Tag Archives: Banner Pilot

Punk Rock Today is Better Than It’s Ever Been

"Punk Rock Today is Better Than It's Ever Been." 5/28/14. Pen. 4½x5¼".
“Punk Rock Today is Better Than It’s Ever Been.” 5/28/14. Pen. 4½x5¼”.

Back in February, I was lucky enough to get to work on a painting and set up a print table at a couple shows some of my favorite bands were playing. On the second night, I asked my buddy Mike (who runs Dead Broke Rekerds) if I could scoop up some records in exchange for some artwork. He picked out a print and asked if I would draw something for a Dead Broke sticker. It took me a while ’cause I was stressing out, worrying about whether or not Mike would like whatever I came up with. As soon as I decided to drop the anxiety and just do what came naturally though, it was done in no time and I had this design. I’m really happy with it – in large part just because it’s so radically unlike the kind of art that a band or label would normally use for a sticker design.

I don’t think I met him just then but the first time Mike and I crossed paths was in late 2006. His band, Down in the Dumps, was in Florida to play The Fest and I caught their set in Tampa at Transitions Art Gallery (now Epic Problem). In my mind, this was right around the time when DIY pop punk was really blowing the fuck up (in an incredibly relative sense) and getting awesome/exciting again. Off With Their Heads released Hospitals, started their never-ending tour, and were in the midst of the flurry of 7-inches that they’d release leading up to their first full-length for No Idea. 1-2-3-4 Go!, Kiss of Death, and A.D.D. were all fucking killing it with bands like Ringers, Snuggle, Drunken Boat, Monikers, Witches With Dicks, Tiltwheel, Chinese Telephones, and Pretty Boy Thorson & The Falling Angels. Labels like No Breaks, It’s Alive, Dirt Cult, and Salinas were similarly picking up the pace, building incredible catalogs, and (soon enough) inspiring me to do the same. Banner Pilot self-released their first record. The Brokedowns put out “New Brains For Everyone.” Blotto was on the other side of the Pacific, churning out 7-inches at the same rate as Off With Their Heads, (mostly for Snuffy Smile, who were also tearing it up on the label side of things).  And shortly thereafter (or right around then), we got the first records out of Dear Landlord, The Measure, The Gateway District, Dead Mechanical, The Humanoids, and The Steinways.

But I’m getting carried away… the FIRST band to play at Transitions that aforementioned night in October 2006 was Down in the Dumps. They were the only band on the line-up I didn’t know anything about. And they were fucking awesome. It was everything punk rock’s supposed to be: grimy, coarse, fucked up but catchy and upbeat (sonically, if not in content)Mike played bass and sang. And as I’d later find out, he was also the guy responsible for Dead Broke Rekerds, whose catalog now boasts a whole slew of my favorite records.

After I moved to DC for law school and started my record label, Traffic Street, the first bands to come through Baltimore and stay at my place were Iron Chic and Jonesin’.  Mike played bass and sang in Jonesin’ and – though he wasn’t at the time – is now the bassist in Iron Chic as well. Both bands mean a lot to me. One of Traffic Street’s final releases was Jonesin’s EP, “The Dream is Dead.” And – going back to the beginning – #001 in the Traffic Street catalog was a 7-inch compilation called “Dangerous Intersections,” which was not only my first vinyl release but also Iron Chic’s first appearance on vinyl (and only their second release overall, following their five-song demo).

Before Traffic Street collapsed under the weight of my mental health issues and heroin addiction, Mike and I were in regular contact, states away, trading our releases for our distros, talking music, making fun of each other, and – every so often – crossing paths again when I’d book a show for Iron Chic or he’d book one for Rational Anthem (who, coincidentally, shared the A-side of “Dangerous Intersections” with Iron Chic). When it all went wrong for me, he continued to stay in touch, checking up on me periodically, wishing me well, and even sending me a slew of records in the mail while I was in rehab. He’s continued being a source of support since I’ve been back in the real world too. He’s a great friend and a veritable fucking pillar of DIY punk rock. I’m honored to have my art featured on one of his label’s stickers.

AND REGARDING “punk rock today” and the claim made by the title of this piece… Allow me to present some audible evidence! Here are songs from the records Mike traded me that night back in February, as well as some recent stuff by other bands I’ve mentioned (and some by bands that spawned from their ashes).

