My most recent High on Fire poster was a pretty exciting job to get. The call for a tour series went out late, so like Judge Harry Stone from Night Court, I got the call after everyone else didn’t answer the phone. Not only was this their big hometown show, but it was being held at San Francisco’s amazing Regency Ballroom. It’s a big time venue and absolutely littered with the gig posters from living legend Chuck Sperry. I wanted to do a poster that was as big and bombastic as High on Fire.
Were folks expecting another picture of a barbarian? A devil lady? Another skull with a helmet? Well, they got my poster instead: a 24×24″ pseudo-drug filled black light induced nightmare of form and function. This is not something I was able to spin out of whole cloth, but from a myriad of inspiration.
I guess Yo! MTV Raps is a weird way to get into hard rock and heavy metal, but that’s how it worked for me. In junior high I dutifully recorded every episode of Yo! MTV Raps to learn to dance and be cool. Guess what? It didn’t work! But the first time I heard Faith No More was on that program with their metal / rap blended song “Epic”. I bought the CD and was hooked. When Angel Dust came out, it was the soundtrack for my freshman year of high school as I grew my hair out while the other brats listened to shit like Pearl Jam and Spin Doctors. Imagine my pleasure when Secret Serpents threw me a bone and accepted my begging to be part of the current Faith No More tour poster series.
The poster series for Faith No More‘s current tour is entirely published by Secret Serpents. That meant, for once, I was on the clock while printing my own artwork. It also means the posters all belong to Secret Serpents and they just went on sale this week exclusively through their website, www.secretserpents.com. I hope it sells well for them, of course, as I busted my ass to get this thing done on time!
Justin from Secret Serpents asked me about participating in an upcoming Swans tour-poster series and asked, “Do you want any weird places?” Well, yes. I chose the show at Yugong Yishan in Beijing, China. This will mark the first time my art has appeared in a communist country; unless you count Impaled’s Death After Life printing in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which for all intents and purposes, might as well be the U.S.S.R. I’m just as giddy as a school girl halfway around the globe. One of my favorite bands is playing a show in Red China and this little piece of art will accompany them:
You’re probably thinking, “I’m going to go buy this poster right now from the Sewage shop,” and then noticed that the poster features a lot of non-English. Is it because I’m a cunning linguist or a polyglot? Yes to both. But I don’t speak Chinese. The Internet, however, does speak Chinese. In fact, it speaks Chinese almost as much as it speaks English (and more than Spanish). With the help of some faceless forum members and my Wacom tablet, I created the poster above. Thanks, Internet.
On Swans most recent tour, I was able to do contribute art for their show in Berlin. I decided to pay tribute to the time Swans was most influential on me.
In 1997 I saw the final tour of Swans in San Francisco and was floored. Their mid-90s death knell is still my favorite period of Swans, employing bombastic rhythms juxtaposed with eerie and unsettling quiet passages. They also had a minimalist aesthetic to their art that stuck out next to the early Photoshop boon of horrid album covers in the ’90s. I had to figure out how to reflect this vision and celebrate Berlin, one of my favorite cities in the world.
King Buzzo of the Melvins has recently released a fucking amazing solo record of acoustic tunes called This Machine Kills Artists. He’s gone on tour and I got to do a poster for the gig in Seattle. What kind of gig poster does one design for the man with the most amazing distorted tone on the planet when he goes acoustic? Naturally, you make a poster paying tribute to one of the shittiest distortion pedals ever made.
Parodied on my gig poster for King Buzzo is the DOD FX33, the “Buzz Box.” According to lore (and King Buzzo himself) it was designed to emulate the Melvins guitar tone. DOD failed and instead designed something Buzz Osbourne described himself as “… totally worthless. It sounds like a vacuum cleaner.” It was never meant to be an officially endorsed pedal, but c’mon, it’s called the “Buzz Box.” I wanted to do a poster featuring this pedal for something Melvins related, anyway. The man himself dropping all distortion for his material seemed the perfect time to do so.
Justin from Secret Serpents was kind enough to ask me again to be in on a gig poster tour series for a favorite band of mine, High on Fire. I had a wedding coming up followed by a honeymoon, but Justin said I’d get some date late in December. I thought, hey, no problem. Then he gave me my date… it was before my honeymoon ended. The only way I’d get this poster done was to cram it in-between my blessed matrimony and my drunken adventures in Central America.
I’m happy with the result. I had maybe my goofiest idea yet for a poster and managed to finish it early and get it shipped off to Matt Pike and the boys to sell at their show. My copies are up for sale here on the site: https://www.doktorsewage.com/product/high-on-fire-2013-11-23/ Time constraints, however, meant that pen never met paper when I drew this poster. I had to get all Tron up in this bitch.
Back in August / September, Yob was coming through town. I love Yob. They were playing on my birthday and I wanted to do a poster for them. I talked with the band and they were down. A week before the event, after just starting the inks, it was pointed out to me the promoter already had a poster. Shit. I didn’t talk to the promoter. I cancelled my job and enjoyed the show anyway. A month later, my friends at Secret Serpents offered me a spot in their High on Fire tour series. Well, why fucking let that art go to waste? I requested the date for the end of the world, December 21, 2012. This is what came of it.
Like all posters I’ve worked on, I don’t make a cent… unless I sell my own copies. This is the topsy turvy economy of the gig poster world. 35 of these bad boys went down to Santa Ana, gratis, for the band to sell. My copies are on sale on my website now. The process to get from there to here took longer than expected, but I was pleased with the results.
Freak Puke is the debut album from Melvins Lite, a more recent power trio incarnation of the Melvins. It features old stalwarts King Buzzo and Dale Crover joining with legendary bassist Trevor Dunn. They’re as “Lite” as a joke about 9/11; it’s every bit as heavy as any version of the Melvins. They are touring to promote Freak Puke, but this time, the tour is an event of Guinness sized magnitude. 51 shows in 51 days, every state in the union plus Washington D.C. This will be a record. I was pleased as punch to be included in the tour poster series from Secret Serpents. Yesterday, they played the second gig in Seattle, Washington. I commemorated the event with this piece of Sewage-style snarkiness.
I was a bit apprehensive at first, being handed the tour poster duties for Seattle. Being that this was such a geographically consequential tour, I wanted to do something to reflect the area they were playing. I couldn’t abide by putting the Space Needle in the art, but I couldn’t think of anything more unequivocally recognizable about the Emerald City. I set about looking for inspiration.