With over 200 Q&As under his belt, Shaw will be interviewing underground bands from around the world for Thrills, bringing his unique blend of wit, music knowledge and light hearted sarcasm to the blog. If you like his writing, check out his musical projects: Richard Rose, GOGGS, and Ex-Cult.
ISSUE 01: GRAVE FLOWERS BONGO BAND
Gabe Flores is one of the most active young musicians the Los Angeles underground has to offer. You can catch him on stage with one of his many bands like Hoover III, Richard Rose, Death Valley Girls or Fauxtörhead- his aptly named Motorhead cover band. Flores is also one of my favorite DJ’s in a city full of them, but perhaps his greatest strength lies in his latest project: Grave Flowers Bongo Band. I caught up with Flores to learn more about his band’s sophomore effort out now on Castle Face Records, his relationship to the greater Los Angeles area and the music made there, and what it takes for a devout lizard owner to ditch the tank and hit the road.
Chris Shaw: How did you come up with such an awesome band name like Grave Flowers?
Gabe Flores: My friend David Jasso, we had this band called OGOD, which stood for Over Gain Optimal Death. He was super into blown out noise music, and my name Gabe Flores doesn’t look that cool on a death noise album, so he changed it from Gabe Flores to Grave Flowers. So the name was given to me, and the Bongo Band part kinda was Captain Beefheart inspired.
The bongos we’re a pretty important part of the sound in the beginning too.
Yeah especially on the first record.
How would you say Strength of Spring is different than the debut album?
Just bringing in a bunch of different people into the studio. The people on the second record made it sound way different. Brought in some new members to play electric guitar, and drums, which took us into that Love Four Sail stuff or Man who Sold the World style sound with heavy acoustic guitar that’s just shredding.
So the first album wasn’t a whole band situation then?
Nah it was just me and two other people. It was more “toy” which was cool, but the second one is very jammy, there was a lot of jamming and improvisation in the studio on the second record.
I feel like there are some sadder songs on this album than what I was expecting, at least some melancholy feelings for sure. Am I right to pick up on that type of vibe?
Yeah, with this one I wanted to do some of the darker stuff. If the last one was the Woodstock album, then this one is the Altamont album. I guess I wanted to say a lot of shit just for myself, and to have it out there on record. I got interested in a lot of Ultimate Spinach lyrics and stuff like that. Lyrically, I was stoked on what I did with this album.
This kind of music can explore the darkness too. It’s not always sunny outside.
A lot of like LA psych is all pretty music, but the cool LA psych for me is like Love and The Chocolate Watch Band. I have always been obsessed with all Arthur Lee shit. The way his melodies weave and in and out. And of course, I listen to the Stooges all the time.
Some grown person Psych.
Yeah, it’s like music after you’ve lived. It’s not all flower power. Its psych from the streets.
What made you want to cover the song “Down Man?” Where’d you even hear a Dutch psych rock song?
My friend George showed me that song years ago. He brought the 45 over to my house or something because he works at Rockaway Records and he just picked it up because of the band name Brain Box. I’ve always loved that style of old records that just have a really fat acoustic guitar and a fat beat, and then throw in some electric shit. Its funky and weird and something I don’t hear very often. I like that style. Hopefully we’ll get to tour the Netherlands and there’s some old dudes who know Brain Box.
Who do you like to play with in LA?
Kamikaze Palm Tree, Color Green, Richard Rose, Oog Bogo, Dominque Matelson. Pachyman. All of the homies.
I feel like you have a special connection to that area where you recorded the music video for “Smile.”
That video was filmed in the Angeles Crest area, and it tied in to the Flower Pot album cover that we shot in the Mount Baldy area too. I’m from here, so the Angeles Forest is something I’ve grown up with. I used to ride motorcycles with my dad all throughout that area. I used to fall asleep holding onto my dad while he rode but I wouldn’t fall off, so I guess I’ve always been comfortable up there.
Ok now for my most important question. Would you ever write a dis track?
Fuck yes. Amazing question. To who? I guess I’d really have to hate someone. But yes.
How do you reach Inner Bongolia?
[Corey Madden from Color Green answers this question]
OK, you sit down, at 7:12 a.m.. Primo glass of Whiskey Soda. Splash of coke. Freshly lit cigarette. You line yourself up, maybe put a Fred Neil record on. And then just stare at your fuckin big toe.
Who’s the song Animal Lord about?
That song is about me getting fired from a job. And the dude fired me for shit that was beyond my comprehension. Basically when someone’s telling you “you gotta work on your shit.” And then you’re like no, “you gotta work on YOUR shit.”
What’s your plan for the project once the world is ready to open back up.
Since the singles got released we got signed to a booking agency in Europe. So that’s a thing. Go to Europe. Try to do some tours in the area. I’d love to tour the USA with an opening slot or something. Just kinda go for it I guess. I wanna be touring all the time. I’m content with living in the van. The only thing keeping me tied down to LA is taking care of my lizard.
You should just bring him along.
Yeah, summer tours only. We’ll get him a plug-in blanket.
“I cant play live if my lizard gets too cold.”