While clearing some space off of my desktop today I found a certain WAV file I was sure I lost forever. Perhaps it was a sign of sorts that I found it today so I thought what better thing to do but share the WAV file with the world. The WAV file I speak of is actually a recorded interview with yours truly and NYC’s finest, the Beastie Boys.
The year was 2007 and I was just a freshman at this whole online blogging thing. I was just getting comfortable with reviewing CDs and live shows for the wonderful Blogcritics.Org. I was having a good time doing this and decided to try something a little more challenging, review a 2 day festival.
Somehow, some way I scored a press pass to the 2007 Virgin Mobile Festival and successfully covered the 2 days for Blogcritics.Org. The experience was a positive one and made me want to review more festivals from my perspective because I had so much fun doing so. You can read the review HERE but I never really got into full detail about the behind the scenes portion of my experience.
Just days before we (Matt, Rad-am, and myself) were to leave for Baltimore I received an email asking me if I wanted to interview the Beastie Boys as they were supporting their latest release The Mix Up by doing select tours and one of the stops was at the Virgin Mobile Festival. Having never interviewed anyone in person before I was quick to the accepting reply for the opportunity and was told I would receive further instruction.
Day one of the festival once I got situated I received a text message telling me to meet at the press tent to interview the Beastie Boys. I remember the girl and the guy coordinating it were super cool people and as we made out way through the VIP area I actually passed Virgin owner Richard Branson and gave a “what’s up” nod to the lead singer of the Fountains Of Wayne.
We kept walking till we got to a fenced off area where a couple of the Beastie Boys security members were seated in almost a outdoor living room canopied arrangement and were told that the Beastie Boys were situated inside the trailer next to them. Security told us to stand aside the fence and wait for our turn. I chatted with a couple of the guys standing with me and one of them ran an online Detroit radio program and the other was a reporter for MTV online. Even though I had no idea what I was doing or what to expect I felt good about the situation.
When it was my turn to approach the trailer John Norris of MTV cut me in line and made his way into the trailer. Time was passing now and I was not sure I was going to be able to interview them. I was sweating my ass off too as it was hotter than hell outside and the security guys would not share their canopy with us. No complaints from me though, I was still pumped.
I finally was told I had six minutes to interview the Beastie Boys and made my way into the trailer.
The first thing I noticed when I walked in the trailer were the three Armani suit wearing Beastie Boys all with smiles on their faces. The second thing I noticed was that the trailer was air conditioned… Score.
I was asked to sit down on one of those fold out chairs and I hit record on my digital recording device.
As you can hear I was interviewed more by the Beastie Boys but I did not care. The Beastie Boys are known for not being serious during interviews and I think if anything they really had fun chatting with me. I was not looking to perform the most amazing interview of my career anyways, I was just looking to hang out with a band I have been a life long fan of. Talking about LeBron James, breakfast bar buffets, and my Ween t-shirt just made the conversation all the more enjoyable.
I left that trailer with the biggest smile on my face and soon met up with Matt and Rad-am who were both wondering if I was ever going to come back to the festival grounds. Moments later the Beastie Boys took the stage and blew the three of us away.
When I hear myself speak I think I sound like an idiot but then again I was a little nervous and did not know what the heck I was doing. I never did so anything with the recording as I was unable to decipher some of the member’s voices from one another when I was transcribing it….then I lost the file (or so I thought I did).
Good times. I hope you all enjoyed the little WAV file I found.
When I hear the term “Girlyman” I immediately think of a certain Saturday Night Live (SNL) skit featuring Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon playing Hans and Franz the Austrian bodybuilders who where said to be cousins of action bodybuilder superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger. I still laugh at those skits…
The Girlyman I am referring to though is not associated with SNL or even the current governor of California. Instead I speak of a three piece folk act originally from New York City. I was introduced to them through my wife who has a love, almost obsession, for them. She shared them with me one day after saying “We’re still making payments on the cannon” and I had no idea what she was talking about. After giving her a puzzled look she told me about the Girlyman band. She sampled some songs to me and I found myself quite interested in them.
Girlyman is a trio of harmonic performers, rather best friends, who have stated they play “harmony-driven gender pop” featuring “leading edge three-part harmony folk-pop”. Consisting of Nate Borofsky, Doris Muramatsu, and Ty Greenstein, the band has a huge following with their “gender pop” music.
