In November 2021, Fort Worth Magazine ran an oral history-style interview with the original members of Flickerstick in conjunction with the then-recent releases of two of the band’s records, a double-album vinyl edition of their 2001 debut Welcoming Home the Astronauts and a new compilation, When We Were Young: Singles, B-Sides & Rarities 1997-2004. Since I was a fan of the band from their packed shows at the now-demolished Aardvark near TCU and then their stint on VH1’s Bands on the Run, the conversation was a fond reminder of Flickerstick’s heyday, but it also conjured the emotional equivalent of a wince, because at the time, their eventual demise was kind of a bummer to observe. The short version is that they ground to a halt in the wake of lineup changes hastened by a lot of hard living, long touring, and half of the members’ own desires to move on to other things. Seeing the band together for a photo a dozen years after they had broken up was nice at least, but then, near the end of the story, frontman Brandin Lea provided this quote: “I’ve never given up hope that one day we’ll play again and end it the way it should have ended so many years ago. I love these guys with all my heart. Playing with them again, even just one last show, would mean the world to me.”
This weekend, Lea will get his wish, when the original lineup of himself, guitarist Cory Krieg, bassist Fletcher Lea (Brandin’s brother), drummer Dominic Weir, guitarist Rex Ewing, and drummer Todd Harwell will play two sold-out reunion shows at House of Blues in Dallas. And then, in the fall, Brandin, Harwell, and Ewing will take the band on the run again, with guitarist Beau Wagener and bassist Fatima Thompson filling in for Krieg and Fletcher. I called Brandin to talk about how he was feeling and how his wish to play another time with his old band finally happened.
“The main reason: It was the Flickerstick Facebook Group page,” he said. “Over the last couple years, there have just been a lot of people interested in [a Flickerstick reunion], people from all over the country, Canada, Europe. … These fans have been asking for it.”
Started a decade ago by former Colleyville mayor Chris Putnam, the Flickerstick Official Facebook Group boasts some 3,500 members, many of whom regularly post old pictures and videos of the band in their prime.
“The interest has been there for a while,” Brandin said, “and, in fact, there was talk of getting together four years ago, but some of us just weren’t ready, weren’t in a spot to do it, but, y’know, I’m 47. Rex and Dom, they’re in their 50s, and with the vinyl edition of Astronauts out last year, we just thought maybe we should do this. Kind of now or never. You never know what’s going to happen — someone could get sick or whatever — and I’m really happy we’re finally doing it.”
Of course, that the band got together for a photo, let alone any shows at all, was a big surprise. Weir was fired in 2003 over major personality conflicts with the other members. Krieg quit in 2005 when his fiancée got pregnant and he realized supporting a family on a mid-level alt-rock band’s take-home pay was not a viable lifestyle for him. When Harwell, a powerhouse drummer from much-beloved, dearly departed Dallas rockers Doosu, replaced Weir, he was a great fit, as was songwriter/guitarist Tim Locke (frontman for Calhoun, a Flickerstick contemporary), who quickly absorbed Krieg’s role.
“Todd and Tim really helped us keep it going,” Brandin said. “People forget that we kept it going for almost 10 years after we had that [ordeal] getting our first album back” from Epic Records.
Yet times were changing. As the 2000s neared their end, Fletcher finally quit, leaving Brandin and Ewing as the only original members. In January 2009, Flickerstick announced their breakup on their Myspace page.
“After Cory left,” Brandin said, “he and I didn’t talk for 14 years.”
Brandin and Cory Krieg were more or less the co-leaders of the band, and as such things go, they butted heads over a million different issues, most minor, some major, and many of them born of a clash of egos. Now, however, the old frustrations and fights have been forgotten and/or forgiven, and the members are on good terms. Even Ewing, whose only contribution to the Fort Worth Magazine interview was “I’m not interested in talking about any of it,” is all in.
Brandin said that Ewing had maintained that harsh outlook until very recently. “He wasn’t into it. Corey wanted Beau to sub for Rex, and then out of the blue, Rex just changed his mind. I heard he saw some found footage of us that Cory posted. And then he was like, ‘I’m down for whatever.’ ”
By Brandin’s own admission, their two reunion shows are no small feat — half the band has hardly played in 15 years, and two sold-out shows in HOB’s main room with nothing but some rehearsals are not exactly warm-up gigs.
“I’m excited, but also, honestly, I’m pretty nervous,” Brandin said, “but I know how to perform in a rock band, and I know how to put on a good show.”
In his estimation, Flickerstick’s impact is couched in missed expectations but only because the band was that good.
“One thing I’ve heard for years is how Flickerstick was the band that should have been huge,” he said. “Not could’ve been but should’ve been. It’s nice to hear that, but that really is our legacy. And I think that’s cool. I don’t know how things might’ve turned out if this or that had or hadn’t happened, but I know people are excited to see us now, and that means a lot to me.”