It’s been quite a year for The Flusters.
The band formed in January. Soon thereafter, the group was booked to play its first live show, at Doo Wop in the Desert on Valentine’s Day.
Now, just months later, The Flusters have been voted the Best Local Band by Coachella Valley Independent readers.
Frontman Doug VanSant said The Flusters came together after he carried around broken and busted love songs in his head for six years; those songs are now being pieced together to form The Flusters’ debut album, A Bird Named Chaos. VanSant is originally from Philadelphia and lived in Seattle for several years; he had been in the desert for a year before he began to seek out band mates to join him an indie surf-rock band. During a recent interview in Palm Desert, VanSant (guitar, vocals), Danny White (guitar), Chris O’Sullivan (drums) and Mario Estrada (bass) discussed their quick success.
“When we found out that we won, I thought, ‘What’s next?’” White said about the Best of Coachella Valley honor. “This is great, but what are we going to do next? We’re always moving forward.”
White then answered his own question: The recording of the album comes next.
“I’ve never done it before, other than crappy recordings that I’ve always done on phones or anything to record on,” White said. “I’m excited to get into a studio to do it the way we want to do it, and do it until it’s right.”
The Flusters have played more than 20 shows this year—and have not had to ask for a booking; the band has always been invited by venues or promoters.
“It’s still really hard to look at, and it’s weird,” VanSant said. “It seems like a long time ago—and it wasn’t a long time ago; it was less than a year ago—when we played our first show. We’ve said in interviews before that we’ve grown a lot, but I just can’t believe that we are received the way we are by the community. The members of the Hive Minds were hanging out with me in my living room before we played a show—one of them wearing a Flusters shirt. … It’s hard to say, ‘Yes, we deserve this as a band.’”
VanSant said The Flusters always have one specific goal in mind.
“For me, the master plan has always been to just come correct,” he said. “If you come correct, you find your real sound; you play it with all the heart you have in you; and you believe in what you’re doing, to the best of your ability. We all do it as a unit, and we just keep being professionals. That’s a lot of why people take us seriously.”
VanSant’s surf-music vision has resonated with the other members, all of whom hadn’t played that kind of music before. O’Sullivan comes from a metal background, for example.
“We’re all growing,” O’Sullivan said. “I hear things in the sound and the music that I can’t achieve yet—not skill-wise, but just because I’m still developing for this group. For just this group, I’m relearning stuff I haven’t touched in years. I’m picking up my rudiments again—a lot of jazz rudiments and Latin percussion. There’s some really sophisticated Latin percussion we could include.”
Estrada said he, too, is learning and has changed the way he plays music.
“I’ve always sort of been a sloppy bassist,” Estrada said. “… This has really changed my playing style. It’s way more precise. There’s a part in our song ‘Little Mexico’ where I do a bit of a run. We had a practice one day, and I was just like, ‘What am I doing? I’m not doing my part by playing this as precise and clean as I can.’ I sat down and got the fingering down, and I never did that before. I’m being forced to do this in a good way, to where I feel better as a bassist and better as a musician.”
VanSant explained what he hopes to see from the band when it begins to record.
“We curate our sound very carefully,” VanSant said. “I think about every tone and every single note that’s hit. In the studio, it’s just going to get more involved, and we can add more layers to it. I’m super-excited, because our live show is a thing here on the left, and our studio album is this thing on the right. They’re both going to be great, and they’re going to be great for different reasons. I like to orchestrate, and it’s going to get very orchestral.”
While The Flusters obviously have numerous fans, VanSant remains humble and said he is surprised every time he meets someone who likes the band.
“I’ve heard from several people: ‘You have no idea how good you guys are!’” said VanSant. “I never think, ‘OK, well, you’re damn right!’ It’s just not the way I feel in my heart. … We clearly have no idea how many people we touch. This surprised the hell out of us.”