WhyACDC.MattersHC c

I’ve always been a big fan of AC/DC, but then a lot of us are.  AC/DC is the second-best-selling popular music act of all time, behind only The Beatles, with over 200 million albums sold worldwide.  Their album “Back in Black” is the second best-selling album of all time behind only Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” with over 49 million copies sold, and their latest album “Black Ice” debuted at #1 in 29 countries despite the fact that it was only available in Walmart, Sam’s Club, and via the band’s website.

The second-best tag however, also seems to apply to how critics have treated the band over the years, slagging them off as second-rate and boorish.  So why does AC/DC matter?  Well, we sat down to talk with former Rolling Stone writer and NY Times bestselling author Anthony Bozza to set the record straight and get the inside scoop on his new book “Why AC/DC Matters.”

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Wanna win a copy of “Why AC/DC Matters”?  Well here’s how you can.  Answer the two trivia questions below (hint: you gotta listen to the interview above) and email the answers to customerservice at figment.cc and then leave why YOU think AC/DC matters below as a comment.  The person with the right answers to the trivia questions and the best reason will win a copy of Anthony’s new book (courtesy of William Morrow), a Figment t-shirt and 250 pieces of lucre!  Please note that you must be a registered Figment member to enter! If you’re not a registered Figment member please create an account by clicking here.  There is no cost involved with this contest and the winner will be chosen at the discretion of the Figment News editorial staff on October 30, 2009.

Question #1:  What was the first rock band that Bonn Scott was ever in?

Question #2:  What genre did Anthony Bozza invent with his friend?

Anthony Bozza helmed Rolling Stone’s Random Notes column for two years, and penned cover stories and features on artists ranging from Trent Reznor to Jennifer Lopez to Ozzy Osbourne and Bo Diddley.  In addition, Anthony co-authored the NY Times #1 Bestseller “Too Fat to Fish” with comedian Artie Lange as well as bestsellers “Whatever You Say I Am:  The Life and Times of Eminem”, “Tommyland”, the autobiography of Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, and “Slash”, the autobiography of Guns N’ Roses’ and Velvet Revolver’s legendary guitarist.  If you’d like to find out more about Anthony and tell him why you think AC/DC matters – check out his website.

 

sparhusen2

Spärhusen, the so-called “almost greatest band from Sweden” were almost at the top of their game when their plane the “Swedish Fish” crashed on July 25, 1974.  For 35 years fans have wondered what might have been.

Well, wait no longer, because Spärhusen is back and in a far-reaching conversation with Figment News, keyboardist Olf Nystrom brought us up to date on band’s past, present and future.

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Spärhusen is a mock-u-mentary web series from actress-writer-producer Ileana Douglas, and co-creators/co-stars Rob Mailhouse and Todd Spahr airing on My Damn Channel.   The program also co-stars Keanu Reeves and Wallace Langham.

In addition to the web series, Spärhusen’s long-awaited album, “The Best of Spärhusen”, will be available on iTunes and MyDamnChannel this fall.  You can also follow Spärhusen on Twitter and Facebook.

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So if you’re looking for more fake band inspiration make sure you watch Spärhusen!

Kieron Gillen

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said

“Music is the universal language of mankind.”

He also said,

“It is foolish to pretend that one is fully recovered from a disappointed passion.  Such wounds always leave a scar.”

Only one of these quotes from Longfellow was directly referencing music, but you could easily see where both could apply.   While it is true, music is the universal language of mankind, only some of us speak it eloquently and the rest are left only to appreciate those who can.

I was struck by this very fact, when I read a quote by Kieron Gillen in regard to his Image comic “Phonogram”,

“It’s my love letter to music. It’s an honest letter – I’ve been shacked up with her for long enough to know that she’s a bitch with a cruel tongue and will happily destroy people on a whim – but it’s still hopelessly in love with her.”

Hmm…sure sounds like Longfellow and Gillen are talking about the same thing…right?  Music can be a bitch, but an intoxicating one that many of us will never master.  So how do we express our love for it?  Well, it depends.  Some of us become avid fans, others write about it, and still others use it as a form of inspiration to create other forms of expression.  Phonogram is all of those things put together.

So what is Phonogram and who is Kieron Gillen?  Phonogram is a comic book created by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie and published by Image Comics.  Gillen and McKelvie have described it as “Hellblazer meets High Fidelity“, and it’s deeply inspired by music in much the same way the fake bands you create on Figment are.  What’s really interesting about it though is that it manages to express through words and pictures what makes us all so passionate about music – its’ magic.  Gillen and McKelvie describe it in this way,

“Music is magic.  You know this already.  You’ve known this from the first time a record sent a divine shiver down your spine or when a band changed the way you dressed forever.  How does something that’s just noises arranged in sequence do that?  No-one knows.  It’s just…magic.  Everyone knows that.  It’s just that some realise that it’s more than metaphor.”

Clearly these guys have a passion for music, but yet they aren’t musicians.  Instead, they are writers and artists who convey their passion for music in a medium best known for superhero’s and villains.  Hey, maybe we are talking about the music industry after all?  But seriously, Phonogram may not be music, but it is without a doubt inspired by it, and in its own way creates a little of its’ own magic.  With that in mind we thought it might be interesting to find out more about what goes into creating Phonogram and how it applies to what we’re doing on Figment, so we tracked down Kieron Gillen to ask him a few questions.

