[by Gorch Rubin | Nov 4th, 2022]
Flip Fitch comes with a built-in reputation. When he makes headlines in the newspapers, it’s usually not pretty. He most notably found himself in the public spotlight after brutally murdering a concertgoer at one of his shows, an act that would define the rest of his career. For two years he was being held in a Louisiana state correctional facility awaiting trial, where he and his lawyer Liam Brisnogas conspired to make one of the most profound mockeries of the legal system ever recorded in human history. Flip ensured that Judge Raymond Jacoby’s courtroom was a circus, with every legal loophole and flagrant attempt at miscommunication at the forefront. Soon enough, the verdict was in: mistrial. Flip was free as a pea, with nowhere to go but up.
“I had lost everything—my friends, my family. They all left me after the trial. I mean, yeah, that guy lost his life, but what’s more important? His life or me not being bored?”
When interviewing Flip, he was adamant to leave the court case behind him and instead force me to focus on the music he released afterward. In 2021, he had made a splash in the local Louisiana charts with “I’m On a Roll,” which, while hugely successful in the local era, only managed to become a minor hit in the worldwide charts. Soon thereafter, he made headlines again when the first major motion picture surrounding his life released, Flip Fitch: Smoke and Mirrors, which follows Flip’s attempts to direct a music video for a local up-and-coming musician. This attempt proves futile as Flip berates, abuses, and becomes violent with the musician. The film, an experimental single-shot experience, is exhilarating and illuminating. It says more about Flip than any article could, and the amount of depravity and violence found within is disturbing, to say the least. Nevertheless, it can be viewed on YouTube, on hit streaming service Ogus, and on beloved Jersey-based independent platform Troma Now. Despite its senselessness, the film has seen great streaming numbers, with talks of a sequel underway.
Following those major successes, Flip used the money from the film and 2021 release to fund his next record—a no-frills rock record called “Liberty.” The album cover image depicts Flip on a coin, with the name of his band “Crapstacks” underneath his neck.
“These were songs I had been writing for hours, even days. I just didn’t have the means to record them until the Troma Now money came along, then I was rich.”
– Flip Fitch
He entered the studio in October with hard rock insider Goodbit from the Soundass Reserve, whose extensive knowledge of production was fundamental in the creation and release of many Soundass records. Flip even shelled out a little extra to record in the coveted Big Shot Lounge, where many major recording artists laid down the tracks for their best material. With the production set in place, Flip assembled his crew. For this particular Crapstacks record he approached the recording differently. Fans of the group will know that the original iteration of the band in their 2018 release Live at an Obscure Lighthouse was uncredited, followed by their 2019 live record and notorious snuff tape that held record to the onstage murder Flip performed Live at Hex St. 5/26/19, in which the lineup was Flip on lead vocals, Liam Glanzman on guitar, Jeanette Bodelier on drums, and Graham Buchanan on synth and bass. Fans of the group will also know that Liam, Jeanette, and Graham are all in prison for accessory to murder, while Flip walks scot-free. Therefore, for his 2021 album Flip Fitch, following the success of the compilation Crapstacks, which released shortly after Flip left prison, Flip had to assemble a new group altogether. This time it was himself on vocals and lead guitar, famed aviatrix Flora McFauna on bass guitar, Anton “Bebop” Zeck on drums, and Ivan “Rocksteady” Steranko on backup guitar.
On Liberty however, Flip not only assembled a new core lineup for tours, but also changed the lineup for almost every track on the record. The core lineup is Flip on vocals and guitar, returning veteran Flora McFauna on bass guitar, Soundass musician and business cohort Feck Speiderbeck on drums, and John Sinew on backup guitar. The record features many musicians from the Soundass Reserve—Soundass Grant, Soundass Brian, Soundass Clark, Soundass Josh, the crew was all there. The end result is a somewhat scatterbrained sound for Flip—perhaps my biggest criticism of the project. Just when you acclimate to a sound, the next track obliterates it. Flip seems to change his vocal delivery, his songwriting style, and even his production choices throughout. The end result is an awkward record with almost no cohesion.
Take for example, the opening track The Riddler. Flip lets his newly awarded title “poet laureate” for the obscure group “Children of the Leaves” go to his head a little bit, and spews nonsensical “poetry” (if you can call it that) over a strangely atonal guitar lick and an overcomplicated bassline. The song, surprise surprise, goes nowhere, and it comes across as though we are to be wowed by the things Flip says on this track, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what it is. Love it or hate it, but the 2021 album Flip Fitch was straightforward: almost every track was about the murder trial and his legal troubles. On this, though, I’m utterly lost.
On the second track, Uppers, Flip presents a stylish rock song with balls-to-the-wall production that really pops and shines. The song is a raucous and angry groove, with Flip speaking somewhat obviously about his various drug addictions and the effect it takes on his mind. Take, for example, the line “It’s pleasure and it’s manic/I’m seizing like a kid/The freeze is taking over/The freeze under my skin.” It paints a vague picture of his drug problems, while emphasizing what makes him return.
