So, here we are, a new blog, and the first post (of many I hope) and Riko and Arman have very kindly given us some of there time to tell us about the origin of Flattbush and their influences.
Arman: Hey Riko, remember the worst days of our lives? -- high school. Goddamn, I hated every single day of it. And I thought having a band at that time will lift our morale to survive and counter our boredom. And man, even these days, being in a band blows. Well if our music doesn't have progressive messages it would totally blow and I cannot find myself pushing without it.
But we should have stuck with our initial goal. The initial goal was the sound and vibe of BeeGees, Abba and Sade. Fuck, I shouldn't have bought the expensive bass and gears. Buying that shit made us push the band. I thought we would get our investment back once we started playing at bowling alleys. I could have thrown in the towel a long time ago but the towel is red and the battle goes on.
Riko: Yeah, high school was a total isolation for me. I only had a couple of friends. When they got sick and didn't go to school I was all alone. Our common ground was listening to fucked up music and comic books. I think we're the only people in school who liked Faith No More and Mr. Bungle. The worst was dealing with Filipino-Americans and Filipino immigrants who made fun of our accent and grammar. They're the ones who made fun of us the most. They were more like Americans than Americans, seriously. The culture shock was just too much. You would expect that they would be more welcoming. But of course I have a different point of view now.
Hehehe…being in a band is expensive. Being in a political band is more expensive! You get your car beaten up once in a while for being radical or worse get physically beat up in the future. Hopefully, not. Hehehe…but yeah, I totally agree. If the content of our music was stuck on that artsy fartsy stuff, I would have left the band a long time ago. The content of Flattbush made me persistent.
Arman: And of course we cannot dissect our formula or our influences. People might say we are bunch of rip offs and posers. But you know what, fuck it, we are trying our best to steal from bands and artists. Bands like Faith No More started it all for us. During the 90's we only had access to magazines and MTV. Riko and I pretty much clipped all the FNM pictures from all existing magazines in this planet. We will pay attention to the rock shirts they would wear; Napalm Death, Mr Bungle, Carcass, Godflesh, Brujeria, Primus, Sepultura… Well, pretty much Bill Gould wore the coolest ones. Then we will go to Tower Records and check out those bands they were promoting.
And the band that really struck me was Brujeria. The "Matando Gueros" album. That was my high school soundtrack. It sounds so shitty, scary, funny at times; it has attitude... From what I can remember, it's one of the albums that gave us a blueprint.
And of course, Mr. Bungle gave us the artsy fartsy retarded edge. First time I saw Mr.Bungle, Melt Banana opened for them. And Mr.Bungle kicked my ass. I was blown away. And every time I hear people say that System of a Down is unique, I tell them, "Nah…their shit is remnants of Melt Banana's "Speak Squeak Creak" album period.
Riko: Even if we dissected and gave our formula out there, it's not going to be the same. We only pay attention to the riffs that are appropriate for Flattbush. But what the hell, I am going to give out the formula -- the formula is, we never had formal training. We made making music fun. Fun as in not fucking around but fun as in we are dedicated to spend a lot of time and invest in what we really like.
I definitely remember pasting Faith No More pictures on my high school folders. Actually I was doing some spring cleaning a couple of months ago and I found all these magazine clippings, posters, tapes, etc. I even found the maxi pad that Trey Spruance signed during the Mr.Bungle concert in the late 90's. We couldn't find any paper to get his autograph, so we ended up using our girl friend's maxi pad ( unused of course ). Trey got weirded out. I thought THEY were weird. Maybe all that crazy stuff is just performance. Something that people misinterpret all the time, you know, in music or in visual art. When they hear crazy music, they would have this assumption that the artist must be crazy as well. How about acting? But when you get to talk to them, they are humble. Well, maybe we haven't met or hung out with Axle Rose. I might change my opinion.
I have to listen to Mr.Bungle a lot of times before I can totally appreciate the music. The second album "Caca Volante" is just too much. It's like a different puzzle but the pieces seem to fit anyway. But the rewarding part is that it opened my ears to any type of music. Melt Banana just sounded like a bunch of chickens getting raped in a small shoe box. But I had total respect for them when we got to hang out with them outside the venue and saw how they slept in a tour van. They had these bunks at the back of their van and they were all crammed up like sardines in there. I was like, dang.
Faith No More, on the other hand, had songs that sounded like each could have been played by a totally different band -- which seemed like what actually happened. The nu metal genre bands sounded like ripoffs of each of the FNM songs. Kind of like Korn, whose sound is like FNM's "Jizzlober," and Incubus and Linkin' Park sounded like "The Real Thing" album. But it's all good, what can you do?
What is crazy too is that most of the people who appreciated our music are from the punk scene. I never listened to punk music. I know The Dead Kennedy's but I was very ignorant about the scene and the roots. Later, I kind of dug up stuff about it and now I totally respect that genre because I found out that it's the most progressive.
I never liked Brujeria, but I was entertained by their scary CD covers and definitely by their attitude. The attitude of, "why do you have to sing in english or try hard to learn english?" And, you know, the decapitated head on the album cover and the title "Matando Gueros" really shocked me. What I did was passed it around to my classmates in high school and watched how they would react to the gruesome pictures. My classmates were just looking at me all weird. Hehehe…fuckers! Maybe that's the reason why I only had a couple of friends.
Then during our demo on the Smash the Octopus album I was sharing the stage with Juan Brujo singing Revolucion in some backyard show in L.A. sung in Tagalog and Spanish back and forth. I thought I was going to get stabbed when Juan Brujo pulled out his Machete screaming his lungs out, "Revolucion!" Brujo was also the guy who told me to shave my head and that wearing a rice hat on stage was badass.
On top of all the craziness is you get to hang out with the people who inspired you to make music. So, I guess, it is true that you should hold on to your dreams and always do your best with whatever you want to do in life. The only problem is that we are still broke