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Flaccid Finishes With A Flourish

Nolan Kelly, right and Flaccid
Jamie Day
Nolan Kelly, right, and Flaccid will perform a final show at the Castle Theatre on Saturday, Sept. 22.

The Bloomington-Normal psychedelic rock band Flaccid is calling it quits after six years. But founding member Nolan Kelly said members are not splitting without releasing a final album, and performing a final show at the Castle Theatre on Saturday, Sept. 22.Of the breakup, Kelly said the quintet that includes drummer Nick Ward, bassist Kyle Woith, guitarist Jack Kendrick, and keyboardist CJ Kelly remains best of friends.

“The last thing we would have ever wanted was the band to end with any hard feelings,” said Kelly.

But sometimes life gets in the way and recently band members realized the dissolution was inevitable.

“We had an opportunity to end it on one final big note as far as one last album release combined with one blowout show to bring everyone back together for one proper sendoff. At least we’re doing it the right way, as opposed to fizzling out,” said Kelly.

Album cover for "In And Out" by Flaccid
Credit Nolan Matthews, album cover; Jamie Day, album design
Album cover for "In And Out" by Flaccid

Despite the amicable breakup, the final album “In And Out” is packed with breakup songs. That’s not unusual for Flaccid, but it begs the question: Are the songs more than boy-girl love gone wrong? Kelly said “no.”

“I’ve never been too great at writing happy songs anyway,” said Kelly. “Usually if I’m happy I’m out doing something fun and by the time I end up feeling a song that I’m writing, it’s usually for some fixed emotions.”

The albums second song “Clean & Wiggle” was penned by bassist Woith. It IS a song about the band, and could be interpreted (in hindsight) as connected to the breakup.

The time is near/your goals appear You don’t want out/it’s what you’re all about You stop and sang/but you missed your que Now you’re not quite sure/what you need to do Your batteries are old and all ran out Wires running all throughout your house Colors running each and everywhere You’re not quite sure which one needs repair Oh no this can’t be true You better stop and think it through

“It was written a year, year and a half ago,” said Kelly. “It certainly wasn’t about the band (breakup) by any means. But the more time goes by, the more you realize certain songs can be applicable to other things. Which is what is great about all music. It can mean one thing to you at this point in your life and next thing you know, the song takes on a whole new meaning.”

Kelly wrote the album’s lead song “All The Same” that uses a juxtaposition of bittersweet lyrics with upbeat music.

I’m running out of time/ I’m losing my mind/ We have lost so much control/ But it’s fine/ ‘Cause I have begun to feel alive

“When you’re writing sad songs it’s kind of fun to take a stab at trying to make it more of an upbeat, dance feel,” said Kelly. “As opposed to being real minor and sad in nature.”

“Jams” must be part of the conversation when discussing Flaccid’s music. If you caught their live show at Make Music Normal this summer, you might have caught what felt like a 30-minute take on the Allman Brothers song “Whipping Post.” For about 10 minutes the improvisation rendered it nearly unrecognizable; you would have been forgiven to think the band had morphed into another song. That spirit is what Kelly said the band was aiming for on “In And Out.”

“We really wanted to capture that vibe of the band and what it is, which is such an integral part of what we are with this recording experience,” said Kelly.

Six years after Flaccid’s organic beginnings, Kelly looks back fondly at what the band with no clear initial goals accomplished.

“Especially coming from basements calling yourself Flaccid, you never really know what to expect, but it’s definitely gone way above and beyond anything we ever expected of it,” said Kelly.

What is he most proud of?

“Everything,” said Kelly. “To be able to make albums and music together that people care about is probably the biggest thing,” said Kelly. “And the fact that we’ve been able to do it as best friends … you really couldn’t get much better than that.”

Listen to the entire GLT interview with Nolan Kelly of Flaccid.

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Jon Norton is the program director at WGLT and WCBU. He also is host of All Things Considered every weekday.