Northern Transmissions recently spoke to Greg Jarvis of the ever unique Flowers of Hell. Greg discusses everything from Synesthesia to Klatu, to Lou Reed to being kidnapped by a rebel army in New Guinea.
NT: The Flowers Of Hell was started out as a solo studio project ten years ago. Since then, it’s turned into a full band and has featured some pretty high profiled musicians.
GJ: The full band really came together around 2005. If I realized the we would be around for this long, I probably wouldn’t have named the group ‘The Flowers From Hell’. The church groups aren’t to big on that name (lol). I am a musician, so that’s really what I do, I’m glad I can create something that people wanna listen to.
NT: Can you tell me a bit about Synesthesia?
GJ: It’s really interesting, it’s been around for hundreds of years. Only in the last five-ten years have we become much more aware of it. Your not aware you have it, until you really read and research it. The form that I have allows me to see different sounds as shapes. The sound can be a guitar, trumpet, or even a car door, The noise can come from behind me. I can still visualize it as a different shape, it’s like an extra vision. When I’m writing and composing, I’m trying to put these shapes in a pattern. I was blown away the first time I heard ‘Lazer Guided Melodies’ by Spiritualized. When I listened, I could visualize all these abstract shapes and layers.
NT: Were you quite excited when Lou Reed played songs from ‘Odes’ on his radio show
GJ: Yes, of course, I had met Laurie Anderson in Boulder, Colorado at The Jack Kerouac School Of of Disembodied Poetics. We are really huge fans of both Laurie and Lou Reed. I really wanted them to hear ‘O Superheroin’, just seeing the smile on her face really made the whole project worthwhile. Then a little while later, Lou Reed opened his radio show with it followed by Mr Tambourine Man and Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft.
NT: To have someone of Lou Reed’s stature enjoy your music?
GJ: It’s better than winning a Grammy, it’s a validation. If this album had won a Grammy, it would mean less than a Lou reed recommendation. And also Lou Reed hates everything, (lol).
NT: Tell me a bit about Klatu, you covered their song ‘Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft’.What inspires you so much about them?
GJ: Klatu is a band you will definitely want to check out. They were a Prog Rock band from the early 1970s. They were an anonymous group of people who wouldn’t put their names on their records. A rumour had started around the world that they were actually The Beatles under a different name (lol). You could see why people would think that, it’s so experimental, yet so well produced. When Richard Carpenter heard the track ‘Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft’, he was blown away, he immediately called Karen and told her about it. They turned it into a huge hit.
NT: The story of you being kidnapped by a rebel army in New Guinea? It’s a pretty amazing story.
GJ: It’s actually more incredible to talk about and to have lived. I mean being held by a rebel army is not the most pleasant thing in the world (lol). I wanted to visit New Guinea for a holiday, I didn’t really research the country. I had no idea about the rebel army and the fact that they had stepped up their campaign. I was taking some shots with my camera, I guess that the army thought I was CIA or M15. The Hotel manager said the rebels wanted to talk to me. I was trying to tell them I was a musician and didn’t know anything, but they were accusing me of treason. Finally we found somebody who could speak a bit of English. I kind of lost it a bit when I found out actually that the rebel army wanted to protect me against the Government and take me out to this rain forest. They let me go to my room to grab a few things, I grabbed a ukelele. I was like a musician on the gallows. I guess music is an international language. I played a bit, I think it kind of moved them. Someone had shouted, then they just left me alone. The manager and hotel staff gave me a big hug. They really thought I was close to death. Looking back it was kind of cinematic what the manager said, “Mr. Greg, we must get you out of town as soon as possible. It’s a story that i’m glad to tell, but definitely more happy to live through.
NT: Now that you’ve survived the kidnapping, are there five albums which you have grown to appreciate even more.
GJ: Funny enough, I used to work for ‘Top Of The Pops’ in England. I asked that question many times for research. It’s an easy one for me.
Velvet Underground and Nico – Andy Warhol
The Clash – The Clash (US version)
Cowboy Junkies – The Trinity Sessions
The Earlies – These were The Earlies
Spiritualized – Lazer guided Memories