Gender pop? That’s right folks all of the members from this band are involved in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community one way or another. Don’t let that hold you back though because if you do you are missing out on some amazing harmonic folk music with heavy doses of comedic interludes, especially when seen live. Think Rupaul meets Simon & Garfunkel with more folk harmony then you have ever heard before. Where a lot of the songs are fun, many have meaning about life, love, and living but all with perfect collaborated vocals from all three members.
Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Doris Muramatsu, the “tootsie roll center of Girlyman”, who has the duties of vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin and banjo in the band. The multi-talented musician was more than kind to answer some questions for me.
So what exactly is a Girlyman?
A Girlyman is whatever you want it to be, just someone who is nontraditional in some sort of way or like to play with gender roles or isn’t afraid to have a sensitive side.
How would you describe Girlyman to someone who has never heard of you before?
We’re a folk pop trio of almost lifelong friends who sing traditional and nontraditional three part harmonies and play multiple instruments and like to laugh and be ourselves on stage.
When you started creating music was it clear you all wanted a more folk sound? Was the harmony always there between the three of you or did it need some fine tuning? I have to admit your combined harmony is all so appealing.
Ty and I started singing harmony when we were 12 years old and have always been fascinated by the beauty of interweaving voices. Our voices blended very well and we knew we wanted to write and sing music that was harmony-based. When we met Nate his voice seemed to naturally blend with ours, so it was a go. Of course there is always fine tuning whenever harmony is involved, for instance, we have realized that if we all don’t sing a certain vowel in the exact same way it will sound out of tune, so we’re always examining how the lead person is pronouncing that vowel.
Who/what are your influences for the music you create?
I understand that you and Ty have been best friends since elementary school. When did the two of you decide to start your first band The Garden Verge?
We officially started up the Garden Verge out of college although we had been signing together as a duo since middle school.
How and when did you meet up with Nate?
We met Nate [during] our sophomore year at Sarah Lawrence College at a cross-dress cabaret [that was more] like a talent show with more gender-bending. He was backstage [while] Ty and I were singing an Indigo Girls song to warm up. He came [up to us] and joined us out of the blue. We were insta-friends.
How was it being cramped up in NYC trying to start a band? Where are you currently residing?
It didn’t feel cramped at first. [It was] mostly just really exciting and creative time for us all. Of course our first rehearsal for Girlyman was scheduled for September 11th [and] after witnessing the events of that day we were shocked and speechless. We didn’t really know what to do but all that felt right to do was to be together, make music, and share it. So that was the birth of Girlyman; formed in the spirit of upliftment.
After seven years of living together and touring together, however, things did start to feel small and cramped. We were basically living on top of each other with no privacy and the need for expansion, both creatively and physically, became paramount. Nate and Ty moved to Atlanta in 2007 and I chose to stay in Brooklyn [NY] for another year but [soon] joined them in 2008. We all live separately now but happily see each other practically every day.
What types of venues did you first start playing at? Did you have success from the get go or was it more of a slow start?
We played at little coffeehouses and churches as well as some lunchtime college gigs. We just kept building out audience from the get go and even though we didn’t shoot up into massive fame, we definitely started climbing slowly but steadily.
Your live shows are full of humor and fun, especially in between songs. When did live Girlyman shows turn almost into a stand up performance or has it always been like that?
I have always been a pretty shy person in front of large crowds and I think it was hard for Ty and me [as Garden Verge] to be as funny as we are in private. When Nate joined the group he added an element of humor and improvisation that allowed us all to be more relaxed and silly together. It’s a strength in numbers thing I think. I also thing it keeps things interesting for us to do or day things on stage that makes each other laugh because then every show feels like its own thing. We need to keep things light and fresh in order for the [live] show to feel fun for us too.
In 2006, OUTmusic awarded Girlyman for the OUTSong of the year for “Young James Dean”, how did this make you all feel?
We were really honored! It always means a lot when something you’ve created reaches people and speaks to them in a significant way.
What can you tell someone about OUTmusic who has never heard of the organization before?
OUTmusic is a wonderful organization that connects [the] lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual musicians, composers, producers, and artists [together]. It works to create opportunities and tried to raise awareness for the growing number of us [LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender)] out there.
I understand you are currently touring and will be performing at a couple of folk festivals as well. Having sold out venues before how exciting is it to be on the road?
We love being on the road and we love being at home too. It’s a balance but we are doing exactly what we want to do and have so much fun doing it. Sure being on the road has its challenges, like endless drives and late hours, but when we’re on stage and connecting with each other and the audience it is always worth it no matter now many people show up. It’s the energy from the audience that really helps us keep going.
