The band Jensen and the Flips has come a long way from its casual beginning as the “tambay boys” of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.
Whether it’s the nightly gigs or the tunes on your earphones, the band’s music captivates.
Since the release of its debut album, “Honeymoon,” in 2015, the group has shown no signs of slowing down. It has performed on big stages like SM Aura’s Samsung Hall and MOA Arena.
To be You sat down with Jensen and most of the Flips (bassist/vocalist Choi Padilla was not around) to get the details on the group’s second album, “BTTR.”
How was the ‘Flips’ formed?
Carlo Maraingan (percussion): We all met at the College of Saint Benilde. Everyone, except me, were music production students. Pero magkakasama kami tumambay.
Jensen Gomez (vocals/guitar): In a convenience store.
Carlo: Yeah, there was a convenience store near Benilde where we used to hang out and that’s where we all met. Tapos, sinamahan lang namin ’tong si Jensen. Kawawa eh, wala siyang kabanda. (Laughs)
Fitz Manto (drums): Tambay din ako roon sa convenience store.
Carlo: Yeah. Fitz was also part of the music scene back then. He was the student of our original drummer, Mike.
Jesser Sison (keyboards): Ako naman, I met them when I was with my previous band, ÚNiCA. We were also under Yellow Room, producer of the band. When I heard them the first time, I was impressed. They were even wearing matching white polo shirts at the time.
After ÚNiCA disbanded, I was in another band called the Conscious and the Goodness, when Jensen contacted my bandmate Ted and asked if I could fill in on keyboards. Sabi ko, “sige!”
Jensen: At first I was quite nervous kasi Jesser is an accomplished, award-winning musician. So, medyo kinilig talaga ako when he agreed to play with us.
Sam Valenia (guitar/vocals): Ako naman, at the time, Jensen was recording demos, and he invited me to record some backup vocal tracks. And then I sort of just went along kahit I wasn’t actually playing guitars at the time. Andun lang ako hanggang sa nagkaroon na lang ako ng guitar.
Fitz: And then, also at the time, nung bago pa si Sam, magkabanda na kami which eventually became the Espasouls. So, hindi na rin naging mahirap para sa amin dahil magkakakilala na kami.
Carlo: Yeah. The Music Production department is just one floor at the School of Design and Arts.
Jensen: And then, (guitarist) Mel Roño was my classmate tapos bumagsak ako.
Carlo: Hanggang sa ako na ’yung naging kaklase niya.
Jensen: Lahat na sila naging kaklase ko. Parang welcoming committee ako.
Carlo: Ako naman, naalala ko before the release of Jensen’s solo album, “Understatements,” I’d watch them jam so I could “take notes” because I used to play the drums and then sabi ko na lang sa kanya, “Gusto mo may percussion sa album release gig mo? Para lang may dating.”
Pumayag siya and then I thought it would just be a one-time thing. But after the event, bigla siyang nag-text “Oy, may gig bukas, punta ka.” So, I’m like, “Oh, so I’m in!”
‘Honeymoon’ turned 2 this year. How would you describe the past two years?
Jensen: Grabe ’yung experience namin for the past two years. We didn’t think we would be successful enough to make another album. We didn’t even think anyone would bother with the first album. It’s unbelievable.
Looking back now, how do you feel about ‘Honeymoon?’
Carlo: Looking back, nakita namin ’yung improvement sa pagtugtog namin. Though there have been some lineup changes and Fitz is here with us now.
Jensen: Every time I hear “Honeymoon,” I just start to judge myself on my work there.
Carlo: Yeah. Parang you get that feeling na maybe you could have played better in some of the songs.
Mel: Talaga? Sakto lang ako. (Laughs)
Sam: ’Yan, si Mel, magaling ’yan eh.
Carlo: It’s like a coming of age for the whole band. I feel we’ve really matured as musicians and performers since then.
What’s the songwriting process like for you guys?
Sam: Well, Jensen usually starts off writing the lyrics and then we jam and test it out in the studio.
Mel: Oo. Tapos, he’ll present the songs he wrote. Sometimes it would have chords along with the lyrics, tapos si Choi would be the one doing the arrangement.
Jensen: But this time around, it’s definitely been more collaborative. There are even songs where the musical arrangements were done before the lyrics. We would start to jam in a studio and then we would just love the overall vibe and sound. Then they’ll ask me to write over it.
That actually happened in a couple of songs in the new album. So, it’s been a fun and totally new experience for me, doing the whole process in reverse.
What’s the story behind ‘BTTR?’ Is it Better or Bitter?
Jensen: Mel was actually the one behind the album title. It actually comes from one of the tracks in the new album. For me, it covers the past two years of my life, where I felt I was struggling.
I wrote those songs at the time I felt so bitter about life, or when I was lying to myself that I was actually better even though I probably wasn’t. The new album reflects my frame of mind at the time I wrote the lyrics to the songs.
Carlo: But at the end of the day, we’ve made a conscious effort to leave it open to interpretation.
Jesser: May personal touch ni Jensen but it’s really up to your imagination.
Sam: So, ibabalik namin sa inyo: Is it bitter or better?
Jensen and the Flips will released its second album, “BTTR,” today, Oct. 7, 7 p.m., Century City Mall, Kalayaan Ave., Poblacion, Makati City. The group will be joined by Tandems 91’, Reese Lansangan, IV of Spades and Mayonnaise.
Visit www.facebook.com/jensenxflips; follow @JensenXFlips on Twitter and Instagram.
Photography Maika Anthoni Styling Luis Carlo San Juan Makeup and Hairstyle Syd Helmsley