Patrick Flynn And Alex Henery – Fiddlehead ‘Small Portrait Of The Message Of Raymond Carver’.

It is likely that Raymond Carver would not be a familiar name to many in the world of hardcore music. The famed writer known best for his nomination for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with his 1984 third major-press collection Cathedral would be best recognised in the worlds of Academia, History and Creative Writing. That is until Patrick Flynn vocalist of former hardcore heroes Have Heart and now emotional post hardcore favourites Fiddlehead intervenes. Mr Flynn has described the importance of Mr Carver’s writing in previous interviews, namely Billboard in 2021 when discussing Fiddlehead’s critically acclaimed and commercially successful second full-length Between The Richness; now, two years on from that record, the quintet have unleashed their third album Death Means Nothing To Us (review here). Following on thematically to a degree to the previous releases, LP number three harnesses as much power and captivation as arguably any modern day emotional post hardcore outfit. Lyrically Pat has once again triumphed in penning the anthems for the devotees to shout along to – however, it intrigued this writer to ask the front-man if Raymond Carver’s writing was once again influential on these 12 new tracks?

Yeah, it was, at all times; also his first wife’s writing, Maryann Burk Carver. Their influence is just everywhere, you know? The spirit is in there. This idea of tackling small things and ripping them up into discovering they’re actually pretty mighty and huge.” Patrick explains from his home in Boston, looking away momentarily before coming back to the question. “But I’m looking at my Carver row over there right now (pointing to his bookcase), and I think from reading Carver, I just got like a sense of confidence and a feeling of liberty to say anything. Queen of Limerick is really kind of a story, it’s a song about the losing end and all the things that can go wrong. It is just a portrait of that; much of the early stories of Raymond Carver were just these accounts of losing. I remember one story about this father, drunk on the couch with a Christmas tree on the ground – that’s the image.” He describes with a laugh before continuing – “So in reading those stories it has kind of enabled me to feel like there’s poetry in anything with the actual description.

This approach has garnered the vocalist fans on a worldwide spectrum from his days in Have Heart until now. Undeniably there is a near immeasurably high level of sophistication with Mr Flynn’s penmanship and inspired knowledge which can be partially attributed to his full-time occupation as a high school history teacher in his hometown. Although, it is Patrick’s ability to engage his listeners on an emotional level that is perhaps the most striking, especially on the heartstrings. The closing song ‘Going To Die’ on the recent record is a leading illustration of this, with the lyrics: “See You On The Other Side” being repeatedly sung and shouted with such conviction, it conjures up a raw and evocative emotional response. Having lost his father only a matter of years ago, it is a wonder whether this chapter of poetry was part of the grieving process?

One reason for the record title being: Death Means Nothing To Us is when I came across it, it felt like a cool bow on some type of message that was kind of organic and helped to try to get across in my own head, to not let death be this all encompassing thing. I was talking to a friend of ours, who is really drawn to the band and he was saying: ‘I’ve never really lost someone close in my life, but I’ve had losses in my life, metaphorical losses of friends or loved ones or failed relationships, and I’ve been able to sort of make sense of that. But also, I found value with the element of explorations and meditations on death and dying and life and living.’ So understanding the idea that things can just go, and it’s probably better to have a healthy relationship with that stuff before it happens.” He expresses in a therapeutic sense.

That song, maybe that is some type of added value to our band and gives you a healthy kind of thought process on what it means to lose, and not just by a kind of morose obsession, or element. That song though, it wasn’t intended to be this kind of triumphant: ‘I’ve overcome the woes of death’ message, but it totally has that.

Another main contributor to Fiddlehead’s musical output, guitarist Alex Henery of UK emotional alt punk outfit Basement has treasured the discography the five-piece have created since 2014. This track in particular did derive corresponding feelings to what his band mate described for himself, but in reflection is its message on the same page?

Great question. As someone who has literally talking about this the other day, it’s kind of amazing that you bring it up. I have never really dealt with close loss in my life. And it’s been something that I think about quite a lot. Things like: Why do some people who are close friends of mine have to deal with horrendous losses constantly throughout their life? And I think this band hearing the way that Pat is able to put it into words, it is remarkable;  I mean, we’re all going to face these things in life. And it’s something that we should be able to talk about and makes me appreciate the people in my life that are very close to me, who are still here and that I get to treasure those moments with. Really, if I think about it, it is why I’m so blessed. I’m so lucky to have that.” Alex divulges with remarkable sincerity before pausing in a moment of thanks and continuing.

When I’m hearing these lyrics, it speaks to me on a deep level, even though I don’t have those experiences. And I think that’s something that’s beautiful about the band, even for people who are struggling and maybe suffering who relate to it on a whole different level. Even myself who thinks about it in a completely different way, it speaks to me very strongly.”

Fortunately for Australians, the quintet will be headed our way to celebrate the release of Death Mean Nothings To Us as one of the first continents to experience the songs in a live setting (South East Asia are included in this list). With Have Heart and Basement both frequenting our nation, there is already a familiarity for Fiddlehead and a strong relationship that the outfit is excited to rekindle. The final question for the interview therefore became: “How do the five men feel about the LP and playing it overseas first?”

I feel great! I mean, I’ve just wanted this record to be out straight away. I wish we could have just dropped it straight away.” Mr Henery enthuses – “Because I feel like it is such a well-paced record where it really flows. I think it’s the best flowing album I’ve ever created and been a part of, and I’m just so excited people to hear it. It’s different than any other record we’ve done because it just comes straight in and just bashes you over the head.”

If that answer is just a small portrait, then go out and experience the full picture.

Interview by Will Oakeshott @TeenWolfWill

Fiddlehead are touring Australia now!

Stream Death Is Nothing To Ushere

Fiddlehead – Death Is Nothing To Us tracklisting:

1. The Deathlife
2. Sleepyhead
3. Loserman
4. True Hardcore (II)
5. Welcome To The Situation
6. Sullenboy
7. Give It Time (II)
8. Queen Of Limerick
9. The Woes
10. Fiddleheads
11. Fifteen To Infinity
12. Going To Die

About Will Oakeshott (83 Articles)
Funny bloke, writer, Journalist, Vocalist, bit of acting, music, comedy and dad joke lover. Love: music, beer, bodyboarding, movies, books.