“Babyboo” by Unfun

“Snow Angels” by Murmurs

“Wolf Dix Rd.” by Iron Chic

“I Wish I Could Be Happy” by Rational Anthem

“Not Cool” by The Slow Death

“Old Man Yells at Cloud” by Skinny Genes

“This Future Sucks” by The Brokedowns

“Hey Caroline” by Dear Landlord

“Look” by Science Police

“How the Day Runs Down” by Dead Mechanical

“Start Walking” by Off With Their Heads

“Hold Fast” by Banner Pilot

And even though they’re not technically “punk rock today“…

“‘Lone” by Jonesin’

“City of the Living Dead” by Down in the Dumps

Oh! AND… I think I like the black-and-white version better but since I can’t resist coloring anything and everything, here’s what the finished, physical drawing looks like (though the stickers will still be black-and-white).

"Punk Rock Today is Better Than It's Ever Been" (with color). 6/1/14. Ink. 4½x5¼".
“Punk Rock Today is Better Than It’s Ever Been” (with color). 6/1/14. Ink. 4½x5¼”.

A veritable shit ton of media

I haven’t had the time or the internet access to update my blog much in the last four weeks. For the sake of posterity and the benefit of anyone not clever enough to follow me on Facebook, here’s what I’ve been up to in the last month.

ninja turtlesOn March 29th, Mike and I went to buy some art supplies and I couldn’t help myself when I saw some ninja turtles masks for sale by the register.

On March 31st, I wrote: “As I go to bed on the last night in March, it is with the satisfaction that comes with having met my income goal for the month. And my income goal for next month. And the NEXT month. Things are going well. Here’s to keeping it moving, carrying it forward in April (which I already have fully blocked out in three cities). I love making art. I love that I’m able to support myself doing it. I’m really, truly happy. I am fulfilled.”

On April 2nd, I participated in Jacksonville’s monthly Downtown Artwalk. It was – at that time – the single most profitable evening of my career as an artist. I made more money in one night than I had made in an average month in 2013.  As I put it at the time: “Fuckin’ slaughtered at Artwalk tonight. We’re talkin’ Friday/Saturday night STRIPPER MONEY. I love you, Jacksonville.”

musicvideoLater that week, I hit the road for the premiere of “No Real Than You Are” at the Sarasota Film Festival. On the same day as the premiere, I got to play director for Rational Anthem’s music video, “Darnit.” Or as I told my friends, “I’m playing HOLLYWOOD all day!” I posted a photo on Facebook with the caption: “Directing a music video today; got the sunglasses to prove it.”

Getting to see myself LOOKING COOL on a seventy foot screen, in front of a sold out auditorium was pretty alright and though I didn’t have time to stick around and finish the music video shoot the next day, it turned out pretty excellent even without my BRILLIANT hand at the wheel.

On my way out of town, I had a thought: “We give meaning to each other’s lives. We give meaning to all the little things of our everyday. It all means more ’cause we make it mean more.” I was thinking about a lot of spectacular people in my life, but mostly Chris Hembrough. And the new Banner Pilot record.

The reason I left town in such a rush is that I had been invited to sell prints of my artwork outside of Burrito Gallery during One Spark. I set a goal for myself: to make more money over that weekend than I had ever previously made in an entire month. And I succeeded.  On the last night, I wrote: “To celebrate my earning four months income in FOUR DAYS. I am taking the night off to shower and then watch The Simpsons while I eat pizza and then sew up all the holes in my clothes.” A few hours later, I added that: “All truly great works of art can be divided into two categories: those that are pop punk songs and those that are Simpsons episodes. I’m exaggerating a little but not at all kidding.”

apocmeowtoddcBefore One Spark came to a close, I saw that the new split from Apocalypse Meow and Todd Congelliere (of Toys That Kill) had gone up for sale online. The artwork features my painting, “Poetry By Girls I’ve Brutally Fucked.” In the midst of everything else going on, being reminded that I had been lucky enough to contribute to such a cool project was really fulfilling. Icing on the cake. I posted a link on my Facebook with the caption: “We do cool shit every god damn day.” I’m lucky to have a lot of really talented, creative friends. And I fit right in with them these days. It puts a smile on my face.

zackOn One Spark Saturday, I met Zack, in whom I immediately recognized serious talent and I promptly offered him a job as my thirteen year old business manager. Not only could he close a sale but he reeled in the cute girls like there was no tomorrow. Here he is posing with a print of “Modern Art is Stupid (Everything Is).” I paid him in plastic chrome sunglasses, Mello Yellow Root Beer cocktails, and COLD HARD CASH (that I can only hope he doesn’t blow on bullshit like plastic chrome sunglasses and Mello Yellow Root Beer cocktails).

