Let’s set the scene: We’re on board Jam Cruise 19, just setting sail away from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Charleston, SC-based synthwave sextet Doom Flamingo just hosted a sunset listening party for its first-ever full length LP, Peaches & Bobbi. The six band members and I head to a quiet room tucked behind the Pool Deck where we huddle around my cell phone to record our conversation on a voice memo. I ask them to say their names before they speak so I can tell who’s talking when I listen back to the recording. Hilarity ensues.

[Photo: Zach Ubaldini – Live For Live Music interviews Doom Flamingo on Jam Cruise]

It would be easy to assume that the group’s playful tenor was being dictated by the easy-going tropical surroundings, but that’s not the impression you get from this crew. This is who they are. This is how they are: Sincere and silly, mischievous and off-color, humble yet knowingly emboldened by the notion that this unlikely group playing unusual music for a scene relatively unsure of how to define it… is truly on to something.

The band, born from the lively Charleston music scene, features vocalist Kanika Moore, keyboardist Ross Bogan, guitarist Thomas Kenney, saxophonist Mike Quinn, and drummer Sean Bing. Its lineup also includes bassist Ryan Stasik, who fans might know from his quarter-century tenure with Umphrey’s McGee, but he’ll be the first to tell you that this is no “side project.” With 25+ original songs spread over two EPs and a newly released full-length album, Doom Flamingo is a “capital-B” Band on a mission.

Scroll to read Live For Live Music‘s interview with Doom Flamingo, edited for length and clarity. As you read, listen to Peaches & Bobbi via the player below.

Doom Flamingo – Peaches & Bobbi – Full Album

Live For Live Music: Help us get acquainted with your newly released debut LP, Peaches & Bobbi. There are a lot of layers here thematically. I guess you could call it a concept album, right?

Kanika Moore: Hi, Kanika Moore. The concept for Peaches & Bobbi is two characters, a producer and a porn star, and another character, Happy Boi, and just their walk through life—starting at the beginning, talking about [being] along for the ride, ready for the journey of life, and then towards the end, not wanting life to end, and trying to plead with Father Time to stay where he is. But in between that, the music tells a story about what [Happy Boi] goes through, and all of those songs that we put together kind of explain what those characters were thinking about, what they were going through, real life s—.

I think the concept for [previous EPs Doom (2020) and Flamingo (2021)] was theme-driven, but I felt like… you needed to be in a specific place to listen to it, and this album is not really that. You can listen to it anywhere. And it’s also open to interpretation. I feel like we had deliberate, specific stories about those songs, but when you listen to them, you kind of make your own story about who it is, and how that applies to you.

Ross Bogan: [Raises hand] Ross Bogan. I think [one thing about] exploring writing through characters is sometimes… you kind of stumble into learning more things about yourself, and you inadvertently inject a lot of yourself into it too. Although it is a character driven album, I think it’s also our truest-to-self album yet.

Ryan Stasik: Ryan Stasik, chronic masturbator, but can only finish in front of a mirror…

Live For Live Music: Just a reminder that this is all on the record and that comment will be going in the piece.

Ryan Stasik: That’s fine. I wasn’t lying. … It’s our best work yet, but the best is yet to come. C-U-M…

Thomas Kenney: Thomas Kenney, chronic masturbator, but I don’t look at myself in the mirror while I do it. That’s weird as f—.

Ryan Stasik: [Shrugs] Try it.

Thomas Kenney: As deep and emotive as some of this music is, we tend to, when we make demos, just put random names on the demos that sort of have this vague association with how the song is sounding in the very first stages of it, and then Kanika will almost take the name of the demo literally, and develop it into this deeper thing. So we actually sent a couple demos that don’t have any names, just to see what happens.

Kanika Moore: I like when the labels are on there because I feel like when you put that label on there after you’ve already built the foundation of the song, it already has that theme. That’s why you put the name on there. That’s why you said “Happy Boi”, and I was like, “Well, who’s Happy Boi?” I will hear, “This is who this person is.”

Live For Live Music: Is there an overarching narrative to that story you built, or are the songs all self-contained vignettes about these characters?

Mike Quinn: Michael Quinn. I don’t masturbate.

Ryan Stasik: Lies!

Mike Quinn: It seems like snapshots. The stories seem like little stories within themselves, but I don’t know if they have a chronological narrative. The order of the album isn’t as important in that way. We flipped it around a lot. [To Ross and Kanika] You guys are obviously more the storytellers here. Is that what you think?

Ross Bogan: I think that’s the beauty of it. It’s [whatever] it means to the listener. You can draw your own interpretation of it as far as the story arc.

Thomas Kenney: I think that’s one of the beautiful things about music that differentiates it from other mediums of storytelling. … If you create a movie with just snapshots and leave it up to the audience to figure it out, they might leave the movie feeling like they wasted their money. But with music, especially with improvisation, it’s all about the listener filling in the blanks.

Mike Quinn: There’s so much interpretive power. … You ever read a Milan Kundera novel? It’s like one of those.

