don’t you let me come unraveled.

I don’t recall the exact circumstances, but Ralph and Mark paid us a visit one afternoon – afternoon visits from those guys were never good for my liver, and if I recall, I had to work the next day, which made it even worse.

In Ralph’s hands was a six-pack of McSorley’s Ale.  In Mark’s hands was the DAT and all the artwork for Lippy.

It was done.

I had been coming unglued, sort of freaking out that I owned a record label and I had nothing to put out.  And suddenly, I had something to put out.


“Let’s listen,” I suggested.

“Umm, do you have a DAT player?” Mark asked.

I did not have a DAT player.  “You’ve got to be kidding, right?” I asked.

They didn’t bring me a cassette copy.  Again, this was 1994.  There was no such thing as burning a CD.

“Oh, wait,” Ralph said.  “I have a copy in the car.”

He ran out to the car and, after what seemed like an eternity, came back with a cassette.  Written on the side, it said “Footstone – Newy.”

I popped it into the tape deck and sat back.  Before the first song even started, Ralph and Mark were making excuses for how bad it was.  That was their M.O. – neither of them had the capacity to acknowledge that they were really good musicians, in a really good band.  Ralph had the best voice in the local scene, and it wasn’t even a contest.  Mark was one of the only bass players I encountered who was actually a bass player, and not just some guitar player, playing the root note again and again.  And Footstone, as a band, was pretty incredible.

We listened to the tape all the way through, beginning with a recording of the curfew message from Dave’s house arrest, through the end of the band’s cover of the “Juicy Fruit” gum theme.  It was phenomenal.  I had begun to get concerned that Dromedary was leaning a little too far over to the twee side, and I wanted to release something loud – Lippy most definitely qualified.  And the band had completely evolved – most of the songs were much faster, and much heavier than I was accustomed to hearing them play.  Gone were the repetitive, extended instrumental breaks, in favor of quick, punchy riffs.  (Mostly) gone were the six-minute AOR songs, in favor of three or four-minute bursts of pop.  

The bass that Mark had wanted to remix was replaced with this rumbling, rattling, pounding bass that propelled each song forward – there really was some outstanding playing – and although there were some passages where the drums picked up tempo during a song, I actually thought it worked.  It made the songs seem as if the band couldn’t contain itself, almost like a runaway train, with the band accelerating, but trying desperately to hold it together at the same time.  The songs had an energy that was difficult to explain.

There were, of course, a couple of clunkers.  But not many.  Lippy was going to be the kind of record that straddled a few different genres – it wasn’t angry or abrasive enough to be a punk record, it was too hard-driving and aggressive to be a pop record, it was too rooted in DIY and punk ethos to be an alt-rock record – but at the same time, it was all three.

The artwork was well-done, also.  The title, which I learned in this very blog, was the result of an allergic reaction that a friend of the band’s had.  There’s some debate about whether the reaction was caused by Tylenol or by Domino’s Pizza, but the result was that his lips swelled up like balloons.  They tried to recreate the reaction by having their friend (who I only met once, so I won’t drag him into this by mentioning his name) ingest whatever it was that made his lips swell – being a good friend, he agreed to do it, but unfortunately his lips never swelled.  

This forced the band into a Plan B, which involved wax lips, lipstick, and an oversaturation of red.  The inside featured shots of the band in cheesy, ’70s garb and then dressed in drag, laid out in a tic-tac-toe board like the Brady Bunch opening.  There were some other funny shots as well.  The back cover was a blurred, black and white shot of Ralph, playing guitar – very punk-looking.

All in all, it was a pleasure that the artwork for Lippy was well-prepared, clear, colorful, and had no strange quirks about it.  There was no need for me to create transparencies for silkscreening and there was no need for me to hand the artwork over to Rich – Mark had prepared films and color proofs, and given me the whole thing, ready to go.

Of course, when we got through listening to Lippy for the first time, I realized I had forgotten to make a cassette dub of it for myself.  Unable to bear the thought of waiting until the CDs were done before I could listen again, I asked the guys to hang around a while longer while I at least made a high-speed dupe of the CD.

During that time, we talked about the when.  The original release date for the CD was November 15, and we were, at this point, into November.  While I didn’t think we’d have time to get the CD out by Christmas, I figured they’d be ready by then.  The big question was this: do we try and leverage the success of Flying Suit by getting Lippy out as soon as possible, while Flying Suit still had so much momentum?  Or do we wait until after Christmas and release the CD properly, with the right amount of time for pre-release promotion?

The band wanted to get the CD out right away.  Once it was done, they wanted it out.

Right there in the living room, I decided it would be best to wait.  I could see the disappointment on Ralph and Mark’s faces, so I suggested that we “release” it locally, by doing a record release party at the end of December, sending press copies to the local pubs like The Aquarian, Oculus, Sound Views and The Splatter Effect, sending copies out to local radio, and consigning copies to a few local record stores.  The guys seemed to agree on that, so that’s what we decided to do.

At that point, everything came down to the simple matter of getting the CDs made.  Given the fact that everything was already prepared so well by Mark, I figured that part would be easy.

~ by Al on July 14, 2009.

2 Responses to “don’t you let me come unraveled.”

  1. One of Eric’s buddies named Tom actually put the artwork together for us. He had a job at a local printshop and he worked with us to lay it all out on the computer. I think he even output the films for free. We just showed up with a bunch of photos and a lyric sheet. Tom saved our ass.

  2. I still love Lippy and listen to it often, especially while driving. Funny that you didn’t know the origin of the title – I guess one of the Footstone guys told Doug the story back when the CD was coming out, and he told me – even about the attempted recreation of the lip-engorgement. I was jealous we didn’t have any allergies we could exploit. Darn.

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