demos and anxiety.

We did, of course, continue to get demo tapes during this time.  Even though we were largely inactive, with the exception of promoting Lippy whenever we could.

One of the better demos was from a band called Bourbon.  Bourbon were very much an indie rock band, not heavy and punky like Footstone and not sugary and poppy like cuppa joe or The Mommyheads.  In my eyes that was a good thing; I didn’t want Dromedary to be a “twee” label and I didn’t want any more punk-but-accessible-not-punk-kinda-indie-pop-punk-whatever bands.  Bourbon were clearly influenced by the things that were going on around them musically at the time, which was just fine with me.  I liked them.

This is called “Reasons,” from the Bourbon demo tape.

Another demo that we really liked was from Tipili.  Tipili were much more in the vein of Sebadoh – so much, in fact, that they sent not only a Tipili demo cassette with a hand-made cover, but also a cassette of a “side project” (can’t recall the name of the band, and no longer have the cassette).  It was so Sebadoh/Sentridoh/Folk Implosion that my first instinct was to pass on it.  Ultimately, though, it was really good stuff, and I put the Tipili tape into the “do something with this” pile.

We never wound up doing anything with Tipili, but they put out a few indie recordings anyway, if I recall, and did fairly well.

Here’s “Red Line,” from that tape.

They were truly an excellent band, right up my alley.  

Both demos came as a result of being a member of a variety of internet message boards and mailing lists; occasionally members of those lists would treat me as if I actually ran a record label, sending me a polite “Would you mind if I sent you my demo?”  I would always respond with a polite but standoffish “Sure, but we really have a tight release schedule so don’t expect us to call you or anything,” when in reality I was thinking “Oh boy!  More music!”

I loved getting demos.  Even bad ones were fun.  

Around that time, Footstone reminded me that they were still a band by actually going back into the recording studio.  While our personal relationship was fine, I felt like our professional relationship was a little strained at this point.  I was self-conscious about the amount of time it took me to release Lippy, and felt like – for me, at least – this was the worst timing in the world for them to be going into the studio to record new music.  We were getting ready to have a baby, and couldn’t really devote any sort of time to doing anything for Dromedary other than maintaining our current releases.  We were also shopping madly for a new house; it seemed as if we were going out every day after work to look at one or two places, drive through a neighborhood, or visit some town we’d never been to before.

Meanwhile, Ralph was talking about contributing a track to some new compilation record (a track that I think actually came out, although I can’t recall the name of the comp or who else was on it).  On top of that, Bill from American Standard had started a label.  Ralph talked about releasing the Wop Taco music on that label, and I felt that was just a step away from Footstone signing a deal with them.

Bill had a lot more clout with distributors than I did.  His band had made a lot of friends in the 80s and early 90s, he was a genuinely nice guy, and he was close friends with the guys in Footstone.  Footstone usually shared rehearsal space with American Standard, they played a lot of shows together, some of the guys lived together, and they all hung out together on weekends.  That was a huge bond.  If Footstone wanted to sign with Bill’s label, there was nothing I was going to be able to do about it – but I’d be devastated.

They were my favorite band, and I can’t imagine there are many guys that get to put out records by their favorite band.

They had decided to go into the studio with John Weiss, who I believe was the sound guy at Coney Island High.  Coney Island High was one of those clubs in the City that somehow flew under the radar when you were talking about the “cool” underground clubs at the time (basically CBGB, Under Acme, Brownie’s, and Continental, in that order).  But they always had great punk shows there, and it was a pretty cool room.

I thought it was a positive sign when Ralph asked me which Footstone songs I thought they should record.

“U.S. Bebop,” I said.

Really?” he asked.  “We don’t really even practice that song anymore.”

“Dude, that’s the best song you ever wrote.  It’s powerful as hell.  The hooks are insane.  You need to record that song.”

I then asked him what the title “U.S. Bebop” meant, because I thought it was an awesome title.  He said something about the Poison song “Unskinny Bop;” I didn’t understand the parallel but didn’t really care.  Long before that, I had decided to stop trying to decipher Ralph’s lyrics – they seemed to sort of write themselves as he would plug in nonsensical lyrics as the band practiced a new song.  Then, as the song came together, so did the lyrics, but they seemed to depend as much on their rhythmic place in the song as they did on the meaning of the words themselves.

Sure, they had songs that were about things, like trips to strip clubs, sperm, watermelons, or Superworld, but I just couldn’t see Ralph sitting down, writing a poem, then bringing it to the band and saying “Hey guys, I wrote this song about poverty in America, let’s write a tune around it.”

Footstone just weren’t that kind of band, and that was fine with me.  But there was something about Ralph spitting out the words “That fuckin’ nimrod on my street” in “U.S. Bebop” that just seemed so angry that I thought it was an awesome song.

I still don’t know what the song is about, and I still don’t know all the words in the chorus, but the final lyrics ended with Ralph imploring the listener to “mark the letter bombs ‘First Class’ and let the powder lobby in your place.”

I thought that was cool.

~ by Al on September 1, 2009.

2 Responses to “demos and anxiety.”

  1. Let the record show that we brought back “Nimrod” into the rock vernacular before Green Day!!!
    I took Mark’s advice about never singing about love. Plus, my favorite band at the time sang about 4 things: Food, girls, coffee and farts. There was no real incentive to focus on words, we had rockin’ to du. Let the croakers and hopefuls get deep, I wanted to get drunk.
    Of course that all changed when I met Di, and she told me my lyrics sucked.

  2. […] About Chad, Everready, Fluf, Hem, Holiday Flyer, Hula Hoop, Poem Rocket, Ruby Falls, Sportsguitar, Tipili, Veronica Lake and more.  They created a few offshoot labels, and a zine, and appear to be dormant […]

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