Flipron are a four-piece band that produce an otherworldly collision of bittersweet melody and vaudeville panache.
The band’s debut album Fancy Blues And Rustique Novelties features warped surf guitars and dense, clever, witty lyrics – plus frantic organ sounds.
musicOMH caught up with the guys inbetween sets at their recent gig at Bath’s Porter Club.
“My young son was playing with an egg slicer in the kitchen and I thought that sounds like its in E minor, so we recorded it on the new LP.”
Ladies and Gentleman, roll up, roll up and welcome to the wonderful exotic world of Flipron. Step inside to witness a miscellany of musical hall moves and twisted, mischievous lyrics. Come into the pharmacy of dusty specimen jars containing fairground organ sounds and freak show pedal steal guitar.
The stage for tonight’s gig in Bath’s Porter Club is decorated with twinkling fairy lights, plus garland’s of blue and pink Hawaiian plastic of flowers. They’re a dapper looking bunch – lead singer Jesse Budd has shades of young Marc Bolan crossed with the dark glint of Jerry Sadowitz. Keyboardist Joe, in his chic beige suit, is all smiles as his fingers dance a jig over the keys of his instruments. The rhythm section of Mike and Mark infuse a laconic manner with a dark brooding intensity.
– Jesse Budd from Flipron on what makes an interesting record.
The obvious starting point for anyone who’s heard Flipron’s music is the fact that their sound is so varied and multifaceted. It turns out the band all have differing tastes as Jesse explains: “We all like different stuff, good stuff, we all bring different things to the mix”. “Well, apart from Coldplay,” Mark notes, “don’t ask him about Coldplay”. The withering look on Jesse’s face, suggested that he does not have much time for Chris Martin and his bands brand of innocuous indie rock.
Jesse expands on the origins of Flipron’s unique sound: “I’ve been fairly skint in my time and have spend a lot of time in charity shops rifling through boxes of old records. It could be the picture on the cover or something like the word gypsy, or even a glimpse of a sombrero that draws you to a record. I’ve built up a collection of Klezmer music and it’s influenced my song writing on the new LP. It’s quite close in sound to Eastern European gypsy music, which I’m also fond of. After a while you lose the sense of irony attached to these kind of records and starting developing a real interest in the sounds and feel of the songs.”
These magpie tendencies make perfect sense when you listen to Flipron play. It’s refreshing to hear a band cite influences that reach out beyond the usual suspects. There is some admiration of late ’60s rock and pop in the form of early Rolling Stones and The Byrds but the loam that feeds the fertile imagination at the root of Flipron is more eccentric than that.
Keyboard player Joe quips that they like anyone, who is a Ray: “Ray Charles, Ray Davies, and for me Ray Manzarek, and well…Ray Reardon I guess” gesturing towards his close cropped hair.
– Jesse Budd starts up the Protection For Musical Instruments campaign.
The band use a lot of unusual instruments, such as accordions, pedal steel guitar and even skeleton bones. It’s another manifestation of their junk shop aesthetic, as Jesse explains: “If you spend too much time writing songs on one instrument, say the guitar, you tend to begin to write everything in a similar way. New instruments create new sounds, new moods that inform the way you write. I love rescuing old instruments for second hand shops and learning to play them. My first pedal steel guitar had pegs missing and was almost impossible to tune, but it provided great inspiration for the surf guitar sounds on the songs. The accordion I play on Rustic Casino, the tune came out that way. I was attempting to learn how to play it and stumbled across those funereal chords.”
“My favourite keyboard is my Elka,” adds Joe, “it cost only 60 quid second hand, some of the keys don’t work but it has a great sound and adds something different again into the Flipron mix.”
“The interest in Klezmer music led me to get a cheap clarinet off Ebay”, continues Jesse. “I’ve used it on the new LP. The instruments do inform the songs: take Cereberus , it started life sounding like James Brown on the ukulele. It sounds great on a Dictaphone as you can speed it up. Now it’s a little more conventional in sound but the whole melody would have been different if I had started it on a guitar. If you think of someone like the Incredible String Band, they had evocative and individual voices and songs that sound like no-one else due to the instruments they play.”
Nothing about Flipron’s approach could ever be called conventional. How often is it that you get mentions of James Brown, ukuleles and Greek mythology from a band, let alone in one sentence?
The whole band talks with enthusiasm about the recording of the new LP. The sessions have taken place in Mike’s house. The sunny ambience of the place has added a feel good vibe to the recordings, being less pressured for time they band have been able to further refine their sound and develop an even more warped and wonderful blend.
The band are touring in support of Donovan in May and have a host of festival appearances lined up for the summer including Glastonbury. Do yourself a favour, take a ringside seat and watch the wonderful world of Flipron. You won’t regret it.
Flipron – Gravity Calling
Flipron @ Point, Cardiff
Flipron – Biscuits For Cerberus