Boiz-II-Man – Flagman Interview


Michael Scott Evans

Left to right: Grant Freeman (drums, backing vocals), Sam Stewart (main vocals, bass), Cody Singleton (guitar, vocals).

By Nicholas Evans, Reporter

Have you ever tried to imagine a firecracker going off in your head? If you’d like to simulate that experience, I’d highly recommend listening to Flagman.

With Sam Stewart on bass and main vocals, Cody Singleton on guitar and occasional vocals, and Grant Freeman on drums, percussion, and backing vocals, the Orlando band come together as a mech unit, producing a sound akin to 90s alternative metal bands such as Primus and Mr. Bungle, but heavier, faster, and a bit more abrasive, and do all of which in total succession.

In support of their recently released album, Thank You, Come Again, and in coordination with a new single, “Hot Off The Log,” they announced their very first U.S. tour in April. Once I saw that they were playing in Nashville at The Cobra, I instantly knew I had to interview them. After reaching out to the band, they delightfully agreed.

Once the day finally came, Thursday, May 4th, we were supposed to meet and conduct the interview at Tower Market and Deli, a location that was just within eyeshot of The Cobra. Admittedly, I was a bit anxious waiting for them. I’m still not quite sure why, but it had been a while since I had done an interview, so I imagine that contributed a bit. The owner of the deli was actually helping reassure me and wishing me good luck, which I absolutely appreciated.

Last minute, we had a location change to The Cobra. This was of no fault to the band, as it had taken them way longer than expected to unpack, and they felt it would be easier to do the interview at the venue. My dad and I obliged. Once we made it inside the venue, however, we were semi-politely informed by the man behind the counter that we could not stay and conduct the interview inside. Not only is there a strict age limit for shows, but a strict age limit on who is able to enter in general. Since I was 16, and the venue is restricted to 21 and up, there was no way we could stay. We were, however, able to wait in the lobby until the band was ready.

The first to walk out was Sam. The immediate thing that struck me about him was how tall he was — I had always known he was tall, but it’s a little shocking in person. We shook hands, he complimented my Melted Bodies shirt, and we made our way outside. Meeting us outdoors was Grant, with Cody walking out a couple of minutes later. He was already donning a costume you will rarely see him without, sporting a denim vest, sunglasses, and both a hat and sleeve decorated by the American flag. After talking for a bit, we decide to move towards a staircase on the side of The Cobra and hold the interview there.

Sam’s wedding ring clinks his metal water bottle on the way downhill. It was covered in stickers, including the faces of two children. “That’s my niece and nephew,” Sam says, smiling. “Those are my sister’s kids.” “I never even thought of that,” Cody responds, baffled. Sam retorts, ” you think I just have random kids on my water bottle?”

Finally, once we made it to the staircase and I had the self-proclaimed pioneers of poop-rock in front of me, we began our conversation.

Michael Scott Evans

Would you be able to introduce yourselves and describe your sound a bit to anyone that isn’t familiar with you guys?

S: Sure. I’m Sam, I play bass, and we are poop-rock pioneers.

G: I’m Grant, I play drums… just crispy rock.

S: Deep-fried…

G: Deep-fried!

C: I’m Cody, I play guitar, do a little singing, and we’re deep-fried alternative metal.

I don’t know if I’m just bad at digging, but is this the first time you guys have done an interview as a full unit? I’ve typically just seen stuff with Sam.

S: I think we did– we did one and it never came out. Well, actually, we’ve done a few. We’ve done a couple with– there’s a college radio station in Orlando that we’ve done– our good friend Chris has had us on his show a few times. But, yeah. All of the full band stuff we’ve done, for some reason… I don’t know if we’re just too powerful as a unit, but they can’t release it to the public for some reason. So, I guess to answer your question, yes, this may be the first documented one.

You guys typically describe your sound as being inspired by Mr. Bungle and Primus, but what would you say are some influences of yours that people wouldn’t really expect?

S: Hmm… probably Frank Zappa?

C: Frank Zappa for sure.

S: Yeah, we like Zappa. Yeah, [gesturing to Grant], you turned me onto all the Frank Zappa stuff. I grew up listening to The Beatles… [turning to Grant] You listen to a lot of electronic music.

