By Noe Gutierrez
The Yip Yops and The Flusters first met two years ago at 111 Music Fest. Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 7 p.m. the doors will open to The Hood Bar & Pizza in Palm Desert, California and it’s only a matter of time before the venue reaches full capacity. My suggestion to you is to arrive early for ‘420 Coachella Inbetweener II’ to witness the sonic and optical experience of the year! The entry fee is $8.00 and is ALL-AGES! Special guest is electronic solo artist Quay.
I was able to catch up with Ison Van Winkle and Ross Murakami of the Yip Yops and Dougie Van Sant and Danny White of The Flusters recently at Coachella Valley Weekly Headquarters.
Minutes before going to press we found out that The Yip Yops will be performing this Saturday at Coachella Festival at 12:40 in the Gobi Tent. Congratulations!
CVW: Tell us about the show and provide an update.
Van Winkle: “This show is all about the Yip Yops and The Flusters. The spotlight is on our two bands and it’s on the valley. As a band we’ve made a lot of steps forward since the last show, both musically and with the business contacts we’ve received. We’re in a progressive state and we don’t plan on stopping. We’ve always had the mentality of never being ‘OK’ with what we’re doing.”
CVW: When will we see a Yip Yops release?
Murakami: “There’s a constant flow of new music coming out of Ison. He’s a madman! He’ll stay up until 5 or 6 in the morning.”
Van Winkle: “I graduated from high school last year and my sleep cycle is upside down. I’m working the graveyard in writing songs. The reality is there are new songs that we desperately want to show to people and bring them to the live performance, but we don’t even know if we can even capture what they need to be. It’s what drives us. To us, the song is never finished. We rehearse 6 to 7 days a week sometimes and during that time we’re looking to make the songs more interesting to play. We’ve spent our time recording and finding our sound live and in the studio, trying to capture the raw energy on the recording.”
CVW: What is it about you and The Flusters?
Van Winkle: “It seems we’re on the same trajectory as The Flusters. That’s why we work so well together.”
Murakami: “When our bands play together it’s an event.”
CVW: You’ve had issues in the past with outside forces.
Van Winkle: “We’ve had a little reluctance with involving others because of problems we had in the past. We’re now better for it. That situation opened our eyes to all the bullshit. We’ve built a cautionary wall around us because of what we’ve been through. It’s worth waiting so it’s something we can get behind. We want to make sure that it’s something that we feel can last for the next 30 years. We don’t want to throw it out there and hope that something happens.”
Murakami: “It’s very clear to us that we’re a band that needs creative control. We want to be able to do what we want to do and we know what we want to do. The music that is being created is moving so fast and that is part of the reason we have yet to release anything.”
CVW: How do you feel about moving forward?
Van Winkle: “The valley is our home base and it always will be and to really let the music reach its potential we have to leave and expand. We’re always thinking ahead. We did do some recording just to go through the exercise of who we are. We went into the studio and we just did it. We got back to our roots.”
Yip Yops were nominated for five 2017 CV Music Awards: Best Alternative Band, Best Live Performance Band, Best Youth Band, Best Frontman and Best Keyboards.
CVW: What are your thoughts on ‘The Inbetweener’?
Van Sant: “You can expect some cool shit! There’s not going to be a cooler show this year produced by local bands. Everyone has a style of doing things. We have our style and other bands have their style. There are different scenes that represent different things. We happen to rely on a lot of the vibes we want to create at a show. We idolize a lot of the same artists. Through that we’ve materialized our own styles that go together synergistically. The shows that we’ve put on in the valley are their own thumbprint. We’re proud to have that. It’s just pure vibe, immersive and transportive. We’re excited to perpetuate that idea and that concept even further. This show is going to be better than the last two were. It’s advantageous on a lot of levels. We’ll have industry people who are in town and then we have the people who are super important to us, our local fan base.”
White: “We like working together because we share the same vision, goals and values as artists.
This is the last time to see our full set. You won’t see us until after Summer in the valley.”
CVW: The Flusters and the Yip Yops represent many styles of music.
Van Sant: “We somehow take you through four decades. You got the 50’s, 60’s and a little bit of 90’s then you got hardcore 70’s/80’s. In the Yip Yops, I’m watching reincarnated Devo mixed in with a little bit of Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem, With The Flusters it’s the vintage surf sound mixed with a little bit of Pixies and Shoegaze. All these genres that I love are packed into our two bands. It makes for a fun night.”
CVW: Both bands are involved in every aspect of this show.
Van Sant: “Do we need to do the amount of work that we do for these shows? No, it’s not about need, it’s about desire. We want to and we love it. We get to do this artwork called promotion; to get it out and share it. The artists who worked on the event artwork are Tricia Lapena, Moze Lapena and Brelinda Wadly. We’ve assembled a world-class creative team that has taken us to the next level. Their materialization of our concepts were done with such execution. The photographer, Robert Brossfield, is a very skilled photographer. You’re only as strong as your team. There’s a very skilled team of local artists that come together to make this happen.”
White: “Everybody on this team has the same love and desire.”
