It was hot at Bonnaroo, the mid-June Tennessee music festival, this year. Really hot at Flipturn’s show on Wednesday night at the ‘Roo Bus. So hot, in fact, that bassist Madeline Jarman turned to drummer Devon VonBalson and told him self-preservation might be more important than maximum commitment—something she couldn’t have imagined ever saying, especially at a show as important as this one.
“Our drummer can really push his limits,” explains Jarman. “I said, ‘Devon, you don’t have to go 100%. It’s too hot.’ He didn’t and I kept looking back at him after every song asking if he was good, and he would say, ‘Yeah.’ And I would say, ‘We have to do four more songs,’ and then after one more song I asked him if he felt good and he said, ‘One more’. I felt awful, and we all had heat exhaustion.”
The Jacksonville-based indie rock band recovered quickly for their main set a few days later on a stage that was in a tent, and the setting provided shade and much needed relief.
“By Sunday we were all recovered, and the set went awesome,” says Jarman.
“We didn’t really know what to expect,” says vocalist/guitarist Dillon Basse. “We had an early set at 12:45 on Sunday, which is the last day. We were thinking people were gonna be tired and it’s very early. We were pleasantly surprised, and a lot of people came out. It was really cool to be up there. We were watching shows all week and going to different sets, and it was cool to be like, ‘We can draw a crowd too.'”
“It was a big bucket list thing for sure,” says Jarman. “Definitely a dream come true.”
Heat be damned, Flipturn delivered a high-energy performance at Bonnaroo, and should not be missed when they come to the Garden State to play at Anchor Rock Club in Atlantic City on July 5, and the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park on July 6.
Even though the band has Sunshine State roots, a pivotal moment in music for Jarman actually happened in the Northeast. She went to the Firefly Music Festival in Delaware and saw the Silversun Pickups perform. Seeing Silversun Pickups bassist Nikki Monniger made her realize that she, too, could be on a festival stage one day.
“I attribute a lot to Nikki as to why I started to play bass,” explains Jarman. “I saw Nikki at Firefly, and I remember thinking to myself, ‘I want to do what she’s doing.’ It was cool seeing a woman on stage, and I thought she was so dope. Her stage presence is unique as well, like she’s freaking shredding as she bops a couple times. She’s so cool, and seeing her live was the first time I imagined myself being on that side of the stage rather than being a fan and going to shows. I could do this too.”
Flipturn, rounded out by Mitch Fountain on synths and Tristan Duncan on guitar, are from Fernandina Beach, Florida, a town outside of Jacksonville. North Florida turned out to be an advantageous spot to build a fanbase.
“If anything our location benefited us to be honest,” explains Basse. “We were playing a lot of college towns in Florida like Gainesville, Tallahassee and St. Petersburg, which has the University of South Florida. A lot of people who go to college in Florida don’t actually live here. They would go throughout the U.S. and spread our name. I think that’s a big reason why when we started touring we would have people at shows in New York, Charleston, Philly and other random cities because they would go to school in Florida. I think it was a benefit for us, but I can see why people think it wouldn’t be.”
One of those college towns that was crucial for Flipturn was Gainesville, home to the University of Florida. Gainesville is sort of the Florida equivalent of New Brunswick except with Publix and a slightly better college football team. The band considers Gainesville another home to them.
“Gainesville has a special place in our hearts,” says Jarman. “We grew up there, and for most of us it was the first place we lived outside of home. The town itself is very special, and I miss the restaurants there. It was neat to grow up around young people because Gainesville is a straight-up college town. We wouldn’t be where we are today if we didn’t spend those years grinding and playing in Gainesville.”
“We would play in Gainesville a lot more often than we would play in Jacksonville. I remember sending these cold call emails to promoters, and being like, ‘Hey,’ and not hearing back.”
Jarman remembers the early days of the band, and how much time she would spend emailing promoters about shows. The experience was a frustrating one at times, but ultimately an experience that shaped Flipturn.
“I remember sitting at home with my mom, and she was like, ‘Why don’t you ask this person or this person to play?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know,’ but I still sent the email,” says Jarman. “We would send a lot of emails pitching ourselves, and a lot of people didn’t respond since it wasn’t from a manager. It was definitely frustrating, especially from Jacksonville venues. Like we’re from here and could bring so many people to shows. It was rough until we had other people help us.”
“It’s not easy to do without some sort of representation that is legit in a way,” adds Basse. “It’s crazy because I’ve seen certain bands with legit representation that were on it right away and got gigs. We had to grind, and we were super young at the time too. It made us work harder.”
Recently, the band released a new single called “Whales.” Even though the song originally started out as a joke, the song deals with serious topics such as dealing with pressure.
“The repeating riff of the song came about at the end of a writing session, and we thought it was funny, and we recorded it and left. Madeline put down a bass line later, and we nailed it,” says Basse. “It sounded cool, and then Tristen added these cool ambient whale sounds. We were like, ‘These sounds kind of sound like whales.’
“The song itself is about handling pressure and how sometimes it can lead to losing feeling, and becoming numb instead of dealing with the pressure. You put it aside and your body becomes numb.”
Flipturn itself deals with pressure in their own ways.
“There’s definitely two sides of the coin,” says Duncan. “I know for me I escape from my mind. It’s easier to not think about things, and pretend it’s not there. But the only way things are handled is head on.”
“Like right now I’m procrastinating a lot because we are leaving for this week-long thing,” explains Jarman. “I’m like, ‘It’s not happening’ and I don’t think about it. To deal with pressure and stress, I take a lot of notes and try to organize my brain.”
The band will also release an album on August 19 called Shadowglow, an album two years in the making.
“We started writing the album two years ago,” says Basse. “We took a trip out near Phoenix, and stayed in this nice AirBnB. “We had a nice view of the mountain, and wrote a lot of the songs for the album out there. We have been writing and recording the album for the past two years.”
“The album kind of touches the dark and the light,” says Jarman. “It’s about coming to terms with your life.”
“A lot of the album is about balance, and self-actualization,” says Basse. “It’s about putting together this idea of self-awareness and how to grow from that.”
Flipturn will be playing songs from their upcoming release and some old songs as well, including their hit song “August” off of their EP Citrona.
“I still love that song,” says Basse about August. “Over time our live performances are more accurate portrayals of that song. It’s crazy what one song can do and how many people it can reach. Now we play it at the end of our set, and it’s cool how people will sing the words back. It’s wild.”
“It’s really cool when we play the song live how much it means to some people,” explains Jarman. “On a performance level it’s a great song to play, and it’s good to share that moment with people in the crowd.
“I would love to go back and watch a video of us playing that song and see how much has changed.”
Flipturn along with the Haunting will be playing at Anchor Rock Club in Atlantic City on July 5, and at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park on July 6. Ticket information can be found here.