"She's a sex bomb, my baby, yeah!"
"Life is the only thing worth living for"
Flipper is a rather infamous Noise Rock
band hailing from San Francisco, California. In 1979, former members of Negative Trend and The Sleepers gathered together to form a new band, which was named after original vocalist Ricky Williams' pets (no that's not a mistake - his cat, parakeet, and fish were all
named Flipper due to the ease of remembering one name when he was high as a kite) after nobody could think of a better name. Despite being a founding member and the lead singer, Ricky was booted before the band had made a single recording, allegedly because he was "too weird". As a result, Bruce Lose and Will Shatter traded vocal and bass duties, Ted Falconi (a Vietnam War
veteran) played guitar, and Steve DePace played drums. The band had a few recordings on a compilation album and the Love Canal/Ha Ha Ha 7" single out in their early career, however the band gained notoriety through their 1981 single, "Sex Bomb" - a deliberately minimalistic (seriously, the page quote contains the entire lyrics) Epic Rocking
song which became a crowd favorite...of sorts. A year later, the band released their debut record, Album - Generic Flipper
. The band continued to make waves in the San Francisco punk scene, most notably due to the fact that while most punk bands were speeding up their sound, Flipper deliberately played a slow, raucous wall of noise that infuriated many potential audiences, and at the exact same time, wound up drawing in many others (Buzz Osbourne
, Krist Novoselic and Kurt Cobain
all listed Flipper as major influences to their music), pioneering a style of music which would eventually give way to sludge metal, grunge, and noise rock.
1984 saw the band's second major release and a live album recorded at a CBGB's performance - Gone Fishin
' and Blow'n Chunks
, respectively. The band powered on through the 1980's and released a double live album called "Public Flipper Ltd.", however the band folded after key member Will Shatter died of a drug overdose on December 9th, 1987. They reunited in 1990 to release yet another live album and a new studio album (Nürnberg Fish Trials
and American Grafishy
, respectively), neither of which were well received among fans. The band broke up yet again after replacement bassist John Dougherty died of a drug overdose (eerily enough, founding member Ricky Williams died of a heroin overdose that year as well). As of 2002, the band has reunited for a third time, performing every now and then with Bruce Loose (he changed his name with the third incarnation because "Lose" implied bad luck) and Rachel Thoele filling in as bassists, with no narcotics related fatalities so far
- Album - Generic Flipper (1982)
- Gone Fishin' (1984)
- Blow'n Chunks (1984)
- Public Flipper Ltd. (1986)
- Nürnberg Fish Trials (1991)
- American Grafishy (1993)
- Live at CBGB's 1983 (1997)
- Love (2009)
- Fight (2009)
- 1982 Demos (or Demos 1982, alternately)(unreleased)
Flipper has examples of:
- Author Existence Failure: Will Shatter, John Dougherty, and Ricky Williams all died of narcotics overdoses. Bruce Lose once commented that the coincidence was "like Spinal Tap, except the bass player keeps dying".
- Cover Version: Sex Bomb became really popular to cover at one point in the 1980's. Allegedly a radio station invited bands to submit covers of Sex Bomb over a set period of time, and in order to fit everyone's submissions in, the station wound up being on the air and playing them all back to back for two and a half days. As far as straight covers go, however:
- The Melvins covered "Sacrifice", "Love Canal", "Someday", and "Way of the World".
- Lords Of Acid covered "Sex Bomb".
- Unsane covered "Ha Ha Ha".
- Epic Rocking: A good chunk of their material, but most notably "Sex Bomb".
- The unreleased song "Kali" from the as of yet unreleased album 1982 Demos clocks in at over 11 minutes.
- Lead Bassist: Two of them, in fact.
- Mascot: The dead fish that decorates their shirts, albums, and the fan graffiti.
- Shout-Out: Public Flipper Ltd. is a reference to Public Image Ltd., who had released an album called "Album" as a nod towards Flipper's Album - Generic Flipper.
- Kurt Cobain wore a self-made Flipper t-shirt and spoke highly of them in interviews as often as he could, as they were one of his favorite bands. The shirt can be seen in the booklet pictures of In Utero, on the band's first 1992 Saturday Night Live performance, and in the "Come As You Are" video.