G: I do. I mean, probably more relevant would be like avant-garde classical music. Like Igor Stravinsky and stuff. That’s kinda my original favorite music when I was a kid. 

C: Yeah. He was kind of a dork.

S: Oh! I love Willie Nelson. That’s a good one, I love Willie Nelson. What about you, Code?

C: System of a Down, baby. Just chugs, just chugs–

S: Well, ones they wouldn’t expect.

C: Ah! Eugh. I’m kind of, uh, I’m kind of a loser, dude. I like, uh, Nickelback…

S: Nice.

C: Breaking Benjamin…

S: Classic.

C: Pantera…

S: Classic.

C: Sheesh, the list goes on. Whatever you can hear on the radio, that’s what I play. 

SOAD rocks, though. Their self-titled album is just perfect to me. If I’m correct, this is your first big tour. How’s tour life treating you guys?

S: It’s been a great tour. It’s been, uh…

C: [laughs] Yeah, man! It’s been awesome, dude!

S: We’re ten days in and we haven’t killed each other yet, so that’s good. We all still like each other.

C: Yeah, we all still like each other.

That’s really impressive.

S: Yeah, yeah! Especially ten days in the minivan. That’s close – close proximity. A lot of farting. A lot of farts. A lot of farts, man. 

C: Mostly farts.

S: There’s a lot of farts, dude.

G: A lot of stupid arguments.

S: Just to pass the time. Sometimes you’ve just gotta argue to pass the time.

Yeah, if I were in a van with my friends I would’ve killed them by now.

S: There’s still time, we’ve got two more days.

Michael Scott Evans

Individually, you guys are “Flagboiz” and together you’re Flagman.

[They start laughing]

S: Yes, exactly.

G: It’s like a mech unit, yep.

Yeah, of course. What were some other group names that didn’t make it?

S: Oh, I don’t know. There was a LOT.

G: These guys were Flagman by the time I joined.

C: Oh, man. There was a lot of really bad ones. I don’t have a list of the band names anymore, but one of them was like… E150, another one was like Rise Up–

[At this point, a driver doing an awful parking job almost hits another car, a traffic cone (which we later used for photos), and my dad. Instead of listing off band names, the group starts to list off the car models involved in the near collision.]

C: Another one was Chevy Impala, kinda like Tame Impal–

S: Another– a really bad, a REALLY bad one was CRV. That was really bad.

C: Honda CRV.

S: Yeah, I wish– we should’ve documented that better, that journey to find Flagman. ‘Cause it was like a year of batting around terrible band names.

I gotta ask, I know you guys are pretty big fans of Rob Zombie, did the name Flagman come from Powerman at all?

S; No, actually. That actually didn’t happen until– I was actually checking out a lot of that stuff several years later because I had a friend in high school who was really big into Rob Zombie and I got real big into his stuff during the pandemic. Listened through all the White Zombie stuff and all the solo records. It’s great, man. I love it.

Coinciding with the tour you released a single called “Hot Off The Log.” How would you say that differs from the material on Thank You, Come Again?

S: More aggressive.

G: Heavier.

C: Smarter, stronger, faster, harder.

G: Less fat on it, I think.

S: Definitely. As streamlined as possible. It was the first time we got to actually record everything. We got to work with Ben McLeod from All Them Witches, and he had mixed Thank You, Come Again, but this was the first time we got to record with him at his studio, which is definitely a game-changer for us to get in the studio with somebody that kinda understands where we’re coming from, so it really made it easy on us. Which was nice– It’s nice to not have to struggle in the studio trying to figure out what we’re doing.

Is this a part of an album or is it just a one-off single?

S: Part of an album. There’s a new Flagboiz record in the making right now.

Is there anything specific you guys want to change up on the next album?

S: I think like Cody said. Just more direct, more streamlined, making it harder, better, faster, stronger, as Daft Punk said.

This is your first big tour, but of course it’s not the first time you’ve performed live. What were your best and worst performances and why?

C: Our best show ever… it’s gotta be a hometown show–

G: It hasn’t happened yet.

C: Yeah, our best show hasn’t happened yet. Perfect show, that is. 

