Florence Black frontman Tristan Thomas is something of a rock’n’roll prodigy, but you wouldn’t believe it to hear him talk. Modest and easy-going, his manner in conversation is more like someone waiting for the punchline than the frontman of a band who racked up more than a million streams on Spotify before they’d even released a record.
“There’s loads of great stuff coming out of Wales these days,” he insists. “Especially with bands like Those Damn Crows, Scarlet Rebels and Everyday Heroes, the scene has really come together.”
Stick him in front of said band (completed by bassist Jordan Evans and drummer Perry Davies) and he becomes an entirely different person; a confident, thunder-voiced demigod whose band bridges 70s heavy metal, 80s arena rock and punchy, modern rock’n’roll. Shades of Thin Lizzy, Guns N’ Roses, Alter Bridge and even 00s glampunks the Zico Chain all pop up in Weight Of The World.
Florence Black’s debut trades in the kind of escapist magic forged in postindustrial heartlands that helped make hard rock a global sensation in the first place.
Florence Black started out playing covers but found more satisfaction playing their own songs.
Back when they formed, the safe money was in covers sets on the pub circuit. But these three weren’t in it just for the money, and soon started slipping their own songs into sets. “We’d get people coming up to us to ask: ‘What was that song?’” says Thomas. “Which really confirmed [the choice] for us. It wasn’t easy, though – we made loads back in the day.”
Coming from a working-class town has given them a strong work ethic.
“Starting out, we played a lot of little pubs, but eventually worked up to social clubs and bigger venues,” Thomas says of his upbringing in Merthyr Tydfil. “Our whole lives we’ve took odd jobs wherever we could, working on construction sites and the like, to get money to help the band. That’s what people do here – work and build.”
They were hooked on rock’n’roll early.
Thomas was nine when he first fell in love with music, when he heard Led Zeppelin’s Rock And Roll in his dad’s car. “The drum intro got me fired up and I knew it was the kind of music I wanted to play,” he says. “A couple years later I got to see Status Quo. I’d got a mate and we’d both got these guitars, so we’d go around clubs and pubs in my dad’s car with our amps – these two little eleven-year-olds playing Quo and Guns N’ Roses!”
In his teens Thomas played with original Budgie drummer Ray Phillips.
“Ray saw me playing covers in a pub, and came up afterwards asking if I wanted to play with his band. Of course I did! I knew of Budgie through Breadfan, and once I started with him I got really into them and they became one of my favourite bands. I loved song titles like In The Grip Of A Tyre Fitters Hand and Forearm Smash. Ray taught me a lot about music and life in general.”
Post-Malone’s dad loves Florence Black.
“Post-Malone’s father is a massive fan. We’d got a message on Twitter saying: ‘Boys, I love your stuff!’ We’ve asked him if he can get his boy on a Florence Black song but heard nothing back yet. He loves his rock and metal, so you never know.”
Slipknot’s Corey Taylor is also a fan.
Generally speaking, tweeting a band to listen to your music doesn’t pay off. So imagine Florence Black’s surprise then when they got a text from Corey Taylor’s management inviting them to support the Slipknot/Stone Sour singer at the Bataclan in Paris.
“We were working as crew for Deep Purple that day at the CIA,” Tristan remembers. “It was mad, being in this place where I saw my first ever band and getting a big offer like that. We didn’t get to hang out with him in France, but we got to do another show with him in Switzerland where we had dinner with his son and girlfriend.