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Monday, Nov. 2, 2009

The Flips’ Old-Fashioned Girl-Group Pop

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Feraim Albano, drummer for The Flips, a band of Milwaukee women rock ’n’ rollers, describes her band as a mix of Shangri-Las styled pop, ’60s girl groups and Phil Spector’s wall of sound.

Albano recently took a break from her day job at the Hi Fi Café to talk more about the sound of The Flips. She was joined by Wendy Norton, The Flips’ guitarist. Norton, who also plays guitar in Plexi 3, explained the formation of The Flips. The band, she says, started as a collaboration between her and Natalie C., guitarist for local band Sticks N Stones. They list some of their mutual influences as The Shangri-Las, Martha and the Vandellas, The Ronettes, and Nancy Sinatra.

“Natalie and I always wanted to start a project together, and we’ve always loved that stuff, so we decided we needed to start an all-girl band,” Norton says.

Norton and Natalie C. assembled a group of six local rock queens for the group, all of who have been playing in bands in the Milwaukee scene for years. Albano plays drums for Cry Coyote, and the group includes Betsy Hiebler as lead vocalist and Stephanie Swinney on bass. Both also play in the Sugar Stems. Francoise Switalski, also of Plexi 3, plays piano.

The group put out a self-titled 7-inch single in February 2009 on HoZac records, and has a second 7-inch release planned for early 2010. Interestingly, that record will have two B sides.

“Natalie said, ‘You messed up the album art,’” Norton recalls. “And I said, ‘No, it’s supposed to be two B sides. Get it? We’re The Flips,” Norton says, pantomiming a confused Flips fan searching for an A side.

True to their image and influences, the group has recorded some songs that seem straight out of 1963, including “I Still Wanna Be His Girl,” “Baby It’s Gonna Be Alright” and “I Just Don’t Know Where I Stand Anymore.”

Albano and Norton said that the name The Flips is simply meant to convey old-fashioned “Shanga-lang, Doo-wop” good times.

“It’s just a fun, ’60s name,” Norton says. “It could mean a physical flip, or like a hairdo.” After choosing the name, though, they found out there is more than one band out there named “The Flips.”

“But we’re the only band with a real Flip in it,” Albano says, laughing. Someone informed the band that “Flip” is also outdated slang for a Filipino person. Albano, who is Filipino, seems to see the funny side of it.

Although the group doesn’t have time to tour, and shows can be far between, the members enjoy their Flips time. The group has developed a devoted following that includes a lot of their fellow musicians from the basement and bar scene.

“We all get along great together and we have a lot of fun. We record and manage ourselves, and we’re really positive about the girl music scene,” Albano says.

The Flips play Nov. 6 at Frank’s Power Plant with Zygoteens, Eva Grubb, and Ando and the Jolly Barrels.

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