Five-piece Flamingods have recently released their debut album ‘Sun’ on Art is Hard and just finished a UK tour, we caught up with them after the tour about future plans and chilli sauce.
Gold Sounds: For the readers of Gold Sounds who aren’t aware of Flamingods (shame on them), can you give us a quick summary of who does what and how you all met?
Craig Doporto: We all do as much as we can. We all play percussion which mostly defines the sound we get, but we all try to play other instruments as well. We’ve been to work in some more melodic and electronic stuff recently. Four of us attended the same school in Bahrain (we go way back) and Karthik met Kamal in London a few years ago. We all do our part to keep the band up and running.
Gold Sounds: Your debut album ‘Sun’ came out a couple of weeks ago, how did the recording process go for it? How long did you spend in the studio?
CD: We were only gonna record the live versions of two tracks at first, just to give fans something more than the ultra lo-fi tunes we already had up on our Bandcamp page. The scope of that project just kept on growing until we had a whole album of new songs and older tunes with new arrangements recorded. It was really ambitious; we felt quite rushed a lot of the time, and everything we recorded was really new to us (especially the songs made in the studio and recorded a minute later) which I personally can hear reflected in the album very well. I actually mean that in a good way though. I hear the album and get reminded of those sessions. At times things got tense and stressful but overall it was a lot of fun, really exciting and the process helped us grow a bit as a band. I think from beginning to end, we spent a few months in the studio.
Gold Sounds: We came along to your album launch show at the Shacklewell Arms and it was such great fun! How did the tour go? Which show was the most fun to play?
Charles Prest: I really loved the crazy atmosphere at that London show – I feel like a lot of people there knew who we were prior and were up for having a great time with us which was really sweet! I definitely think each gig had its special moments, but the one that surprised me the most was Cardiff. We’d never played before so we didn’t know how people were going to react, but the atmosphere was SO welcoming. I really wish we could’ve stayed longer! Also getting to hang out and play alongside a lot of our friend’s bands again such as Boneyards, Meddicine, Herb Diamante was also a definite highlight.
CD: It was such an amazing tour. It’s so hard to say which one was the most fun to play. Every gig had something unique going for it. That Shacklewell gig was definitely the most insane. I’m going to say Manchester was most fun to play because we were supported by the bewitching Cosmic Junk Band. Their jammy style was awesome and watching them put me in the best zone to be really jammy myself and just have a lot of fun with our set. Cosmic Junk Band then joined us for the last couple of tunes too. I think we were all jamming new ideas from out of nowhere in that gig.
Gold Sounds: You obviously draw on a wide range of influences, how has this come about? Is there a particular band or artist that you really aspire to be like?
Kamal Rasool: I don’t really think there is any band we aspire to be like, more the opposite! Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of bands that inspire us, we just try to put that influence only slightly into our music, without the influence being a prominent driving force. We’re attempting to sound like no one else!
Karthik Poduval: I don’t really know if there are any bands we ‘aspire’ to be like as such, but our influences come from whatever we’re listening to, which is, collectively, a really, really widespread range of stuff. There was something written about us once saying that we’re all ‘in love with music,’ which kinda hits the nail on the head really. We just love to play and have fun with it and obviously push ourselves to be better and more interesting. I guess in terms of aspiring to be like anyone else, we don’t want to sound like anyone else but we might aspire to a certain bands ethos, how they do things.
Gold Sounds: What’s next in terms of releases or tours? We heard one of you is going back to Dubai? Can you explain the situation there?
KR: Yeah, due to visa issues I’m moving to Dubai to start working in an independent magazine store, I’m in charge of curating the magazines and music! It’s a sweet gig but it does make things a little difficult for the band. We’re figuring out ways to work around it though, we have a lot planned for 2013!
Sam Rowe: We have started our own record label Thunderfoot Records, which is going amazing at the moment. We have an extremely exciting release coming out in May which is a compilation album featuring bands and DJs of all sound and genres that we have played with before. All the acts are completely different ends of the musical spectrum and their tracks were all specially made for this album ‘Parallel Noise’ so it will be interesting seeing everybody’s reaction to those tracks and providing fans of those acts some new and special material. So far, the album sounds incredible, so we’re super pumped! We also plan to release a brand new lo-fi album around Spring as well as possibly re-release our old lo-fi tapes for fans. There have been talks of a few split EPs coming out with some of our great friends as well as a lot of different concept albums we really want to do. But it’s really tough getting all this written and recorded while we’re trying to finish off our degrees and live on two opposite parts of the earth.
CP: We literally have at least two album’s worth of material waiting. It really sucks we can’t meet up as much as we’d like to due to University, work and Kamal being away – but we’re still trying to get as much done as we can.
Gold Sounds: Will you be back in summer for festivals?