Thomas Kenney: As improvisers, I think it’s almost a natural reflection of the way that we make music on a daily basis, as opposed to composing this film score-like composition.

Kanika Moore: I feel like we all had an opportunity to start something with this album. Everybody had a part that they contributed before it even became what it was, and being wrapped up in everything that we have going on with our lives, [the themes of “Doom” and “Flamingo” on the first two EPs] kind of told the story for us, and then we just built how we felt about it around that. But then this one, I felt like I was more specific about lyrics and things like that.

Ryan: I just think you better f—ing watch out, because we finally got the first one down. Wait for the next one.

doom flamingo jam cruise, doom flamingo interview

[Photo: Zach Ubaldini – Live For Live Music interviews Doom Flamingo on Jam Cruise]

Live For Live Music: Doom Flamingo is a product of the Charleston, South Carolina music scene, a community that has always seemed very tight-knit and supportive. Is there something about Charleston in particular that sets it apart from other cities as a creative hub? 

Kanika Moore: I think it’s just part of Southern culture, and just people wanting to find something that they can relate to that’s really close to them. There’s a lot of music in Charleston, so that made it really easy to pull everybody together and support what we’re doing, because it is their home. … Before we even played our first show, every time I would pass by someone in Charleston, they were talking about Doom Flamingo. Before we even released anything, they were already excited about it. The Charleston scene is just heavy with love.

Ryan Stasik: Ryan Stasik, chronic Masturbator, with a mirror. I am a transplant, so I’ve only been [in Charleston] for 10 years. [When my wife and I] had children there, I was like, “I don’t have any friends, I need to meet some friends,” and I started checking out the Charleston music scene, these guys. They’re a big part of all of it, they play with everybody. [This community is] a force to be reckoned with and everybody’s so passionate and kind with each other.

Mike Quinn: There’s no, like, cutting or stealing gigs…

Ryan Stasik: It’s loving. And it’s so good. It’s so good. We were very fortunate that this happened the way that it did, and the path that we chose, and the music that we’re writing, and how it’s very organic. It’s just a beautiful, natural thing that just happened. I love Charleston.

Live For Live Music: Am I correct in assuming that Stasik was the catalyst in bringing this group of Charleston musicians together as a new band?

Thomas Kenney: I think it was you [gestures to Ryan] that… you needed a band, ’cause your band backed out [laughs].

Ryan Stasik: I’ll tell you what happened. [I had an Omega Moos gig booked, and] my Canadian friend [from] The New Deal, Jamie Shields, was like, “I don’t fly down for one gig … I need three gigs. I’m not coming down for a one-off.” So I held the spot and then we ended up getting Doom Flamingo.

Live For Live Music: And just like that, a Doom Flamingo was born…

Ryan Stasik: I took many poops talking to Mike over text about what the band name should be.

Mike Quinn: Mike Quinn, non-masturbator.

Everyone: Lies!

Ross Bogan: Mike Quinn, liar.

Mike Quinn: I still have that text, it’s great…

Ryan Stasik: …and a good poop.

Mike Quinn: There’s a lot of questionable band names in there. … We were really just spitting around names. And then I think most great ideas incite at least some sort of paradox, and Doom Flamingo certainly does.

Ryan Stasik: This is a true story: I was very adamant…

Mike Quinn: …about “DOOM.”

Ryan Stasik: The word “DOOM.” I love the fat “D,” the two big-titty “Os,” and the bubbly “M.” I think it looks beautiful.

Kanika Moore: I agree.

Ryan Stasik: I was like, “This is great,” and I told my wife, I was like, “I want to be in a band called DOOM,” and she’s like “You have enough dudes and metal sh—. You need to bring chicks to your shows. … She suggested “Beef Sleeves…”

Mike Quinn: …which was in consideration for a whole day.

Ryan Stasik: For a day. And then I took a poop the next day and I wrote him all capitals: FLAMINGO. … Look around in Florida, flamingos are f—ing everywhere… and they’re cool. … And then we got together and it just kind of clicked. We went in the studio, put pen to paper, and then we knocked out five tracks in a week. The acceleration of the band and the birth of everything happening, it was very quick. It felt great. It felt natural. It felt comfortable. And then, just knowing that the whole family in Charleston, of all the players from every genre and every type of music they play, everybody’s so supportive. … I’m so blessed to be with these people and living in Charleston.

Kanika Moore: I think the concept of the name came from Ryan, but I feel like Ross was very intentional about what the sound was—that synthwave sound and then adding vocals to it—and that’s what stuck, that’s why we started building around that. That was very intentional. It was also something that we weren’t doing already.

Sean Bing: Coming into it, it was a different sound for me, man, but it wasn’t far from what I was already doing. I just brought my flavor to what they were doing and it worked out. It just worked out. I went in the studio and Ross gave me all these tracks and was like, “Just do your thing.”

Ross Bogan: The music that we make [individually] sounds pretty different from what Doom Flamingo sounds like, I would argue, and I think that we went for this conceptual, synthwave, retro, futuristic, eighties kind of sound, but in doing so, we kind of created a really unique sound because our own influences came out. That’s what, to me, makes this band so special. … Individually, we couldn’t do Doom Flamingo. It has to be these six people.