S: The BATTLES one was pretty fun, when we opened for BATTLES. Our record release was great. The Thank You, Come Again record release was awesome. 

C: I would say that one.

[The rest of the band agrees.]

S: Worst show was all the shows where we played with the old material. Right when Grant joined. Those were all the worst ones.

C: We don’t talk about those.

G: Yeah, once I joined, we played our worst shows.

S: Yeah, we– [laughs] No fault to you, I had written a bunch of really terrible songs, so we threw all those out.

Actually, back to the hometown shows, you guys have played countless shows at a venue called Will’s Pub. How do you think the performances there have influenced your band, and what do you love so much about the venue?

S: Oo, that’s a great question.

G: It’s kind of the homestay for Orlando.

S: Yeah, it’s probably the best venue for local bands in Orlando. I guess they just kind of allowed us a space to cut our teeth as a band, especially early on, figuring out what we were trying to do and who we were trying to be. They gave us room to do that, which was awesome. And, yeah, you know, they kinda keep that local music scene alive. A lot of local bands, a lot of cool bands come through there, so we’re very grateful to them.

I’ve seen a lot of cool stuff about them, one that I found was in 2019, you guys played an event called Not Ozzfest, could you talk a bit about that?

C: Oh, yeah. [laughs]

S: Yeah, that was fun! Our management, Montgomery Drive, put that on because they book a lot of stuff through Florida and throughout the country– but they had this idea for a cover night. There was a band, I believe it was Gillian Carter, was Korn, somebody did System of a Down, somebody did Slipknot, I think, and we did Primus. It was–

C: No, we did Sabbath… no, we did Primus.

S: We had done Sabbath sets for Halloween stuff before. But, yeah, we did Primus there, which was, you know… that’s my favorite band! So it was real fun for me to play all those tunes that I’ve been playing since I was in middle school. It was a good time, I wish there was more footage of that.

C: Yeah…

G: That was a good one.

Michael Scott Evans

You guys have two albums out currently, The Ladybug Dilemma and Thank You, Come Again, but before that you actually had a debut called Gibberish and two extra EPs– that were removed–

[Sam and Cody respond simultaneously.]

S: Woah, woah! How do you know about that, buddy?!

C: Nope, that never existed. That never existed. That never existed.

[My dad interjects.] MSE: Let the boy talk!

[The band laughs.]

Could you talk a bit about why those were removed? Because I can only find two songs from that on YouTube–

S: You can find them?

C: So, where exactly did you find them so we know not to go there?

There’s a video for “Headache Talking” and there’s an upload of the song “Melt.”

S: …Well, we’re gonna have to scrub those. Good to know.

[All laugh.]

C: Thank you for your beautiful reporting.

S: Yeah, that’s some DEEP dive stuff.

C: I mean, I’m sure you heard it, you can probably guess why we’re trying to scrap it. It’s not what we sound like now.

G: It’s part of that experimental era of stuff we’re not really, uh…

C: Not super proud of it.

S: Yeah, we don’t feel super connected to it artistically anymore. And, also, just– a lot of the songs were stuff that Cody and I had written together or stuff that I had written alone before Grant joined the band, so by the time he joined the band and we started to write new stuff, it just kinda totally went into a different direction and then we ended up pulling it all down just because…

G: We don’t want it part of the catalog.

S: Right, and because it being the oldest stuff when you would look it up, it was the first thing that came up, so we were just worried that people would kind of get the wrong impression of what we do, you know? So, yeah. But, in our headcanon, none of that exists.

Do you think it’s possible later in the future for those to be reissued? Because, as it stands now, they’re kinda lost to the public.

S: Yeah, no. Never ever. If I have anything to do with it, those two– I’m gonna pull that video down, actually, cause I believe one of them is on our channel. And we’ll have to find out whoever posted “Melt” and sic our lawyers on ‘em.

C: Who’s my mom, by the way. She’s just gonna angrily yell at them. 

S: She’s a pitbull.

Michael Scott Evans

The Ladybug Dilemma was released in late 2020 and it sounds way different than Gibberish. Did Covid inspire you to branch out your sound? If not, then how did it effect the writing process?

S: So, that record was actually written and recorded over the summer of 2019, so it was all–

C: I think it came out in 2020.

