New Arman Maniago Interview

FLATTBUSH Bassist and songwriter Arman Maniago very kindly spared me a few minutes of his time to talk about how he got into playing bass, working with Bill Gould, songwriting and more...


So Arman can you tell me your earliest memories of music?
Whatever was on the radio or anywhere. I didnt get into a specific style of music until I was in high school. There where a group of kids into hip hop,punk,ska,gothic,grunge,metal, and this group of kids just hated each other. You know how it is when you where young, you have to belong in a group of friends. But I pretty much hung out with all these cats, but they think im whack cuz I was a hardcore faith no more fan hahaa...and cant really fit with the metal guys, they said FNM is gay cuz it has a keyboard. I would get in arguments how grunge is the worst music ever and I hated Janes Addiction. I dont know exaclty why i hated them, I think it was probably because i thought FNM, Bungle and Brujeria where badass!

What was it that made you want to start playing the bass, and when did you first pick up the bass?
I wanted to play drums and wanted to be Mike Bordin, Dave Lombardo or Pete Sandoval. I thought playing drums looked fun, and plus when you watch or hear Mike or Dave play or Pete blasting on Terrorizer, that shit has soul n just has a good feel. 
But then I ended up playing bass because I was assigned to. We used to live in a small apartmnt and learning to play bass was practical. I started late,19 yrs old. I thought I need to catch up on my chops. And in two weeks I could play pretty much all Primus songs. 
I remember back then I was frustrated learning FNM bass licks, even if I have tabs infront of me,I can't catch Billy Goulds chops. He has a weird style, which is great. Every FNM song has its own vibe and character, example when you play caffeine, your bass strap needs to be adjusted to the max, almost to your knees. Thats because its the attitude of the song and thats what it is asking for, and then you try to learn evidence, then your fuck!, totally different vibe and approach. You'll get a wierd headache trying to get the perfect mindset. 
Of course they could be easy to learn but to get the feel of it and get into Billy's mind and to incorporate it with your normal way of learning, its very challenging and frustrating.


You have had the privilege of working with one of the greatest bass players/songwriters of our generation in Bill Gould, can you tell me what that was like and how much have you learnt from Bill?
It sucks that Billy doesn't get much respect, I guess because he is just a bass player. I learn a lot from how you analyze mixes, production, how frequency work together when you write music and dynamics, and not just music, he is a great photographer and has good taste in art. 
As of composing music, he would say, it may sound good n feel good when you play your music live, but the next thing is, does this music still sound as good when it will be coming out from two small speakers.
What I remember the most, he says "its your music, do whatver you want, and no one is stopping you"


I've noticed that you have a very unique playing style, how did that come about?
I like it as percussive as i can. Its a big wood, has four strings, some wires and knobs, nothing special about it and actually kind of boring when you look at it. I just thought I'll maximize my fun fucking with this instrument. But if I pick up a guitar,a stick or whatever,I would approach it in a non traditional way and fuck with it. 
Picking up my bass and when I write songs, I thought you gotta approach it with an attutude as how Picasso used clay.


So for all the gear geeks out there can you tell us about your setup?
Costume Zon Sonus 4 string bass, Ampeg SVT3 pro, Ampeg 6x10" cabinet, Boss pedals(bass overdrive,distortion/overdrive,flanger,digital delay,tuner) digitech whammy pedal, dunlop cry baby. 12yrs old set up n equipmnts.


So how do you go about writing a Flattbush song, what is the secret formula?
We kind of have our signature sound and vibe so whatever I come up with is Flattbush. Most of the time I have a riff, show it to the guys and it'll build from there, and I dont waste time,when I say i'll write a song i'll write a song and it'll become a song. Of course it has to be catchy and have hooks everywhere!


That Tagalog shit sounds amazing with your music, was it always your intention to get Riko to sing some parts in your native language?
I was a huge Brujeria fan, I thought having it with our native tounge would be cool, and when Mike Patton came to see us live he said "keep that tagalog shit! That shit is fierce!" and we met Brujo of Brujeria during our early days and he pushed us on that direction.


Your currently in the process of making a new EP can you tell me a bit about that, is it still going to be focusing on the struggles of the people back in your homeland? and music wise can we expect something different from the previous albums?
It'll be the same, this time we are trying our best to rip off Napalm Death, Melt Banana and Primus. Yes, content has to be our everyday struggle and our people, domestic and international issues. As long as there is no free health care, free education, fair minmum wage and immigration law and US imperialism there would be FLATTBUSH music and art.

Flattbush are currently working on a new EP and video.

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