Interview with Black Map vocalist/bassist Ben Flanagan | By Brandon Ringo
When Bay Area power trio Black Map first came crashing onto the scene in 2014 with their debut EP, Driver, and subsequent full-length, …And We Explode, their emergence was about as auspicious as a seven-foot freshman in high school trying out for the basketball team. You had no idea who they were, but you got the feeling you were about to learn very soon.
Now, after a successful rookie campaign, the band are back and even stronger, thanks to their signing with record label powerhouse eOne Music and the release of their stunning sophomore LP, In Droves, on March 10. Like their debut, In Droves is an album that is firmly rooted in both gorgeous melodies and crushing, fist-pumping heaviness.
Though the juxtaposition of melody and heaviness is a major key to their sound, Black Map don’t attempt to manipulate their songs in any particular direction during the songwriting process. “We really don’t have any rules about how we should sound, but the one thing we wanted to do from the last record is to elevate it,” vocalist and bassist Ben Flanagan admits.
“We’re really proud of the last record, but we’ve had more time now with lots of touring and lots of playing together to develop our sound and figure out how to play with each other better,” he confirms. “When we did our first record, we had probably only played 15 shows before we got in the studio. So, we just think this new record—it’s just got more of what we want. It has heavier moments, but it also has more ambient moments; it kind of just runs the gamut and gives the full perspective of all the facets of our sound.”
In addition to flexibility and progression being crucial to the band’s songwriting process, it was also a major reason why they chose to make the huge jump to eOne. “We have so much love for our former label, Minus Head, and Brad Hardie who runs it, but we just needed to go bigger,” Flanagan admits. “Our goal with this band is to get it to as many ears as possible, and we just felt like eOne could help us achieve that. When we started talking to them, it seemed like a really great match.”
“Unlike some other labels we were talking to, they didn’t want to change anything about us, they wanted us to be exactly who we are,” he concludes. “They didn’t want to meddle in the songwriting process, they wanted us to be the band that we are and continue to put out really good music. It’s been a really good fit so far.”