How long have you actually been touring now?
We have been touring since 2001 when we first became a band.
Do you prefer festivals or venues?
I prefer venues because I find it’s easier to connect with people. Festivals are fun because there’s a feeling of celebration but I also get distracted by all that’s going on… like all the funnel cakes and hot dog stands!
Where is your favorite venue to play? Is there a favorite city you all enjoy?
How are the lodging arrangements when you travel? Have you ever crashed in the van?
Thanks to Priceline.com lodging is fantastic! We often stay in three star hotels which makes us feel rich and comfortable. We don’t stay overnight in the van though we have a loft and a refrigerator set up in it. It’s too small for all of us [to sleep in].
Who usually takes up the driving duties on the road? Is there anyone in the band who is not allowed to drive?
Everyone takes turns driving although I can’t parallel park the Sprinter [van] for the life of me [as it’s] 21 feet long. Ty is not allowed to drive at night because she usually falls asleep.
Any crazy touring stories you want to share? Maybe a run in with the law or just something drunk and hilarious?
Well, the scariest thing that happened on the road was when we hit a deer at two in the morning in the middle of Wyoming and the Sprinter broke down. Nate and I didn’t have cell[phone] service but Ty thankfully did; but only when she stood a few feet from the van. We had to get towed 200 miles to the nearest Dodge dealership in Montana. When the tow truck came and started towing us it broke down too, so we had to wait until [the tow truck] got fixed.
Finally after a scary drive where the driver [of the tow truck] kept falling asleep and running [over] all [of] the rumble strips on the highway we arrived in Billings, MT at seven in the morning. We had to stay there for a couple of days while out manager found a U-Haul truck that could fit three of us in the cab. [We] then made our way though treacherous, snow-covered passes in Washington state [on the way] to Seattle. We were [all] totally traumatized by the whole experience.
You’ve been in Cleveland a few times now. Just curious what you think of the city as it is my hometown. Any favorite memories?
Our favorite time in Cleveland was when we played at Cleveland Pride. They put us up in a fancy hotel and we shared the stage with Rupaul.
Do you think the folk festivals may help recruit new fans who may not necessary be involved in the LGBT community?
Some of our fans are part of the LGBT community, but just as many are not. We have a wide range of fans of all ages and identities.
Not everyone is accepting of the LGBT community unfortunately, have you ever had problems with people while out on the road?
It’s funny, we have a lot of people who, not knowing our music, initially feel put off by our man, but then when they hear us they immediately get over it or feel surprised that they actually like our music. Other than that, I think we’ve been lucky that we haven’t had many incidents being a queer band.
Tell me about your “Girlyfans”.
Out Girlyfans are our best support network. They are the ones who help promote us and bring new people to our shows. We couldn’t tour and do this for a living without them.
Can you tell me about the Brauner VMA that many of the Girlyfans helped raise money for you all to acquire? It looks like a masterpiece of a microphone. How is it working out for you?
It IS a masterpiece of microphones. It’s a handmade microphone from Germany and sounds out of this world. We are really happy with the sound quality we’re getting out of it.
When can your fans expect some new material to be released?
We are hoping for a fall release of our new studio album, although we’ve been playing out a lot of our new stuff at shows.
What’s next for Girlyman?
More of everything! We love how life just presents us with the next logical stay and that we’re brave enough to take it.
Just one last question… Are you still making payments on the cannon?
-For more information about Girlyman check out their website.
Hardcore punk rockers Propaghandi may be getting up there in age but have no intentions of slowing down.On the verge of releasing an all new album entitled Supporting Caste, the band continues to spread their thoughts through song on real causes that actually mean something.Focusing on real current events, the band are more activists over performers.Having been around for over twenty years it is nice to see this band continue on with what they love to do.
Recently I had the chance to chat it up with the bassist of Propaghandi Todd Kowalski.He was more than happy to answer some questions for me.
You guys have been around since 1986 right? How challenging has it been to be a punk band for over 20 years?
I joined a mere 12 years ago but I’d say despite wanting to bite each others eyes out a few times we’ve been ticking along pretty good. I think the fact that we all like the songs we’re trying to make is a big factor in it all working. if we didn’t like what we were hearing it would turn us into pustulous blobs with fangs.
How long did it take for Propagandhi to start touring outside of Canada and around the world?
