The 612 Interview with Ross Flora
If you were to write an intro for “Me And Abilene” before it played on the radio, what would you want listeners to know about the song? I would want people to know that this song has been on my mind for years. I’ve had a rough sketch of what I wanted it to say and sound like, but every refinement never felt right until this version came together. Getting “Me and Abilene” to a finished point was kind of like the first domino to fall in writing the rest of the album.
6 Things You Don’t Know About Me:
Growing up on the family farm in Virginia. Can you share a music memory from a holiday celebration with your family? One memory that stands out to me is when my little sister and I were young and played in a Christmas Eve service at our little conservative country church. We decided to do a rocked-out version of “Carol of the Bells” (I think) with her on piano and me on guitar, but we didn’t tell anyone other than our dad that we were going the full Trans-Siberian Orchestra route. Most of the congregation had probably never heard an overdriven guitar tone, and some eyebrows were raised. We didn’t realize then that it might not have been their favorite, but they still found a way to be supportive of us, and it’s one of the few times I got to rock out with my sister.
Your songs include stories from your rural roots to life on the road. What new books are on your to-be-read list? Right now there aren’t many interesting books, literary-wise, on my list. I’m working my way through Joel Salatin’s books on modern-day agriculture, trying to learn how to put together a sustainable plan for my family’s farm in Virginia. For a more casual topic, I’ve been reading books on fly fishing—both the how-to books and short stories from old fishermen. You’ve traveled the nation playing music. Which venues do you hope to debut at in the next five years? A few places I’d like to say I’ve played are The 40 Watt in Athens, GA; The Burl in Lexington, KY; The Fox Theatre; The Beacon Theatre; Red Rocks; and definitely The Ryman.
If you could live in any other era of history, it would be _____ because _____. That’s a hard one to pick. I would have loved to have been around to see Old Kingdom Egypt, Ancient Greece, Democratic Rome, etc. for a year or two.
Realistically though to live in an era, I would say growing up in the 1950’s. Getting to experience “Golden Age” America and witnessing most of my favorite musicians become legends. I would most like to learn how to _____ because _____. At this point in my life, I think I’d most like to learn how to fly a plane. I love riding motorcycles because they’re so freeing, I can only imagine what the feeling of controlling a machine in the air is like!
Who inspires you the most and why? The most inspiring person to me personally is my grandpa, Melvin Flora. He worked our farm day in and day out without complaint or taking shortcuts, and he was good to everyone around him. I rely on his memory and legacy through the good and bad days to motivate me to try and be half the man he was.
Can you share 12 songs that have influenced your life and career? “Jessica” Allman Brothers. This is my dad and I’s favorite song. I’ve heard it so much throughout my life and each time is like the first. Around 1:55 may be the best part of any song ever IMHO. “Fly Me to the Moon” Frank Sinatra. Frank is my favorite singer; his voice is effortlessly powerful. “Melissa” Allman Brothers. Gregg is the biggest influence on my singing. The amount of soul he puts in each note is unlike any other. “I Am the Highway” Audioslave/ Chris Cornell. Again, a huge influence on how I aspire to sound and make people feel when listening is Chris Cornell. Like Gregg, he puts so much soul in his words. “These Days” Jackson Browne. This one gives my chills every time I hear it. It’s one of those sad-but-it’s-ok/ melancholy ones like Jackson Browne does best. “One Headlight” The Wallflowers. I think this is one of those rare absolutely perfect songs. Nobody overplays, the whole song moves as one and the vibe is perfect. “Angel Band” The Stanley Brothers. This is my favorite gospel song, some of my best memories are from doing this song in church growing up. “Baby Love” Mother’s Finest. This is the hardest hitting funk/rock song I’ve ever heard. “Freebird” Lynyrd Skynyrd. Don’t judge me. It’s a masterpiece in my book. I heard it for the first time over a year after starting to play and being obsessed with guitar as a 12-year-old and it changed my world. “Kashmir” Led Zeppelin. This was probably my favorite song for my early years of playing. It just sounded different and helped me think of music with a wider view. Jimmy Page is still one of my all-time favorites. “Wolves” Big Wreck. Another one of those rare perfect songs to me. Ian Thornley is as technically proficient as they come as a guitar player and singer but makes his music melodically pleasing, which is not an easy thing to do. “Old Before My Time” Allman Brothers. Gregg sang this one later in his life and it’s the most moving song I can think of. I had a light-switch-flip moment while singing this at a coffee house when I was 17 and found the soul in my own voice. * “Lowrider” War. It’s my dachshund’s favorite song.