You couldn’t ask for a more wonderful spring day to sit down, just outside of Union Square, for a good chat about music. Between the breeze and the sirens, a New York City summer is clearly on the horizon, and a certain sense of calm lives in the air. I was a little worried about the noise of being outside, but honestly, it was more entertaining for me to see Drake Margolnick (guitar and vocals) and Michael Finster (drums) of Flagship reacting to the constant noise and movement of our city. These guys hail from North Carolina, and have been playing together since 2011, when Drake stood in for a show with Michael’s former band. The duo has been playing together ever since. While the group has seen many outfits over the years in regards to membership, these two hold down the fort quite well.
We began talking about their music, of course, and I was so taken by what Drake and Michael had to say about the cultivation of their sound and how they go about creating music. Music is universal, and gives such a real insight into your emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Michael described how music inspires him in a different way every day: “Music, for me, is sometimes an escape. If you’re not feeling great, you might want to listen to something that pumps you up, or you might want a soundtrack to your depression. It’s different every day.” Drake spoke more about what inspires him by discussing the musical legacy he wants to leave: “All the music that I rage out to is timeless, and it’s not necessarily from an all encompassing scene or certain time in music. That’s what I’d like to create; something that’ll be around for a long time and people will still listen to it. Leave a good legacy, write good music and have a lot of fun doing it.” When we spoke more specifically about their music, the guys continued to keep me fascinated, as it was obvious how much heart they put into what they do. Michael elaborated on this by saying, “I feel like what we create is so special to who we are and what we feel.” Drake added, “We like the music to be almost a spiritual experience at times. Sometimes we want to make people reflect. It needs to be alive and genuine. Music is all about humanity, and every aspect of that should be in an album.”
These guys are deep. There’s no doubt about that. With this knowledge of the Flagship duo, I was enthralled by the way they spoke about their songwriting process. They say the process is different every time. Different spaces, different scenarios, and different life experiences alter the means in which they write music. Drake says, “With songs, you spend half the time experiencing things to write about. Otherwise, I don’t think you can sit down and write a genuine song. I think you can write a song anytime, but maybe not something that’s from the heart.” We discussed letting life happen, then analyzing those experiences, and eventually putting them into lyrics. With song-writing, Michael says, “some days, it’s just right.” Most of the time, they say that their songwriting happens in “creative bursts”. They like to let the inspiration come to them, but Michael says, with being signed and touring, there comes a time when you do sometimes have to “push inspiration,” which is a really difficult thing to do. Quite frankly, Flagship does a great job with remaining calm and relaxed during that process, making their approach completely genuine and real.
I was all too curious about their favorite songs they’ve written. Both of them have favorites from past records, but also have favorites from the upcoming EP and record. Michael highlighted “Hollywood Underwater” from their self-titled record, released in 2013. He appreciates the unconventionality in the making of the song, and how it’s totally different than the rest. He is looking forward to the release of “In The Rain, Laughing,” from the upcoming record, and says, “There’s just something about it that hits me.” For Drake, his favorite is “The Fool,” which is how Flagship closes every show. He described the song as being “really impactful and very dynamic,” with a great climax. He likes how the audience gets quiet and absorbs the spirituality offered in the song, but “by the end, it’s a sensory overload.” Michael adds that the song is like “a constant crescendo.” For his favorite upcoming track, Drake named “Faded,” which will be on the EP. He says it’s the most mature writing they’ve done. He discussed that while writing the lyrics, he was merely talking about real life without trying to sound poetic. He says, “I didn’t feel like I was writing a song; I was just writing lines. It’s just real life; that’s all it is.”
I admired the way these guys spoke about creating music and having it be as real and alive as possible. They spoke with such care and love for what they do, and because of that, I was interested to know how they like to directly affect their audiences in a live format. I asked them both to describe their perfect crowd at a show. Michael said his favorite crowd “knows how to go up when the set goes up and things get exciting, but is also able to listen when things come down and we want to give something more intimate.” He wants a crowd that can really go along for the ride and be dynamic with them. Drake, on the other hand, loves a crowd that will spontaneously cheer in the middle of a song for no real reason. He likes the fun crowds. He says, “I want to have fun, I want to dance weird” and be around people “that actually like weirdos.” He continues, “I like people who can empower me to get weird, and that’s my favorite kind of crowd.” Michael discussed playing for a crowd as a means of receiving instant gratification, whereas, when you’re recording in the studio, making an album resembles putting a puzzle together.
Flagship wants to be a part of your good day, your bad day, and everything in between. They want to accompany you through your journey with their genuine lyrics and thoughtful melodies, and really become part of your lives in that way. Drake talked about having written songs in the past that mean absolutely nothing to him now, and those are the songs you easily get sick of. Maybe those songs sounded cool at the time, but they usually don’t remain relevant to him for too long. He wants to create music that stays relevant to him because it will also likely stay relevant to the audience. Drake and Michael want to make the songs that they want to play for the rest of their lives. It’s important to do what you love, and work hard at what you do, but also to not take it too seriously. As Drake said: “Now, I just want to be a goofball, play music, and care just enough. We’re pursuing excellence, but we’re not performing open-heart surgery.”
Article: Alex Feigin