How I Arrived Here

Punk records

My interest in pursuing art as a kid was simple — I had cool records to look at for inspiration. I have always used music as a doorway and rarely draw or paint without it. Many others of my generation used comic books or movies as reference points. I had Iron Maiden, Quiet Riot, Black Sabbath and a bunch more. I got right down to the printer’s rosettes and explored every aspect of those covers. I loved almost every thrash metal/crossover LP cover too, a whole trove of them done by cover artist Eddie Repka. There was great stuff to be found on Voivod, Nuclear Assault, Kreator, Destruction, Celtic Frost, Vio-lence, Slayer, and Deathrow LPs.

In my early tweens/teens, I had a friend that introduced me to hardcore punk. It was faster and more immediate than my metal records. Not only did they sing/scream about things that I had more in common with, but the art seemed accessible and easier to emulate the techniques. Above and beyond everyone else was Pushead. His skulls and hardcore skatepunk graphics were (are) the best, otherworldly and composed with the utmost clarity and tightness. The bands he draws for are guaranteed to be good. I loved Mad Marc Rude’s art for the Misfits’ ‘Earth AD’ LP, all of his work for the Battalion of Saints and even the first Offspring LP, before they turned unlistenable. These were just pure gems of art. Vince Rancid’s art for Raw Power’s ‘Screams From the Gutter‘ and ‘After Your Brain‘ records are just a fuschia and green blaze of  tight, thrashin’ greatness, totally fitting the desperate-ness of the band. Also influential to me was Jeff Gaither, who did the album cover for the Accused’s ‘Martha Splatterhead’s Maddest Stories Ever Told‘ LP, that I think I still have a full-size poster of. I’d look at that thing everyday. Of course there was always a ton of stuff to ponder flipping through Maximum RocknRoll, Flipside, and practically every page of the P.E.A.C.E. compilation.

Later on, I really got into the dark, political punk and crust. All of the albums were humorless, bleak, and somehow were still very artistic, expressive and oddly hopeful for brighter days. My faves were Nausea’s ‘Extinction‘ LP, the MDC Multi-Death Corporations tank, all of Deviated Instinct‘s efforts, both Sedition LPs, and anything Amebix, Gee Vaucher/CRASS, or Axegrinder did. Of that genre, the absolute pinnacle of what I considered the most influential were Nick Blinko‘s art and music with Rudimentary Peni and Squeal, who was connected with Icons of Filth. Those were the gold standards.

These days, my LPs are closeted up in crates and my CDs have long been sold. Out of sheer convenience, iTunes is the only way I consume new music. I’m glad there is a cover flow tool, but it is worse than looking at a cassette. My tastes have changed over the years, and I try just about everything. Most of my listening is still heavy hardcore punk, joined by 80s pop, and lots of southern Italian folk and world music.


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