Flipturn Tour Diary: Behind the Stage in NYC

Flipturn Tour Diary: Behind the Stage in NYC

Flipturn Tour Diary: Behind the Stage in NYC

Taking V backstage at their sold-out New York show, Flipturn talks all things tour life, album curation, and battling onstage nerves

Taking V backstage at their sold-out New York show, Flipturn talks all things tour life, album curation, and battling onstage nerves

Text: Ava Manson

It’s a Wednesday night in lower Manhattan, and the Bowery Ballroom is alive. Onstage, five twenty something Florida natives play to a crowd of neon-lit fans as they run through a track list of indie-crowd favorites, serenading waves of dancing arms and raised cups with electric cords and hard-hitting vocals. This is part one of Flipturn’s Shadowglow tour, a headlining act for the band’s debut album. Following a run of outdoor festivals with much in store for next year, the band sits down backstage with V to chat about life on the road, upcoming tour dates, and what exactly it takes to live like budding rockstars.

Photo by Amanda Laferriere @ajpgphoto

The group is made up of five powerful forces: Dillon Basse (lead vocals and guitar), Tristan Duncan (lead guitar), Madeline Jarman (bass), Mitch Fountain (synth), and Devon VonBalson (drums). Each finding their way into the band at different times over the past six years, the earliest connection in the group dates back to fourth grade, where Tristan and Madeline bonded over music in school. Years later, things aren’t all that different—the two talk still music all the time. Only now, a growing audience is listening.

Photo by Amanda Laferriere @ajpgphoto

“There's a certain pressure that comes with playing in the bigger cities like New York, LA, and Nashville,” the band agrees. “These people probably see insane national acts all the time, and we want to bring our A game to every show.” But where nerves once overtook hometown festivals and local shows, the band has proudly found their feet, some 60 million Spotify streams and 10,000 ticket sales later. And, in an encore to their 2022 Shadowglow dates, their tour has been granted an extension, commencing in February with a grand finale at Florida’s Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival.

For a deeper look at Flipturn’s sonic journey and Shadowglow tour diary, keep reading.

Photo by Amanda Laferriere @ajpgphoto

V MAGAZINE: Congratulations on the recent album and tour! We're in NYC now for a few of your shows, how is everybody feeling?

FLIPTURN: Very grateful, this is insane. When we added the second show we were like, "Is this too much?" but it ended up being an amazing night. It was already surreal, just being able to come back. We were here at the beginning of the year and we were opening for a band called Wilderado, and the room was so cool. We couldn't wait to be back and be able to do it again.

V: Yeah, and the show sold out too! Do you get a chance to see much of the city when you're here?

F: We usually do, surprisingly. Yesterday we all went to Central Park and Times Square. All the touristy stuff, and figuring out the subway system. Afterwards we met up for a drink then took it easy at the Airbnb, it was really fun.

V: That's great. Taking it back before we talk about Shadowglow and the rest of the tour, can you tell us about the formation of the band?

F: Yeah, so Madeline, Tristan, and Dillon, we started in high school our senior year. Madeline had known Tristan since fourth grade, then we met Dillon when he moved to our town in Fernandina Beach in ninth grade. Our senior year we were talking about music and thought it would be cool to start a band, but we didn't sing. But Dillon could sing, so we called him up like, "Hey, this is weird, but do want to try this?" And he said sure. We learned covers at first then started writing original music. In college, Tristan met Mitch in a hallway before a Music Theory exam. They just started talking and eventually Tristan showed him the band. Mitch went to a show with maybe 30 people there, and that was a lot for a local show. He also played in a local band but never played live like that. Watching them play he was like, "Damn, they're really good." Then Devon hopped on a year after, once the seat opened up for drums.

V: How did you end up joining, Mitch? You watched their show first, then how did you become part of the band?

MITCH FOUNTAIN: A space opened for keys, so I found out and immediately texted Tristan. I was like, "Hey, I'll drop everything I'm doing." I had never even played keyboard. I knew what a keyboard was, I had seen a piano, but the first time I ever played keyboard professionally was at House of Blues, sold out. I was so anxious, just thrown into the fire. But now I've gotten the hang of it.

V: That's great. For you three of you who have been with the band since the start, is there a moment you can pinpoint realizing this was going to be something more than just a high school or college band?

