following for their abrasively enjoyable jams.


After releasing their debut album on CastleFace Records, Flat Worms was united with Ty Segall who decided to take them on tour with The Freedom Band in 2017. This wild ride with Ty Segall eventually led the group to release their next projects on Ty's label God? Records, which acts as an offshoot of DragCity Records.


Over the years, Flat Worms has become a unified force in the tight knit rock n roll community of Los Angeles. Fans eagerly anticipate their upcoming project, Antarctica; however with all the uncertainty that now surrounds us, they haven't been able to announce any tour dates or shows in the near future. At least that gives us all time to blast their new record, don't forget to turn up the volume.


I had the chance to catch up with frontman Will Ivy while on "quarantine".

Photo by: David Evanko

Here's what he had to say:


Q: How did you all end up forming the band back in 2017? Were you already involved in music before Flat Worms?

A: Tim and I have been friends since 2007, and have collaborated on various musical projects ever since.  We were playing together in a band called Wet Illustrated when we met Justin on tour with his old band The Babies for a few dates on the west coast, more like 2014. The three of us became friends and stayed in touch. 


I had been making a very different style music before Flat Worms, and felt like I had hit a wall.  I had a moment of inspiration to make loud, noisy rock music again, and Tim and I began working on the first few Flat Worms songs, "Petulance", "Sovereignty", and others.  We were trying to figure out who we would have as a drummer, and Justin heard we were working on songs and told us he wanted to join.  Once we all got together, it was clear that we had a special dynamic playing together.


Q: Has there been any driving force behind the band? 


A: We have been really productive writing and playing shows right from the beginning.  Within our first few practices we wrote songs like "Red Hot Sand" that really excited us.  We would go to 24 hour diners after practices and talk. We share a unified vision and just enjoy being together. It is a unique and fulfilling unit to be a part of.  We love music, and are inspired by what we can do together.

Q: Did you ever play shows in LA before releasing records? How were they?


A: We have all played countless shows in many other projects, in LA and beyond, before Flat Worms.  Every show is different, some are great, and some are terrible.  It can make you feel great and inspire you, or make you question your perseverance, but they are all necessary in their way. 


I think it is pretty easy to perceive when a band has "cut their teeth" so to speak as opposed to just becoming big overnight, infused with a bunch of capital and sent out to perform without experience.  Bands get good when they play together a lot.  Songs get better when you play them out and sometimes spontaneous creativity happens. 


Q: How would you describe your relationship with Permanent Records?


A: Friends.


Q: Is that local community pretty tight knit? 


A: Yes, I would say so, everybody knows each other, has played shows with each other or played in bands together.  In general, I think the scene in LA is generally made up of mutually supportive, friendly people with a lot of talent and creativity.

Q: How's touring been over the years with artists like Ty Segall?

A: Touring has been great.  Tim, Justin, and I all have our quirks but the balance seems to work and we all get along well.  Touring with Ty was really fun, all the shows were great and we really like everyone in the Freedom Band.  We played in some cities that we don't usually get to go to in New Mexico and Colorado. 


Q: Your upcoming album, Antarctica, is set to release on the labels God? Records and Drag City Records. How'd you go about making this happen? 


A: God?  Is Ty Segall's imprint on Drag City, and we have done almost all of our recordings as a band with Ty except the Antarctica sessions which were done with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago.  During our first LP, which was on Castle Face Records, we had already been recording with Ty and enjoyed it.  We decided to move to God? Records for our Into The Iris EP, so Antarctica will be our second release on that label.   


It's not like there was a specific strategy for making it happen. The best way you can spend your time is writing, practicing, playing, and being creative. Actively participate in your local scene. Be a person of quality and character, be supportive, be nice. Make lasting friendships and keep pursuing your art or your band. View failures as opportunities to learn. Celebrate your peer's successes with them. 


Q: How was the experience making the music video for your song "The Aughts" ? Do you normally let directors take control for your music videos or do you all have ideas from the get go?


A: It was really a great experience.  We worked with Ava Warbrick who is a really talented director, and her partner Monroe Robertson was the producer.  We are pretty picky as far as how we represent ourselves, so we always sit down with whoever is making our video and exchange ideas and plan. 


This time around, I would say our ideas were pretty vague, with certain parameters, like wanting to shoot on film, and where we would shoot. The shots of us playing are all in our rehearsal space downtown, and the outside shots are all just in the area surrounding that building, which is a very industrial area downtown. I would say Ava did an excellent job translating and elevating these vague ideas into a final product that we were all really happy with.  


Q: Any plans for the rest of the year?


A: Washing our hands and staying inside!



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