I think the first Propagandhi tour to the U.S. was around 92. They went down to the west Coast.
I remember it clearly but wasn’t in the band yet. Our friends Regal and Keith were the roadies, those guys had the van. I thought that was so cool that they all went on tour. I never knew anyone who traveled with their band before.
Who are some of your favorite bands you toured with in the past?
My favorite was Los Crudos who I played four or 5 shows with in about 95 they blew my mind!! This wasn’t with Propagandhi though it was with another band [I was in] called I Spy. It’s all the same to me. We’re all friends playing music.
When you were just starting to play punk rock music, who were your musical influences? Has that changed today?
Today my biggest musical influence, Sacrifice, just sent me two new songs off their upcoming record. They haven’t recorded for about 18 years. These songs blew my head right off my shoulders. They are the best band of all time! Besides them I was in [to and] am still 100% into SNFU, RAZOR, Nomeansno, Voivod and DEATH. That hasn’t changed at all. I like new bands too but these bands have been on rotation for 20 years non stop!!
When did you start becoming move aware of your surrounding and stepped up to spread to the close minded?
I started to slowly become aware of things over a long period of time. I was very, very much a part of the small city mentality growing up. I had to see people get hurt and upset by certain things first hand before I started to wise up. I think the punk bands that I started to listen to when I was in junior high slowly helped me make sense of what I was trying to figure out. It’s been a slow ongoing process .
Your high level approach at everything that goes wrong on this world opened up my eyes when I was younger through your music and from just reading about what causes you were involved in. Was there anyone who helped turn you into an activist of sorts?
As far as bands, I’d say MDC, C.O.C were the biggest influences for a while and later I was really influenced by Born Against, Maliftingbanner, Los Crudos and bands like that. As far as people I think it was a lot of people including my Mom who would always go out of her way for people. I always appreciated that.
I understand many of the band follow a vegan lifestyle. How tough is it for you when touring the world to keep to it?
It’ s generally really, really easy. There is a million [of] choices of things to eat besides meat and dairy and crap like that. It’s well worth the small effort. We end up eating way better than if we were stopping and eating burgers and fries everyday. The hardest place for us was Japan just because we couldn’t decipher the ingredients to things we were looking at. That’s our own problem, though. The food was available.
Were any obstacles ever thrown in the band’s path that make you ever want to give up?
The main obstacles are the frustration at momentary or lengthy lack of ability to achieve our personal visions [with] a lot of this being due to a bit of a lack of natural talent. We work hard to get where we’re trying to go.
Propaghandi has a new album coming out this month called Supporting Caste can you tell me about it?
Yeah, We’re really excited about it. There’s 14 new songs of different types. I think it’s our best effort yet. We worked hard to improve our skills and write the best songs we could. I think it turned out pretty good. If it’s no good it’s certainly not because of a lack of effort!
Recently on your website a couple of MP3’s from the new album were offered for legal download in exchange for donations for as little as $1.00 that will go towards worthy causes. Your request for donations was quite bold almost commanding fans to do something good in return for a sample of for what is to come. How was the response to this?
That’s turned out really well so far. We’ve raised a lot of money for those organizations and they seem to appreciate it. We’re hoping people check out what they’re doing and learn something about it. That’s the real point of it (laughs), yeah it’s bold, and we like insulting our listeners but everybody knows it’s a joke. Those who don’t get mad and amuse those who do. We all win!
You are slated to play the Harvest Of Hope festival in Florida this March. How does that make you feel being a part of this important benefit show?
Yeah, that’s a good benefit. We’re happy to be a part of it. The vibe and spirit of this festival is so much better than the corporate, crap, [and] useless festivals like the Warped Tour that have been thrown at people. We usually haven’t played festivals but if it’s a good one, we’ll be there!
Are there any acts appearing on the Harvest Of Hope festival you are excited to see or have previously toured with?
We’ve played two shows with Strike Anywhere before. I’m excited to see Bad Brains!! Most of the other bands I haven’t heard before so it should be good!
Propagandhi was one of the earlier bands to start with Fat Wreck Chords. I know that Supporting Caste will be released on the indie label G7 Welcoming Committee Records (that was actually started by Chris Hannah and Jord Samolesky of Prop.). How does it feel to have been a part of the Fat Wreck Chord family and then move on?
I think we did all we could with Fat. It’s time to start a fresh slate and prepare to go full tilt with people who are on the same page as us. We’re very happy about it.
