Flipper – in session for John Peel – August 15, 1993 – BBC Radio 1 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
Flipper in session tonight. Recorded for the legendary John Peel at BBC Radio 1 on August 15, 1993.
Flipper was founded by former Sleepers member Ricky Williams (vocals), former Rad Command member Ted Falconi (guitar), and former Negative Trend members Will Shatter (bass) and Steve DePace (drums). Founding member and original vocalist Williams was credited for naming the band, but was fired before it made any recordings. Bruce “Loose” Calderwood replaced Williams and he and Shatter then went on to trade vocal and bass duties, with both bringing a bass onstage. Falconi, a Vietnam War veteran, played a uniquely distorted style of guitar.
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 was recorded over a year and 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 Arm claimed, in the 2006 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. Fans began spray painting “Flipper Rules” in various locations around San Francisco and eventually the world.
In 1983, Flipper appeared in Rick Schmidt’s independent film, Emerald Cities. Footage of a live performance was interspersed throughout the film, showcasing three songs: “One By One”, “Get Away” and “Love Canal”.
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. This lineup released an all-new studio album in 1992, American Grafishy, on Rick Rubin’s Def American imprint, which was not as well-received as their previous work. Also in 1992, founding member Ricky Williams also died of a heroin overdose. After the album was released, replacement bass player John Dougherty died of a drug overdose in 1997.
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. As part of a legal settlement, Subterranean was awarded the right to reissue its Flipper records on vinyl in the United States.
As a reminder, here is their only Peel session from 1993, with a suggestion you play this upwards of 11.