Flip your wig

Chicago’s The Flips get personal at Bob’s

By Josher Lumpkin

Photo: The Flips will perform Thursday, Dec. 17 at Blind Bob’s

The best art—so they say—is created out of personal devastation and torment. This is certainly the case for The Flips’ songwriter and front man Nick Sintos. The band’s second album, Better Days, released Nov. 27, chronicles Sintos’ struggle with depression, his hospitalization after a suicide attempt and ultimate recovery. Better Days, fueled by mental illness, takes the listener on a conceptual journey into Sintos’ mind.

“These songs were very much detailing a treatment I went through for major depression disorder,” Sintos tells me by phone from his home in Chicago. “A lot of the writing was, you know, part of therapy. It was part of just trying to get away from myself, really. Just trying to understand myself a little more.”

The Flips have a wall-of-noise guitar sound that is poppy in some places and aggressive in others. Sintos describes their style as “angsty, loud, very guitar driven.” With vocals that are alternately bellowing and on the verge of tears, this writer wouldn’t be surprised if Smashing Pumpkins, Jets to Brazil or Brand New were influences.

“The sort of subgenre of rock is kind of all over the place on this album,” Sintos says. “But the trick was how do you make it sound cohesive? And part of that was by mixing the guitars the same way on each song.”

He adds, “I felt it made sense. You know, I was all over the place, so of course the songs that I was writing would be all over the place.”

When asked about his process for writing songs, Sintos tells me, “A lot on this album started on an acoustic guitar. I know it’s kind of crazy, because it’s very loud guitar music on this album. But writing it, I’ll come up with just a verse and a chorus and I’ll also write lyrics to a verse and partial lyrics to a chorus and I’ll have a melody and I’ll bring it to the band and we’ll just kind of work it out and play it over and over again and once it starts to take a direction, it’s actually easy for me to finish the song. Once I can see where it looks like it’s going to go, then it kind of inspires me to write lyrics and come up with melodies for them.”

On his battle with major depressive disorder which inspired Better Days, Sintos says, “There was a long period of time where I knew I was feeling off,” he admits. “Something wasn’t right, but I just sort of thought that’s just like what normal feels like.”

Sintos continues, “Then I started to get these terrible thoughts, like suicidal thoughts, and I knew I had to fix that, so I did what you’re supposed to do: I saw a doctor and became medicated, and I started talking to a therapist every week, and it just wasn’t helping me get all the way there. This is before I started writing this new record. I’m like ‘I hate it, I hate being in a band, I hate where my life is’ and I just wanted to die. I started to get into more intense treatment, a partial hospitalization program which is basically just six hours of group therapy everyday. It got to the core of a lot of issues that I have, and I started to get a little more hopeful. I started liking the music I was making. It was basically going hand-in-hand with my treatment. Each song was like finding a new piece about myself. After I wrote about half the record, I had a bad string of days, and I tried to kill myself.”

Thankful to awaken alive the next day, Sintos told his group about the attempt, and was immediately rushed to the hospital, where he was admitted, and spent a week under close observation.

“After that, I’ve just kind of been working really hard at maintaining balance, and that’s when I started finishing the record, and things looked a lot brighter, and I kind of realized that I’m definitely not alone in this situation. There are a lot of people who feel this way. I wanted to write something not only for myself, but something for people to talk about, that they don’t have to be ashamed or afraid of what they’re going through,” the 28-year-old Sintos says.

After all he’s been through, I had to ask Sintos if he now considers his depression to be under control.

“Absolutely,” he assures me. “I’m not going to lie, there are definitely bad days, but it’s all about stringing along a few good ones in a row, and always following your treatment.”

The Flips will perform Thursday, Dec. 17 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth Street, in the Oregon District. grenades!? and Bummer are also on the bill. Admission is $5 for patrons 21 and older. Doors open at 8 p.m. For more information, please visit hiweretheflips.com

Josher Lumpkin is a nursing student and aspiring historian who enjoys writing about music and geekdom of all kinds. He is especially fond of punk rock, tabletop gaming, sci-fi/fantasy and camping with his wife, Jenner, and their dogs, Katie and Sophie. Reach him at JosherLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Josher Lumpkin
Josher Lumpkin is a nursing student and aspiring historian who enjoys writing about music and geekdom of all kinds. He is especially fond of punk rock, tabletop gaming, sci-fi/fantasy and camping with his wife, Jenner, and their dogs, Katie and Sophie. Reach him at JosherLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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