S: It came out in 2020, October of 2020. So, none of it was written during Covid. Those were kind of the first batch of songs that we had written with Grant on the drums, so it just took us a long time to get them out. It took us– from the time we recorded to the time it came out it was almost a year and a half, maybe two years.

C: Yeah, it took us a while to kinda figure out… who do we go to record, who’s gonna mix it, who’s gonna master it–

S: Who’s doing the art.

C: Who’s doing the art, yeah. We kind of have that more streamlined now so things can kinda…

S: Be faster.

C: Yeah, really faster.

Back to The Ladybug Dilemma. In a TikTok video– Sam, actually– mentioned that the penultimate song, Alamo, almost didn’t make it to the album. How often are songs on the chopping block for you, and why don’t they make albums?

S: I think they’re pretty much– everything’s on the chopping block, all the time.

C: Yeah, we always kinda have a magnifying glass on them. But, the thing that differentiates it now is we do that before we get into the studio now. Like, we will do some demoing, we’ll try to do as much as we can, we’ll listen to it and say, “yeah, this isn’t good.”

G: Why didn’t we want to release “Alamo,” though?

S: It wasn’t that we didn’t want to release it, I think it was that we had never played that song fully. We recorded it in parts because we had all these sections and we had no way to really connect them, so we just kind of recorded each piece and then fit ‘em together like a puzzle piece. So, I think when we were in the middle of recording– and I hadn’t finished the lyrics until the night before we went in the studio to track it, so I think… it was just a little aimless, you know? We were kind of going into the studio not knowing what we’re doing, which is something we tried to avoid doing, just ‘cause it costs time and money. That was why, it was just kind of like— we didn’t know how it was gonna pan out because before we came into the studio, there was only the instrumental, there was not really any parts. And it was just each section, you know, it wasn’t really a song, it was just kind of a bunch of different parts that we slapped together. But it worked out! And now it’s always in the set.

G: Yeah, it’s fun to play.

I love it! Back to TikTok— TikTok and Instagram have been a huge part of you guys growing your presence. Trying to do research for this interview, I think within about 30 minutes I saw about 30 different examples of you absolutely screeching “listen to Flagman.” But it’s paid off, absolutely. How would you say that social media like TikTok and Instagram have helped your band?

S: Oh, I mean, yeah, it’s made it. That’s like, to your question about how Covid changed the band, that was really where we— it forced us to slow down ‘cause we were just playing a lot of shows, which is not bad, but we didn’t really have a presence online, we didn’t have a brand, we didn’t have any way to really market ourselves. So, through 2020 we kinda took a second to be like, “what are we trying to do with this,” you know? And then we had some encouragement from friends to get on TikTok, and it was about a year before anything happened, and then one day this stupid, simple video blew up and had a bunch of people check us out and really enjoyed it. So, it kinda snowballed into, like, “well, alright, we can’t play shows, so we’ll just post a bunch of stuff on here!”

That was the promotional video for— was it “Bumblebee” or was it the one where you’re pointing at, “if you like these guys—“

S: That one! Yeah, I made that at like 7 A.M. before I went to work one day, and I almost took it down ‘cause I was like, “oh, it’s just so low-effort,” like I was really caught up in, “I want it to be good, high-quality content!” And I slept on it, and I woke up the next day, and it had gone from like a hundred views to like 200K views, and I was like, “Oh! Well, I guess sometimes stupid works!”

C: Yup! And then that, and then the “Bumblebee” TikTok video, like our “Bumblebee” music video spliced up, was getting tons of views, too. And that really helped everyone drive to the streaming, and then the streaming algorithm picked us up on their playlists, and now it’s just kinda feeding into itself a little bit.

S: Yeah, and I think in some ways, it definitely helped us realize when we’re writing songs, we wanna make sure that they’re as direct and punchy as possible. As Cody says, no prog songs.

G: No three minute intros.

C: Get to the point, get to the point!

I do want to ask about “Bumblebee,” though. A lot of the time–

MSE: Which, by the way, I freaking love.

Yeah, he loves it.

MSE: I’ve sent that to so many people, even his freakin’ mother. So many times.

S: Spreadin’ the word!

C: Thank you so much!

