listening to lippy.

Footstone had numerous delays in getting their recording done.

They had a couple of personal setbacks, and one of the band members had a legal issue to deal with that’s not my business to discuss on my blog.  But those things set the band back a bit.

Then they went into the studio and recorded.  One day, Ralph invited me to go to the Denville house and drink some beers and listen to the rough mixes.

“I should preface this by telling you that I hate these, and I don’t want to put them out,” Ralph said.

“They sound like shit,” Mark said.

We were in the front yard of the Denville house, in the driveway.  We each had beers – there was a keg in the backyard, and after we drank a few beers and dipped our feet in the lake for a while, Ralph grabbed a cassette and said “Let’s go,” and brought us to the driveway to listen.

I actually think they didn’t want anyone else to hear the music.

The cassette said “Lippy” on it.  

“What’s ‘Lippy’?” I asked.

“That’s going to be the name of the CD,” Ralph responded.  “We’re going to have a set of wax lips on the cover.”

I had no idea what the significance of that was, but Footstone was allowed to do whatever they wanted.

We listened.

I thought it was great.


The songs raced along at breakneck pace, the guitars were heavy as hell.  Ralph’s voice was absolutely incredible.  The production was outstanding.

“What’s wrong with this?” I asked.

“Jesus, listen to how shitty the bass sounds,” Mark said.

“I sound like shit,” Ralph said.  “I can’t sing.  I can’t play guitar.”

“The drums are speeding up, slowing down, they’re all over the place.  We need to re-record the drums.  And the bass.  The songs are too fast.  WAY too fast.”

“No!” I interrupted.  “Don’t slow these songs down!”

“You think?” Ralph asked.

“Don’t do it.  They sound fantastic.  Don’t slow them down.”

“You’re drunk,” Mark said.

I wasn’t.  I felt like Footstone was missing just one thing – speed.  These songs were fast, powerful, punk-oriented pop songs.  Of the batch they played me, there were four songs I really didn’t like:

The first was the song they were using as the “hidden track.”  I was insisting on a hidden track.  They had a song that was, essentially, a super-repetitive instrumental track, with someone reading personal ads over the music.  I thought it was boring.

The second was a ridiculously fast song that was too long and really had trouble with the pace – the drums speeded up and slowed down noticeably in mid-song, and the song really never developed.  I don’t recall the name of the song, but it began right at the end of another song – they finished one song and broke right into this one.  Fortunately, the band hated the way it turned out so much that they actually faded out the song that preceded it, and scrapped it from the record.

The third was “Laughter In Your Coffee,” a weak-sounding pop song with sing-songy vocals and lyrics that I really didn’t get.  I felt like it was repetitive and missing the kind of drive that the newer Footstone songs were beginning to feature.

The last was “Multiply,” a song that was, far as I could tell, a song about how Ralph wanted to have sex with someone.  It was really the first Footstone song I had heard that represented what the band was beginning to sound like – heavy, with percussive guitar parts and the bass anchoring the song down, and Ralph’s voice rocketing above everything else.  It wasn’t a bad song, but the bass line was virtually stolen right from Stanley Clarke’s “School Daze,” which sorta bugged me because I hated that song.

The rest of the songs, though, were brilliant.

And I was pissed that they wouldn’t give me the tape.

“It’s the only one we’ve got,” Ralph said, “and none of the songs are finished.  Like I said, we don’t like any of them.  We really don’t want to put this out.”

Sandy chimed in.  “Guys, this really is the best music I’ve ever heard from you.”

Sandy almost never chimed in about the actual music.  She preferred to hang behind the scenes, paying the bills and offering me advice, and then just enjoying the experience.  When she offered an opinion, it was pretty well-respected.

“We need to beef up the bass,” Mark said.  “The bass sucks.  The drums are way too loud, too.”

“I need to re-record a lot of the vocal parts,” Ralph explained.  And some of it needs backing vocals.  We’re not ready to give this to you.  We have to go back into the studio.”

I wanted to hear it again.  Some of these songs, I thought, were so good that I wanted to commit them to memory.  Who knew when I was going to hear them again, and what they were going to sound like?

As we listened, the guys told me about some problems they were having in the band.  It sounded like there were just some personality conflicts happening.  These guys had been together for years – they were in their mid-20s and were friends in high school, so for all practical purposes, they had been a band for ten years.  They lived together, they hung out with the same people.  They were, for all practical purposes, married.  So they were beginning to bark at each other a bit, getting on each other’s nerves.  It was actually sort of funny to listen to them griping about each other, they had gotten to the point where their personality quirks annoyed each other and little things about they way they played their instruments got on each other’s nerves.  I thought it was pretty cool to have a group of friends that you knew so well, that everything they did was predictable to you. They were like a family.

After we listened a second time, Sandy and I politely excused ourselves and headed home.  Boonton and Denville were neighboring towns, so it didn’t take long for us to get home.  I fished out the Footstone rehearsal tapes I had, and tried to find copies of the songs from the tape we had just heard – unfortunately, except for “Superworld” and “Watermelon,” I had none of them.  

But maybe that was a good sign.  Maybe we could get this record out fast enough that the band would still be playing the songs live when the record was done.

~ by Al on May 10, 2009.

5 Responses to “listening to lippy.”

  1. I’m pretty sure it was our friend Kevin who had an allergic reaction to Domino’s pizza. Something about the red sauce. His lips would blow up like balloons…. thus the term “Lippy”. Aren’t you glad we didn’t want to silkscreen the artwork?

    I’ll have to scare up a copy of “School Daze”.

    I miss that Denville house. Did I introduce you to our neighbor the clown?

  2. The Happy Jerkoff Clown?

  3. And I can’t believe you’ve never heard “School Daze.”

    Then again, you’re not missing much. Bad fusion can be miserable.

  4. I thought it was Tylenol that Kevin had the reaction to…Sucks for us that he outgrew it. Still, nice of him to give it a try for artwork sake.

  5. It may have been a combination of domino’s and tylenol that gave Muoio the awesome reaction. Boy, he could polish off a few pies in a sitting if he really wanted.

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