Doomed for Umpharalleled Success
Written By Sanchez Tortuga
Ryan Stasik of Umphrey's McGee has offered five of Charleston’s most talented musicians a chance of a lifetime by co-founding the new synthwave band, Doom Flamingo. The group was conceptualized and executed by FWBpro, Hank Wharton. He utilized his connections with Ryan, Ross Bogan (Keyboardist, RoBoTrio), and Mike Quinn (Saxophonist, Motown Throwdown) to form the initial core of what would later become Doom Flamingo.
I sat down with the newly founded band in the Green Room before an Umphrey’s McGee show at the Fillmore in Charlotte for a merry-go-round interview.
When Ryan and Hank approached y’all about this project what sound did they have in mind?
Mike: There was no sound they were trying to go for. Ryan and I have been talking about putting a band together for a while. We were initially going to do a yacht rock band called Yachty by Nature, but that never materialized. (Thank God)
Hank wanted to make the band so we could start doing after parties for Umphrey’s. It wasn’t until we formed the band and started talking about what covers we should do that Ross presented some synth wave demos. Then Hank booked some studio time at Rialto Row for the sake of promoting the show. We put out a single just for the hell of it, and when Kanika Moore (Vocalist, Motown Throwdown) started laying down the vocals we were like “Holy Shit, this is fire!” That’s when we started to get real serious about the sound.
Who is writing the music?
Ryan, how do you feel about the synthwave direction Ross has taken the band?
Ryan: Love it! It fits, it's working, it's fun, and I am excited about it. I am passionate about this genre. I am excited about everything that is under the umbrella of synthwave and to explore and challenge ourselves creatively. We will see what direction it takes us.
I am a big fan of the 80’s, probably my favorite decade so far.
Ross, what geared you to writing this synthwave music?
Ross: 8 years ago I hopped in the car with two dudes I never met before who were heading to a three-night Umphrey's show in Atlanta. We bonded during the concert and became best friends after that. One of them has been sending me a bunch of super 80's synth playlists which I had been shying away from because I thought of myself as a vintage guy. But, I found these big bold synth sounds very freeing, and the style of music is perfect for what synths are built for. So I ran with it, and I love the experimentation it has provided.
So, even as we have been picking covers to play as we continue to work on original music we have been like “Let’s synth the fuck out of this cover.” And I think we are going to continue down the path of synthwave.
Is 80’s synth one of y’alls musical strengths?
Kanika: Oh no...
Mike: No, that is none of our strengths. Ross is a keyboard/synth guy, and Thomas is a magical producer. So combine those elements with Kanika who can sing over anything, Sax has a huge place in the synth world and Stu White (Drummer, Skylar Grey) with the drum pad. We all found that we have these unique elements about ourselves that we were able to put together and create a perfect synth wave sound.
How does it feel growing up listening to Umphrey's and now getting to play with Ryan Stasik?
Ross: It's fucking awesome! He is really into it, so much so that he painted his bass with a large doom on the front and huge flamingo on the back. Before he committed totally, I felt like I was trying to catch this awesome bird and not let it go. I didn't want this opportunity to pass by.
Thomas: It is especially exciting to work with Ryan because I have been listening to Umphrey’s since the 9th grade.
Does it feel like y’all are onto something special with this?
Kanika: To me, it is still a pretty new feeling. I am still holding onto the freshness of it. Like when we first went to the studio, we didn't know all those things we put together were going to come together in this way. Everything is still really new but feels really good.
Ryan: Fucking boner! Can’t you tell? It’s growing. Have you seen my painted bass? My buddy Clark painted it. He painted one of my older basses and put a Trans Am on it. On this one he put the Doom Flamingo on the back, it’s dope!
Everyone has different local Charleston projects. Where does this rank in importance?
Stu: As excited as any original project I have ever been in.
Kanika: All of our projects kind of merge us together anyway. We spend a lot of time around each other, and this one is at the top of the list.
Mike: It’s super exciting to be a part of, and is my main priority when it comes to my creative output. I am learning new instruments and applying the saxophone in ways I've never applied it before.
Ryan, are you surprised by the talent you have been able to culminate around you from the Charleston area?
Ryan: No. I went around the Charleston area, and the fucking players are sick! It's sick everywhere. I am a Dad, so I don't get out much, but every time I do, I am like "Holy Fuck these cats can play!" Luckily I am in a band with them now. It's been rad.
What do you think it is about Charleston that the music scene is popping off right now?
Mike: We have all been hustling for a long time, and we got pretty good. A lot of other people got good, and we all started hanging out and working together. It helps that Charleston started to blow up and the venues are providing infrastructure.
Ross: Charleston is very fertile ground right now. It's just a good place to move to.
Ryan, why did you move to Charleston?
Ryan: I had kids, and Chicago sucks in the winter. My wife's whole family lives in Charleston, and they are able to babysit the kids while we travel.
I love everything about Charleston, and I am not dissing Chicago, but the winters are unacceptable. I didn't want to hibernate in a high rise with kids; I wanted them to be in tank tops and flip-flops at the beach.
For the same reason apartment complexes are popping up like dandelions and traffic has slowed to a crawl in Charleston, the local music scene has hit an all-time high. Four of the six Doom Flamingo bandmates are transplants including Umphrey’s legend Ryan Stasik, and the man behind the synthwave take over, Ross Bogan, who has recently quit the reggae band The Movement. Now he plans to focus the majority of his creative efforts on “synthing the fuck” out of Doom, and make you dance!
Next show is October 26th at The Charleston Pour House. Rumor has it that a Slasher disco set is in the works.