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Lansing, Michigan, United States | SELF

Lansing, Michigan, United States | SELF
Band Rock Americana


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(2 writers chose us among their best of 2004)

Flatfoot — “The Legend of Big Sid”
by Jonathon Britton

Flatfoot must have conjured the dark lords of the rock ‘n’ roll underworld, because its sophomore release is dirty, unpolished, sloppy, beautiful rock at its best. The Bales brothers howl their way through 11 of the murkiest lilting country rock tracks, chock full o’ murder, love, hate, regret, villains, heroes and more. One of the strongest tracks, “Big Sid,” kicks off with a rousing Stones-esque build up that gives way to the hard-driving, bouncy tale of an Appalachian Frankenstein who murders and dismembers his victims before morphing into a freak Steinbeckian heroine in the end. The Tom McCarton-penned “Punched out eye” is definitely one of the best vocal tracks on the record and Aaron Bales sheds a brief tear when he tells us about love lost with Dead Hollow Tree. Flatfoot covers a lot of ground on “Bid Sid,” offering up lively little ditties and mournfully sad ballads. This record is honest to goodness rock without all of the bells and whistles, and goddamn if there isn’t a little rock ‘n’ roll cowbell sprinkled throughout.

Flatfoot - The Legend of Big Sid
by Todd McKenzie

If you listen very closely to this album, you just might hear the sound of cowboy bootheels creaking as Aaron Bales cocks an eyebrow, dips his head in and approaches the microphone with lips snarled, while his younger brother Jason collects obscene amounts of sweat in his red bandit bandana. This is the album everyone knew Flatfoot could make: the solid young men all grown up with tales of gun-slinging bravado, dusty-trailed lamentations and toe-tapping beerhall sing-a-longs. In fact, "The Legend of Big Sid" so closely captures the rush and thrust of a Flatfoot live show that I can smell booze on my breath as I follow the infectious, robust choruses (which is only sometimes a hallucination).

This record is awash in flash floods of slide guitar and melodies so big it seems unreasonable that they could come from anyone but Titans. Beside the rhythmically hipshot guitar duels that dance expertly in step with Erik Miller’s fancy rock ‘n’ roll drumming, "Big Sid" is full of recording surprises: Look no further than the subtle barbershop baa-ba-baas on "Sleep All Day" for evidence of mastery of the craft of songwriting. These boys are standing tall this year, and "Big Sid" is just the smoking gun of all their rowdy twang ways.

- Lansing City Pulse

Review by Zac Johnson

Tearing big holes in the speakers, Flatfoot rockets through 11 country-fried tracks of heartbreak, ghost stories, and first loves. With their debut release, Down in the Cellar, the band proved that they could write a great gritty hook, but their decidedly lo-fi approach didn't fully get the message across. On The Legend of Big Sid, that problem has been corrected and the resulting album is a terrific collection of down and dirty country songs as performed by the Sticky Fingers-era Rolling Stones.

The title track recounts a local legend of a man burned in a sawdust blaze who is driven mad by the tamperings of modern medicine and breaks free to haunt a nearby summer camp forever. While this kind of campfire storytelling could sound goofy or unintentionally dramatic, Flatfoot gives it the appropriate amount of stomp and thunder, turning it into a grisly Michigan tall tale along the lines of Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox. The cautionary tale "Sleep All Day" pleads with the listener to get out of bed and make something of their life; "Punched Out Eye" relives fevered memories of a fumbling first love, and the barrel-riding "Love You So Much" rockets down the mountain like Gram Parsons all hopped up on bennies trying to steer an 18 wheeler with the brake lines cut.

Overall, the album pulls the air out of your lungs with its intensity, mixing up Buffalo Springfield, Faces, Flying Burrito Brothers, Willie Dixon, Terry Melcher, and a case of Strohs. With this release Flatfoot takes their already good thing and makes it better, providing the perfect soundtrack for summertime drives and closing times. - All Music Guide

(excerpt of article by Cale Sauter)

Whatever you want to call it, one thing you could never accuse Flatfoot of is being boring. The band’s no-nonsense charisma and dedication to sticking to its guns and continuing to play “honest music” sets it apart somewhat from the recent wave of twang bands in the Lansing and Detroit areas. Seeing the band live, the last thing that comes to mind is somber country tunes. Flatfoot is rock ‘n’ roll — drummer Erik Miller and bassist Jeremy Whitman make sure of that with up-tempo rhythm.