About a month ago, I recorded an interview for an internet radio show. Last week, I finally noticed that it had gone online. You can listen to it here: V For Vitality with Sammy thrashLife.

Facebook post from April 15th: “Sittin’ outside the art store, waiting for it to open so I can spend $200 on markers. For COLORIN’. I am a professional child.” One of the first projects I’m going to use my markers on is re-coloring “Still Sick (The Illest).” Seein’ as I didn’t know any better at the time, I used cheap markers that fade with time and the piece has lost some of its color since I made it.

printwallOn April 15th, I dismantled my exhibit at Burrito Gallery so that I could move all my original pieces over to The Silver Cow for my last Jacksonville art show. I did, however, replace the original pieces with a display of prints. Since I’ve now left, Burrito Gallery is the only place you can go in Jacksonville to buy my prints.

April 16th marked the opening day of my last exhibit in Jacksonville, as well as the publication of an article about me in Folio Weekly. There were a few emotional hiccups that morning and I wrote:

Today is not going exactly as perfectly well as I wanted it to and EVERYONE NEEDS TO FEEL REALLY BAD FOR ME.
I am such a fucking crybaby. When I inventory my problems, I can’t even phrase them in such a way that the OVERWHELMING POSITIVES aren’t totally obvious. And yet I’m still feeling crippled by despair and just wanna give up on everything.
BUT I’m not giving up; I’m still doing everything I need / am supposed to do. It’s just a little bit harder today.”

tableofcontentsI’m really happy with the article though. You can read it on Folio’s website or in the image below. They also gave me the biggest photo in the table of contents.folioarticle


silvercowsignMy last show in Jacksonville went really well and I can’t think of a better way to have concluded my time there. Late last night, I got into Delray Beach, where I’ll be posting up for at least a week. I’ll know more about my time here within a day or so. Until then, here are some photos from the weekend.

Also, here’s the video of my “performance” on March 22nd (that I mentioned in relation to my painting, “The Future Scares the Sit Out of Me“).

Smoke All the Cigarettes | We Have Nothing Better to Do | Pop Punk Vacation

Listen while you read! (The embed for their new album won’t work, so here’s a stream of their 2011 EP, “Bread Line” – one of the last releases on Traffic Street).

It’s almost midnight, which means that I’m just barely living up to my “new content every day” promise. I know, I know. You’re all very upset. I’ll make it up to you somehow… just not tonight!

You see, I’ve been spending the day, readying myself to hit the road. Tomorrow I’m embarking on a (very) short tour with Rational Anthem. We’re going up to Dave Strait Fest in Minneapolis and stopping for a few other shows on the route up and back. (By the way – interesting trivia fact… did you know that (not counting bands that Davey Tiltwheel is in) Rational Anthem are the only band playing that aren’t from the Midwest?) That’s kind of cool if you ask me.

But anyway, a ton of my favorite bands are playing and I’m really excited about it. Before I went to rehab (the first time) I was going to at least forty shows a year (many of which I was the one responsible for booking). Shit, I did forty shows just in the summer 2008, ’09, and ’10. Since I went to rehab though, Rational Anthem (and Weak Nights) are the only bands I’ve seen. In almost two years. That shit’s insane. Plus, Rational Anthem’s 2009 tour was kind of the epitome of my bad behavior. Well, my bad behavior in a social context anyway. I was not a good friend to them. After that tour, my relationships with Chris and Noelle became a little strained, so it’s kind of a big deal for me to be hitting the road with them again. Even if it is just for a week. It means a lot to me. Like… it makes me really happy. Not just that I get to go, but that they trust me to go. That they actually want me to go. (They invited me! They’re stoked on it! (That’s really, really awesome)).

