Friday, March 27, 2009

Still Flyin': Cleared for a raucous landing at Union Hall

By Meredith Deliso

(Published in the 3.26 issue of 27/Seven)

The first time Still Flyin’ played in Brooklyn, the bouncers wouldn’t let all the band’s members in at first because it was so crowded at Union Hall. When the 15-person reggae-inspired supergroup returns to the Park Slope venue this April 3, this time to play on the stage, they’re prepared.

“I figure if we’re there early for sound check and don’t leave we won’t run the risk of not being allowed back into our own show,” says singer Sean Rawls, who formed Still Flyin’ after writing the song “Never Gonna Touch the Ground.” He didn’t even think that many people would be interested when he asked everyone he knew to join the band, but then 15 people showed up at the first rehearsal, “and that’s when I knew we were going to be one of those ridiculously large bands,” says the musician.

Since forming in 2004, the group has played in their home base of San Francisco, as well as traveling the US. Earlier this year, the band returned from a world tour, traveling to Europe and Australia, all 15 in tow and gaining a following along the way.

“We love touring and touring the world is something that never seemed possible,” says Rawls, “but the jamm has no limits I suppose.”

No, that isn’t a typo. The band’s reggae-pop sound, full of hand claps and ska-flavored guitar riffs, they like to call “hammjamm,” “jamm” because the songs are rather concise and don’t amble on indefinitely, and “hamm” added in for good measure to prevent further classification and confinement to any genre.

With that in mind, Still Flyin’ craft songs that have almost a child chorus-like quality, with their multitude of voices and simple, infectious melodies, songs that Pitchfork has described as “the least pretentious music you could ever imagine.”

Their party atmosphere on the record naturally translates to the stage for energetic, manic live shows. When their current East Coast tour brings the band to Union Hall, in addition to the core lineup, whose rotating cast includes members of the bands Track Star, Aislers Set, Ladybug Transistor, Love Is All, Maserati, and Red Pony Clock, they’ll be joined by “extra spiritual members for the heck of it,” says Rawls.

“We have somewhat of a tetris system to fitting on stage but the Union Hall is pretty small so we’ll have to be careful,” says Rawls. “Jams like that are when people get hit in the face by accident. No one has died at a show yet and we hope to keep it that way.”

For those who miss the Union Hall show, or want to keep flyin’, the band will also be piling onto another local stage, playing Manhattan’s Cake Shop on April 5.

After their week-long East Coast jaunt, it’s the release of the band’s debut album, out April 21 and fittingly called “Never Gonna Touch The Ground,” the name of the single that initially brought the band together.

Of that record, Rawls says fans can expect “thunderjams, dance parties, high-five competitions, pizza tents, riff calculators and movie scripts.” The album features such “thunderjams” as the popular “Good Thing It’s a Ghost Town Around Here,” a catchy, foot-stomping track that proclaims “I was standing and jamming so freely/It’s just something that really completes,” which sums things up quite nicely, as well as slo-jams such as “Haunted Houses” and “Following the Itinerary.”

After working on the first album all these years, the band’s eager to work on new jamms. And, with more touring sure to be in the supergroup’s future, “We might try to invent teleportation to save on plane tickets,” deadpans Rawl.”

Still Flyin’ play Union Hall (702 Union St.) on April 3 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available for purchase at For more information, go to or call 718-638-4400. For more on the band, go to


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