After all the years of flying under the radar with an over the top sound, “inkie rock” returns…with cold beer and a language all its own. Footstone is back, led by singer/guitarist Ralph Malanga, and a passion for beer-swilling, supercharged power pop. Fueled by the thunderous bass antics of Mark Abney and the driving drums of Dave Noel, Footstone’s percussive, twin-guitar attack (Malanga along with guitarist Eric Greenberg) is a combination of raw energy and melodic hooks rarely seen in today’s indie rock.
Way back in the 80s, as an excuse to play and drink much boh (Footstone’s word for beer), Dave Noel invites guitarist extraordinaire Kevin Horn over for some jam sessions. The two were joined shortly thereafter by Eric and Mark. Kevin would soon depart, and Eric’s apparent lack of vocal skills left the band in the market for a quality singer. In stepped Ralph Malanga. Adopting the name Stickman, the four would soon be playing a mix of covers and originals for colleges along the eastern seaboard. Standard show contracts would forgo payment in lieu of “hospitality” as they drank their way through Syracuse and all points south. In the downtime, the group worked out some originals on an old school four-track. With a few songs down, the group would produce a four-song video called Stickman: Alive and Naked 1990. The last known copies were later taped over in favor of Ren and Stimpy.
Stickman added Eric’s former bandmate Guy Paduano, a virtuoso from the Angus Young school. His first day on the job, Guy walked into a Stickman recording session and put down the solo to “You Part 2,” an early band staple, in one take. He had never heard the song before. The group would quickly reassess their name and outlook. Footstone became the new name, and performing live as often as possible the norm. The band’s new approach landed them in the studio for three demo sessions in two years. Paduano would soon depart, though, for a life on the West Coast.
The next few years were a productive time for Footstone as they honed their chops as a four-piece mess of power pop, punk, hard rock, and a mish-mash of influences. Early recording sessions produced the first 7” released on Dromedary Records, Wobbles From Side To Side (1994). Footstone followed this up by spitting out 12 songs in 1995 for its critically lauded full length debut, Lippy, also released on Dromedary.
After much gigging along the East Coast, the band would dive right back into the studio to work on the followup to Lippy, entering the renowned Water Music in Hoboken with engineer Rob Grenoble. Bill Dolan, front man for the legendary New York punk band American Standard would grab a producing credit, as Footstone charged through seven tracks of high-octane pop. Unfortunately, the Schmeckle City Rubdown EP would go unheard, as Dromedary Rev 1.0 closed its doors before the CD could be released. Shortly thereafter, Footstone would play its last show (or so they thought) as a four-piece Thanksgiving weekend 1996 at NYCs Under ACME club.
After a short layoff, Footstone would get back to it as a three-piece – and eventually re-entered the studio to record The Mobius Sessions, their loudest and most aggressive work to date. The band played out hard and often, cementing their legacy within the east coast indie rock scene. Along the way, Mark joined American Standard as their full-time bassist, while continuing to play with Footstone. The trio played on until finally disbanding in 2000. By the time they were done, they were regarded as one of the best-loved and most respected bands of the late 90s New York and New Jersey indie scene.
Not all was quiet during those years away however, as Ralph formed the superb band Stuyvesant with former Friends, Romans, Countrymen members Sean Adams and Brian Musikoff, and continues to create great music with them today. Dave did stints behind the drums with a couple of other bands, including Mexican Elvis.
In 2009, after a nine-year layoff, Footstone reunited for a show celebrating the 40th birthday of Dromedary Records owner Al Crisafulli. Dave, Mark, Ralph and Eric met up at a Jersey City studio, and rehearsals kindled talks of a more public reunion. The result will be a re-release of all Footstone’s recorded music on a revived Dromedary Records, and a special reunion show in February of 2010 at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ. Finally, after a ten-year absence, Footstone’s thunderous pop can be heard once again.