I interviewed them for Razorcake recently, so you’ll be able to read a lot more about our zany adventures together once that comes out. For now, I’m just gonna share some of the stuff that I got to design for the sixty-or-so day tour that they got home from about a week ago.

"I Just Wanna Listen to Rational Anthem and Smoke All the Cigarettes." 5/3/13. T-shirt.
“I Just Wanna Listen to Rational Anthem and Smoke All the Cigarettes.” 5/3/13. T-shirt.

This originally said Off With Their Heads instead of Rational Anthem but I decided to change it up ’cause Rational needed a shirt and OWTH didn’t. I listen to both bands when I’m feeling well, but when I’m upset, I turn to OWTH when I wanna dwell in it and Rational when I wanna pull myself out. I didn’t get one of these shirts before they left for their long tour so I’m pretty stoked to finally get one tomorrow.


"We Have Nothing Better to Do." 5/3/13. T-shirt.
“We Have Nothing Better to Do.” 5/3/13. T-shirt.

Screen-printing is not the best medium for images with small or fine details. It took me fucking forever to find a balance in manipulating this image so that the faces were somewhat visible, but didn’t have any lines or dots that’d be too small to come out in a screen. The logo on the first few Rational records and shirts was mine, but this one I stole (I think it’s one of Corey’s). (When Corey’s not playing in The Manix and Banner Pilot, he does some pretty outstanding artwork and was definitely an inspiration to / influence on me). Anyway, this shirt was Chris’s idea (or at least he’s the one that brought it to me). Originally, it was going to say “Pop Punk Vacation” at the bottom, which I thought was kind of boring. We thought this was way, way funnier. Not only is it a great statement about playing in a band generally, but what the fuck are they doing posing on top of a van for a photograph? I mean, don’t these fucking kids have jobs? Honestly…


"Pop Punk Vacation." 5/2/13. Poster. 9x14"
“Pop Punk Vacation.” 5/2/13. Poster. 9×14″

Originally, this was the only thing I was designing for Rational Anthem’s summer tour, but – as it’d turn out – I got to do pretty much everything. (That first shirt design was also printed up on red and black koozies). This one definitely took the longest though. The main artwork – like the name of the tour – is a National Lampoon parody. I looked up the posters to the different Vacation movies and thought it’d be fun to do a re-imagining of the “European Vacation” poster, on which the Griswold family are all clutching the legs of their leader, Clark, as he stand proudly with his fist in the air, clutching a [I forget what he was clutching]. The tagline is also a parody of the tagline from the poster. Ours says, “For over three dozen years, punk rock has survived many terrible posers. Now for the real test… Rational Anthem are coming out of their mall!” (That’s definitely my favorite part). Anyway, I drew the kids with colored pencils. Don’t ask me why I gave them green skin – I have no reason. The van in the background is from the first piece I ever sold, “Clarity,” and the rest is from a piece I made after I left rehab, called “Heather Pierce.” Neither is up on this site with a real write-up yet, but you can see them (and get a little background info on each) elsewhere. “Clarity” is online here, in my Facebook album of inpatient artwork, and “Heather Pierce” is up here, on my Storenvy site.

Here are the dates for our little mini-tour. If you’re coming out, I’ll see you soon!

  • Tue. 8/13 – Leavin’ late and just hanging with Stewart in Atlanta
  • Wed. 8/14 – St. Louis w/ [ask Noelle]
  • Thu. 8/15 – Dave Strait Fest in Minneapolis!
  • Fri. 8/16 – Dave Strait Fest in Minneapolis!
  • Sat. 8/17 – Dave Strait Fest in Minneapolis! (this is the day Rational are actually playing)
  • Sun. 8/18 – Des Moines, IA w/ The Copyrights, Lipstick Homicide, Tight Bros, and more
  • Mon. 8/19 – Carbondale, IL w/ [ask Noelle]
  • Tue. 8/20 – [ask Noelle]

Regarding the shows on Sunday and Monday though – Zack’s hitching a ride with us back down to FL from MPLS and – I think Dear Landlord might be playing one (or both) of them. Once I’m actually with everyone, I’ll know more solid details on the shows (like venues/addresses) and I’ll throw them up online here when I do.