A young rock vet­eran

Richmond Hill Post - - Graduates - by Dex­ter Brown

It’s Fri­day af­ter­noon and a teenaged Chris Cress­well grog­gily walks down the halls of Alexan­der Macken­zie High School. He feels par­tic­u­larly beat. Out the night be­fore, rocking it with the rest of the Flat­lin­ers, Cress­well al­ready has missed the first two pe­ri­ods, but he sol­diers on, de­spite know­ing he’s go­ing to hear it from his par­ents and teach­ers the next time he sees them. It’s worth it though, he thinks. It’s all he wants, to play in a band, and he can’t wait un­til high school’s over so he can do it full­time.

It’s not that Cress­well hated school though: “I liked a lot of my teach­ers, I liked a lot of my classes, but I al­ways wanted to do the band [thing],” he says. “I never wanted to be there longer than I had to.” Trans­fixed by mu­sic grow­ing up, Cress­well and fel­low mu­sic junkies headed up north to New­mar­ket to hear the ex­cit­ing sounds of ska punk. Not long af­ter, they would be­come the Flat­lin­ers, one of Toronto’s most cel­e­brated punk bands to­day. “It was a place that re­ally shaped our minds as far as what kind of mu­sic we were start­ing to re­ally en­joy, what mu­sic we wanted to cre­ate our­selves,” Cress­well says. “We were go­ing to shows at 13. By the time we were 14, we started [our band] the Flat­lin­ers.” The name came about af­ter Cress­well, along with bud­dies Scott and Jon, de­cided in the Macken­zie halls to go home for the night to think of five names for the band. Un­be­known to him, a trip to Blockbuste­r would pro­vide the per­fect name.“I was just look­ing around for a movie, and I saw Flat­lin­ers on the wall,” Cress­well says. “I thought that was a re­ally cool name.” The next day they met up to dis­cuss the name in Ms. Bha­tia’s pho­tog­ra­phy class, a favourite of Cress­well’s. They ar­gued about it when go­ing out to take pho­tos of a nearby ravine and even when de­vel­op­ing the pho­tos of the ravine. “In the end we ended up go­ing with the one I chose. I didn’t even think of five names, I only thought of one,” Cress­well says. Oddly, no one in the band has seen the movie, and they have no in­ten­tion of do­ing so. “We made this pact we never want to see it ’cause what if we named our band af­ter a movie that we think sucks,” Cress­well says with a laugh.

De­spite strug­gling to find fanss when they started tour­ing, all at age 17, the Flat­lin­ers have since re­leased their third al­bum, Dead Lan­guage (which has re­ceived pos­i­tive re­views thus far) and Cress­well is pleased with the band’s progress. “We’re happy with where we are,” Cress­well says. “If that con­tin­ues to im­prove, that’s awe­some.”

Cress­well and his band the Flat­lin­ers have toured since they were 17

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