Flipper is a punk band formed in San Francisco, California in 1979, continuing in often erratic fashion until the mid-1990s, then reuniting in 2005. The band influenced a number of grunge, punk rock and noise rock bands. Their slowed-down, bass-driven, and heavily distorted style of punk is also considered a key forerunner tosludge metal and bands such as The Melvins and Nirvana, whose bass player Krist Novoselic played with the band in the 2000s.
History[edit source | edit]Edit
Early years (1979-1989)[edit source | edit]Edit
Flipper was founded by former members of The Sleepers and Negative Trend. Founding member and original vocalist Ricky Williams was credited for naming the band and fired before it made any recordings. Bruce Loose and Will Shatter then went on to trade vocal and bass duties, with both bringing a bass onstage. Vietnam warveteran Ted Falconi played a uniquely distorted style of guitar, and Steve DePace played drums.
Flipper's first recordings appeared in late 1979 on the SF Underground 7" EP released through the newly-formed Subterranean Records, followed by the "Love Canal"/"Ha Ha Ha" 7" single.
|"Ha Ha Ha"MENU 0:00 Sample of the 1981 Flipper single "Ha Ha Ha." Characteristic of the band, the heavy bass and vocals primarily carry the melody. Also exemplified is Ted Falconi's unique style of distorted guitar playing.----|
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In 1981, the "Sex Bomb"/"Brainwash" single was released, featured individually hand-made covers. The lengthy a-side had minimal lyrics ("She's a sex bomb, my baby, yeah") and gained the band notoriety within the punk community. The original lineup released their first full-length album, Album – Generic Flipper on Subterranean in 1982. It contained a new version of "Sex Bomb." It was followed later in the year with another single on Subterranean, "Get Away"/"The Old Lady that Swallowed the Fly."
The band regularly performed in the San Francisco area and attracted a large following. Simultaneously, their uniquely slowed-down and raucous approach to punk managed to infuriate other members of the local punk scene, especially with the burgeoning popularity of faster-paced hardcore punk. Mark Armclaims in the 2003 documentary American Hardcore that Flipper's charm as a band lay in their ability to upset audiences while attracting their undivided attention and curiosity at the same time. One of the ways the band promoted itself was spray painting "Flipper Rules" in various locations around San Francisco.The cover of Gone Fishin' in 1984. The pictured van was where Ted Falconi lived when not on tour with the band.
A followup 1984 Subterranean studio album, Gone Fishin', featured the opening track "The Lights, the Sound, the Rhythm, the Noise" as well as "Survivors of the Plague" and "Sacrifice." The colorful van on the cover, along with figures representing the band and their equipment, could be cut out and folded. Subterranean also offered extra covers through a small mail order fee.Cover of Blow'n Chunks, featuring the dead fish used as Flipper's mascot
Also in 1984, the ROIR cassette label released a live Flipper document of a CBGB performance titled "Blow'n Chunks," including material from all phases of the band's existence to that date. It became available on CD in 1990. A 2001 reissue includes four outtakes from the live sessions.
Flipper titled their 1986 double live album Public Flipper Ltd. The album unfolded into a board game with a cutout spinner and game cards with Subterranean once again providing extra covers through mail order.
The original lineup splintered after a period of touring, and singer and core member Will Shatter died on December 9, 1987 of a drug overdoseafter forming A3I. Subterranean packaged the band's singles and rarities into the 1987 collection Sex Bomb Baby. The cassette edition and later CD rereleases featured three bonus tracks.
After Will Shatter (1990-1999)[edit source | edit]Edit
The band resurfaced in 1990 with a new single on Subterranean, "Some Day"/"Distant Illusion", and began performing again. Nürnberg Fish Trials, another live album, was released in 1991. The band's new lineup released an all-new studio album in 1992, American Grafishy, on Rick Rubin'sDef American imprint, which veered into a somewhat new style and was not as well-received as their previous work. After the album was released, replacement bass player John Dougherty died of a drug overdose. In addition to the deaths of Shatter and Dougherty, founding member Ricky Williams also died of a heroin overdose. Loose once commented to SF Weekly on the band's history as "like Spinal Tap, except the bass player keeps dying".
Rick Rubin also reissued Album – Generic Flipper and the singles compilation Sex Bomb Baby on his Infinite Zero label. By 1997, Flipper's music went largely out of print with Rubin holding on to the rights, though tentative plans had been made for the band's catalog to be rereleased on Rubin's American Recordings in 2007. As part of a legal settlement, Subterranean Records was awarded the right to reissue its Flipper records on vinyl in the United States.
Reformations (2002-present)[edit source | edit]Edit
In 2002, Bruce Loose (using a cane), returned for a one-off gig at Berkeley's 924 Gilman Street space as "Not Flipper".
The original members of Flipper, save for the late Will Shatter (with Bruno DeSmartass again replacing Shatter, as he had done for a 1982 tour), reunited to support CBGB on August 22 and 28, 2005. This lineup then continued to perform live beginning in 2006.
