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The Lowdown:

Ray Flanagan & the Authorities

Based In:
Cleveland, Ohio



Interview Subjects:
Ray Flanagan

Interview Date:
June 13, 2015

Interview Location:
The Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, Ohio

Same Sky, Different Space (2014), A Hard Shell to Break (2015)

Rock, neo-classic rock, hard rock, heartland rock, progressive rock, alt country, indie rock


Related Articles:

Ray Flanagan



August 19, 2015



#37 Ray Flanagan & the Authorities: Ray Flanagan

by Jason D. 'Diesel' Hamad


Flanagan leads his band the Authority onstage at the Beachland Tavern cd release show for A Hard Shell to Break, just after our interview. Photo by Jason D. 'Diesel' Hamad, No Surf Music.

There are two kinds of musicians (ok, so there are as many kinds of musicians as there are musicians, but for the purposes of this discussion, there are two): those that just get up and do their thing and don’t think about it too much, and those that really use their brain power to formulate a narrative both within their music itself and in the business of being a musician. For people like that, their music is more than just something they do for fun or to make some bread, it becomes a fundamental reflection of who they are, what they think, and how they operate in the world as a whole. Ray Flanagan is the second type.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with the first set. Oftentimes for band members, it’s actually better if they don’t spend too much time mulling over the details and allow the bandleader’s vision to shine through. One of the best answers I ever got in an interview was from Luke Long, the bassist for Ha Ha Tonka. When I asked him why the band had utilized more of his bass vocals on their latest recording than they had previously he said, “I just do what Brian tells me.” That style is perfect for Luke; he’s best when he just gets up on stage and has fun. But for a band to have a chance at being great, its frontman has to have vision, and at just 22, Ray Flanagan’s is surprisingly well formed. His grasp of music history, songwriting composition, and the evolving nature of the music business is impressive, as is the cohesive vision of what he wants to do musically, how he plans to achieve his goals, and how he wants to live his life in general.

Now, I’m not gonna say I thought Flanagan was a dullard before this interview, but the depth of his thought, especially for somebody who has been on the music scene for such a short time, was impressive, and made this one of the most fun interview’s I’ve conducted. That and the seemingly unending stream of cool-ass motorcycles that kept roaring by the Beachland Ballroom the whole time we talked. It’s clear that Ray is a sponge who soaks up everything he can from every more experienced musician he meets, and that kind of attitude will take him far.

At the age of six, Ray was telling people he wanted to be Bruce Springsteen when he grew up. Here he looks his Bossest during a performance at Jilly's Music Room in Akron. Photo by Jason D. 'Diesel' Hamad, No Surf Music.

On the face of it, this is an interview about the new release from his band, Ray Flanagan & the Authorities—an extremely talented group in which Ray’s inspired guitar riffs mark the keystone—but like all art worthy of the name that album is wrapped up integrally with the life of the artist, so we touched on everything from the depressingly dull but sometimes droll necessity of holding down a straight job to the ways rock music has changed (and more or less disappeared) over time and how the Authorities are trying to stay true to the old forms, to the blossoming of the Cleveland music scene and what part Flanagan thinks he plays in it.

So if you want to learn more about one of the most dynamic bands on the North Coast and see just a little bit about what’s behind the modest but brilliant guitar guru and songwriter at their head, this is the interview for you. Summer may be sticking around for one last hurrah, but it’s still a perfect time for a fire, so pull up a chair and join us.



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