By Lisa Morgan
If there was a Musician’s League with an All Star Team, brothers, Armando aka “Mando” and Nick Flores would easily make the starting lineup. Although raised in a family of athletes, and having some success in baseball, both brothers recognized that they were smaller in stature than their high school peers. Rather than face the option of tackling or being tackled by guys much larger than they were, they figured they would have to carve their own niche to compete in their high school setting. They not only found that niche, they excelled in it, and both are members of musical teams that rank high among the valley’s favorite award winning local bands.
Big Brother Mando: “My dad raised us to be athletes. Sports were his thing. Now that Nick and I are both dads with our own kids, we’re pushing our thing on them,” he laughs. “Physical stature was the reason I got started in music. I was smaller so I had to find a way to compete. That, and well, I have to give credit to my little brother, Nick. He was about 13 years old, and I remember him begging my parents to buy him a bass guitar out of a Sears catalog. They got him something like a kid’s instrument, a starter instrument. They weren’t going to spend a lot on anything until they knew we were committed. We found him a little practice amp. He was so excited to have this thing, I thought to myself, ‘If my brother’s going to do it, I better do it too.'”
“As we got started, our music wasn’t high on the list of things my dad would count as his kids’ great accomplishments. But he’s always wanted us to find something we liked. He would say, ‘You want to be a garbage man, you be the best garbage man you can be’. He wanted us to put our best effort into whatever it was that you were doing. My mom comes out to shows once in a while and watches us make fools of ourselves, and loves us for it, of course. She’d probably come out more if we weren’t the ones hitting her up to baby sit.”
As I interviewed Mando, an extremely intense and powerful drummer for the original rock band Blasting Echo, and monstrous bass player for The Pedestrians, I found him somewhat soft spoken. It seemed it was much easier to get him to talk about his brother than it was to get him to talk about himself. Highly respected by musical associates and rivals alike, deeply loved and admired by those fortunate to know him on a personal level, one conversation with this musician, and you can sense the intensity in which he thinks, practices, plays and cares for his relationships.
I asked him what he hoped would come of his music. “I just want to keep doing what I’m doing. I have fun whether it’s with Blasting Echo or Pedestrian’s, or just jamming with friends. I consider myself over the hill as far as rock stardom goes, but music is my drug of choice.” Reflective of the big brother he is, he immediately slipped into sharing what his hopes were for his little brother, front man for the punk band, Se7en4. “For my brother, I’m looking at his band as a legitimate shot for him, that is if he and the rest of those clowns can have the wherewithal to make it happen,” he shared in warm, brotherly fashion. “I know they have the talent, tenacity and the desire, but there’s a lot more to keeping your head on straight, especially in that genre. They’ve got a certain persona to keep up. Certain things are almost expected where you’re larger than life and a certain image is expected.”
“Watching Nick perform is very cool. I’m extremely proud of him. He has an incredible level of charisma that not many people on stage have. Even fewer can command an audience like he does. It definitely makes me proud to see him in his element being so successful.”
Nick Flores : “I’ve always liked music of course. But when everyone else seemed to hit puberty before I did, and I realized I didn’t have the size of the other guys, I figured I needed to figure something else out other than sports. My brother has always been that really cool big brother. Most kids would tell you that their brother would beat up on them or pick on them when they were younger. My brother was always taking care of me. I was a little pest, but still, he’d take me with him and his friends and our cousins to the movies. He’d even take me with him to his girlfriend’s house who had a bass guitar. I had only watched videos on MTV and listened to what was on the radio. She was into Megadeath, Metallica and Motorhead. She’d play stuff for me that made me think, ‘Whoa! That’s crazy!’ I’d never heard stuff like that before.”
