Flotsam and Jetsam have performed around the world, but nothing feels like a hometown show.
“We always get a warm welcome when we return to the Valley,” says guitarist Michael Gilbert of Chandler. “We always try to make our last shows of our tours our hometown shows. It’s the big release. There’s always tons of energy. It’s great. It’s hard to explain the energy that’s there.”
Flotsam and Jetsam have, for the most part, stuck around the Valley. Vocalist Eric “A.K.” Knutson lives in Gilbert; guitarist Steve Conley in Glendale; and new drummer Ken Mary in Fountain Hills. Bassist Michael Spencer resides in Sacramento.
The band will perform at Club Red in Mesa on Saturday, June 15, to promote its latest album, “The End of Chaos,” for which the band wrote “a ton of songs.”
“We each wrote 25 songs a piece,” Gilbert says. “A.K. picks and chooses the songs and a lot of them get tossed to the side. It’s all good, though. We get the best possible songs we can out of it.”
The formula has worked. Flotsam and Jetsam are witnessing a revival of sorts, as the band is seeing old school fans revisiting its music.
“We’re making a bit of a comeback,” Gilbert says. “They’re starting to revisit and buy the new stuff as well. We’re seeing a lot of younger people at the show. They’re in the front row, singing songs that were out 20 years before they were born.
“It gets us all excited. That was happening when we did the self-titled album. There’s this spark again. The power metal music fans are digging A.K.’s voice.”
After its U.S. tour, Flotsam and Jetsam—whose alumni include former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted—have three short European runs.
“What sucks is flying back and forth, but it’s totally worth it,” he says. “As tired as we are when we get there, when we see 4,000 people or more than that—sometimes up to 80,000—it wakes you up really quick.”
Gilbert moved from California to the Valley when he was 15 years old. He knows the exact year.
“I base everything on when records came out,” he says with a laugh. “I moved when ‘For Those About to Rock’ came out—’81.”
The Dobson High School graduate recalled, too, when he realized he wanted to be a musician. Again, an AC/DC reference: the first time he heard “The Jack.”
“I had headphones on and I says, ‘OK. I’m going to play guitar. I’m going to learn how to do this,’” he says. “My mom bought me a guitar for $20 at Kmart. I still have it. It’s not that bad of a guitar. I learned on that.
“That’s when my parents knew I was serious about it. I’ve been collecting guitars since then. I can’t have enough. I have around 20, but I can only play one at a time, unless I’m Rick Nielsen (of Cheap Trick).”
When he’s home, Gilbert says he enjoys going to Diamondbacks games and eating at Los Dos Molinos in Mesa.
“If you like super spicy Mexican food, that is the place to go,” he says. “Plus, they have great margaritas.”
The five-piece band was founded in the early 1980s and critics have called 1986’s “Doomsday for the Deceiver” a “game changer.” English rock magazine Kerrang! gave it a 6K rating; its sixth and only accolade of that nature.
After the debut was released, Newsted joined Metallica. The musical landscape changed, but Flotsam and Jetsam’s mission stayed the same.
“A.K.’s vocals are what makes our band and who we are,” Gilbert says. “He’s very unique, there is nobody else like him. He’s a fantastic singer. But the dude gets better and better.”
“The End of Chaos” has 12 songs that clock in at around 50 minutes, kicking off with “Prisoner of Time.” Knutson screams the signature line, “Live your life without regret; don’t be a prisoner of time.”
The singer summed up Flotsam and Jetsam’s career perfectly.
“We’ve been through a lot of crap,” he says. “For a while I had a lineup with me who was just together to go out on vacations then have the promoters pay for it. And it’s a little different now, we are back to a real band making a stab at growing and becoming a bigger entity in the music industry. Our goal in writing a record, is to put out the coolest music we can. ‘The End of Chaos’ hits the mark.”
Flotsam and Jetsam w/Dead by Wednesday, Footer, Condemned Till Dawn and Black Phantom
Club Red, 1306 W. University Drive, Mesa, 480.200.7529, clubredrocks.com, 6 p.m. Saturday, June 15, $20-$25.