Live in the Clubs: Flakjacket’s setback turned into lucky break

Rejection turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to Flakjacket.
An album release party for local group Flakjacket is scheduled for 7:30 P.m. Saturday at the Bayou Cafe in Albany.
An album release party for local group Flakjacket is scheduled for 7:30 P.m. Saturday at the Bayou Cafe in Albany.

Rejection turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to Flakjacket.

In March of last year, the songwriters behind the Capital Region group, vocalist Alex Hyatt and guitarist Liam Irwin, were in talks to sign with Pennsylvania-based Metropolis Records. The label eventually passed on the band, but luckily Ken Lytle at Ugly Media in Queensbury heard about it.

“[Metropolis] ended up passing because my singing wasn’t good enough,” Hyatt said during a break from a band rehearsal in Troy. “So I called Liam, crying, when I found out the news, but Liam was like, ‘Yeah, there’s plenty of labels out there.’ And Ken heard about it somehow and called us in and said, ‘Listen, I have the platform — if you guys want it, I’m not worried about it.’ So he made an investment, and we really appreciate that.”

Flakjacket album release party

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Bayou Cafe, 79 N. Pearl St., Albany

How Much: $5

More Info: 462-9033,

Flakjacket’s first full-length album, “Almost Always Never,” following the 2006 EP “Angels and Fireflies,” will also be Ugly Media’s first release since branching out from Lytle’s RadioUgly site, To celebrate, the full version of the band — also featuring guitarist Kyle Lewis, bassist “Metal” Matt Baker and drummer (and Liam’s twin) Tim Irwin — will be playing a record release show at Bayou Cafe in Albany Saturday night.

Lineup is set

Flakjacket has finally settled on a full-band lineup after four years of playing in various incarnations — as a duo with just Hyatt and Liam, or in a trio setup with Lewis.

“We were trying to get a full band together and we couldn’t,” Hyatt said of the group’s beginnings in 2006. “We had a . . . ton of covers we were learning; we were just playing in my basement, and Tiffany from The Hog’s Breath [in Leydon, Mass.] called us — ‘Do you guys want to play Cinco de Mayo?’ ”

“We kind of rushed into it, but it worked out pretty good,” Lewis added.

Hyatt, 39, and Liam, 26, met each other playing with a band called Livingston Bramble in 2001. Liam joined the band toward the end of its run, quickly learning the group’s material.

“This kid, when he was like 19, 18, he came aboard — the rest of us were, like, late 20s,” Hyatt said. “He came aboard and learned all 20 originals or whatever in a couple of weeks, and we knew he was going to stick because we won third place in a Vermont battle of the bands out of like 50 bands, with him being brand new. But then things happened; [Livingston Bramble] split up amicably. We recruited Kyle, and actually Kyle and I practiced for the first little bit of Flakjacket, and then Liam came aboard.”

The current lineup of the band came together after the recording of “Almost Always Never.” A rotating cast of musicians perform on the record, including Lewis, Tim Irwin, pianist Joe Barrows, bassist Todd Haviland and vocalist Brittany Harrington, among others.

“We still do a lot of shows as a duo, which can lead to a lot of confusion, actually,” Hyatt said. “We really enjoy the electric gigs more, so we’re going to try to switch what we’re doing from more of the happy hour [thing].”

Marc Fuller of Argyle, a Grammy-nominated producer known for his work on Kanye West’s “The College Dropout” album, produced. Fuller also worked on the group’s debut EP and with Hyatt and Baker for their previous band, Whisper to Apocalypse.

“I think we would hesitate to work with anybody else,” Liam said. “He’s been very helpful in creating what we — we envision things, and then he’s been very good at bringing it to fruition.”

Many influences

The resulting album retains the group’s acoustic roots, although the band isn’t afraid to rock on a number of cuts. Songs such as “Old Man (Alive in Me)” and “Apologies to Ghosts” recall the pop-rock of such groups as The Posies, while “Piranha,” a song by former local musician Micah Scott and his band Stem, lurches along with heavy, distortion-drenched riffs.

The band’s influences range from Incubus to Michael Jackson. There’s a serious metal streak in the group, and not just due to Baker’s nickname — the members cite Pantera as a big inspiration.

According to the band, it’s all about the songs rather than any specific sound. Although Hyatt and Liam are still the group’s main composers, now that a lineup is set, the band is looking to become a more collaborative unit.

“We don’t really, I guess, have a specific direction we want to go in,” Liam said. “The way we write is sort of, whatever comes to mind is what’s going to come out, and as far as that goes, we’re pretty content in what we do. We’re really satisfied with the music that we write, but as far as the live show, we really want to play with the rest of these guys as much as possible.”

Categories: Life and Arts

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