SR: You betta believe it! We have been interested in the festival circuit for a long time and how our performance will transcend to a festival stage. We have been asked to play quite a few smaller festivals, which we are stoked about! There are rumours of two or three major festivals we might play but we’ll have to wait and see. There are no European festival offers yet however we will hopefully be planning a small tour of Portugal because we have such a great fan base over there and many other places really want us to perform. We’re so happy about that, it’s great to feel wanted by another country.
Gold Sounds: Talking of festivals, you guys rather famously played in a chalet at ATP, I’ve been to so many ATPs and never managed to see any chalet shows. How was it? Did security not shut you down?
KR: Yeah that totally got shut down! Haha it was worth it though, a beautiful, ethereal experience. About 60 people scrambled and left, I was the only one left in the chalet with security!
SR: They were pretty furious at first, with police threats and that but actually they turned out to be really lovely guys, and once we had apologised and explained the situation that it was just a bongo jam that went wrong, they were really understanding and let us off with a warning.
CP: It was pretty cool seeing all these random people joyfully jamming together without any care or worry. People were swapping instruments around, chanting, singing and screaming – it was definitely intense but a lot of fun at the same time!
Gold Sounds: I was once told by security I was on my final warning at the Bowlie 2 ATP for throwing honeycomb at chalet windows whilst searching for a chalet party to go to. Do you have any crazy stories from ATP you’d like to share?
KR: That’s amazing! Me and Sam were stumbling around at the Matt Groening curated ATP and saw Iggy Pop in his limo outside the venue. We drunkenly went up and started banging our fists on the car; he opened the door and said ‘get in boys’! He was dressed in this amazing silk robe, the rest is a bit hazy, but yeah it was great, I got a photo with him and everything!
SR: We also got to meet and hang out with Lockett Pundt from Deerhunter and Lotus Plaza for ages! It was probably one of the most exciting moments of my life. He was the loveliest guy. Meeting Daniel Johnston was also a really special moment; he’s a very big inspiration to me.
Gold Sounds: Any ATP shows in the pipe line? You’d definitely fit in on the TV On The Radio ATP in May!
CP: Not at the moment. We had to pull out of an ATP show last minute so hopefully that didn’t rub them the wrong way. But ohhh, the things we would do to play more ATP gigs.
Gold Sounds: How did your release on Art Is Hard come about?
CD: It’s a classic love story really. They liked our album, we liked their mojo. Kamal got in contact with them when our album was pretty much done, they were interested in helping us out and we’ve had a great relationship with them since.
CP: It’s been really great working with them over the last few months trying to make this release as special as it could be for both of us.
Gold Sounds: It’s great to see so many new labels doing exciting things now like Art Is Hard; do you feel like there is a really good music scene in the UK at the moment?
KR: There are definitely a lot of people doing cool stuff in the UK right now, Art Is Hard especially, they seriously rule! But I mean, I dunno, I kind of feel like all these people aren’t getting the recognition they deserve. The UK is so obsessed with nostalgic music, sounds that remind them of music from the 80s and 90s that it often overshadows the musicians and labels actually trying to create something new and un-explored.
KP: I think that the music scene here is blowing up. I actually feel like we’re on the cusp of something really exciting. Music is becoming so accessible, producing and putting up music online is almost as easy as downloading. There’s also just so much different shit out there, which is awesome, there is definitely something that resonates with everyone which on a base level is what music is all about. I’m always mind blown when I see how much new stuff is being put up every day.
CD: Yeah man, I can’t say its bad time to be a musician or music fan in the UK. There is so much support for ‘up-and-coming’ acts such as ourselves and I really feel like there is so much creativity and talent in the underground streams. So I think the scene is great but I don’t think a lot of it really has the reach it deserves. That’s why Sam and I are working on Thunderfoot Records. We’re gonna try bring more exposure to musicians we believe in, just like Art is Hard have done for us. I think the overall quality of the UK music scene doesn’t change much though. There’s always more underground people who are really clever with their ideas and make some really great music. Stuff with some depth or wholeness to it.
Gold Sounds: And lastly, there is a really good DIY ethos at the moment with bands selling tapes, putting on fun shows – we recently saw Dignan Porch do an all-dayer at the Brixton Windmill and they gave away free pitta with falafel etc.Do you feel you are that type of band? I mean, giving away chilli with your vinyl is pretty awesome. How did that materialise? Is one of you a keen cook? Or expert in chilli!?
KP: We all love our food and LOVE chili sauces. I think it was Kamal’s idea to start with and seemed like such a logical thing to do!
KR: We all really love food and I’d been experimenting with sauce ideas for years, unrelated to the band. Flamingods just seemed to be a perfect platform to explore that idea, I came up with an Arabic Tahina inspired sauce and KP came up with a dynamite cashew and green chilli sauce. Unfortunately, due to lack of money we had to scrap that idea for now! It’ll be back soon though and hopefully on sale on our online shop. We used to always sell them at shows for a period last year; we got a bunch of really nice responses!
‘Sun’ is out now via Art is Hard.