Anthony Vialon took time to answer some questions from SPB about many things Floor which forms the backbone of this piece. Many thanks to Anthony for his time and detailed answers.
Florida-based rockers Floor released one of 2014’s most anticipated releases, Oblation, on Season of Mist in April of that year. Two years prior they played their first overseas show at All Tomorrow’s Parties in London, and would eventually travel back to Europe to support the aforementioned release.
That’s not quite the middle of the story, definitely not the end, and certainly not the beginning.
Floor was started in 1992. Their initial releases were EPs, singles, and split singles, primarily on vinyl. Though they recorded material for multiple full-lengths before they split up in 1996, they shelved the recordings for years.
“A major reason why we hadn’t released a lot of that material was due to poor production. The recordings just never came out how we thought they should sound,” Vialon says. “We wanted them to have the same power and beauty like how thought we sounded live, which we felt we finally accomplished with the self-titled record.”
After splitting up in 1996, Floor would return for a reunion show in 1997 with a new drummer, Henry Wilson. This abbreviated return included the release of the aforementioned self-titled record in 2002. It was well-received and was seminal in the development of a following that lasted into the next decade.
In 2004 Floor started a period of dormancy that lasted longer than the previous departure though one of the records that was recorded and shelved nearly 10 years earlier, Dove, was released that year.
"Years later, when we got back together and doing shows again, it seemed like everywhere we played people would sing along. This added a whole other dimension to the shows and we’re grateful every time it happens.”
By the mid 2000s the band was still years away from fully re-emerging. Throughout those years a lot of things changed in the music scene, and within those changes were the seeds of growth for Floor’s eventual re-emergence.
“Everything changed with the internet,” says Vialon. “More people have access to your music but you tend to sell fewer records. Touring and merchandise have always played a part, as far as making money is concerned, but it’s even more integral now. And with the interest in vinyl again, we’ve tried to have the records and packaging have a kind of aesthetic, like holding art in your hands.”
Years went by with each member of Floor moving on to other projects.
Then in March of 2010 Robo 084, aka the Below and Beyond deluxe box set, was released on Robotic Empire (with the help of Pirates Press). A pressing of 305 copies included: 10 LPs, 1 seven-inch, 8 CDs, and a 32-page booklet in a custom cloth-bound box.
It sold out.
The 8 CD collection was also available as a separate release with an initial pressing of 700 copies.
In March of 2011 a 2000 copy second press of the 8 CD collection was released.
So, where did all this come from?
“Originally, we were just going to do a re-release of all our singles/seven-inches on one album for No Idea. But with Andy and Robotic Empire, he was cool with us putting everything out there. It was a massive undertaking and came out beautifully.” He continues, “I’d kept a box of cassettes that had everything we ever recorded, which we listened to while transferring them to CD. We got together at Henry’s and just started running with ideas while Andy kept notes and helped put it all together. It was a great time doing that with him.”
In regards to assembling this box set, and working with Steve again, I ask Anthony about that experience and if it had been some time since he listened to those songs.
“For many of them, yeah, it’d been years. But while listening to them, the vibe we used to share started coming back. We always had a sense of humor about what we were doing and it was good to be communicating like that again.”
Below and Beyond would also see the first public distribution of the other record recorded around the same time as Dove.
“Saturnine and Tears, which was recorded in 1995, didn’t come out until we released the box set, “ says Vialon.
With some momentum behind him after the release of Below and Beyond, and playing reunion shows between 2010 and 2013, Vialon went to work on new material.
“When it came to writing, I had some prolific nights. Lack of sleep, and it’s four in the morning, and stuff starts reeling off. Sometimes the songs write themselves. It’s, like, of course that’s the next riff, you know what I mean?” he explains.
“So I got together with Henry and he helped form it all into songs. When everything was more solidified, we sent it to Steve and he added his ideas. Soon after, the three of us met up at Henry’s and brought it all together. A couple of the songs were being worked on prior to the band splitting up in 2003. We felt we kind of have our own sound with the tuning and the vocals, you know what I mean? That said, the goal was to have Oblation sound like a follow-up to the self-titled record. We recorded with Mark Nikolich at Atomic Audio because he helped us with that one. “
And how did that first practice feel?
“Really stoked,” says Vialon.
Oblation comes at listeners in 14 songs and features stunning art from Francesco Lo Castro (who later designed the art for Floor’s Homegoings and Transitions/Shadowlines release).
In reflecting on Oblation Vialon says, “It’s like the self-titled album but more evolved. Steve’s vocals had matured with all the work he’d done with Torche. Lyrically, I wanted there to be a positive message, something that might raise the spirit. The thing is, even though we had all that time to work on the new record, it seemed like things got kind of rushed at the end. When we finished the ST, we listened to it over and over for a while. With Oblation we didn’t get a chance to do that. The only thing I would change is maybe the track order of the songs. That might sound insignificant but, in terms of listening to a whole album from start to finish, it’s important. Other than that, there’s only, like, one or two little changes I’d make. Overall, though, I love the record. We put a lot into it. I think fans of the band were happy with it. I mean, the sound of the band is there, the songs have hooks. It’s definitely the follow-up to the Self-Titled record.”
Floor has played every song from that record live at least once, and Vialon offers his perspective of playing Floor songs live.
“The best shows, where we have the most fun, are the ones where people sing along with the songs,” he says. “That started after the release of the Self-Titled record and, as I recall, in Gainesville at the last show I did prior to the band breaking up. It was the last show of that tour and there was this room full of people actually singing the lyrics. Years later, when we got back together and doing shows again, it seemed like everywhere we played people would sing along. This added a whole other dimension to the shows and we’re grateful every time it happens.”
And now, at the start of 2017, Floor is in a good place and without knowing exactly what is ahead Vialon says, “Eventually, I’d like to do one more record and hope to tour again.”
Whether actively recording and touring or not, Floor will forever leave a musical legacy that will actively be appreciated by many fans for years to come.