1. Could you share how Flip and The Combined Effort came together?
I’d love to! I had played in a ska band in high school but once college rolled around, me and my band mates went our separate ways. Once I graduated and got a job, I found this crazy thing called “free time” and started yearning for the days of playing ska. So I went to my first local ska show featuring The Holophonics and started getting involved in the Dallas-Fort Worth scene. Next thing you know, I’m writing tunes and Eric from the Holophonics produces our debut LP!
Now I just needed a band, so I reached out to friends from college and recruited my band mates from this other band I was playing with at the time. Amazingly, all of them were down to do the ska without any previous experience or even knowledge of it! 6 years later, we’re still doing the damn thing!
2. Mustard finds themselves going back to the song, “In Spite of the System.” How can a condiment or human help improve the system? What strategies can be put in place?
Oh man, that’s a hard question. First off, for the uninitiated, the song refers to the public education system. At this moment in time, what would be best is the system just be torn down and completely rebuilt from the ground up. Unfortunately, that is extremely unlikely to happen.
Right now, teachers are leaving the profession in droves and a lot of it is to the poor working conditions, lack of admin support, and awful pay. Add to that the lawmakers who pass laws about us, with none of them being involved in or education in any way, shape, or form and senseless bills that target curriculum, you’ve got a terrible situation.
Condiments and humans alike can pay attention to local elections like local school boards and state education boards. Vote for the people who have an actual background in education. If you have children in the system, help the teachers out and volunteer. And talk to your elected officials about your concerns for teachers. As I say in my classroom, do your best to be a part of the solution, not the problem.
3. How would you describe your music?
I would say Flip is a ska-punk / hip-hop band with influences from hardcore and pop-punk. It’s like if Flobots was a ska band or if Reel Big Fish had a rapper as a front man.
4. How has Lin Manuel Miranda influenced Flip and The Combined Effort? Do you have a favorite play?
Lin Manuel Miranda played a big part in the beginning of Flip. At the same time I was starting to write the music that would end up being Flip tunes, I was also obsessed with Hamilton. So for a lot of that first record I stole little rhyme schemes and references from that show and infused them into the songs I was writing.
It is definitely my favorite Broadway show, followed closely by Book of Mormon and Noises Off.
5. Ska is an ever-growing and evolving scene but unfortunately does not receive the same recognition or acclaim as other genres. Why do you think this is? How would you respond to someone proclaiming the genre “dead?”
Ska is so interesting, especially here in the states. Because of the ska boom of the nineties and the over-saturation, it was labeled as cringey and lame. But literally everywhere else in the world, it is beloved. I think because a lot of the popular nineties bands were a bit goofy, they became the unintentional representatives of the scene and that’s what people thought of when they heard ska. No discredit to those bands, I love them all dearly but because many people are lazy and don’t want to look into things further, many people ignored the rich and vibrant history of ska and all the amazing artists that fly just a little under the radar.
To someone who tells me ska is dead, I always just ask who was the last band they heard of. Most of the time, it’s a legacy band. Then I point them in the direction of Skatune Network’s playlist “New Ska Music by New Ska Artists”. Usually that does the trick!
6. Mustard loves the concept of “The Polar Bear Song.” Could you share more about this single?
That is a fun one! So my guitarist, Dutty, wrote this song a long time ago and I always told him that this was a ska song waiting to happen. So when flip came around, we made it happen! Here’s what Dutty has to say about it:
“So “the polar bear song” was originally a silly song written in the story telling format describing the adventure of a polar bear migrating South to warmer climates in pursuit of something to cure his loneliness. In this original version it is a “lioness” that cures his loneliness. Lioness being a girl that I dated in college. Years moved on and Felipe really dug the song still, but I didn’t feel the same passion and energy I felt before. So I reworked the verses but kept the chorus the same. This new version with flip was to showcase my new passion and what I love doing. That being playing music with friends. After all this time it’s still a true “love of my life” unlike a fling I had as a younger me. So this one is for my “boys”, my bandmates, and my soulmates. I love these dudes like another family and this one is for them. Cheers!”
7. Could you describe Flip and The Combined Effort’s creative process?
Fo sho. How it usually goes is it starts with a concept. What is the song about, who is this song for, etc. I write some lyrics, put on a drum machine and start looking for the best scansion for the words I’ve written.
From there I’ll find some chords and a riff on the piano. Once there, I write the whole tune out in this music software called Finale. I’ll put in placeholder rhythm section parts, written out horn parts, and general feel instructions.
Then I’ll send it to the band, we play through it, and make changes as needed and then prep it for performance! Repeat ad nausea.
8. Mustard’s human intern used to be a teacher. Collectively, we are excited for your upcoming EP “Hi, is this Ska’s Mom?” What inspired this EP? Will it touch upon any relevant issues regarding education?
That is so cool! I’d love to talk to them about teaching sometime!
So this EP started as just one song. I had a day where I was teaching and, because I try to stay hydrated, I really had to use the restroom and almost didn’t make it. I thought it was a funny story so I turned it into a song, thus “I Wish I Could Pee” came to be. The more we played that song, the more teachers started coming up to us after the show to share their gripes about teaching. So I started channeling more of my feelings about teaching into songs and we got the other two songs “This Could Have Been an Email” and “Tear Each Other Down”.
The biggest issues it touches on are working conditions, stupid regulations, and teacher culture, each of those channeled into the three songs. There are so many more songs and things I want to hit on, but because of various restraints these three will have to do for now. But, if people vibe with this one, maybe there’s another on the way…
9. July 21st you have a show with Eichlers. Have you played together before?
We do and I’m so stoked for it! “My Checkered Future” has been in damn near constant rotation in my car! We’ve never played together before but I’m super looking forward to it. The videos I’ve seen of him are honestly so sick and I can’t wait to see him in person.
10. Where can readers listen to Flip and The Combined Effort?
We are on all streaming platforms and Bandcamp! You can also go to linktr.ee/flipandthece for all our links and what not! Thanks for having us!