The Flight Station Find Their Wings

Local Emo-Poppers claw their way to the top

Jul 1, 2009 at 2:06 pm

When The Flight Station’s founding members, guitarist/vocalist Corey Moore and drummer Corey Powell, were 13 years old, they started a band simply to bang out their adolescent energy on some musical instruments that happened to be lying around in Moore’s dad’s basement.

Two weeks later, the Pearl Jam- and Beatles-inspired youngins were playing in front of a festival crowd of 500 on a fluke.

“We were so nervous, man. And we sucked!” assures Moore, reclining in his plastic deck chair while swatting away giant bugs on a swampy night at the Ludlow-Bromley Yacht Club.

However youthfully amateur that debut performance, the experience seems to be the defining moment for the Ludlow, Ky., natives. They’ve aspired to modern American Pop greatness ever since. After the Coreys recruited fellow guitarist/vocalist Alex Wheatley and bassist Josh Roaden from their stock of high school friends (and rival baseball team players), the nascent Flight Station morphed into a Deftones/Incubus-sounding band … until the early-2000s Emo-Pop wave hit.

“Before, we were Alternative Grunge. But then, the first band we heard that was kind of Emo-Poppish-Punk-Indie was Jimmy Eat World,” Moore says. “That’s when we started changing our musical style.”

Jimmy Eat World opened the boys’ ears to Dashboard Confessional, Sunny Day Real Estate and what the perpetually wide-eyed Powell calls “mid-range underground” groups like Lovedrug and Copeland. They learned that it was possible to blend hard-hitting, riffy verses with soaring, harmonized choruses, add some synths and a layer of post-production sheen, package the thing, call it a Pop song and sell it.

Moore lays it out plainly: “We kind of want to be Pop, because that’s what record labels want. They want to get a hit song. They don’t want something they can’t sell. And we want the same thing. So we’ve got to write the poppy songs.”

For a non-coastal, Midwestern town with a notoriously parochial attitude and a penchant for going on obsessive jags over swaths of in-vogue bands that operate in one genre, Cincinnati and The Flight Station, with their decidedly lofty major-label-fame-andfortune goals, don’t always see eye-to-eye — to say the least.

“We don’t feel at home at all in Cincinnati,” Powell says. “We started out heavier, and back then we kind of felt like we fit in.”

Now that the defiantly proletarian band has injected a major dose of Pop into their sound and factored heavy marketing into the modus operandi, Cincinnati’s (post-)collegiate, trendsetting hipster purists probably wouldn’t want to have anything to do with ‘em. But that’s OK. Because besides drawing a solid crowd in Covington haunts like The Mad Hatter and the Madison Theater at shows with similarly ambitious acts like Kristen Key (think a Cincinnati-styled Kelly Clarkson) and fellow Pop-Rockers Rosemary Device and Heroes and Madmen, The Flight Station is one of those rare local groups with its sights set higher. And they don’t make any bones about it either.

“Sure, we see ourselves living in California, hanging with celebrities. If you’re there and you’re signed, that’s the dream,” Moore says in his excitable drawl.

“You’re playing music and not having to go, ‘Aw hell, I’ve got to go to work delivering pizzas for the next eight hours trying to pay rent,’ ” Powell adds.

It’s this kind of full-time-band lifestyle that The Flight Station’s after, and they’ve been diligently crawling their way out via the available self-promotion routes in this new, weird era for the music biz. This year started with a voteresult-based write-up (under the ironic heading “Hometown Heroes”) in Emo/Punk go-to mag Alternative Press. Last year, Wheatley set up a one-time-fee licensing deal with MTV after the channel’s people found The Flight Station’s hook-filled, radio-ready anthem to that state of dreams, “California,” on PureVolume, an online database for unsigned bands. The next thing they knew, the song showed up during a spot on The Real World Hollywood.

But the dudes have also put in the traditional band man-hours and dealt with the traditional band bullshit, from living off maxed-out credit cards while touring the nation in a van with a bad starter and bald tires to getting ripped off by lazy promoters. They also dealt with those dreary tour off-days with typical Flight Station aplomb: Since they didn’t have a show scheduled in San Antonio, they hung around outside the AT&T Stadium after a Spurs-Lakers game, busking, hustling and handing out CDs.

“We made, like, 90 bucks,” Powell says. “(The Spurs) lost and people were still tipping us!”

It’s this kind of self-reliant resourcefulness that the band hopes will pay off. While they’ve hired local management team Rox Entertainment to help out with some booking, they do most everything else on their own.

“If we do it ourselves, we know it’s getting done right,” Wheatley says.

The good-natured guys toss a couple curveballs before the interview ends. Moore says if The Flight Station had total creative freedom, they’d make their own Sgt. Pepper’s, and it would sound like Sigur Ros. Wheatley likens the band’s thought process to Eminem, who knows how to write hits that sell and still fill a record with uncompromising songs that you’d never hear on the radio.

Wheately ends our discussion by saying, “We don’t want to sound like musical prostitutes. But we kind of want to be.”

The Flight Station: a modern band indeed.

THE FLIGHT STATION ( celebrates the release of its new music video 8 p.m. Thursday at the Madison Theater with Windsor Drive, Rosemary Device, Walk the Moon and Watson Park. Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.