lippy.

Lippy Inside Footstone were funny.  Part of their appeal was their humor; they didn’t think twice about being funny at their own expense.  In my very first conversation with Mark, he disarmed me by telling me that I had called him while he was jerking off.  That sort of open humor continued on throughout the band’s evolution.  Lippy contained a song that detailed the story of a friend who masturbated in the ladies’ room of a strip club, and it contained another song where Ralph cops to having sex with a watermelon.  Their Insight interview got props because it was funny; very little of the interview described the band itself.  They were like that friend that you have, the one you wouldn’t even think of not inviting to your party, because everyone else loves him.

In promoting Lippy, and Footstone in general, I wanted to bring some of that through.  This is a band that could rip your face off with their music, it was also a band that could make you disgustingly happy with its hooks, but more than that, it was a band that could make you feel like you were their friend.  They weren’t afraid to dress in drag on their record, or to make fun of themselves at a show in front of a roomful of people.  They were respectful to everyone they met, they acknowledged every band they ever played with – you wanted them to succeed.

Unfortunately when someone hears “Laughter in your Coffee” by itself, it’s really difficult to get across the idea that this is a crunchy, powerful punk/power-pop band.  This band was continuously evolving and improving; every time they had a recording ready to go, they already had a bunch of songs that were even better.  I wanted to accomplish everything with Lippy – I wanted people to understand that the record was A) already better than 90% of the guitar-based, alt-rock crap that was out there, B) a snapshot of a band that was literally getting better by the day, C) a studio recording of an absolutely devastating live band, and D) a collection of songs by the nicest, funniest, most likeable guys in indie rock.

Footstone One Sheet With the one-sheet for Lippy, I tried really hard to get across the sarcastic humor, the party vibe of the band, and all the stuff I just wrote above.  And rather than just including the one-sheet with the promo stuff I sent to the distributors, I included it with every promo package – radio, press, retail, even the VIP copies.  Unlike the other records I had put out, where I wanted to document a band and keep them a part of what I was calling the “Dromedary family,” I actually wanted Footstone to sign with a bigger label.  I felt like they had the potential to be huge.

Now, Footstone never wanted this.  Footstone just wanted to play shows, have fun, and get a record out once in a while that they could put into people’s hands.  I think they gave away more copies of their records than they actually sold, and I know that they gave away more T-shirts and stickers than I could imagine.  Everywhere I looked, I saw a Footstone sticker.  In every men’s room I ever used in Hoboken or the Village, there was a Footstone sticker somewhere.  Every New Jersey band I ever saw in 1994-95 had a Footstone sticker on an amp or a guitar case.

They enjoyed being a band, but I don’t think any one of the guys ever set a goal of being more than just a bunch of buddies that hung out together, drank a bunch of beer, and wrote songs together.  Aside from wanting enough notoriety to be able to go out of town and play some shows in other cities if they wanted, I was never aware of any spectacular rock star ambitions the band may have had.

I, on the other hand, knew what songs they had written since they recorded Lippy.  The big “commercial alternative” stations playing bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Live, and Veruca Salt weren’t playing anything better than Footstone.  Popular music continued to get worse, and a lot of the crap on the big college stations was no better – the major labels had eaten most of college radio’s early groundbreaking principles and thus we were hearing Smashmouth instead of Unrest at the left of the dial.  

Footstone deserved, in my mind, to be at that level.

By the time I was packing up the promos of Lippy, I felt that it was going to be the record that broke the ground, both for us and for the band.  We had released nurture, our first single-band CD, and it had generated a decent amount of interest.  Then we came back with Flying Suit, which raised the profile of the label significantly.  I then spent months working on Footstone, sending out advance copies, talking up the band to various zines, doing shows with them, writing about them in emails to friends and fans alike.  

