California dreaming comes true for band

Friday, April 1, 2005

A local band is readying itself for a trip to California to record its first full-length record after landing a recording contract with indie label Jetspeed Records Inc.

The four-piece alternative group, Flip Top Boxx, has members hailing from Perryville and Cape Girardeau County, but calls Cape Girardeau its home base. The band has played at venues like Metal Fest, Chaos and Our House and has built a strong local following.

Comprised of singer/rhythm guitarist Darrell Tallevast, drummer Andy Clark, bassist Bill Stokely and lead guitarist Rodney Valleroy, the band describes its music as "Alice in Chains meets Metallica." Flip Top Boxx recently finalized the 2 1/2-year, two-record deal after Clark returned from a tour of duty in Iraq with the Missouri National Guard 1140th Engineer Battalion.

Flip Top Boxx labels Clark its hero, saying his time in Iraq has given the group's other members inspiration to press on in their music and inspiring them to write patriotic songs.

"Andy is our hero," Tallevast said. "We'll never get to see the things or do the things he just got to do."

Clark said while in Iraq he was worried the band might not be there when he got back, but a few weeks before he returned home he received word the recording deal was on the table.

"At that point I knew I had something to go back to," Clark said.

Being in a war zone has given him a fresh perspective on perseverance that the band shares, as well.

"It will teach you about sticking with things and being focused," Clark said. "There are going to be screw-ups and setbacks, but it's about trying to overcome your problems."

Tallevast said getting the deal is "a story of triumph for every one of us. It's just proof that if you don't give up and keep reaching, you can reach the stars."

The band was started in 1994 by Tallevast and Valleroy, but the complete roster was only put together a few years ago.

"It took us a few years to find the missing pieces," Tallevast said. "When we found Andy, it was like when Metallica found Lars Ulrich. It was like, 'Bam, you've got it.'"

Flip Top Boxx prides itself on playing original, rocking tunes with a modern edge in a place where classic-rock covers are often in high demand from live acts.

"When Rodney and I got together we said we're not going to do covers," Tallevast said. "All playing covers shows is that you're talented enough to copy other people's songs."

Band members see being on an indie label as paying their dues before being able to hit the big-time with a major label deal.

"Unless you can hit a home run every time you get to the plate you're not going to start out on a major label," Tallevast said.

After going to California to record in the next eight to 12 weeks, the band will return for some promotional shows. If Flip Top Boxx receives good airplay on indie radio, the group will be put on a regional tour with other indie acts in the Midwest.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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