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Fiddlehead frontman (and schoolteacher) Pat Flynn claims the space where hardcore and history meet

Pat Flynn (left) and his Fiddlehead bandmates.Pooneh Ghana

Any worthwhile hardcore group can manifest a mosh pit with a barrage of quick riffs. But how many of those bands cram healing and historical figures into the fleeting seconds in between? Boston’s own Fiddlehead unfurl a unique approach to the genre, braiding searing riffs and reflections on grief — plus an overarching nod to a Roman philosopher — on their August album, “Death Is Nothing to Us.” The record bolsters their relationship with Boston indie label Run For Cover Records, which signed Fiddlehead in 2018 — four years after the band formed — and has released their trio of studio albums, plus the 2019 EP “Get My Mind Right.”

After returning from a rapid-paced tour across Australia and Asia, the band is primed for a few North American shows this fall. Emphasis on a few: Frontman and vocalist Pat Flynn is a full-time history teacher in Lexington, and he doesn’t mix shows and school nights.


Ahead of Fiddlehead’s all-ages show at Royale on Friday, Flynn retraced the overlap between his roles as a songwriter, scholar, and punk.

Q. Do you experience “tour life” differently because Fiddlehead doesn’t tour frequently?

A. Because it’s a short amount of time with Fiddlehead when we go out, we tend to do as much as we possibly can. It hurts when we come home, because we’re tired and very sleepless, but it makes everything seem a little more urgent, which I really appreciate.

Q. Your new album’s title comes from a poem by Lucretius, the ancient Roman philosopher. How did you stumble across that?

A. I am a history teacher, but I’m not in the archives of the Vatican rummaging around. Around winter break, my history department was having a book swap, a Secret Santa type of thing. I happened to get this book by this Yale historian, Stephen Greenblatt, called “The Swerve.” The part that really spoke to me was in the preface, in which he’s writing about when he was a young man. He came across “On the Nature of Things” by Lucretius shortly after his father had passed, and his mother was fairly obsessive with death and grief. The line “death is nothing to us” really spoke to him.


The general ongoing theme of the band is really an exploration about the ways in which death and grief can influence one’s life. This is a powerful line to me, and it’s a nice way to put a bit of a capstone on what I’ve been exploring in my mind with this band.

Q. You’ve said you don’t want listeners or yourself to romanticize grief and depression. How do you find that balance between healthy expression and romanticizing?

A. Writing about it and really getting it out of [your mind] creates the line that you can see you need to walk. I think it’s when you don’t talk about it, you make nothing of it other than creating a bloated mess in your head, [is when] the line between romance and your emotions can become quite blurry.

Q. What is your favorite thing to study with regards to music and outside of music?

A. There are no real history books in the world of hardcore. It’s somehow endured in a very global way. I’ve seen the entire world, I’ve been to every continent — except for Antarctica – because of this network of hardcore. It’s coming up on 50 years of existing, and I find it incredibly fascinating that it has continued to exist. That’s a fascinating topic that I’ll obsess over with some friends of mine.


That’s in the world of music. In terms of history, there’s a pretty deep appreciation in my classroom for the Haitian Revolution. It puts to shame both the American Revolution and the French Revolution in terms of its significance. The 10-year-long story of it is richer than any “Lord of the Rings” or “Game of Thrones” story you could possibly imagine.

Q. Were you a history nerd growing up?

A. I was. Long story short, I didn’t know how to read when I was in the second grade, which was ironic, because the year before that my father was a Colin Powell speechwriter. I missed recess every day that year in order to learn how to read and catch up. When I got to middle school, I had this really excellent history teacher named Mr. Hall. He treated history like it was a problem to be solved, and I became a total history nerd. I won the history fair every year. I just fell in love with it.

Then I got to high school and it was back to just memorization. I was a history buff in the sense that I liked to ask questions about history, but that wasn’t entertained. I did what any angry teenager would do and I got into punk rock. It just so happens that punk music has a lot of great bands that write about history, so I rekindled my love for it in college.


Q. You once commented that teaching is the perfect job to have as an artist. Why do you feel that way?

A. I don’t get to know them [students] personally throughout the year, but I get to see their behaviors, we have conversations, and I get to see them think. Sometimes, if they stay in touch, I see them evolve over the course of a couple years. It’s this wild flow of humanity! My role in the band, I think, is to talk about life, and there’s so much life around me.

Q. Has being part of the Boston label Run For Cover Records shaped the band?

A. From a strong local scene you can feel the confidence and encouragement to see the world, tell the world of your local scene, and represent your local scene. I think being on Run For Cover has been a wonderful motivating force for all of that.

It keeps this local, Boston, Massachusetts, energy going. I grew up listening to the Dropkick Murphys, but I would love for the Boston music scene to have a greater identity than just “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” because Massachusetts has such a rich history of unbelievable talent, and the ol’ Dropkicks tend to get center stage. It would be nice for that to evolve.



With Never Ending Game, Praise, Anklebiter, and Downtalker. At Royale, 279 Tremont St. Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. $25-$30.

Interview was edited and condensed. Victoria Wasylak can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @VickiWasylak.