In April of 2008 it was announced that G7 would cease to release new material and October of 2008 it was reiterated. While still providing downloads it looked as if the label was finished, what was this all about? What happened to change the mind of G7 to release Supporting Caste?
Derek from G7 moved to Halifax and left Chris stewing in his own juices in the G7 office. I guess they figured enough is enough. But we [all] wanted to put out the Propagandhi record, so we did it on G7.
Will this mark the last release for Propagandhi?
Hell no, we’re just getting started!
You have rocked out in the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s. Was there a certain decade you favored over the others while performing as a band?
I think the 80’s were the best. Pop music sucked and always will suck but before the 80’s there was no speed metal, death metal, hardcore, barely any punk that interest me, no thrash metal, doom metal, power metal etc.(laughs) That all truly came to be in the 80’s. For my tastes and love of speed it blew my little mind to pieces.
The late 80’s cheese metal and pop and the 90’s sucked total crap except for a handful of bands. Born Against etc… and DEATH were great of course!! I hated Nu Metal, Grunge, Pop punk and all that. What a sickened musical state. Recently there is a lot of bands that I think are great. The new Sacrifice record, Krisiun, Cynic, Immolation, Necrophagist…man, they all rule!!
So what’s next for Propagandhi?
Next on the itinerary is more touring then we’ll work on new songs every chance we get!!! Watch out!!
Supporting Caste will be released on March 10th on G7 Welcoming Committee Records.Make sure you pick up your copy and support this long running punk rock act!
Look for Propagandhi to make a return to the road in support of their recent release. The band just finished playing a slot at the annual Harvest Of Hope Festival that just ended and will continue the US before heading overseas.
The Harvest Of Hope festival, if you have not heard, is a three-day outdoor music festival in St. Augustine, FL that is held to benefit Harvest of Hope: www.harvestofhope.net . The nonprofit organization was founded in Gainesville, FL a little over a decade ago to provide social services to migrant farm workers and their families in the U.S. Since then, HOH has raised and spent over $700,000 to pay for gas, tires, car repairs, rent, utilities, medical services, food, clothing, funeral expenses and educational scholarships in low income migrant worker communities.For more information about the festival itself or on how you can help please visit www.harvestofhope.com
Propaghandi On Tour:
03/08/09 – Atlanta, GA, USA
03/10/09 – Virginia Beach, VA, USA
03/11/09 – Baltimore, MD, USA
03/12/09 – New York, NY, USA
03/13/09 – Brooklyn, NY, USA
03/14/09 – Philadelphia, PA, USA
03/15/09 – Cambridge, MA, USA
03/20/09 – Winnipeg, MB, Canada
03/21/09 – Winnipeg, MB, Canada
04/17/09 – Sheffield, UK
04/18/09 – Bristol, UK
04/19/09 – London, UJ
04/20/09 – Brighton, UK
04/21/09 – Norwich, UK
04/23/09 – Cologne, Germany
04/24/09 – Munich, Germany
04/25/09 – Solothurn, Switzerlan
04/26/09 – Bologna, Italy
04/28/09 – Rome, Italy
04/29/09 – Venice, Italy
05/01/09 – Prague, Czech Republic
Any fan of punk rock music has probably heard of a certain SoCal punk rock band called Face To Face. Formed by Trever Keith in 1991 the band gained commercial success with their ideal punk rock style and soon achieved commercial success. Trever Keith was the only original member to stick through the good times and bad times and sadly the band decided to call it quits in 2003
With the decision to go their separate ways Trever Keith did not stop there. He continued on with his passion for music and started recording solo material as well as maintained his own record label. On top of that he worked on other band projects including Legion Of Doom, a mash-up project of out of this world proportions. He is without a doubt one of the busiest punk rockers out there and it not willing to call it quits anytime soon.
Recently I learned that Face To Face had reunited for a small tour and possibly more. I decided to get in touch with Trever Keith to ask him some questions of his past, present, and future. Trever Keith was more than happy to take time out of his busy day and answer some questions for me.
B: So I guess my first question would have to be what finally prompted Face To Face (F2F) to reunite for a few tours? I remember reading an interview a while back that you did not think it was going to happen.
TK: Scott [Shiflett] and I missed it and the offers started getting a lot more interesting.
Any specific offers in general?
Bamboozle 08 in Los Angeles was the clincher.
Who is all playing alongside you when you tour?