“I remember wanting to start a band in 7th grade, and I was looking through a Sears catalog. Mando asked me, ‘What are you doing?’ I told him, ‘I want to start a band with my buddy Chris!’ He said, ‘Why don’t you get a bass guitar?’ I’m like, ‘What’s that?’ He said, ‘That’s what my girlfriend used to have. You know the guy in the Red Hot Chili Peppers with the animals on his legs in the Higher Ground video? That’s what he plays.’ So I picked up the bass and went from there, playing in little punk bands here and there. But me, I’d put the bass down to go party and be a kid. My brother would study it. He learned how to read music and write. I’d come home from goofing off, and my brother would be sitting there with the bass in front of a VHS tape watching the band Primus, stopping, rewinding, stopping rewinding… just so he could get the fingering of “Jerry was a Race Car Driver”. We both grew up liking the same stuff. Anything my brother liked I liked, from Billy Idol, Guns and Roses’ Appetite for Destruction. I remember he got me the albums, Raising Hell and License to Ill for Christmas.”
“Just out of high school, Me and Steve Hall started jamming with Pete Gutierrez. We had a singer we really liked but he ended up leaving. Everyone looked at me and said, ‘Why don’t you try and sing? You’ve got a big mouth!’ I thought, why not. I can jump around and sing some shit. I figured if I acted like I belonged, who was going to question it. But it turned out to become a very natural fit. My brother played with us at the time, and helped me out a lot with my singing. He’d make suggestions like slow down a little here, maybe not so rough there. Mando – he picks up the bass and all of a sudden he’s a god. He picks up the drums and all of a sudden he’s a really great drummer. He can sing really well too! If I need any help with anything, I’ll go to my big brother. He’s someone I respect and trust. We’ve pretty much gone our own directions, but whenever I need advice or I’m writing a song and need an idea, I’ll always ask my brother.”
Maria Flores: After speaking with them, it was obvious that these two siblings have a deep, unconditional and special bond. But I couldn’t help but wonder what it was like for their sister Maria, growing up with these two very talented and strong personalities. “I appreciate them,” Maria shared, “but I can’t get past seeing them as my annoying, over protective brothers. I absolutely dig what they like and play. I remember Mando playing Red Hot Chili Peppers for me and me losing my mind! Mando would show me a bass line while Nick was moshing in the living room all the while explaining the important points of moshing,” she laughed. “I definitely have a love of music as a result of being around them, but I’m more comfortable being the spectator. Music is just natural for them. I can talk the talk but I can’t walk the walk like they do. I know that it’s what makes both my brothers happy, and I’m cool with that.”
I had to press Maria to give me a little dirt on her two brothers, and finally she gave in. “Nick used to nail this awesome imitation of Axle Rose. We’d be watching Headbangers Ball on MTV when MTV played music, and Nick would just pop up and go ape-shit in the living room with this impression. Nick has always existentially been that front guy.”
“Growing up, Nick was the one who annoyed and antagonized me. Mando was the one who would play Barbies with me. But in my later teens, Nick put me under his wing. He would watch over me. They are both very caring and really do put their families first. So, I like them sometimes,” she concluded, the smile and love showing through her voice.
I can’t stress enough, how everyone should make a point to see each of these brothers in their musical endeavors, no matter what your musical preferences might be. They are true talents who will leave you with nothing less than inspiration and a sudden urge to put your fist in the air and shout, “Yeah!!! Rock and Roll is alive and well.”
Nick Flores recently won the award for “Best Frontman” and his band Se7en4 won the award for “Best Punk Band” at the CV Music Awards. Armando’s band Blasting Echo was nominated for “Best Rock Band” 2014 while he was nominated for “Best Bass Player” 2014 and his band Pedestrians won the 2013 CV Music Award for “Best Live Performance Band”.
Follow Nick Flores in Se7en4 at www.facebook.com/Se7en4 and find their newest album “Get High and Fight” at Se7en4music.com. Se7en4 will be performing Tuesday, August 5 at The Viper Room in Hollywood.
This Friday night at the Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert, you can see Mando Flores in action with the Pedestrians. Follow Mando’s bands at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Pedestrians-Official or www.facebook.com/blastingecho