Jim Guittard’s Place

Flat People

Posted in Family, Good Music, Music by guittard on May 13, 2008

SAMPLE Press Articles
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Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Nothing “Flat” About Flat People’s Bob Guittard

Bob Guittard of Flat People

Digesting music from a steady bowl of oldies, with large sprinkles of the Beatles on top, Bob Guittard developed an interest in music very early in life thanks to the combined influences of his father and brother. “I played violin and piano growing up for years, then my brother gave me one of his guitars when I was fourteen and that completely changed me forever. I taught myself to play out of Hendrix and Zeppelin tab books and immediately started writing songs and formed a band with my buddies.”
His first band, formed in the seventh grade, was called The Little Puppy Dogs. His eighth grade year saw the birth of The Daring Chapstick Officers, followed by Fandango in late high school, The Bob Guittard Band during his first year as a Radio-TV-Film major at The University of Texas at Austin, Timado in his second year of college, and on and on through a variety of front man and back up band positions until, in 2007, he formed his current enterprise Flat People. Guittard’s older brother, Jim, writes music as well. He plays sitar, guitar, trombone and he sings. Guittard’s father and grandfather both played brass instruments in their respective high school marching bands. And his mother, maternal grandmother and maternal great grandmother played violin and piano quite well, which explains how he came to choose his first instruments as a child. “[That] was kind of forced on me as a kid. I liked it for a few years then gave it up when high school hit, probably because I felt like a nerd in the orchestra would rather play the guitar.”

Guittard and his wife recently had a child of their own, a little boy named Miles, and Guittard, although he has no intention of forcing music on his son, is adamant that the boy’s time not be wasted playing video games. He’s hoping that a love of music and creativity will grow from time not spent… well… wasting time. “I think about that a lot,“ said Guittard. “He’ll always be around music and I think he won’t be able to help loving music. Kids love banging on drums so I’ll bet he’ll originally be into that. I’m definitely not going to discourage him playing music. I’m all for my kids not melting their brains and wasting the years away on video games. It seems so common these days and is such a huge waste of time. Think of all the time that could have been spent creating art, music, stories, using the imagination, whatever. I don’t get on a soapbox often, but overuse of video games for kids and overuse and prescribing of anti-depressants, especially for kids, really bugs me. I talk about that in one of the songs on my album called ‘Everybody’s Got a Syndrome Here.’”

Guittard admits that his primary musical influences as a now-seasoned songwriter vary greatly from those of his childhood. He continues to cite the Beatles as a major influence, but has added Jeff Buckley, Wilco, Neil Young, Beck, Radiohead, Air, Bob Dylan, Elliott Smith and more to the list, explaining, “All of these folks stretched themselves either musically, vocally, lyrically, or sonically. They were all so passionate and so good. These are the folks that will give me goosebumps on that long road trip at night, or make me cry, or make me wish I could write a song like that. Or angry that I didn’t.”

Guittard has floated from Dallas to Austin to Los Angeles and back again in a quest for creative and musical fulfillment. Originally from Dallas, his move to Austin was prompted by both his desire to attend the University of Texas and Austin’s “vibrant history of music.” Two months after he graduated college, he moved to Los Angeles – following in the footsteps of his brother who had moved there two years earlier and was deeply embedded in the “darker coming” of the 60s era rock revival – hoping to satisfy two dreams. The first was simply to pursue his music. The second was to utilize the RTVF degree he’d earned in college.
“I had aspirations, like everyone else in that town, of becoming the next big screenwriter, director or producer of films. Once I got out to L.A. it was cool, but I figured out that I wasn‘t that into pursuing the film dream and, once I‘d decided that, I figured I didn‘t really need to live in L.A. to do something special with my number one love, music.”
While in L.A. Guittard joined a couple of different bands and played regularly on the Sunset Strip, but didn’t stay long enough to focus on his own music as much as he would have liked to. He said that his time there contained several “dark and low points” which matured him a great deal. His car was stolen and totaled, and he had broken up with his girlfriend, a girl he knew he wanted to spend his life with.
“It made me think a lot. The beach, writing songs, and the upright piano I rented weekly helped me get through it. The journey there was a necessary evil that I look back on fondly.”
Guittard moved back to Dallas in 2002 both in the hopes of getting a “real” job (in case his musical aspirations didn’t work out), and reconnecting with the girl who would later become his wife.
“I’m not planning on leaving Dallas any time soon unless there is a really compelling reason to. Although I’d love to just take off and travel the world, I’ve got some pretty firm roots here and I’m really happy being sedentary for now.”

Art imitates life for Guittard and his music. He stated, “I tend to write about what’s going on in my life, what I’m going through, what’s got me down or up, or general things or insecurities I’ve noticed as I walk through life. Sometimes it’s in the form of a narrative disguised as other folks and sometimes it’s in a vague metaphorical journey that may make sense to me, but no one else. I’m not sure whether it hits home for others or not, but it makes me happy so I’m good with that.” According to SAMPLE Press Music Writer, Jason Manriquez, Guittard’s lyrics are “a cut-and-paste collage of image-laden tongue twisters and fantastical descriptions of everyday occurrences.”
Guittard said of his songwriting style, “I hope [people] think about the lyrics. My songs, I think, are naturally emotive in terms of how they make me feel so I hope they strike a chord with other people. I’d hate to make a record that fails to stir up some emotion in my listeners. What’s the point if not? I’ve never been one to enjoy an entire album of light, fluffy material.”

Guittard’s decision to work with Nourallah on his album was not one that he came by blithely. Although he’d seen Nourallah play a couple of live shows and loved the music, his interest wasn’t peaked until he read the Dallas Observer article regarding the troubled relationship between Salim and his brother, Faris.
“After doing some research, I figured out that he was also a great producer, really putting out some great music. So, because I loved his approach to music and songwriting, I knew he’d be a great fit to work with me on producing my album. I emailed him and he actually said a friend of his had told him about my music already, which was cool. It just seemed like it was meant to be. I later met with him and gave him my songs and he was really excited, so we began the journey together. I can’t say enough about how great that studio experience was.”

The name, Flat People, did not come about until after the studio recording was complete and the final mixing was in progress.
“We were wrapping up the mixing and I was trying my best to take a step back and look objectively back through the song lyrics and general themes that make up the record. Flat People is the result. Vague, I know.”
Vague indeed. But, unraveling the nuances and mysteries behind Guittard’s music and the Flat People name is the link that binds the listener to the sound. However vague it may be, you are guaranteed to be entranced by it.
— Jennifer Manriquez

(Photos courtesy of Bob Guittard)
Copyright: SAMPLE Press, 2008

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