If it's been years since a beloved band called it quits, you take what you can get when it comes to any signs of musical resurrection. For fans of the dynamic, Denton-based group Flickerstick, a slight pulse can be detected in the fantastic reworking of "Coke," arguably the band's most cherished tune, released recently by Houston-based country-rocker Rich O'Toole.
As the new millennium rolled around, Flickerstick was known around D-FW as a killer group, capable of setting every stage they played on fire. But in 2001, Brandin Lea and the rest of the guys earned a national throng of admirers when they dominated the only season of VH1's competition reality show Bands on the Run.
Not only was Flickerstick easily the greatest band featured on the show, but it was also the hardest-partying outfit, closely resembling a steamy daytime soap opera.
All of that led to a record deal with Epic and the re-release of the group's stellar debut Welcoming Home the Astronauts, which, in my view, remains as one of the dozen or so best albums by a local band released since the turn of the millennium. Although Flickerstick never hit the so-called big time in the way many thought they would when that record hit store shelves, they soldiered on with a few more fine records until 2008, when it seems the band finally called it quits.
Lea has stayed busy in the Fort Worth music and club scene over the years, most recently making music with his band Jetta in the Ghost Tree and working sound at Lola's in Fort Worth. That's where his path crossed with O'Toole's for the first time.
"My buddy Chris Putnam runs the fan page on Facebook for Flickerstick," O'Toole says. "And one night Brandin ran sound for us at Lola's, and I was blown away because I was a giant Flckerstick fan. I was talking with Chris one night after that and we both had the idea at the same time, 'hey, let's get with Brandin and record a cover of 'Coke.'' It's my favorite song of theirs and such an honor."
Lea joined O'Toole and his band to record the country-rock flavored cover in San Antonio recently, where they also filmed a short documentary to commemorate the occasion.
O'Toole's choice of cover is significant because of its place in Flickerstick history: The song was going to be the third single released from the debut record, but in the economic craziness in the record industry that followed the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Flickerstick's record label stopped promoting the album. "Coke" never saw the light of day as a featured song.
"The fact that Rich has chosen to give it a second shot in a completely different genre is serendipitous," Lea says. "And hopefully this new spin on the song can bring something a new group of listeners can take a bite of. I'm flattered and grateful this collaboration is happening."
Rich O'Toole performs at Lola's in Fort Worth on May 4.