Whenever you’re promoting yourself on TikTok, you always use “Bumblebee,” calling it “ADHD metal,” or, “if you like this and this…” A lot of bands, typically, whenever they promote a song like that, they start to have a love-hate relationship with it. Have you gotten to that point with “Bumblebee” yet?

S: Nah, I like that song.

G: It’s still fun to play!

C: I’d say definitely we love it still.

S: And that’s one thing we try to do, is always make songs that we would want to hear, you know? Stuff that if I heard a band playing and I’d be like, “wow, I’ve gotta check this band out!” It’s a little self-serving, but, hey, keeps me entertained! 

Yeah, it’s incredibly addicting.

S: Oh, yeah.

C: Keeps us in shape, too, ‘cause there’s a bass solo in there that you can’t just, like– on a Tuesday night, not practicing at all be like, “yeah, let’s just play ‘Bumblebee.’” I can’t do that. 

S: Right. Keeps the chops up.

G: It’s just like a big drum exercise, too. The whole thing.

S: Yeah, for real!

G: Sixteenth notes the whole time. 

This is kind of off-topic. Whenever I was bored in class a couple months ago– there’s like this Spotify Canvas on “Bumblebee,” I’ve been trying to play with my phone where I’m trying to sync it up with the Canvas for like five seconds to pass time in class.

[The members laugh.]

MSE: In class?

S: That is exactly what you SHOULD be doing. Along with the homework, of course.

G: After your homework.

C: Focusing on your studies!

C: You know you can do your homework and have “Bumblebee” playing under it so you can just stay focused.

G: It is good studying music.

S: We’re known for nice, relaxing studying music.

G: Crispy beats to study to, yeah.

MSE: For cramming.

S: [laughs] Yeah, there you go.

For the promotional videos, whenever you have a clip of “Nice Guy” there’s a video to accompany it and it’s always spliced up and you’ve been doing that for the better part of a year now, but there’s never been a full “Nice Guy” video released. What happened to it?

[The band, embarrassed, all wince and laugh.]

S: Oo. Uh. [chuckles] I don’t know, what did happen to that video?

C: What DID happen to that?

S: We spent like two days making a video…

C: Yeah, we shot a video, for sure… But, it turned out, it kinda sucked!

S: Yeah, it’s kinda stuck in development hell. We got like 80% of the way, and then we were like, “I’m out of ideas, you guys have any ideas? No… Alright, we’ll just use it for something else.”

G: Yeah, that footage will be used eventually, but it’s partially put together. I think it could be just, I don’t know, promotional content. 

S: We’re gonna mine it eventually. We’ll turn it into something, but it probably won’t be a music video. At this point, with the new record coming out, we’re kinda onward and upward.

I don’t know, release a box set in like twenty years, put that as a DVD special feature.

S: There you go! We’re thinking about maybe starting a Patreon, so maybe it’ll be up there. Some behind-the-scenes, some lost footage.

Some stuff about your live show: tonight you’re going to be selling some copies of Thank You, Come Again on vinyl. You mentioned on an episode of the ‘I’m Half Kidding’ podcast that you were planning to press The Ladybug Dilemma on vinyl– three years later, Thank You, Come Again is on vinyl, but Ladybug isn’t. What happened?

[The band laughs.]

C: It’s called, uh, expenses. [laughs]

S: Yeah. Well, it takes a long time– and, actually, the same thing kinda happened with that that happened with the Nice Guy video. By the time we got to like, “okay, let’s press some vinyl,” we already had Thank You, Come Again coming out, so we were like, “okay, we’ll do the new record and get back to the old record.” We had someone ask us about it in Memphis last night as well. It’ll happen eventually, it just takes like– it’s expensive and it takes like a year and a half to get the records. So, it’ll be a while. Maybe for like the fifth or tenth anniversary or something it’ll come out.

Maybe you can get– you’re with Flummox, you can get Needlejuice [Records] to make a super colorful one. 

C: There you go!

You guys have been playing for a while, is there one song that you’re consistently excited to play?

G: “Alamo!” I’m always excited for “Alamo,” for sure.

I can’t believe that almost didn’t make it. 

S: Yeah, right? Uhhh, I don’t know. We keep our set pretty exciting.

