Flat Worms Grapple With A World On Fire

Flat Worms can’t fight the urge to play noisy, messy and fast.

Long time friends Will Ivy (guitar/vocals), Justin Sullivan (drums) and Tim Hellman (bass) know the inner-workings of the underground music scene of both the east and west coast. They come from beloved and badass bands that wreaked havoc during the early and mid 2000s. Ivy played in Dream Boys, a pop/indie L.A.-based band, Sullivan played with NYC based rock bands Kevin Morby and The Babies and Hellman plays in killer west coast punk bands Thee Oh Sees and Sic Alps.

As wild as those bands get, they can barely compete with the chaos that Flat Worms creates.

“I had this ego death basically,” Ivy tells BTRtoday about the moment he decided to start Flat Worms. “I was driving my car one day listening to Swell Maps and was struck with this desire to just get loud and noisy and play punk.”

After playing pop with Dream Boys, Ivy tried playing solo but he didn’t like being the sole center of a project. “I really saw it [Flat Worms] like, ‘we’ll start a loud punk band this summer and play some shows and maybe that’ll just be it,’” he says. “But after playing together for a little while we realized we were on to something.”

Two years later, Flat Worms has developed a gritty signature sound and attracted a loyal fan base. Ivy says the support keeps them going and makes it all feel so “fulfilling.”

This past October, they released their debut self-titled album, produced by Ty Segall and recorded in his living room. The band was given the chance to record the album in a professional studio with “all the bells and whistles,” but didn’t like the results.

“It just didn’t really serve our music, like, it didn’t make any sense,” Ivy says. “What really needed to be captured was our live essence, so Ty did a really good job at nailing that down.”

The record was recorded live in a single day, with all of the mixing and dubbing done the day after. “It was all tape basically, a computer wasn’t involved until we dubbed it in mixing, Ty even mixed on the board,” he says. “It was really cool and a lot of a lively process—it was perfectly matched.”

Though nothing like a jam band, Ivy admits that a lot of the tracks came together when the three were messing around. “Something about the way that we play together really lends itself to that [jamming],” he says. “Like, ‘Red Hot Sand’ just sort of came out of us playing in the moment one day.”

“Red Hot Sand” is the final track on the self-titled album, ending the record on an intense note. The track moves fast and features savage drum solos, fuzzed out vocals and dirty distorted guitar. The song has a post-punk influence, but definitely still drips with hardcore and old school punk; like a faster version of The Wipers or The Fall.

“I just like a lot of that demented sounding punk where you’re getting into someone’s crazy brain,” Ivy says. “It’s [their music] a lot about anxiety about what’s going on socially, politically, and environmentally, grappling with a world on fire—I guess the theme is just sort of ‘modern living and how we deal with it.’”

Tune in to this week’s The Music Meetup to hear the entire interview with Ivy and listen to their debut self-titled album in full.