Floor Prepare to Blow Off the Roof
For touring musicians of the Northwest, Florida sucks. It's the nadir, the lowest point. Florida is where you're farthest away from home, stuck in swamps and sea-level humidity. Plus, just look at it. It dangles there limply off a corner of the continent. It's fitting, then, that Floor, bearing a name synonymous with another lowest point, hailed from Miami. Composed of two guitar players with amps cranked to 10 and a drummer hell-bent on breaking drumheads with every beat, Floor spent 12 tumultuous years belting out a hybrid of Melvins' slothlike stride and Karp's three-chord basement pummel. Their signature trick—the bomb string—was based on a fluke: Vocalist/guitarist Steve Brooks broke a guitar string midsong and liked the way the slack made the note so low that it registered only as an amp-rattling, earthquake-sized rumble. Sonically, there was no going any lower, but after powering through a dozen years of lineup changes, sparsely attended DIY shows, bad luck, and finally the death of a loved one, Floor could no longer handle the lows and called it quits in 2004.
Floor was a great name for a band that laid you out flat and made you feel gravity's pull. Brooks chose another appropriate moniker when he kept the fiery formula of simple doom-paced riffs, pop-hook vocals, and the quintessential "bomb string" alive with his next project, Torche. With two LPs, a slew of EPs, and tours with bands like Mogwai, ISIS, High on Fire, and Boris under their belt, Torche achieved the kind of recognition Floor were never able to attain. But Torche's popularity also served to spawn new interest in its predecessor. Olympia label Robotic Empire issued a 10-LP box set of Floor's entire discography last year, prompting the band to play four reunion shows in the Southeast. "The response was so great, we started taking offers for more shows," says Brooks. "I spent over a decade of my life in this band, and now I have the opportunity to play these songs to more than three people. Can't ask for a better reason to pick up where we left off."
And so for the first time in eight years, Floor are set to play Seattle. And while Florida's geographic position in relation to Seattle makes it a nadir for many Northwest bands on tour, the inverse is even more true for these Floridians. "The last show Floor ever played before our 2003 breakup was in Seattle, opening for Sunn O))). We had been to the West Coast a few times before, but only played to a few people or the other bands." For Brooks, the defining moment came as the band rolled out of town. "On our way to the next show in Salt Lake City, I was informed that my boyfriend had died in a car accident in Key Largo that morning. So I flew home immediately. I was devastated and didn't start playing music again until about six months later. A few practices into trying to pick up where we left off, the band decided to call it quits. Two weeks later, I formed Torche. I needed something to get my mind off what was happening in my personal life."
Time not only heals wounds, it also allows perspective. Floor were one of countless bands peddling 7-inch EPs and slugging it out at house shows in the 1990s. While so many of their peers were relegated to dollar bins and discarded handbills, the cult of Floor grew in the wake of their demise. They were a band whose sound caught on posthumously and whose wall-shaking performances became a thing of legend. "We're pretty DIY and kind of recently discovered by most, so it's almost like we're this new band rolling through town," says Brooks. Repeatedly stunted by unfortunate circumstances, Floor see the reunion as a chance to reenvision their history. "I'm happy the band broke up when we did. It gave us time to start over in our own lives and take different paths," says Brooks. "Now we're back together much healthier, stronger as musicians, and inspired to play these old tunes again." Fingers crossed, Floor will break the geographic jinx that plagues so many bands when they find themselves so far away from home. Here's hoping Seattle will be an apex rather than a nadir and that Floor rise to the occasion by blowing off the roof.