DILLON BASSE: It was before we had any traction, but I remember the moment I was like, "I think we could probably do this” was after our first show at High Dive in Gainesville, and it was our first ever venue show. It was a realization like, "Oh my god, this is what I want to be doing." That was our first show, in 2016, so it wasn't the moment of gaining fans or anything. It was more a moment that I knew for sure that this is what I wanted.

MADELINE JARMAN: I had that same feeling. Recently, everything we do is very fast paced. Things are happening all the time and it's hard to smell the roses a little bit. A moment that stood out for me in our career so far was when we played Shaky Knees this year. That was the festival I went to growing up and visiting Atlanta. I was like, "This is so full circle. I've been to this festival, now we're playing this festival." It was a really special show for me.

Photo by Amanda Laferriere @ajpgphoto

V: That's amazing. Moving on to this set of shows in New York, how would you describe the crowd here and the vibe of the shows?

F: It was a great listening crowd of people. We have a couple quieter songs in the set and they were really taking it in. Sometimes if a song is quiet people decide to talk, but it was great. People were so hyped too, and on this stage you can really see everyone's faces. Some rooms you can't see past the first row, but here you can really see everybody. It was really fun feeding off people's energy. But there's also a certain pressure that comes with playing in the bigger cities like New York, LA, and Nashville. These people probably see insane national acts all the time, and we want to bring our A game to every show. There's an extra boost of energy once you come to a big city like this, and that can contribute to nerves.

V: Speaking of nerves, do those get easier to manage the more you perform?

F: We never thought it would be, but this year especially we've been touring so much it's like being back in the office. Maybe five minutes before there are nerves, but it used to be way worse. I think we feel way more like we're owning our shit; we play a set every night so we know what we're doing. We're very comfortable with the songs and the set, and walking on stage. When you know what to expect, there's way less like anxiousness behind all that. Uncertainty is what makes people anxious, and 97% of the time it's the same set list.

V: It must be nice to have some like consistency when you're on the move all the time. That said, what does your day look like leading up to a show?

F: We can say exactly what we do every single day, actually. We wake up in whatever hotel or Airbnb we're in, we get Dunkin or Starbucks, and we get in the van. It's kind of ironic, you think if you stay at home you have a schedule and routine, and when you leave your life must be crazy. And yeah it's crazy, but it's routinely crazy. Same routine, different backgrounds. We've learned to how to manage it over the last few years. You learn something new every single tour that you can do on the next one to make it easier, or better sustain yourself on the road.

Photo by Amanda Laferriere @ajpgphoto

V: That makes sense, now I have to ask about your tour companion. You have a rubber chicken that comes on the road with you?

F: Yeah, what started as a gag has now become a permanent family member on the road. A tour pet, essentially. There's a lot now, but one was the ringleader. His name is Jalapeno, and he's got a little son that somebody gave to us. Someone painted over a different chicken with the same exact colors. He's like a carbon copy and we call him Habanero. People like to throw chickens at us on stage. It’s like roses, but it's rubber chickens. It's a little inside joke. We sell shirts and people will buy them, and they don't even say Flipturn on them.

V: That's so funny. Moving onto Shadowglow which came out in August, with there being five of you, what does the creative process look like?

F: We all like to write together? For this album we had a couple writing trips. The first one was two weeks at cabin in Arizona near Phoenix in a really small country town. It was really pretty with lots of cactus and mountains and stuff. We went there for about two weeks and wrote together, finding new melodies. Then we build on it. Just jam sessions, essentially. It's been two years, almost to the day, since we started the album.

V: That's crazy, so you're like sitting with it for a while before it's out. It must be a completely new experience finally performing it.

F: The songs take on a new life of their own once people can relate to them, or have their own ideas of what they mean. I don't know who first said it but once you put out a song, it's not yours anymore. It's the listeners’. Our producer, Jon Gilbert, said it's kind of like a time capsule. At a certain point, you have to put your hands up like you're on one of those like baking shows and just like let it be what it is, because it's never going to be finished. It's constantly going to be changing and when you listen back to the recording, it's just a snapshot in time of where you were at. That's why it takes on new life every day.

V: That makes sense. Alright, last question for you. What's next for Flipturn? What are you all looking forward to in 2023?

F: We have the extension of this tour in the new year, starting in February and a New Year’s show in Atlanta. We want to write more too, and continue to play Shadowglow live as much as we can. Writing in between, maybe working on the next album.

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