JUSTIN SULLIVAN of NIGHT SHOP & FLAT WORMS

“SONG FOR EWE”
with JUSTIN SULLIVAN of
NIGHT SHOP & FLAT WORMS

“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest I recently witnessed hitting some seismic rhythms at the Kentish Town Forum as part of his incredibly hard, fast and tight & shiny band Flat Worms which also features Tim Hellman from Oh Sees whom they were more than ably supporting. Never one to sit on his laurels or on one exclusive drum stall, he’s been keeping the beat for DIY punk bands for the last twenty years including Ringers, Worriers and The Babies with Kevin Morby and Cassie Ramone.

After that band hit a hiatus he continued to play with Morby on his studio albums and moved to LA in 2013 where he began Flat Worms with Hellman and Will Ivy. After the white heat intensity of constant touring, he took a year out to record his own singer-songwriter material and it’s called Night Shop. The first album “In The Break” is out today on Woodsist/Mare Records (with a new Flat Worms 7″ “The Appartition/Melt The Arms” hot on the heels too on 12th October). Welcome to Velvet Sheep, Justin Sullivan!

“In The Break” does feel like a nocturnal wander out into the urban wilderness for munchies, with the thoughts of unrequited love reverberating like tectonic shifts around the cerebral cortex making all the street lights blur into one. It also sounds a bit like Brendan Benson meets Bob Dylan (down a dark alley). It’s not got that foot on the floor, adrenaline punk rush of Flat Worms but it’s still got all the chop to the solar plexus heft.

The making of it was very much a family affair, with Justin joined by former touring partner and Kevin Morby associate Meg Duffy (Hand Habits) playing bass and singing BVs and Flat Worms own Will Ivy on lead guitar on selected tracks, plus Mare labelmate (and soon to be touring buddy) Anna St. Louis singing on some others.

Here’s another midnight slice of the Night Shop action…

If Justin is baring his intimate soul, what other inkling do we have into the inner workings of his musical psyche? Without further ado, this is his “song for ewe”…(it does not disappoint – always love the reggae ones).

“Lately I have been listening to the song “Here Comes that Feeling” by The Gaylettes. I am having a moment with it, as I have with many songs before, where I think “well, this is the perfect song.” As in: this is what I am looking for.

One thing I like about the song is that I don’t know anything about it. I found it on an old Trojan Records compilation (ok, ok, yes, on a steaming service…). Somewhere along the line, we all became music “experts”, knowing ever piece of ephemera associated with a song. It got to the point where you would put on a magical song and someone would talk through the whole thing, telling you about the kind of microphones used in the session and how it was the new bass players first recording with the group. Which is fine, but come on, sometimes you want to just get lost in the mystery and beauty. What is this? Where did it come from? Sometimes not knowing reminds me of an earlier excitement when it comes to music, when I didn’t know anything and so much felt other worldly. At some point, I will probably learn all of these things about this song and group but for now I enjoy the mysterious beauty.

The main thing I like about it is the joyful sadness it evokes. That’s the paradox I always find myself searching for in music. “Here comes that lonely feeling,” and yet it sounds so sweet. Maybe you don’t mind it so much, when you have a song like this playing. It feels the heartache feel downright good. “Yes, I’m lonely, I’m heartbroken, what of if? I expected it! I predicted it! ‘Here comes….”

I imagine this would be perhaps most perfectly played after you leave the show, party or drive in movie where you see the person in question who haunts this melody. But I like to listen to it before I even go to those places. It feels like a celebration. Like, yes, I get sad. I probably will tonight. But at least I’m not alone in that feeling. This beautiful voice, transmitted mysteriously through the ages feels like I feel. And what more does anyone want out of a song anyway?”

THANKS TO JUSTIN AND TO LUCY AT FORTE DISTRIBUTION

You can get “In The Break” here now…

and you can pre-order the new buttercup yellow 7″ by Flat Worms in the UK at Rough Trade here…

Author: Nick Hutchings

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