In December 2006, DeSmartass was replaced by Krist Novoselic of grunge band Nirvana on bass for a tour of the UK and Ireland, as well as several US shows.[unreliable source?] The song "Scentless Apprentice", which the band recorded (without Novoselic) for a 2000 Nirvana tribute album, was added to the band's setlist.Cover of 2008's Love, written and recorded with Krist Novoselicof Nirvana on bass
In 2008, the band recorded a new album with Novoselic, On May 19, 2009, Flipper released a "twin album" featuring one album, titled Love, of new studio material, and a second live album, titled Fight featuring both old and new songs. Both of these albums were produced by Seattle producer Jack Endino and were well received. Novoselic announced his departure from the band in September 2009 due to responsibilities at home, forcing a tour cancellation. He was replaced by Rachel Thoele, formerly of Frightwig, Mudwimin, and Van Gough's Daughter.
Several Flipper albums were reissued during 2008-2009 in a variety of formats. Album – Generic Flipper, Gone Fishin', Public Flipper Limited, and Sex Bomb Baby! were reissued on compact disc by Water Records in the US and Domino Records in the UK, and on vinyl by the Runt imprint 4 Men with Beards.
Influence on other musicians[edit source | edit]Edit
Along with Black Flag's My War (1984), Flipper's slowed-down, bass-driven, and heavily distorted style of punk is considered a key forerunner to sludge metal and bands such as The Melvins. Kurt Cobain wore a self-made Flipper t-shirt seen in the booklet pictures of Nirvana's In Utero, on the band's first performance on Saturday Night Live in 1992, and also in the music video for "Come as You Are." Cobain and Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic cited Flipper as one of their band's influences.
In the documentary American Hardcore, Moby stated that he fronted Flipper for two days while singer Will Shatter was in jail because he "knew all of their songs". The band denies this anecdote, however.
In Get in the Van, his memoir of the early '80s punk rock scene, Henry Rollins of Black Flag described the Flipper experience: "They were just heavy. Heavier than you. Heavier than anything...When they played they were amazing."
Covers[edit source | edit]Edit
The Melvins covered Flipper's song "Sacrifice" on their Lysol album. They have also covered "Way of the World" which appears on the Singles 1-12 compilation. Belgian electronica/industrial bandLords Of Acid covered Flipper's song "Sex Bomb", and released a live version on the 1995 "Do What You Wanna Do" maxi-single. The track starts by Praga Khan giving credit to Flipper. It was later reinterpreted into the Lords' typical style on the 2000 album Farstucker and is a staple of their live shows. Unsane covered the song "Ha Ha Ha" on their 2012 album Wreck.
Members[edit source | edit]Edit
Discography[edit source | edit]Edit
Studio albums[edit source | edit]Edit
|Album – Generic Flipper||1982||Subterranean Records, reissued on Water Records in 2008|
|Gone Fishin'||1984||Subterranean Records, reissued on Water Records in 2008|
|American Grafishy||1993||Def American|
Live albums[edit source | edit]Edit
|Public Flipper Limited||1986||Subterranean Records, reissued on Water Records in 2008|
|Nürnberg Fish Trials||1991||Musical Tragedies|
|Live at CBGB's||1997||Overground|
Singles[edit source | edit]Edit
|"Love Canal"/"Ha Ha Ha"||1980||Subterranean Records|
|"Sex Bomb"/"Brainwash"||1981||Subterranean Records|
|"Get Away"/"The Old Lady that Swallowed the Fly"||1982||Subterranean Records|
|"Some Day"/"Distant Illusion"||1990||Subterranean Records|
|"Flipper Twist"/"Fucked Up"||1992||Matador Records/Def American|
|"Sex Bomb Remix"/"Sex Bomb Remix"||1993||Fear and Loathing|
Compilations[edit source | edit]Edit
|Sex Bomb Baby||1988||Subterranean Records, reissued on Infinite Zero Archive/American Recordings in 1995, reissued on Water Records in 2008|
DVDs[edit source | edit]Edit
|Flipper Live||February 19, 2008||Music Video Distributors|
Other appearances[edit source | edit]Edit
- "Earthworm" on SF Underground (1979)
- "Falling", "Lowrider" and "End the Game" on Live at Target (1981)
- "Ha Ha Ha" on Let Them Eat Jellybeans (1981)
- "Sacrifice" on Not So Quiet on the Western Front (1982)
- "Life" on Rat Music for Rat People (1982)
- "Ever" on Eastern Front (1983)
- "Ever" and "Sex Bomb" on The Wanna-Be-an-Indie-But-Got-Too-Much-$ Sampler (1992)
- "Some Day" on SXSW (1993)
- "Love Canal" and "Get Away" on Infinite Zero Promotional CD#2 (1994)
- "Ha Ha Ha" on Old School Punk (1998)
- "Scentless Apprentice" (Nirvana cover) on Smells Like Bleach: A Punk Tribute to Nirvana (2000)
- "Sad But True" on A Punk Tribute to Metallica (2001)
- "Problem Child" (AC/DC cover) on For Those About to Rawk: A Punk Tribute to AC/DC (2002)
- "Ha Ha Ha" on American Hardcore's Official Movie Soundtrack (2006)
- "Hash Pipe" (Weezer cover) on A Punk Tribute to Weezer (2006)