That’s not to say guitarist/vocalist brothers Aaron and Jason Bales can’t bust out an acoustic guitar and some heartbreak if prompted, but lately, live Flatfoot has been all about out-rocking the competition — knees and elbows flailing wildly and somebody (it doesn’t seem to matter who) howling a campfire tale gone wrong into the microphone.

Flatfoot, however, is not all on-stage bravado. The boys have managed to collect a set of songs that play somewhat like a concept album based on Michigan folklore and other Americana-styled muses. These tracks were released this past summer on the band’s second full-length, “The Legend of Big Sid.” The album has garnered nothing but positive press thus far. It shows the band in a slightly more upbeat mood than its first effort, “Down in the Cellar,” which contained a more classic outlaw country approach.
- Lansing City Pulse

(excerpt of article by Lindsey Anderson)

The Legend of Big Sid" has so much energy bursting from each song it makes the album a waterfall of enjoyable, upbeat music…Flatfoot doesn't want people to stay flat on their feet. In fact, the album screams to keep the foot tapping and then makes the legs dance. Those legs better be able to keep dancing for the entirety of the album, too. - State News


Wild Was Our Mercy – 2009, Los Diaper Records/ Rexrode Records
Produced by Jim Diamond and Flatfoot at Ghetto Recorders, Detroit MI
Mastered by Jeremy Whitwam at El Studio Del Cacto Rojo, Lansing MI

Track’s End – 2007, Rexrode Records
Produced by Eric Best and Flatfoot at The Loft, Lansing MI
Mastered by Eric Best at The Loft, Lansing MI

The Legend of Big Sid – 2004, Rexrode Records
Produced by Eric Best/ Jeremy Whitwam at The Loft, Lansing MI
Mastered by Brad Blackwood at Euphonic Masters, Memphis TN

Down in the Cellar – 2003, self released
Produced by Steve McCauley, Ann Arbor MI

Flatfoot has been played on:
WDBM East Lansing, WMHW Mount Pleasant, WCKS Allendale, WSDS Ypsilanti, WIDR Kalamazoo, WYCE Grand Rapids, WNMC Traverse City, WHFW Dearborn, WCBN Ann Arbor, NPR




As the only continuous member of Flatfoot, I suppose it is up to me to tell our story. For your purposes I suppose the actual biographical information you need is limited. We formed in 2000 in East Lansing and have since released four full albums and an EP. The lineups have changed over time (eleven members overall), but everyone who’s been in Flatfoot have put in solid time, left on good terms and were friends since the formative years of the band.

Wild Was Our Mercy, the current album, was recorded by Jim Diamond at Ghetto Recorders in Detroit. We love the energy captured by recording the main tracks live, and the inhumane conditions in his studio brought out the best in us.

Here are some brief facts about Flatfoot:

• Our core sound has always been rock and roll with strong country and folk influence. This album stretches out a little towards punk and soul. The real pedal steel and accordion are new instruments for us.

• We appeal to a wide range of folks - from punk kids with odd piercings to my mother's fellow singers in the church choir.

• At one point (2006 or so) we were both the tallest and most heavily bearded band in Michigan. The current lineup is of average height and beardless.

• The best band vehicle we’ve traveled in was former drummer Erik Miller’s old Forest Service van, dubbed “Big Green”. It had lots of random band stickers and limited safety features.

• My favorite moment recording this record was six of us recording percussion for “Don’t Leave Queens” around one mic, me with the vibraslap.

• Justin and Tom moved back to Michigan following several years in New York City just prior to recording this album. Their time there is reflected in several of the songs.

• My brother Jason (founding member, now in Chapel Hill) and I grew up on our dad’s amazing record collection, so releasing Mercy on vinyl is a dream come true.

Without giving too much away:

• 1 of Justin’s songs is about a girl, one is about either a girl or New York City (he won’t say) and 1 is about the true story of him waking up drunk in the middle of a highly secured power plant in New York, unsure of where he was or how he got there.

• I’m not sure what my song “Big Dan” is about, but Tom likes it and I dig the way Justin sounds like Brian May on his solo. I’m Your Man is about doing what needs to be done.

• The subject of Tom’s songs range from the wreck of the whale ship Essex to love vs. love of humanity to the immigration of his parents (Ireland and Greece) to the infinite decay of America and the skyline of Manhattan as a Mobius Strip. And the kids from Cleveland.