Scott of course. Sometimes Chad Yaro (depending on his availability, LA area shows are the most likely) and Danny Thompson on drums.
Any chance of expanding the tour? I see that F2F is playing some shows in California in November as well as a few select dates overseas in 2009.
As long as there is an interest from fans, we will be back out playing shows. We’re not looking at being back out on the road full time for F2F, but we are definitely planning some more stuff for 2009. We’ll just see how it goes.
Does this reunion tour mean there is a possibility that F2F might be back to record new material?
I suppose there is a remote chance. Although there are no plans.
Any real reason why F2F ultimately called it quits?
A desire to try some other projects and a sense that we had really run our course as a band. We didn’t want to overstay our welcome. But the fans have proved that the reality of that is completely the opposite. So we’re back as long as there is a demand.
Enough about F2F, let’s talk about you and your continuing vision with music. Even after the band departed you continued forward. You released a solo album on your own record label. Can you tell me a little bit about both?
I have a label called Antagonist. I had an indie distribution deal that was a complete disaster. I’m out of it now. My plans for Antagonist are sort of changing with the landscape, but I at least know it’s a place for me to release my own music in the future.
My debut solo record was in limited release but is currently not available. I had initially had it available for download for $5.00 on my website and I pressed up about 1,000 limited edition CDs for sale only at shows.
These were things I wanted to do for the core fans. I am looking at an “official” release for early/mid 2009.
Will your “official” solo release be under your label or has anyone else shown interest is having it on their label?
There is interest, but it will be an Antagonist release regardless of whether I’m involved with another label or not.
You toured in support of your solo release. How were the shows you played at? Were there a lot of old school punkers there checking you out? Were a lot of people asking about the band you used to front?
Most of the shows were amazing. They were small sized clubs. Some were better attended than others but most of the time that really didn’t matter. The people that came were so cool. I made a point of hanging out a bit after every show and it was really something special. Many of these people are F2F fans but also really appreciated the work I am doing on my own and that was really the point of this small club tour; to really just get out there for the die hard fans and get the music to them first. Now my challenge is spreading it to a bigger audience.
Any plans for a second solo release?
Sure but give me a chance to promote this one properly first!
What is Viva Death all about?
It was a project that Scott and I thought up about 5 years ago. The first record was really a joint effort but on the second record it started to become more of Scott’s thing. He is just now finishing up the third Viva Death record which from what I’ve heard so far is amazing. He played all of the instruments on this one, even drums. It’s really a testament to what an amazing musician Scott is. You can check out his MySpace for more info. www.myspace.com/vivadeathmusic
I have read about a possible other project in the works as well called Pablum? Not much is known about them. Anything you might like to share?
Pablum is just an early name for my solo effort. I decided to go with my own name for simplicity.
How did you become involved with mashing up songs in Legion Of Doom?
Chad Blinman is a longtime friend. I sort of convinced him to start this mash-up thing while him and I had some downtime. We really started digging in and get hooked into the project. We decided to give ourselves a name and some soundtrack and remix work followed. It’s a project that is an amazing creative outlet for us that is unlike anything else we’re involved in. It’s something I look forward to doing for a long time. There are many ideas in the works for Legion of Doom.
Where did the idea come from to do such a thing, mash up emo/punk songs and even add a little hip-hop action? I admit the first time I heard it I was hooked?
Well I’d be lying if I said it was all my idea. I was doing some work with Darren Doane at the time and we always had this knack for discussing all sorts of crazy ideas for projects and stuff. He had this idea to do DJ style mash-ups of emo/hardcore bands. Since he’s in film and music videos he didn’t really have the know how to pull off such an idea so I ran with it.
The CD Incorporated is out of print and pretty much impossible to find. Do you think you would ever consider re-releasing it?
We don’t have the permission from labels or publishers to release the CD, so probably not. Come to think of it, who made those first CDs anyway?
So you had nothing to do with the CD being released or do you have no comment? Haha.
What is your favorite mash-up so far that you have helped create? I personally love the Coheed vs. Senses Fail mash-up called “Devil In A Blue Dress”. It seems like the two songs were meant to be mashed.
Destroy All Vampires [My Chemical Romance vs. A Static Lullaby mash-up]
Just curious on how Cleveland artist Derek Hess was recruited to draw up the cover for the CD?
That was another Darren Doane connection. I met Derek through Darren.
A couple of the Legion Of Doom songs were featured in movies such as Saw II and Resident Evil: Extinction. Any plans on having more mixes pop up in future movies?