CVW: What’s it like to create this ‘vibe’?
Van Sant: “We’re on this operations end. In the crowd there’s all these relationships forming with people that are there. We all share this space. We curate a very unique crowd at our shows. I’m amazed at some of the relationships that have formed out of the scene we’re creating, that’s the other magic of it. We don’t always get to see that because we’re on the operations side. That’s the trade-off. What we represent is something much greater than just playing shows.”
CVW: Your first ‘Inbetweener’ show was a huge success.
Van Sant: “We threw it together and it worked really well. We realized it was us who brought the fans to the show. The fire marshal was contacted and we were at capacity at 10:15 p.m.
White: “Someone came into the green room and told me and Doug about the sell-out. That was the first time that happened at one of our shows. We walked out back and looked around and we saw a line. People were getting turned away and calling us to get them in.”
CVW: What are your plans this summer?
Van Sant: “During our black out time we’ll be recording and going out on a national tour. That’s more than enough to black you out a bit. We are going to be a different band when we return. The experience alone will transform us.”
White: “I just left my job. I had been working in a restaurant in Rancho Mirage for the past 5 years. We’re so busy that I can find time with the majority of my day doing something for the band. I’ve set myself up financially to do so and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Van Sant: “We’re going to hit 20-30 cities with heavy concentration on the south. Danny has some connections in Jackson, Mississippi and the New Orleans area, while I have close ties to Philly and the Tri-State area. The most unpredictable part of the tour is when we do the northern-mid portion of the country.”
CVW: What’s the songwriting process like?
Van Sant: “The mission of the artist to us is to really chase that with everything you got. If it doesn’t set you on fire then why are you doing it?”
White: “Sometimes the song is not ready and it can be months before we can finish it and then it just organically will write itself one day when we are not expecting it to happen.”
Van Sant: “We try not to force solutions.”
CVW: Why is the Coachella Valley your home base?
Van Sant: “The desert feels like home. If you have a child in a city, that city becomes your home. We had a child in this city.”
White: “We represent the Coachella Valley when we’re out.”
Van Sant: “I came here to change my life. I was 30 when I came out here. I wanted to change the way I was living my life. I cut out a lot of bad stuff and re-focused myself spiritually. I’ve been sober for almost four years now. I made the choice to abstain from drugs and alcohol because it was killing me and I couldn’t be the person I wanted to be. As soon as I got sober out comes The Flusters. I’m right on track and it feels like I’m being pulled by this gravitational force every second of every day closer and closer to the source. I don’t think I would have ever had that connection with that source had I not made that choice in my life for me as an individual.”
White: “I was 27 when I came to the Coachella Valley. This valley is different in a way that I’ve never experienced. From the moment I stepped off the plane I fell in love. We want to spotlight this valley.”
Van Sant: “To have such an amazingly beautiful place to come home to and rest our heads and be able to quiet down and get back to writing.”
CVW: Dougie, how do you plan to remain abstinent and how does the band cope with friction?
Van Sant: “My prevention plan is my spiritual condition. It’s not just spiritual as in sober, it’s to have a spiritual connection with my band. Psychology is everything on the road. Exhaustion, repetitiveness, tight quarters, uncertainty, homesickness, these things can cause a lot of pandemonium within the band. Then you mix four creatives in the pot and things can go haywire. We’ve worked from day one on creating a healthy culture of communication and brotherhood in our band.”
White: “We don’t let underlying resentment manifest. We’re very open and talk about our issues with each other. Obviously, we’re going to have issues with each other and we try our best to be open and have a good attitude.”
CVW: The Flusters should write a self-help book on how to stay a band.
Van Sant: “You see so much of it fail. You see so many groups that have all the talent in the world and can’t get past it. The destruction of one’s own ego as you walk into the door is really important that we all work as individuals to keep that in check for one another, because we all need each other. I need them just as much as they need me. We’re all doing the most significant thing of all of our lives as individuals, together. What we represent to each other is everything.”
CVW: ‘The Inbetweener’ is an all-ages show. Why is that important?
Van Sant: “We negotiated an all-ages show. What we represent is the music scene, not the bar scene. It’s about the art and about the music. Every show we’ve done together with The Yip Yops has been all-ages. I want to be an artist that can share his art with everybody.”
CVW: Any last thoughts?
Van Sant: “As a 34 year old man I can sit here confidently and say this is what I want for my life. It’s very freeing just to be able to say that and not feel half-in or half-out about it. I’ve been in music communities in other cities, there’s just something about this desert with the love and the way that original artists are valued. Another mission of ours is to put the value back in this thing; to reinstate that what we do has value. We want to remind people that there is value in original local art.”
The Flusters have seven 2017 Coachella Valley Music Award nominations: Best Band, Best Unsigned Album, Best Alternative Rock Band, Best Bass Player, Best Live Performance Band, Best Frontman and Best Male Vocalist. The CV Music Awards rake place Sunday, June 4 at The Riviera Resort in Palm Springs. Go to www.coachellavalleyweekly.com to vote for your favorites.