C: Mine is “Dummy,” man! My job on that is just, [imitating guitar], DAH! DAH! DAH!

G: You like that one cause it’s easy.

C: Yeah, it’s easy and I can just make faces and move around the stage and I can pretend like I’m playing in an easy band.

G: Just for that one song.

S: I don’t know. I like ‘em all!

C: That’s a safe answer.

S: Yeah, right?

Michael Scott Evans

Actually, back to Flummox. I think you guys were supposed to play a show with them a few years ago, did that not happen?

S: Yeah, it never did. We talked a lot about playing shows together over the past few years, so I’m stoked that it’s finally happening. I think they were gonna come down to Florida at some point, but then that fell through, and then we had planned a run up to here, and then that fell through… it’s just syncing calendars. That’s like 90% of being in a band. “Can you do this? Aw, you can’t? Alright, well I can do this weekend, can you do that weekend?”

Well, it’s cool you guys are able to do it again. How did you guys meet, and what do you admire so much about them?

S: You know, that’s a good question.

C: I think— weren’t they on our related artists on Spotify?

S: They might have been. I don’t know, it’s hard when it’s all the internet band stuff ‘cause you’ll meet people and you’ll have them on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or whatever, and then it’s like you don’t even know how you met, cause it’s all, “this person knows this person who knows me….” I don’t know, to be honest. I’m not sure how we met. But I know the first thing that caught my eye is that they’re all fans of Mr. Bungle. Any band that’s a fan of Mr. Bungle’s, I’m interested. 

G: That’s how you put me in the band.

S: Yeah, exactly! That’s actually exactly how I met you.

G: I was playing Mr. Bungle covers on Instagram.

S: Yeah. I was like, alright— we were playing in another band, and we found him on Instagram, and he had Squeeze Me Macaroni, a cover of it, and we were looking for a drummer at the time, and I was like, “well, this is the guy! This is the guy right here!”

G: And then I said no.

S: Yeah, you did. [laughs]

C: Wore him down.

I was surprised to find out that Grant originally wasn’t really a fan of Primus, and then you kinda got him into it.

S: Yeah! Neither one was. 

G: They had to turn me onto it, for sure.

S: I had to convince them. I infected them.

G: I mean, I had listened to Primus here and there growing up, but they weren’t on my radar that much. 

I was going to say something and then I totally forgot…

MSE: “Thank you?”

[The band laughs.]

Michael Scott Evans

Right. Actually, very indirectly, Flummox is kind of how I found you guys.

S: Oh, really?

Yeah, my friend in passing conversation coined the term “weird guy metal,” with like System of a Down, Tool, so I tried making a playlist of that with Melted Bodies and Flummox, and I went through all of the related songs and eventually Bumblebee came up, and it was the only one that really caught my eye.

S: Nice! Yes!

That’s pretty much the end! I do want to ask, though, is there anything you guys want to say or promote to anyone reading?

S: Listen to Flagman!

C: Listen to Flagman!

S: Flagboiz for lyfe!

C: Flagboiz for lyfe! Listen to Flagman, Flagboiz for lyfe. That’s all you need. You’ll be great, you’ll be well-off, you’ll be a great person.

G: It’ll enhance your life.

S: It will.

C: It will.

S: Dramatically.

C: Dramatical— absolutely dramatically. Tremendously, even. 

S: Tremendously. Ridiculously.

C: Almost even immensely.

S: What’s another adjective?

G: A lot.

[The band laughs.]

C: A lot?

S: That’s not an adjective, that’s a synonym.

MSE: Swimmingly?

S: Swimmingly.

C: I was homeschooled so I don’t know words. 


C: Smoothly.

S: Smoothly.

G: Exponentially.

C: Surreptitiously.

S: Greatly. You’ve gotta— you’ve gotta stop us.

MSE: No, no, no, no, this is like Mad-Libs.

G: Largely.

S: Largely. Bigly.

I’m keeping all of this in the article.

C: Enormously?

G: Monstrously.

C: This is how it ends. Just word soup.

S: Slowly fades out…

Michael Scott Evans

HUGE thank you to Montgomery Drive and the Flagboiz for giving us the time of day. You guys rock!