But Im not going to sing that song anymore
Cause Ive found out what living is all about
And its life! Life! Life is the only thing worth living for."
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 Epic Rocking song which became a crowd favorite... of sorts. A year later, the band released their debut album, 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 (Jello Biafra and Henry Rollins were fans; Buzz Osbourne, Krist Novoselic and Kurt Cobain all listed Flipper as major influences to their music; Krist would go on to become Flipper's bassist for several years during the late 2000s, recording a studio album and a live album with them during that time), 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. Tragically, 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 bassist, with no narcotics related fatalities so far.
In 2015, it was announced that Bruce Loose had retired from Flipper due to his history of back injuries catching up to him, leaving him unable to tour. It was also announced that David Yow, vocalist for The Jesus Lizard, had stepped in to take over Loose's singing duties, and that long-time "fifth Flipper" Bruno DeSmartass had rejoined the band as bassist.
- 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)
And it's tropes! Tropes! Tropes are the only thing worth living for:
- The Band Minus the Face: With Will Shatter dead and Bruce Loose retired, Flipper has lost both its original lead singers/bassists. The band currently consists of founding members Ted Falconi and Steve DePace, plus a rotating cast of vocalists and bass players.
- Broken Record: "Brainwash" does this literally. The entire song is very basic and only lasts twenty-seven seconds total, with the lyrics consisting entirely of someone stuttering while trying to say something before giving up, claiming "you wouldn't understand anyway". Depending on how you listen to the album, you may either hear the entire song over and over again until it reaches Epic Rocking territory, or you'll hear the last line looped ("you wouldn't understand anyway...you wouldn't understand anyway...") until you get tired of hearing it and take the needle off the record or until you wear out the vinyl; whichever comes first.
- Cover Version: "Sex Bomb" became really popular to cover at one point in the 1980's. Allegedly a radio station back in the day invited bands to submit covers of the song 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".
- Flipper themselves covered traditional children's rhyme "There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly", as well as Nirvana's "Scentless Apprentice" and Weezer's "Hash Pipe" for tribute albums.
- Epic Rocking: Flipper relied heavily on this as part of their overall sound. In a time when punk bands would play deliberately short songs, Flipper would drone on and on for lengthy periods of time, partially because they liked the way it sounded, and partially because they knew that anything over two minutes in duration would piss off many a hardcore crowd. Sex Bomb provides the most notorious example, however "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, fan graffiti, pins, and so on.
- Packaged as Other Medium: The front cover of Gone Fishin' doubles as a fold-together model of the band's tour bus. The initial printing included a free mail in offer for an extra, empty sleeve - this way fans could cut out the model and still have a functional record sleeve.
- 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 often wore a self-made Flipper t-shirt and spoke highly of them in interviews as frequently 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.