An Interview With The Rock Band BLACK MAP On New Music, Biggest Inspirations and More!
Posted On 24 Mar 2017
The rock band Black Map released their latest collection, “In Droves” on Friday, March 10th via Entertainment One (eOne) in North America and SPV overseas. The band only wrapped up production on the effort last month with Aaron Hellam at Oakland’s Hellam Sound (The Trophy Fire) and created an ambitious but no less intense sophomore set, a boundary smashing, down-tuned heavy rock slab.
BLACK MAP debuted an all music video for their newest single “Run Rabbit Run” – “We filmed this video in the SF Armory which is one of the coolest, weirdest, and most interesting structures in the entire city,” says front-man Ben Flannagan. “Every room you walk into tells a different story and there is literally a creek running through building.”
Directed by Anthony Garay, this is the first visual interpretation of a song we’ve seen from the band since their video for “I’m Just The Driver” from their last LP. “Aside from filming in an iconic location, we knew it was time for a video that really showcased the energy of the song and our live performances. We are very happy with how it came out.”
Black Map consists of the versatile voice and walloping bass groove of Ben Flanagan (Trophy Fire), the wall-of-sound big riff histrionics of guitarist Mark Engles (dredg) and the unstoppable driving force and tasteful skill of drummer Chris Robyn (Far).
A few songs became a few shows and an EP which begat a debut album, …And We Explode (2014), which featured the buzzy single, “I’m Just the Driver.” The metaphorical “black map” of the band’s steadily building catalog and dedicated following led them to secure live performance spots alongside the mighty Chevelle, multi platinum rockers Bush, Circa Survive, and Highly Suspect in addition to multiple club shows as a headlining act.
Songs like “Run Rabbit Run,” “Foxglove,” “No Color,” and “White Fence” are united in a lyrical exhortation toward staunch individuality in the face of soul-crushing conformity. These are songs that challenge listeners to focus on what makes them unique as people, to shake off the gloomy dystopian results of mass groupthink, to actualize and harness one’s own humanity.
Learn more about Black Map in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What are some words you would use to describe 2016? What were some of the highlights for the band? What are you all most excited about for 2017?
2016 was a really important year for the band. We toured with Bush and Chevelle for 7 weeks over the summer which was an incredible run so that was definitely a highlight. The rest of the year was spent writing and recording our album “In Droves” which comes out March 10th. So as for what we are most excited about for 2017? Definitely getting this record out there in the world! The three of us and our label and management all know the record inside and out but we can’t wait for our fans to finally hear it.
How did Black Map first form? How did you come up with your band name? What other names were you considering?
We formed in 2014 when all of our bands we not particularly active. Mark and I lived together at the time and we would often hear each other playing heavy riffs down the hall from one another. One time over a couple beers we just kind of came to the conclusion that we should actually really play in a band together. We thought about who should play drums and Chris came up immediately as we had both admired his drumming for years and both of our other bands had toured with far. We texted him and got in a room the following week.
I think we had a few names we were considering before we settled on black map. The only one I can remember at the moment was High Water Desert but it was either already in use or we thought it sounded too stoner metal. Band names are silly. I like ours though.
Next month, you will release your newest and sophomore album, “In Droves.” Can you talk about the inspiration behind this collection? Were there any surprises when it came to putting it together?
We kind of tend to have this pattern when we do records where half of the songs are completely flushed out; where we know every note, every fill, every word and exactly how it will be portrayed and then we have half the record in which we have the skeletons of the songs but we leave some room for interpretation in the studio. Some of those songs turned out to be my favorites on the record.
I didn’t go into the writing process thinking that I was going to write a concept album but it ended up having some conceptual threads. I kind of continue to keep coming back to ideas of personal identity and the cost of conformity and simply following.
You just released your latest music video to your single, “Run Rabbit Run.” How creatively involved were you with the making of this video? What was it like filming the video in the SF Armory?
The Armory was a trip. It’s mostly used to film porn/ We were in this basement and there was a creek running through the middle of it. There were all these rooms where i guess they would play out certain scenarios: old western saloon, doctors office, etc. The one that I thought was really funny was a butcher shop. Nothing too sexy to me about a butcher shop but hey, whatever gets your motor running ya know?
How do you think your sound and this band has grown over the years? What is different about “In Droves” then anything else you’ve put out?
We go to further extremes on this album. We have a song called Octavia which might our heaviest and most blatantly “metal” song to date but we also have a couple very mellow songs on the record, particularly a song called White Fence which essentially never rocks but is just steady and ambient and pretty. We are all proud of our first record but it stayed in one world where as this one goes to different places.
How was your this Winter with Dinosaur Pile-Up? Do you have plans for future shows this year?
Yeah, we toured with Dinosaur Pile-Up and Chevelle in January and it was a great run. The Chevelle guys are incredible to us. Can’t say enough about them as people and the same is true with DPU: Awesome band and great bunch of guys. Touring with Brits is always good because they always have hot tea ready to go at all times. Really hope to do more shows with them down the line.
Who are you all listening to these days? What artists have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
As far as what I’m listening to these days: I really like the new record from Elbow called “Little Fictions”. They’ve become one of my all time favorite bands in the beauty of their music and the soundscapes that they continuously create. The new Dinosaur Pile-Up record “11:11” record is great, just full of huge riffs and fantastic songwriting. Same with our label mates “Whores”: huge, bruising drop tuned rock.
There is a really cool band from North Carolina called “Bruxes” who are doing some really cool stuff as well. Female fronted, moody, introspective, ambient rock.
As far as bands that have inspired me, it’s quite a long list. I am certain though that I would not have picked up a guitar in the first place when i did, If Nirvana hadn’t existed. After that point, it’s really been any artist with integrity that has worked its way into my head. I draw inspiration from all sorts of music.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? What do you hope is the message of your songs?
I just want our fans to have some sense of catharsis through the music. Music is meant to make you feel good.