The Flames CD cover

The Flames were a "sleazy hard rock" band out of New England from 1996 through 2002, featuring Mark Starr on guitars/vocals, Chad Valentine on bass, and Michael Bone on drums.

The band opened for such national acts as Joan Jett (several times), KISS, Lenny Kravitz, Smithereens, and fellow sleazy hard rockers Motley Crue. The band's peak of popularity came at a time when there were few sleaze metal bands on the radio, often losing airtime to the tamer, softer "powerpop rock" sound.

The band released Fast. Easy. Cheap., its first and only album on June 1, 1999, through Joetown Records. The album title itself was admittedly a thinly veiled reference to the three members of the band. It was well-received amongst its fans, and the album received a lot of critical acclaim, such as the following review:

From their grainy band-photo-album cover and punk-era name to lead singer Matt Starr's Flying V guitar, the Flames want their act to evoke memories of a bygone era. Their sound defies the complex taxonomy of modern rock; it's a throwback to the days before rock took itself seriously, before genre distinctions fractured the music world into dozens or warring city-states. It's honest-to-God rock 'n' roll, the sound of juvenile rebellion: Steppenwolf-inspired motorcycle tunes ("Real Cool Bad Guy") and nonsensical teenage anthems a la the Kinks or the Who ("Lover"). The Flames share Weezer's sense of humor as well as their campy American Graffiti mentality; "I Cheated on You" is the hilarious first-person account of a nerd's revenge.


  • Addicted
  • Real Cool Bad Guy
  • I Cheated On You
  • Need to Know
  • Lover
  • Crawlin' For You
  • Pop Music
  • Your Eyes
  • I Need You
  • Love Hog

After the CD, the band had a small lineup change, adding Alex Gossei. They recorded a new demo for a follow-up album, but it was never released publicly. Chad himself gave a copy to his mentor at the time (a professional music journalist), and his mentor noted that it was The Flames best work to date. The new material was a much more polished product all around, the song writing has matured, the instrumentation has matured with the addition of Jr. and Alex, and the production values are higher. What really stood out on the new recordings was the song writing since the songs all had tremendous hooks.

Their sound also changed, becoming more rock-oriented pop. The style of the new songs matched Matt's vocals perfectly. Matt was in his element vocally and he sounded better than ever. The only detraction was that it was not a "current sound" at that point in time; however, he noted that Guns 'N' Roses was not a current sound when it came out and tore up the charts; it was a throwback to Black Sabbath, AC/DC, and Van Halen. At the time, most vocalists sounded like a put-on stylization of gravely outpouring of the soul, basically take Metallica and marry it to Nirvana, and you have how every rock vocalist was trying to sound.

Unreleased Material:

  • I Believe in You
  • Outta My Head
  • 1963
  • I Cheated on You (revised)
  • Today
  • Naked
  • Public Enemy #1

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