Ryan Stasik: Yeah. Plus, they needed an old guy who actually was born in the seventies and lived in the eighties and verified the f—ing eighties were really like this.

Live For Live Music: I’m glad you brought up defining the Doom Flamingo sound. I’ve found it difficult to put into words…

Ross Bogan: Vampire stripper music meets eighties guilty pleasures.

Ryan Stasik: Cocaine lollipops.

Kanika Moore: Cocaine lollipops!

Mike Quinn: Nine Inch Nails meets Miami Vice.

Kanika Moore: Yes!

Ryan Stasik: The big part of the Doom Flamingo, after the concept was there, [was] having the dark and the light, the yin and the yang, and being able to do both. We’ve even done sets that are “Doom” or “Flamingo”-based. I mean, Queen is Doomed… we put a lot of work into that project.

Thomas Kenney: Queen was the perfect band for us [to cover] for a lot of reasons. … Queen gets super elated, it’s almost so happy it makes me uncomfortable sometimes. But then, you also have “Who Wants to Live Forever”, which is so dark, you know what I mean? Queen really tapped into that duality of music. It doesn’t need to be all one direction, all the time.

Mike Quinn: It’s also the classical influence that they had. In synthwave, which takes a lot from metal, there’s all that classical influence, and it comes out in our music all the time—in our solos, all the arpeggio stuff. They line up, for sure.

Ryan Stasik: We’ve only done a couple Queen is Doomed shows, so it’s pretty special for us. We put a lot of time into it. … When we were able to play it in Atlanta [at SweetWater 420 Fest] on stage for thousands of people … you’re like, “Holy s—!” I had to wear sunglasses because I was tearing up. There was s— happening, it was beautiful. … That was a beautiful moment for this band. And that was never ever planned when we first started. Or was it?

Kanika Moore: Kanika Moore, moderate masturbator…

Ryan Stasik: Lies!

Everyone: [Laughs]

Ryan Stasik: Asterisk: Needs animation to finish.

Kanika Moore: I forgot what I was going to say [laughs].

Ryan Stasik: Queen! Queen… Was it ever planned?

Kanika Moore: Ross is always very intentional. We always feel like it’s not planned, but I feel like Ross knows exactly what’s getting ready to happen.

Thomas Kenney: [To Kanika] Honestly, I think you have a connection to Freddie Mercury in a lot of ways. I know you’ve been in theater before. You have this really extreme vocal range, which Freddie also has. And then also from a sexuality standpoint, Freddy was gay, you’re bisexual. … And the theatrics, the outfits, the flamboyance. The, like, “I’m the queen of the party” kind of thing. Freddie was the queen of the party, so I think there’s this energetic connection there.

Ryan Stasik: I’m going to say something about Kanika Moore right now. I’ve played a lot of music with a lot of different people and I’ve been on stage with a lot of different people, but I can attest to this as this is 100% f—ing true: Every time we go on that stage, she is 100% in and it accelerates and is exponentially better every f—ing time, and I mean that. It’s crazy. I love it. We’re blessed to be in this f—ing group. It’s f—ing awesome.

Doom Flamingo: Queen Is Doomed – “Bohemian Rhapsody” [Pro-Shot] – 5/27/22

Live For Live Music: Since much of your growing fanbase was already familiar with Ryan through his work with Umphrey’s McGee, I think people initially categorized Doom Flamingo as a sort of “side project,” but after talking to you all together, that doesn’t quite feel accurate. 

Ryan Stasik: It’s a band, it’s not a side project at all.

Thomas Kenney: We have, like, 25+ original songs or something like that.

Live For Live Music: Definitely. Even just from talking to you all today, it’s clear that you’re a Band with a capital “B.” All of these varying styles and masturbation habits coming together to form something greater than the sum of its parts.

Kanika Moore: Moderate masturbation.

Mike Quinn: We do it in a room together.

Ryan Stasik: We’re that close.

Mike Quinn: I don’t, I just watch. Just out of boredom, though. Not out of actual interest.

Thomas Kenney: It takes all types, you know?

Ryan Stasik: We appreciate every person who paid to be at the show, for the ticket and everything. Instead of saying, “Thank you,” we say, “You’re welcome,” because we’re giving you all we f—ing have and they’re deserving [of] a “you’re welcome.” So maybe that’s the next album, guys. You’re Welcome.

Everyone: [Groans knowingly].

Sean Bing: Oh yeah, this pitch again [laughs].

Ryan Stasik: Once a month, they get the “you’re welcome” pitch. It’s my TED Talk. Less “thank yous,” more “you’re welcomes.”

Live For Live Music: I’m going to use that.

Ryan Stasik: You should.

Live For Live Music: I’m using the masturbation stuff, too. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.

Ryan Stasik: You’re welcome.

Mike Quinn: I don’t masturbate.

Kanika Moore: Lies!

For a list of upcoming Doom Flamingo tour dates, head here.