“Yeah the song is about drugs, but it’s mainly about the Entourage theme song. I basically heard the Entourage theme song and thought, ‘I can do that,’ so I set out to make a song as good or better than the Entourage theme song. I think it’s better—way better. Probably the best song that could be the intro for a show like Entourage. I’m looking into rebooting the show with this song during the opening credits.”
– Flip Fitch
The third track Weird Weekend will be familiar to fans of Crapstacks, as it was the lead single for this album, a single which released all the way back on January 1st. Accompanying it was a dull and lifeless music video featuring Flip standing around in a backyard with fireworks popping off behind him. The idea itself could be cool, but the execution is terrible, and it leads to one of the most boring music videos I’ve ever seen in my life. The song, however, is fun and catchy, and it sees Flip tackle a different kind of rock music altogether—one more focused on “partying” and less on “fear.” In the song he describes defecating on people’s lawns, vomiting on the Pope, and other such vile acts which disturb or delight depending on where you stand with the man’s music. Nevertheless, it has a beat you can dance to, and that goes a long way in this business.
The fourth track Dead Leaves is another meandering track with pointless lyrics and an instrumental with no flavor. You can actually hear members of the Soundass Reserve falling asleep playing this song, beginning with atonal guitar plucks that turn into a full-blown snoozefest of string bending and reverb. I understand the mood and tone Flip was going for on this song, but the sound is dull, and coming off the heels of two upbeat and generally fun tracks, this song just feels like a complete waste of time.
The fifth track Cake-O is even more pointless than the last. The only track to not feature any vocals at all, the instrumental is at the forefront. It makes little sense, then, that the instrumental should be this uninspired. I was excited at first—the track begins with a guitar tone so distorted and noisy you can’t make sense of it—but the track ultimately devolves to a plotless mush of guitar noodling. With no bass, keys, or vocals to complement the sound of the guitar, the track ends up being very vacant and empty-sounding. If any track is a definite skip, it’s this one!
The sixth and titular track Liberty is a noisy, incomprehensible, and schizophrenic song that, honestly, I can’t believe was produced by the same team. The mix is absolute garbage, there’s no way in hell this was mastered at all, the musicianship is piss poor, the vocals are impossible to distinguish, hell, even the guitars are impossible to distinguish. This song is the definition of a filler track, with nothing to sink my teeth into and nothing to keep me coming back for more. And, what’s more, this sallow mess of a track somehow clocks at over 5 minutes in length. It’s simply too long to be as pointless as it is and, if I didn’t understand Flip’s lyrics on The Riddler and Dead Leaves, I certainly don’t here. The nonsense ‘poetry’ is replaced instead with a jumbled garble of vocalisms—none of which come even close to an audible idea or lyric.
The seventh track The CCFC Suite follows suit in its incomprehensibility, though, the production is a lot cleaner. The guitar has a sludgy sound to it, which I like, and the song dances between its various grooves with a bipolar curiosity. At times it will be an upbeat, almost post-hardcore sound. Other times it’s slower, more contemplative, but noisy all the same. Flip continues his trend of nonsense ‘experimentalism’ with his lyrics, and it mostly comes off as vocal noise with no point. Nevertheless, the song sounds fresh and exciting, even if it is clocking in at an absolutely absurd 10 minutes in length. It is also worth noting that the song was released in 7 parts on November 11th, just one week before Liberty released.
The final track The Wise Old Farmer is the crown jewel of Flip’s shitty, plotless lyrics. He’s speaking, but I’m not even sure he knows what he’s saying. And, after the hard and sludgy sound of the song previous, this song seems a little too laid back and different. It has an emphasis on the digital orgel sound, weirdly-utilized record-scratch sound effects, and a delay-effected drum pattern that sounds effective, but confusing. The song, much like The Riddler, doesn’t really seem to go anywhere, but it’s fun while it lasts. In that way, it is the perfect bookend with The Riddler, the songs are surely kindred spirits. It’s just a strange note for the album to end on. It almost feels like such a song should not exist on the same record as a song as turbo-charged as Uppers or as fun as Weird Weekend.
Overall, the album is a confusing mess with very little in the way of coherence or relistenability. After I received my advance copy of the record, I excited put the CD in my Walkman, pressed play, and felt a barrage of confusion and annoyance. I saved two tracks, which I intend to listen back to every now and then, but that’s about all the nice things I can say about Liberty by Crapstacks. I’m sure hardcore Flip fans will find something to enjoy in this purposeless drivel, but not I.
Nevertheless, the album releases on November 18th, which coincides with a major Flip Fitch concert at the Howlin’ Wolf New Orleans. The concert will serve as an album release party, along with a night of, as Flip put it, “loud fun,” featuring at least three other bands. All I can say is I hope the songs sound better live, because I cannot see myself paying to hear this music. That being said, I will attempt to go and see if my opinion can be swayed by the energy a live concert brings.
Liberty by Crapstacks will be available on all streaming platforms on November 18th, 2022, with no clear indication from Flip as to whether physical versions will be available. He told me he intends to tell t-shirts with his face on it at the concert, but hasn’t begun making them yet and doesn’t know how—so I suppose only time will tell on that. Be on the look-out for this interesting if disappointing new release from Flip, and for whatever hairbrained nonsense he will impose upon us in the future.