When asked about being part of a tour poster series, I have to think with my (empty) wallet. Almost all of these tour poster series are pay-to-play. After I get assigned whatever city, I have to come up with a poster I think I can sell on my own after the show. It would probably be easier if I had a bunch of pictures of mystical goats and sacred geometry lying about to slap a band logo on, but I don’t. This is what Atlanta gets from me for a Melvins poster.
Yes… some kind of sign and two crushed beer cans. Inexplicable, right? Well, after a show I played last fall in Atlanta, we went to this place called the Clermont Lounge. It’s a world famous dive and strip-club known for its older, wider strippers. One of its most notorious acts is Blondie, a mature BBBW who crushes cans with her boobies. The next day I asked Amos of Atlanta’s Death of Kings what was notable for a gig poster in Atlanta. “Well, you just went to the Clermont Lounge.” Duh.
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.
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.
Secret Serpents is a collective of a few people running an indie label, and more importantly for this journal entry, they make gig poster series for bands. They are regular clients at my day job, Monolith Press. They organize the artists (never an easy task) and pair them to a musical live performance to create beautiful screen-prints that make a unique piece of memorabilia for a fan of any musical group. It’s oh so vogue these days, and thank God for that or I wouldn’t have a paycheck.
Well… I’ve done posters for my own bands in the off hours at work, but not much for anyone else. I was stoked last February when Justin from Secret Serpents not only gave that schlub printing his posters a break, but asked me to do a poster for one of my all time faves, the Swans! That went well enough. The band’s copies of the poster sold out, though I still have my copies for sale. Now I might occasionaly get asked to do more, and when Justin sent out an email asking who was interested in doing a poster for an upcoming Melvins series, I jumped at it. Are you kidding? A poster for ANOTHER one of my favorite bands ever? So what if I was about to go on tour and would come back with only 2 weeks to draw and print this!
Okay, that was probably dumb, but after some long, cursed nights, I did finish it in the nick o’ time.