Ever live a life that’s real?
Full of zest, but no appeal?
Ever want to cry so much…
You want to die?
Ever feel that you’ve been had?
Had so much that you turn mad?
Ever been so depressed, that
(to) those you turn to, you bring distress?
Ever sit in tormenting silence,
That turns so loud, you start to scream?
Ever take control of a dream
And play all the parts and set all the scenes?
Ever do nothing and gain nothing from it?
Ever feel stupid and then know that you really are?
Ever think you’re smart and then find out you aren’t?
Ever play the fool and then find out you’re worse?
Ever look at a flower and hate it?
Ever see a couple kissing and get sickened by it?
Ever wish the human race didn’t exist
And then realize you’re one too?
When I was 16 I went to see my favorite band SNFU play a show in DC. They were touring with another band called Gang Green which was the first Punk band officially sponsored by Budweiser. SNFU were great, as usual. They were a mixture of high energy guitars with this stop and go rhythm that I loved at the time. Their stage show was also remarkable for their lead singer: he was five foot tall and had a four foot tall mop of hair that he would somehow manage to get to stand perfectly on end by doing some kind of actobatic jump-kick-head-waggle thing.
After SNFU played I was buzzing and ready to go home but my friend told me to stick around, Flipper was going to play. I watched these weird, crusty men set up slowly, then do a bunch of noisy sound checks, and start the show with the most awful cacophony of feedback I had ever heard. It was an unrelenting wall of noise, feedback, and pounding on what sounded like garbage cans. Will Shatter was singing because he had broken his arm in ann accident and his voice was creaky and broken – he wasn’t singing, he was angrily croaking into the microphone. It was so offensive that it was driving the other Punks out. As I stood there amidst the dwindling crowd I was in awe of this noise. I only caught glimpses of the lyrics and they were all dark and gloomy. I was hooked.
My teenage years weren’t emo. I wasn’t one of those kids who died his hair black and covered his face because I was so sad about myself. I was more generally depressed about the world. Regan was President, crack was king, joining the army was my only hope to get into college and thus of getting ahead in life, and the world felt like it was teetering on the brink of nuclear destruction. I wasn’t depressed. I was learning to accept the depressing state of existence.
When I bought their album “ALBUM”, I opened the sleeve and there were songs like “Nothing” and “Life is Cheap” or “Living for the depression”. It was an overwhelming eight tracks (plus Sex Bomb) of screaming ennui. I was learning to suppress my own existential dread and here was a band to help me.
Thanks in part to Flipper and a comically stupid stint in the Army, I made it. I now keep my existential dread down to a low roar at all times. It’s always there like a jacuzzi, a pool of warm water for me to dip my toes in when I really need it.
ALBUM was recorded in 1981 and yet I’ve never seen Flipper credited for starting the doom metal scene or emo but they were certainly at the forefront of both movements. In their liner notes Flipper says that I should “tell them what they want to hear”, I don’t know if you should listen to ALBUM. I don’t think you can take it. It’s depressing from start to finish.
Will Shatter died of a heroin overdose on December 9th, 1987. That was one year after I saw them. The songs he wrote on ALBUM are “Shed no Tears”, “(I saw you) Shine”, “The way of the world”, “Life”, and “Sex Bomb.” I bought my copy of the the album Generic Flipper on Amazon.com for less than $10. It looks like they have raised the price to $15. That’s the way of the world.
And yes, this post is a metaphor for Arsenal.