jensen and the flips

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“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.

In­ter­view by MARTIN DIEGOR Pho­tog­ra­phy by HUB PACHECO Shot on lo­ca­tion at FELIPE & SONS

Jensen and The Flips ups the game on girls, gigs, and fall­ing in love

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