I’d love to. Nothing confirmed at the moment. The last thing we did for a film is a placement in the movie Pathology which just came out on DVD.
Eyes Front is a movie released on Antagonist Films. Any relation to your own Antagonist Records Label? What all did you contribute to the film? Is this just the beginning of you working a little more in depth with a movie?
Antagonist Films is the same company as Antagonist Records. The Legion of Doom did all of the original music for the film and I was a producer on the film. I would love to do more work in film, but I’m not currently involved in any projects at the moment.
How did you land the role of producing the movie (Eyes Front)? Have you had previous experience producing film?
Again Darren Doane was the one who got me involved with the film. I have had no previous experience.
Speaking of movies it seems like you take samples from older movies and add them to the mix, how do you come across some of those?
There are websites with such material. Just gotta know where to look.
Have you seen any of the fan made videos of Legion Of Doom mash-ups on YouTube? What do you think about your fans creating them?
One of the most satisfying things about creating something is knowing that people really get it. Seeing those music videos to me is proof that people out there are really getting what we’re doing and they’re taking it up a level by adding their own creativity. It’s a humbling experience.
What is next for Legion Of Doom? Would you/have you considered touring? Will there be another CD released?
We’re getting ready to release an entire album of new original material.
When you look at all that you have accomplished musically, how does that make you feel? Any advise to share with anyone looking to be successful in a musical career whether it be creating or remixing?
I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I feel lucky to have had some success and I am proud of the body of work I have created. And on the other hand I want to achieve more both as an artist and performer. The only advice I could give is you have to be relentless.
What’s next for Trever Keith?
Look for Trever Keith’s official release of his solo album in early/mid 2009. For more information about what cities Face To Face is touring or to check out all the projects Trever Keith is currently involved in check out the following links:
One of my goals this year was to have an article I did featured in a magazine. I achieved that goal earlier this year with help from Cleveland artist Derek Hess. He was kind enough to answer some questions and the article first appeared on DeviantNation.com (NSFW 18+). To my surprise I submitted the article to a music magazine and it appeared in a June 2008 issue of Hails And Horns. I was thrilled to have the article take up three pages of a metal magazine that was in color. The issue is now a back issue now but I am sure you can grab a copy on Interpunk.com.
I thought I would post it here for anyone interested:
Derek Hess is one hell of an artist. Throughout the years, this pro-Cleveland resident has created some memorable works of drawings, CD cover art, and even concert fliers that have art collectors going mad. His work is commonly known through the music and tattoo scene and is even featured at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as well as the Louvre in Paris.
The easiest way to describe his art is to see it for yourself with help from the Derek Hess website. His art is a little dark and a little ingenious. Some works are dark lines morphed into faceless humans holding bleeding hearts while others show more empathy and detail.
Many bands have had the privilege to have Derek Hess’ art grace the covers of their CDs. His art showcases have traveled the globe entertaining many. There really is not anyone quite like him.
Not only has he has great success with his drawing abilities but Derek Hess also launched the successful clothing line Sthress Clothing and even helped formulate the Sthress Fest music festival.
Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Derek Hess. He was more than kind to answer some questions I have been pondering over for quite some time.
First and foremost, I am just curious how you got your start as an artist.
I booked a club here in Cleveland [called] the Euclid tavern from 1989 through 1995. At the same time I was studying printmaking at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Since the shows were my responsibility, I started making fliers to promote them, which then became prints. The two came together beautifully, the union of two of my favorite things, music and art.
Do you have any artist influences that helped motivate you?
My father, Heinrich Kley, and Gil Kane all were big influences on my art.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up? Were you into the music scene as a kid in Cleveland?
Metal. I was born in 1964, so when I turned 13 it was the big three: Kiss, Queen, and Aerosmith (only up to draw the line), which then lead to Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, UFO, Judas Priest, AC/DC, [Led] Zeppelin, etc… I was into the scene here when I got a little older, mostly the metal scene, then in the mid-eighties there was an awesome crossover scene where the metal kids and the hardcore kids would attend both shows. One night I might be at a Voivod or Raven show, and then the next night Circle Jerks or the Dead Kennedy’s.
I remember when I was a kid seeing your concert flyers of your work posted all over the concert venues and coffee shops (Arabica coffee house in Coventry). Most notably Cop Shoot Cop and Helmet stick out the most to me when I think back. How were you able to create these posters for these now classic artists?
