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|Flotsam and Jetsam|
Onstage in 2008
|Also known as||Paradox (1981-1982)
|Origin||Phoenix, Arizona, USA|
|Genres||Thrash metal, power metal, speed metal, progressive metal|
|Labels||Driven Music Group, Metal Blade, Elektra, MCA, Crash Music|
|Associated acts||Metallica, Voivod, Prong|
Eric A. Knutson
|Past members||Mark Vazquez
The group was founded in 1981 under the name “Paradox” by drummer Kelly David-Smith and guitarists Mark Vazquez and Kevin Horton, who were later joined by bassist Jason Newsted. Jason had come to Phoenix with his band Gangster from Michigan on their way to California, but Gangster broke up while in Phoenix. Kelly and Jason (also doing the vocals) played their first professional gig as “Dredlox” together with guitarists Mark and Kevin.
Kelly saw "A.K." (Eric A. Knutson) singing "The Goodbye Girl" at his high school talent show. In 1983 they were in the same summer school class and Kelly asked Eric A.K. if he wanted to audition. They put him on 2 week probation and then Eric A.K. joined the band. Due to the provisional nature of his membership, the band referred to Eric A.K. as "the 2 weeker." Ed Carlson, from local rival band called Exodus (not to be confused with the California Bay Area thrash metal band of the same name), also joined in 1983 after Kevin left the band. The name of the band changed into "The Dogz", but it didn't last long. Eventually the band renamed itself 'Flotsam and Jetsam' after writing a song inspired from a chapter of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Two Towers.
The band made its live debuts in local clubs and in California and had the opportunity to play with bands such as Megadeth, Armored Saint, Alcatrazz, Malice, Exciter, Mercyful Fate, Riot, Autograph. In 1985 guitarist Mark left and 17 year old Michael Gilbert joined the band. Flotsam and Jetsam released two demo tapes Iron Tears and Metal Shock in 1985.
They created their own video Hammerhead from the Metal Shock demo: "We taped it in Jason and Ed's apartment living room. We also made a live video from the infamous Bootlegger in Phoenix." Those combined with the demos made a good impession on Record labels and after they contributed to the Speed Metal Hell II and Metal Massacre VII compilations, they got a deal with Metal Blade Records.
Then Flotsam and Jetsam recorded their first album in Los Angeles with producer Brian Slagel. The release of Doomsday for the Deceiver was on July 19, 1986. It was the first in Kerrang!'s history to achieve the 6K rating.
Bassist Jason Newsted, who was also the band's main lyric writer, departed soon after to join Metallica, replacing their bassist Cliff Burton, who died in a bus accident. On Halloween night 1986, Jason played his last gig with Flotsam and Jetsam. The band had asked another local bassist Phil Rind of Sacred Reich to fill in Jason's place for a short time. They then hired Michael Spencer from the Sacramento band Sentinel Beast. Flotsam and Jetsam signed with Metallica's label Elektra Records before touring Europe with Megadeth in 1987.
Michael Spencer lost his position to Troy Gregory in 1987, and in May of the next year the band's second album No Place for Disgrace was released. According to Michael Spencer, No Place for Disgrace was going to be called Blessing in Disguise, but after he left Flotsam and Jetsam, the band's former A&R Michael Alago let Metal Church (who was also on Elektra at the time) use that name for their third album, which was eventually released in February 1989. No Place for Disgrace includes a cover of Elton John's hit "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" and therefore a video was shot. The band opened for King Diamond in America and supported Megadeth, Testament and Sanctuary in Europe on the So Far, So Good... So What! tour.
Flotsam and Jetsam signed with major label MCA Records in 1989 and began work on their third album When the Storm Comes Down, which was released in May 1990. The band expected to gain recognition with this album, but it suffered from a very poor production and didn't meet fans' expectations.
Troy Gregory left the band shortly after for Prong and the band had to find a new bassist once again, eventually hiring Jason Ward to fill the role. Cuatro, released 1992, saw the band change their style – no typical speed or thrash metal songs are included. Flotsam and Jetsam made some efforts concerning the promotion: four singles were released and videos were shot for the songs Swatting at Flies and Wading Through the Darkness.
Their fifth album Drift was released in April 1995, with three singles released off of the record. Jason dedicated it to his older brother Jeff Ward, former drummer of such bands as NIN, Ministry, Revolting Cocks and Lard, who died in 1993. A long break followed the release of the album.
During Flotsam and Jetsam's tour with Megadeth and KORN they had been dropped from MCA and returned to their former label Metal Blade Records. On their 1997 album High the song titles were designed with the font types/logos of famous bands like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Kiss, Van Halen, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Misfits etc. The sound were more experimental than before and the album also featured the Lard cover song Fork Boy, but it didn't impress the fans as much as their earlier work.
Michael Gilbert and Kelly Smith left the band after the release and were replaced by guitarist Mark Simpson and drummer Craig Nielsen. With the new line-up Flotsam and Jetsam toured in Europe together with Anvil and Exciter.
Unnatural Selection was released in 1999 and Mark Simpson took a short break. He joined the band again in 2000 to record a new album, My God released in May 2001, and most of the songs were written by him. At that time Eric A.K. had founded a country band, the A.K. Corral. He then left the band, demotivated after spending fifteen years waiting for success. Though Flotsam and Jetsam did not disband, there was a long break at that time. They found a new singer in James Rivera who took over vocal duties live. Later the band felt that no one other than Eric A.K. could be their singer and Rivera left the band soon after.
During 2002 and 2003 the band were active only sporadically, but Eric A.K. rejoined for live dates in the Phoenix and Los Angeles areas in 2003. A live recording of these shows was released in 2004 as a live concert DVD under the title Live in Phoenix. Signed to the Crash Music label in May 2004 and with Eric A.K. joining the band again officially, they hit the road with Overkill and Death Angel for a series of concerts in Japan that sold out venues with capacities of over 1,000 people.
Spring 2005 Flotsam and Jetsam returned to the studio to work on their new album. The lyrics were mostly inspired by Eric's nightmares. This resulted into a concept album entitled Dreams of Death - like track 2 of No Place for Disgrace. The album was released July 2005.
The live DVD Live in Japan was released in February 2006 and shows their concert in front of thousands of screaming Japanese fans at the Citta Club in Tokyo 2004.
Doomsday for the Deceiver was re-released in November 2006 by Metal Blade Records to celebrate the album's twentieth anniversary. This set (2 CD and DVD) includes the original recording of Doomsday and a re-mixed and re-mastered version and also the two Flotsam and Jetsam demos. The bonus DVD includes rare live material, an interview filmed at Kelly's High School and a photo slide-show.
In Spring 2008 Metal Mind Productions remastered and re-released the albums When the Storm Comes Down, Cuatro (including 5 bonus tracks), Drift (including 3 bonus tracks) and Dreams of Death. Unfortunately for the fans No Place for Disgrace could not be remastered due to existing legal issues between the band and their former label Elektra Records and former manager Eric Braverman.
In March 2008 Flotsam and Jetsam toured in Europe and played at the Metalmania Festival in Poland. This show was filmed and released as DVD Once in a Deathtime in July. Midyear 2008 the band were signed to Driven Music Group, founded by former KORN guitarist Brian “Head” Welch.
After a tour in Europe with support act Neurasthenia in April 2010 Flotsam and Jetsam finished their album The Cold. It was released on September 14, 2010. It was the last album with Mark Simpson on guitar. He left the band in friendship and was replaced by returning guitarist Ed Carlson, who had quit the band in March 2010, to be replaced by Michael Gilbert. In September 2011 Kelly David-Smith made his return replacing the departed Craig Nielsen.
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