Flanelhed at the HopMonk Tavern, Carolyn McCoy
Kelly Finnegan (photo: Carolyn McCoy)

Words by Carolyn McCoy

There is a band with a fiery force that has a powerful hunger for loud amplifiers filled with grungy guitars and soaring vocals, throbbing basslines and heart-stopping drums. This force is a band called Flanelhed, and it slams itself out of Novato, California, blowing its way out of suburbia for over 25 years in order to let loose the power of its hard-driving, edgy, and wickedly original rock & roll.

Guitarist John Murphy and vocalist Chris Matthews met over 30 years ago and established a strong musical connection within their friendship, and in 1993 both men created Flanelhed. The history in short: the band gigged, put out many albums and changed various members throughout the years, but they persevered with a lot of hard work, a continued refining of their sound, and a fine-tuning of their chops. Along with drummer Evan Frank, who returned to the band in 2008 after originally joining in 1998, and with the recent addition of bassist Jeff Cox, Flanelhed has a solid lineup that creates the explosive sound they have become renowned for.

With the 25th anniversary of the founding of the band, Flanelhed released their newest album, Seven, and rocked its birth at HopMonk Novato. Covering the new album in its entirety, the band opened with the pulsating grunge of “Don’t Look Down” and the slow but throbbing “Light Speed.” They then jammed it into high gear with  the thundering, good-riddance breakup song “Cold,” the heavy-metal vibe of “Last October,” and the hypnotic groove of “Away.” The band didn’t skimp on old favorites from prior albums, such as “Tornado Woman,” “Fall To Earth,” and the epicness of “Static.”

The show was pure Flanelhed: crashing drums, searing guitars, deep bass lines, soaring vocals, and an intense sonic depth that all forms itself into intelligent and deep rock and roll. It proves that, even after 25 years, the sound of Flanelhed can still rearrange your neurons. Flanelhed is a band committed to their music as much as they are committed to creating a cohesive dynamic that combines the equal efforts of all players, for that is what keeps the music real and true.