Carolinian – Features
Issue: 9/27/01

Flickerstick gets record, goes global
By Valerie Marino

Flickerstick, a Dallas based rock quintet, was until recently considered the best unsigned band in America by fans and critics alike.

Flickerstick owes their popularity in part to VH1?s reality series, Bands on the Run. The series, which was recently nominated for an Emmy, followed four unsigned bands on an eight week tour of the country, in a competition to see who would raise the most money from ticket and merchandise sales.

Flickerstick, who was triumphant in the end, won the grand prize of $100,000 in gear from Guitar Center; $50,000 cash; an A&R; showcase with representatives from all the major record labels; a music video (which was produced by Blackdog, Ridley Scott?s production company); and national exposure to millions of viewers each week from April to July 2001.

Popularity has come in a strange way for Flickerstick. Unlike many unsigned bands going out to get a record deal, Flickerstick had thousands of loyal fans across the country who pack concert halls and are responsible for over 657,000 downloads of the band’s songs on

“It?s all backwards,” says lead singer Brandin Lea. “Usually, you learn the song, then the band name, then you learn the lead singer?s name, and then eventually, if you?re really a huge fan, you know everybody else. It?s exactly the opposite with us.”

Lea founded the band in 1997 with lead guitarist and keyboard player Cory Krieg at the University of North Texas, where Lea was studying drama and film. Soon added were Lea?s brother Fletcher on bass, Dominic Weir on drums, and finally, Rex “El Dangeroso” Ewing on guitar. (If you?ve seen them live or on the TV show, you well know why he?s called El Dangeroso, the name of his alter-rocker ego.)

Welcoming Home the Astronauts, the band?s debut album, is being re-released by Epic Records on November 6th, re-mixed by Tom Lord-Alge, who has worked with artists such as the Dave Matthews Band and Blink-182.

According to Lea, “For the most part, the real indie-style recording that we did a year ago for this album is the same; it just got re-mixed. Which, basically, it?s been mixed the way it should have been then, we just didn?t have $50,000, we had about $5,000.”

A video for the current single, “Beautiful,” will be shot sometime next week in Palm Springs. “It?s gonna be a desert concept, I can?t really say much more,” says Lea. “It?s based off of Depeche Mode?s ?Enjoy the Silence.? It?s not gonna be this flashy, poppy video that makes you stupid for watching it, no teenage kids running around screaming, none of that. It?s more of an artistic, serious video.”

After the release of the album, the band will tour the states heavily for about six months before heading overseas to their fans in the UK. Flickerstick?s fan base in Europe has increased dramatically lately, as fans there are currently witnessing the trials and tribulations of the band every week on VH1.

The brothers seemed rather excited about the prospect of going global. “Hell, we?ll get to see the world,” says Fletcher, “at least the radio stations and hotels.” Brandin added, “You?re getting to travel and do something you love, and get to see Europe. I?ve never been to Europe, so hell. It?s not like I don?t wanna play the US, but hey, I?ve been here all my life. It?s gonna be cool, I can?t wait.”

Performing live is certainly something that all five members of Flickerstick love to do. In fact, their live shows are one of the things that created their cult-like following in Dallas and Austin far prior to Bands on the Run. Witnessing a show live and for myself, it was easy to see why.

Flickerstick began their show Thursday night, September 20, at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh with the traditional playing of the theme from Willy Wonka. Shortly after the curtain drew, the band opened their set with “Smile,” one of the songs played on VH1, and the song their prize-package video was made for.

For the next hour and a half, Flickerstick rocked the crowd, who were packed in like sardines, with fan-favorites like “Got a Feeling,” “Lift (with love we will survive),” “Sorry Wrong Trajectory,” and their rendition of Mazzy Star?s “Fade Into You.”

After the show, fans gathered around the back of the venue to have t-shirts, drum sticks, set lists, or whatever they could get their hands on signed by the band, and, of course, to take lots of pictures. All of the guys were very gracious and stuck around until the last autograph was signed and the last picture taken.

Since the VH1 show ended on July 8, the members of Flickerstick have been stopped by fans on the streets, in malls, and even in front of the White House. Fletcher comments, “When we were driving our own van and hauling our own gear and stuff, it got pretty crazy.”

What about the stigma that Flickerstick is “the band that VH1 broke?” At all their shows and on flyers, they?re announced as “winners of VH1?s Bands on the Run.”

“?Winner? in front of it doesn?t make it seem so bad,” Lea says through a smile. “After the album comes out and the single does as well as projected, I think that will eventually drop pretty fast.”

Whether they are known at “the VH1 band” or not, Flickerstick will always reign as “saviors of rock and roll in it truest form,” says fan Kevin Norris, sophomore at UNCG. “They are the most intense, creative band to hit the music scene in a long time.”

Already heard of the band and think they?re the greatest thing since sliced bread (and you?d like to do something to help out the victims of terrorism in NY and DC)? Go to to bid on autographed flyers from the shows at Lincoln Theatre and Ziggy?s. The auctions are listed under “Auctions for America” and 100% of the proceeds will go directly to the September 11th fund.

If you would like to catch Flickerstick live (which I highly recommend to get the full feel of the band and their music), they will be performing at the Queen City Music Festival, Friday, September 28. For more info on what other bands are playing and ticket prices, go to

Check out the rest of Flickerstick?s tour dates and download some of their songs at their website, or