Since 1993, Flattbush has been cranking out super heavy, highly technical, and politically charged thrash sung in Tagalog. Held down by Enrico Maniago (vocals) and Arman Maniago (bass), the unit has unleashed three intense albums on Billy Gould’s Koolarrow label and played with heavyweights such as Brujeria, Asesino, Rahzel, and Napalm Death. Earlier this year, they brought their anti-imperialist brand of grindcore to the Philippines for the first time. I caught up with the brothers from Bellflower, CA afterward…
MW: It must have been a dream to play in the Philippines, but it couldn’t have been easy to set up.
AM: Of course is always a dream to play in your homeland. Flattbush music actually makes more sense there than in the States, and we started to plan the Philippines tour when we released Otomatik Attak. We thought we’d rather spend our energy, time, and money to play there than here. But during the planning, we got rid of our drummer and guitarist. Long story short, they were not on the same page with us.
EM: The tour got sketchy earlier this year because we were not a band anymore, but the Philippines-based Dirty Shoes Collective found some session musicians who were fans and busted their asses for us. They only had a few weeks to learn the songs and two days to practice before the gigs, but being perfect or tight was not we wanted. We wanted to capture a vibe and I think we did a great job of that.
MW: How were your leftist politics received? Any oppression from The Man?
AM: We were welcomed and the people said that they had been waiting for us since Smash The Octopus. They knew most of the lyrics and the content of the songs. That was a good feeling that I never had before. Our gigs weren’t really advertised for fear of them getting out of hand, and at first I was worried that no one might not show up, but there was a full house for every gig. Everything rolled out as planned and no one got hurt.
MW: Anything different about touring there from here the U.S.?
AM: Touring is pretty much the same, but the equipment is not as good. The audiences are used to the gear, though, and the shows turned out raw and energetic. Actually, it was not about fancy equipment or being tight. It was about being home with our fans and our people catching up with local food and music, talking about politics, and everyone being on the same page. Here in the States, being in a band is more of an ego trip. If bands are in denial of being egomaniacs or prostitutes, that’s usually bullshit. Over there, I told the musicians and artists that it’s okay for them to look up to or even idolize foreign bands but that they actually have an advantage because they are poor and hungry and have soul.
MW: How were merch sales?
AM: We sold more merch there in five days than we have during the existence of Flattbush here in the States. Hahaha!