I had this fantasy that Lippy was going to come out and between the elevated profile of Dromedary and the band’s amazing live shows, that the record would slowly catch on, maybe sell a few thousand copies, and pave the way for the band to either get signed to a big label, or put out one more record on Dromedary before moving up to the big leagues.  To help elevate the profile of the band locally, I sent promo copies everywhere, including all the commercial rock radio stations.  I sent copies to MTV.  I sent copies to local TV stations, thinking they might want to use the music as beds underneath locally-produced news or sports shows.  I sent copies directly to music journalists, hoping that they’d fall into the right hands.  I sent copies to the Howard Stern show, all the local morning DJs, even to the Uncle Floyd show.  I sent copies to every individual writer for CMJ that I could find, and offered free copies to everyone on the various indie rock email lists I belonged to, hoping to build a buzz for the band.

I even sent a copy to new Yankee pitcher Jack McDowell.  I had heard that McDowell was in a band, and was into “alternative” music, so I sent him a package, welcoming him to the Yankees, and telling him about Dromedary and Footstone, and inviting him to come catch the band live sometime (at the end of the season, McDowell reciprocated by sending me a copy of his own CD and inviting me to come see the band at Maxwell’s, a nice gesture that I didn’t take him up on, mostly because I didn’t like the band).

I wound up sending out more promo copies for Lippy than for the Mommyheads and cuppa joe combined.  And I didn’t care – I felt that in a perfect world, I wouldn’t have a problem recouping my investment in the promos, because the band was that good.  Eventually, whether with this record or the next, I’d make my money back.

Footstone Distro Letter The letter that went with the records was formatted in different ways, depending on who was receiving it.  They all basically said the same thing, though – explaining why the CD was so late, briefly describing the band, and attempting to articulate why I was so excited to be the guy who got to put it out.

And, in a lot of cases, it worked – a lot of the distributors that carried Flying Suit elected to pick up Lippy as well.  Local zines took notice and started calling me about potentially doing interviews with the band.  I started getting emails from people, looking for copies of the record.  A few record stores around the country called me, asking to buy direct.

It also helped that American Standard, close friends with the guys in Footstone, had their CD Piss and Vinegar coming out in 1995 as well.  After a long hiatus, there were a lot of people looking forward to that record, and since the band occasionally played shows together, their fans were able to mingle a bit.  American Standard had a much longer history than Footstone did, and so I think they were able to expose a lot of people to Footstone at their shows, and just by talking about the band.  Footstone would play a show, and a lot of people would come.

Either way, by April of 1995, I was absolutely stoked about Footstone.  I felt that in many ways, they had become the Jersey band that was most likely to move onto the next level.  More than one person commented to me that Footstone had become the “elder statesman” of the scene, that band that all the younger bands looked up to.

After the promos had been sent out, Sandy (who was starting to look pregnant at this point) asked me what I thought was our best record.

“Definitely Lippy,” I responded.

“Really?” she asked.  “Why?”

“I think all our records were good, except Elizabeth.  But they all had problems.  nurture had some outstanding songs on it, but it looked like shit, and there were some clunkers on it as well.  Flying Suit was too short, and mastered too low.  But this one just rocks, it’s got some clunkers on it but at least they all sound great, and I think history is going to show this record as that debut record that began to hint at what the band would eventually become.  Ten years from now, when Footstone has four or five more records out, their fans are going to go see them live, and before the show they’ll say things like ‘I hope they play ‘Superworld’ tonight.”

That’s what I thought in early April of 1995.  It’s still what I think today.

~ by Al on August 12, 2009.

5 Responses to “lippy.”

  1. I think you mean “April of 1995′, not “2005”. Very cool post, though. I learned a lot – and the promo pieces were suitably amusing.

  2. Nice catch; appropriately edited.

  3. I sometimes forget how much time and effort went into the release of Lippy. Thanks again Al. We may not have had the success that you wanted, but at least we created a collectors item!
    http://www.amazon.com/Lippy-Footstone/dp/B000960YJW
    or
    http://www.rarepunkmusic.com/misscy.html

    • Are you kidding? Thank YOU for letting me put it out. And I’m pleased to see Lippy in that picture with some pretty good bands. Ryan loves Midtown.

  4. […] represented a complete cross-section of their history as a band.  They played a few tracks from Lippy (“Watermelon,” “Superworld,” “Toothpick,” “I’ll Get […]

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