Happy Mondays Interview Series: Black Flamingos

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Surf music wasn’t a sound I ever really gave much time to. Outside of the random Dick Dale tune, surf rock to me, was the surf of The Beach Boys and beach blanket bingo movies from the 60s that got skewered on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Then I ran into Vincent Minervino. Through working with his other band, The Brigantines and just conversing with the man himself for the past few years, my eyes were opened to the amazing world that is surf music. In Summer 2014 Pop-Break was brought on to be the press sponsor of the 2014 Asbury Surf Music Festival, once again my eyes and ear were opened to even more great surf stylings, but this time on a more local level including Plato Zorba.

So when I heard Vincent was joining forces with Rob Butkowski from Plato Zorba to form a new band, I was immediately stoked (and don’t worry folks, Plato Zorba and The Brigantines are all still together and will be performing throughout the year). And when I heard Black Flamingos for the first I was hooked. This trio, which also features Declan O’Connell of Bog Iron Bloom, is an amazing surf instrumental trio, a rarity in the surf scene. Tonight, September 8th, they are taking the stage of Wonder Bar’s Happy Mondays concertt series. So I grabbed my old friend Vincent and had a conversation with him about the new band. Enjoy!

Black Flamingos Are (Members of the Band & The Instruments They Play): Rob Butkowski / Guitar, Declan O’Connell / Bass, Vincent Minervino / Drums

We’re Based Out Of: Freehold, NJ

The Story of Our Name Is: It’s kinda like ‘Pink Flamingos,’ except black.

Any New Music Coming Out Soon: We did a live session with Ben Feldman at Coffee Haus Studios in July. He’s going to release songs from that as part of his web series. The first one – ‘Devil’s Punchbowl’ is up on YouTube now. We’re hoping to get in the studio soon to record a full-length to release this fall. It will include mostly original material with a few covers.

You’ve Seen Us Before [In Other Bands]: Rob / Plato Zorba, Declan / Bog Iron Bloom, Brother Valiant, Vincent / The Brigantines, Roses Are Red

Our Sound Has Been Likened to: We’ve heard comparisons to Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, Messer Chups, and The Hellbenders.

Cool/Famous Bands We’ve Played With: We are opening for The Chop Tops at The Brighton Bar on September 16 and Agent Orange on October 18 at Asbury Lanes.

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People have seen you guys before in Bog Iron Bloom, Plato Zorba and The Brigantines — how do Black Flamingos differ from both of these popular bands?

Vincent Minervino: BF is an all-instrumental power trio with elements of surf, spy, spaghetti western, and jazz.

There are so many different incarnation/variations of surf rock – what makes you guys stand out from all the rest of the surf-influenced bands out there?

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Vincent Minervino: Trios are rare in surf music. Because of the clean nature of the tunes, it is very exposing. Rob and Declan both have backgrounds in jazz, which makes for a unique writing process. I just try and keep up! Also, we are taking a direct approach to connecting with our audience. We have a Facebook page (of course), but we’re steering clear of other social networks, hoping instead to build relationships through direct, real-world communication lines.

You guys are instrumental only – does that present a challenge to keeping the audience’s attention when there are no vocals?

Vincent Minervino:It can. Lyrics combined with melody create a feeling for you. With instrumental music, the emotional response is open to interpretation, which to me makes it more personal and exciting.

A bit of more broad, sweeping question — what is it that you love about being in Black Flamingos?

Vincent Minervino: For me personally, it is the most challenging project I have ever been a part of. I have been mainly focused on guitar for the last 10 years, but drums are my first love. It’s fun for me to experience venues like Wonder Bar, Asbury Lanes, and The Brighton Bar from behind the drums. It’s like playing those places for the first time again.

If someone’s coming out to Happy Mondays and has never heard you before, what song would you recommend them to check out to fully get what the Black Flamingos is all about?

Vincent Minervino:There a few live tunes up on YouTube from our set at the Asbury Park Surf Music Festival this past summer. You can also check out ‘Devil’s Punchbowl’ from Coffee Haus Studios on YouTube.

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What can the people coming out to Happy Mondays expect to see from you guys in terms of a live experience?

Vincent Minervino:The guys wearing black playing clean, fast, and loud!

What do you have planned for the rest of 2014?

Vincent Minervino:We have a bunch of shows lined up into the fall – including a Halloween party we are throwing at the Asbury Park Yacht Club. Sign up for our e-mail list at blackflamingos.net or come out to a show to keep in touch!

Black Flamingos perform tonight, September 8, at Happy Mondays at The Wonder Bar along with Dentist and Pepperwine. Click here for the official Facebook event page.

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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