Those were shows I booked at the euc [Euclid Tavern].
When did the concert flyers become less of an advertisement and more of an art? How did this come to be?
It [fliers] happened in the 60’s with the psychedelic posters. The counter culture at the time was just that, counter the culture, so they made the poster works of art to go against the gain of strict graphics.
You seemed to have kept a low key for a while and soon your artwork exploded all over the music and art scene. Can you tell me a particular piece you drew that possibly gained you a lot of attention?
I guess there were several things, a story in Newsweek in the early 90’s, the Louvre [in France] requesting a body of my work around the same time, the grand opening concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame poster, and the two Converge CD cover[s] are a few that come to mind.
Speaking of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Louvre in Paris, some of your artwork is showcased at both locations. How does it feel to have your work on display at these two impressive museums?
Well, very honored and lucky.
Seriously, what has kept you in Cleveland all these years? Seems to me when people get big in this area they usually pack up and leave.
I’m pro Cleveland. The people here are real, most tours stop here, and the Browns have no logo on their helmets. They play on natural turf in an open air stadium on the shores of Lake Erie in the elements as it should be. I’ve been to many places, but nowhere else I’d like to live, except Germany, Switzerland, Detroit, and Omaha.
One thing I have always admired about you is your prices for your work seem to be affordable. I have been to recent shows and have purchased posters for a mere $15. Friends of mine have gotten actual prints for less than $300. Not that I am complaining, but why do you sell your work for so cheap?
I feel art should be available to the masses. Not everyone has the money to purchase big ticket items but they still want a piece of art. Prints only cost so much to produce and artist that charge huge prices for prints and posters are being unfair to the buyer.
Your art has also become a staple in the tattoo community. How does it feel to have your artwork become a permanent piece on someone’s body?
Speaking of flattering, you were voted one of Cleveland’s sexiest men of 2007. Any thoughts on that?
Yeah, must have been slim pickings last year.
Your clothing line Strhess is amazing and I see a lot of people including myself sporting it. How did the idea for a clothing line come about? How does it feel to run into someone on the street wearing your art?
We realized not everyone could afford $200 for a print or even $50 for a print so we wanted to develop something that was in a price range that everyone could afford. It always feels good to see someone wearing Strhess [clothing], but at the same time I can’t… like… it’s a little weird…ha ha.
You helped illustrate some comic books in the past. Can you give me a little incite of how that came to be?
I’ve only done three covers for Captain America which was a huge honor since he’s been my all time favorite [super hero]. They [Marvel] came to me about the job which was really cool. Apparently one of the Marvel guys saw an interview I did in a tattoo magazine and they showed one of my cap [Captain America] tattoos, so he hit me up.
Aside from creating prints and shirts you also have drawn out CD covers for bands. What are some of your favorites? I myself dig the Converge cover you did.
Yeah, I like that Converge one too. The first Murder Your Darlings from 2005 [is another]. I’m pretty happy with the In Flames one too.
Do you still do artwork for any bands? Can you tell me who you may have recently worked with?
Yeah, but I really haven’t been doing posters much anymore. I’m working on a CD cover right now for Since Yesterday, they’re a hardcore band from Turkey.
You actually had some of your artwork banned by Wal-Mart. I believe it was the Methods Of Mayhem CD cover art? How was it working with Tommy Lee?
It was very cool, and Tommy was the easiest client to work for. Everything I sent him he was all about [with] no changes. They [Tommy and crew] were “off the hook, go with it”.
You seem to surround yourself around the emo, hardcore, indie scene. What is it about those genres of music you like so much?
Well, it’s fresh (or was when it started). The content of the music is solid, as is the presentation.
What was it like to be on LA Ink? Did you see more people checking out your website after that episode premiered?
It was cool. I was a little weirded out having my shirt off for the country to see….maybe I’ll get some modeling jobs out of it 😉 The web site did get a ton of hits the night it aired and the MySpace page got like 600 new friend requests. TV is good.
You have a lot of art shows worldwide these days at various galleries, where was your first overseas show and how did it turn out?
May of 1999 in Hamburg, and it was great. I’ve always done well in Germany. You can check out all shows, past, present, and future in chronological order in my exhibits page (off of my news page) on www.derekhess.com.
What is next for Derek Hess?
We have several books in the works, and [will] continue to do the gallery shows.
If someone has never heard of you, Derek Hess before, how would you describe your artwork to them?