jensen and the flips
“Screw all the people that say there’s no money in music. They’re either just plain lazy or they don’t want it as much as they think they do.”
MY TAXI SLOWED DOWN to what seemed liked a scene from Mad Men: at a barbershop, a group of guys in white button-downs, neckties, and black trousers was standing outside, some smoking, some just leaning against their car as they chatted about. It was almost embarrassing to appear in torn jeans. Introductions were made, hands were shaken, and nally, I met one guy who was in a plain shirt. “Jensen,” he says. Soon enough, he changed into his own button-down (a black one), and they were complete—Jensen and The Flips, who, while very much a boy band, are far from being boys. Onstage, Jensen Gomez (guitar/vocals), Mike Gemina (drums), Carlo Maraingan (percussions), Choi Padilla (vocals/bass), Justin Mendoza (bass), Mel Roño (guitar), Miggy Concepcion (keyboard), and Sam Valenia (guitar/vocals) trade their hoodies for the dapper uniform and soul and R&B.
Their sound is perfect for a Friday night at a jazz bar with cold beers, dimmed lights, and loosened neckties. But look closely, the same guy might have also been wearing Vans. It is in the curious play of lyrics and music that The Flips have struck a balance between the classy and the youthful, a style evident in their rst album, “Honeymoon,” which they launched last July.
Now that the local soundscape is dominated by alternative music, EDM, and social media-driven pop charts, it’s refreshing to nd people who found the guts to slow it down and take the time to savor music for what it is. “We’re not really after money by doing this,” Jensen explains. “Even if Jensen and The Flips is over, as long as any of us is still up for it, we’ll be out there still making songs.” As their third single, Slow, goes, “No rush, no rush, no rush.”
How did you guys form the band? Jensen Gomez: They were my bandmates when I was a solo artist.
Carlo Maraingan: ell Well, we were riends friends rst. J: That, too. Mike was my professor and the others were my classmates back in Benilde. Carlo, well, I used to hang out with him in the nearby Ministop. C: We’re both from Cavite, too. J: I asked them to be my bandmates for my solo thing back in 2010. I was just lucky they agreed. But now that I’m out of my previous label, we decided to form the band with a concept—we wear button-downs and we play soul music. What made you decide on that direction? J: I’m a big fan of concept acts like Earth, Wind, and Fire or Justin Timberlake, who have a solid image when they perform. C: Or Slipknot. ( laughs) J: Yeah, Carlo’s actually a metal drummer. This is just his alter ego.
C: The Sexy Demonist. Most people actually describe your music as “sexy.” C: Our main target audience are women aged 16 to 20. ( laughs) Mike Gemina: For [Carlo]? Hell no, it’s 16 to 40. J: He’s the one with the moustache; all the titas love him. M: He’s gonna make us rich. J: But to describe our music, it’s soul, pop, and R&B.
M: ndAnd irty. J: Soul is generally sexy.
Justin Mendoza: It’s like a gentleman with a
sexy side. ( laughs) Why “the Flips”? M: “Flip” is the derogatory term for Filipinos in America, like, “freaky little island people.” We decided to use it because it was catchy. Also, we didn’t have a name when we were invited for our rst gig two years ago. We just used it and it caught on. How long did it take to create your debut album, “Honeymoon”? M: A year and a half? J: In terms of songwriting, probably two years. Before we became The Flips, I already wrote Love
Child and Stay With Me, and the rest just came together as we went along. The last song was actually written when we were already recording the album.
What’sC: the story behind it?
I was with my girlfriend and I told her, “It kinds of feel like a honeymoon tonight, doesn’t it?” And then I just had to call everyone. “Guys, we have a title for our album.”
J: When I was arranging the tracks with our producer, Ling Lava of Lions and Acrobats, we created a narrative out of the songs:
Be, Used To
the rst track, talks about coming from a break up and then, Not This Time, talks about the anger that stems from that. You’ll want to take it slow thus the next song, Slow, then you make a mistake, which is Dangerous. Finally, the last track, Borrowed, goes back to the person you broke up with and you’re thankful for the relationship. M: Ooooooh so that’s what it is! ( laughs) J: But actually we just made it seem it had a story. You have pretty good feedback for it. J: Yeah, we have pretty good friends. C: Paid friends. But are there things you want to improve on?
J: De nitely, performance-wise, better musical arrangements and more elements.
M: We want to make our shows more interesting as an experience.
C: Maybe if we can add a few more instruments, why not? And if we already have enough money, perhaps our own light show, a pole, and thongs. ( laughs) How are you guys like onstage? J: There are a lot of times when we’re all tired from our day jobs; some of us are still in school, actually. But when it’s time to perform, there’s a switch we turn on and then suddenly, we’re ready.
M: It’s an unspoken discipline we all have. We’re like an NBA team during game time.
J: But we have our slow days. Sometimes it takes us until the midset to get it going. We adjust with the crowd. What keeps you going in pursuing music? M: I think I speak on behalf of everyone that when you really want to get things going, you need to try rst. If really want to, you can make music your career. Screw all the people that say there’s no money in music. They’re either just plain lazy or they don’t want it as much as they think they do. There are lots of opportunities for people to pursue it: get the proper network, practice, and be good at what you do.
J: But in general, The Flips is our happy band. There’s no pressure to make money out of it.
C: We’re actually just quite lucky that people are paying attention to us. We’re just surprised at how people receive us. Though, even if we didn’t get the same attention, we’ll still be happy enough just to play music. Do you think there’s a shift in how people see OPM now?
J: The way I see it, people are looking for new things. I feel like they’re over and done with what’s only on the TV and radio and are looking for new options for entertainment.
M: And even the bands we idolized as kids, they’re also saying that they’re done—Kamikazee is doing a farewell concert, Urbandub announced that they’re disbanding. Only a few of the old guard is still going strong. In a way, they’re already passing the torch to the kids.
J: New generation OPM is already so different and diverse.
M: No matter what genre you fancy, there will be something for you. I feel like the local music industry is gonna turn around real soon.
Mel Roño: I think everyone is showing their individuality. Before, young musicians had solid artists to look up to and imitate. Now, young musicians want to do something new.
C: We all have our different in uences thanks to the Internet. There was a time when OPM had a distinct sound, but now, everyone has their own unique style. What’s next for The Flips? J: We’re releasing a new single from the album, Dangerous. C: It’s about funny businesses in the car. ( laughs) M: And bipolar tendencies of people. J: We’re also creating a new set with more songs, and changing into an all-black uniform.
C: Hopefully, a new album. Long term, maybe
a Grammy. ( laughs) Speaking of the long term, until when do you see yourselves doing this? M: As long as we can stay together! ( laughs) J: Probably until 2070. C: Or until my drinking problem hits me.
Jensen and The Flips ups the game on girls, gigs, and falling in love