FLIPPER RULES! THE WORLD
It was somewhere South of Market St., where artists and bands (sometimes one and the same) used to be able to rent studios and rehearsal space CHEAP, that I first saw it, spray-painted in black, on the side of a condemned San Francisco warehouse. An outline of an ugly fish, with sharp teeth and this succinct, but definitive statement, crudely written: "FLIPPER RULES!"
After that, it seemed I saw the mark of Flipper everywhere. This was back in '79 or '80, when no one save a few extremely hip cognoscente had heard of Flipper. So I asked around. I discovered that they were not well loved. Can't play, said many of the people I spoke to. It seemed that in San Francisco at that post-punk period, there were all these New Wave and artsy and punk bands playing around the city, bands like the Dead Kennedys and the Mutants and No Sisters and the Punts (who later changed their name to Bonnie Hayes and the Wild Combo). And then, set apart like some leper colony, was Flipper. "A lot of people think we're a joke," drummer Steve DePace once said, and he was right.
Still, despite such derision from more established corners of the San Francisco music scene ("They play music?" asked 415 Records president Howie Klein), Flipper persevered. They played at alternative venues like the Elite Club (once the site of the Fillmore Auditorium) and the Mabuhay Gardens, the On Broadway and the Berkeley Square. They refused to work for established music mogul Bill Graham. "I hate Bill Graham's guts," is how bassist/singer/songwriter Will Shatter delicately put it.
That isn't the kind of thing that a rock band with a career in mind should say, but then Flipper never cared about things like "a career". "We all have fun," says Shatter, and that pretty much says it all.
It wasn't until the release of a single, "Sex Bomb" on the underground Subterranean label, that the band attracted significant national attention. "Sex Bomb" defined Flipper. It was loud and raw and hypnotic and devastating: a tornado harnessed, unwillingly, into the service of rock'n'roll. The phrase "sex bomb, baby" was repeated over and over and over, like some primeval commentary on love and sex, lust and desire. "The noisiest thing with a good beat I've ever heard," wrote a critic from the Village Voice.
By the time their first album, titled simply Album, was released (also on Subterranean), they had attained national cult status. Flipper clone bands emerged, imitating the chaotic drone rock, the angry yet subtle lyricism, the psychedelic noise guitar that was the Flipper sound. Flipper took their infamy in stride. "We're the Grateful Dead of the 80s," they announced, and their openended, unstructured live performances, featuring jams on songs like "Super Freak," gave truth to that flippant remark.
And it is in live performance that Flipper continue to prove themselves, night after night. I remember one performance, a few years ago, in the now defunct Elite Club. To get things going, Shatter and bassist/songwriter/singer Bruce Lose stood on stage drinking beer, smoking cigarettes while guitarist Ted Falconi and drummer DePace created the classic Flipper wall-of-noise. Casually, as if he were a part of the band, a member of the audience climbed onto the stage, grabbed a microphone and improvised lyrics. Only at a Flipper concert.
This tape is a live recording of just such a Flipper concert. Including their "hits" - "Way of the World", "Love Canal", "Ha Ha" and the unforgettable "Life is Cheap" - Blow'n Chunks, recorded in November of '83 at the club where it all began, CBGB's, is a representative dose of raw Flipper.
Ignore at your own risk.
Flipper is a four piece group consisting of Ted Falconi on guitar, Bruce Lose on bass & or vocals, Steve (Boom Boom) DePace (aka Vito) on drums & Will Shatter on bass & vocals.
Flipper began their illustration career in 1979 playing any local San Francisco club that would have us. It wasn't long after that no club would have us. You see Flipper tends to bring the killer whale instinct out of even the most passive angel fish.
So, with nowhere left to play, Flipper took to the road to wreak havoc across America. And that we did. Receiving critical acclaim coast to coast.
Following our first grand U.S. tour, Flipper's Generic Album was released. Due to popular demand Flipper hit the road once again to spread terror across the nation. This time, however, with a different fin. Bassist lyricist Will Shatter was forced to remain behind in San Francisco due to circumstances beyond his control. So Flipper took on a new fin, a brave soul named Steve DeMartis aka Bruno De Smartass of the infamous DeSmartass Brothers, Vito & Brun. Bruno took on the job with wholehearted vigor yet unmastered by the other three seasoned veterans of the band. The tour was a success & back home Will Shatter returned to his rightful position as 1/4 of Flipper.
Several months later in November 1983 Flipper went to the East Coast to do six live shows in hopes of capturing the "Live Flipper Experience" on tape. So you be the judge.
Sit back, relax, get blind drunk, & listen to the disturbed & unnatural sounds made by the beached whales themselves