Figment News:   Tell us little bit about Phonogram and how you got involved with the project.

Kieron Gillen:  Phonogram is pretty much the story of me deciding not to become a music writer.  So instead of actually letting all this stuff off a tiny drop of mental-fluid at a time, I built up into an enormous septic sore which I lanced in one go. It’s distilled putrefied thoughts on music.  And jokes.  Always jokes.

I had the idea as something I’d like to do in comics, met Jamie and somehow talked him into it. I was very lucky.

FN:  What are Phonomancers and Retromancers, and how does magic play into the Phonogram storyline?

KG:  We use magic as a metaphor for whatever music does to people – it’s a device to highlight the effects. So rather than Dungeons & Dragons Harry-Potterisms, we have these low-level, often very subjective effects.

The example I normally use is the second issue in series 2. The basic plot involves a guy walking into a club and a record plays. Suddenly, time freezes and he’s suddenly confronted by an Ex who forces him to relieve a painful memory involving her and the record. Effectively, he’s been cursed by the record. Of course, we’re using it to highlight that gut-crunching moment we’ve all experienced.

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FN:  The artwork is terrific.  Is that all the work of Jamie McKelvie?

KG:  In the first series, yes. In the second, he was joined by Matt Wilson – who Jamie worked on his own Suburban Glamour with – as colourist. Colour adds so much to it, y’know? As well as the main story, we also have back up strips in each single issue, where we’ve bullied as many of our friends and peers as we can to provide. It’s just a big cross-section of everything we love in comics.

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FN:  In keeping with the theme, the cover art for Phonogram’s first series “Rue Britannia” is all based on real album artwork from Brit-pop bands of the 90’s.  For the second series, “The Singles Club”, each issue was influence by a single from more current bands like The Pipettes, TV on the Radio and The Long BlondesWas that part of the plan right from the beginning and were the bands involved at all?

Phonogram first six covers

KG:  The plan we have is cheerfully rough, and normally conceptually re-jigged from series to series. For the first, we wanted to have a deconstruction of all these album covers, which tied into the whole story being a deconstruction of Britpop. For the second, set in a single club night, we were inspired by club-flyers for each, highlighting each member – and the story itself was normally inspired of one single by a band in the year the story’s set (2006). Sometimes it’s a very tangential inspiration, admittedly.

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FN:  Your second Phonogram mini-series “The Singles Club” is seven single-issue stories, each following a single Phonomancers experiences in the same club on the same night.  What was it like combining all of these interlocking stories?

KG:  Hard work, in short. Bloody hard work, in less short, but more rude.  Basically, it involved a lot of flow-charts. Who’s in the toilet right now? Who’s on the dance floor? What’s playing? Since it’s quite intricate, what I actually did was hold most of it in my head – like a hologram of a story – and write it all as quickly as I could. And then when it was all done, I hammered it until it actually stuck to a time-line. There’s some subtle subjective cheats in there to help it too.

Jamie does a lot of work too – as he’s got the pages done, he’s forming an enormous chart of each scene in time order:

SinglesClubChrono

So yeah: bloody hard work.

FN:  You have a background as a music journalist.  How useful was that past experience when creating Phonogram?

KG:  It provided the thinking. When I said I didn’t become a music journalist earlier, what I meant was a full-time day job. As it was, I stayed in the zines and underground mags like Plan B, so it was just practicing analysing and thinking and obsession: all the things which power Phonogram.

I really consider Phonogram as music journalism in narrative form. The inspiration coming from a set band or song is at the key part of it. I mean, the last short story I wrote is just inspired by a conversation with a mate when dancing to Once In A Lifetime. Music is easy inspiration for me.

FN:  You also work as a gaming journalist.  Was working as a comic book writer something you always wanted to do, but journalism paid the bills?  Or was it just a natural extension of your work as a journalist.

KG:  I’m a bit mental. All the writing sort of forms a whole in my head. It’s all about processing reality. If you’re looking for a theme across my work, the obvious one is about humans’ subjective relationship with art. That’s always been there.

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FN:  You’ve now bridged out to work-for-hire for Marvel.  How does that differ from creating a book on your own?  And is working with some of the classic characters of comic books harder than creating your own?

KG:  Phonogram’s ludicrously hard, so almost anything is actually easier than doing it. It’s a great thing to have done first, because it steels me for even the most strenuous of tasks. Getting to play with all these splendid Marvel characters is a joy.

FN:  On Figment, our users are required to rely on their imagination to create every aspect of their fake bands, from back-story to album description and song titles. Any advice for our budding imaginary rock impresarios on how best to create an imaginary musical character?

KG:  I used to play fantasy bands a lot. You can see a bit of that in Lloyd, in the second series, who spends most of the time trying to recruit people for his post-Pipettes/Spankrock concept piece.

I’d always looked at the world of music, and see what’s missing. What combinations make sense, but don’t exist. The final time I played bands, our concept was the – still awesome, sez I – Mogwai/Wu-Tang cross. That still sounds fun. Someone do it.

FN:  Clearly music influences your work on Phonogram, but is it also an inspiration for your work for Marvel?  And if so, what bands are currently influencing you?

KG:  I tend to root around for an album to fit the mood of the piece. The Thor stuff has a certain epic melodrama heart-on-sleeve-ism to it, so I’ve dug back to the Arcade Fire’s Funeral.

Ares is this snarly, acerbic brutally smart aggression, so I dug out the Sisters of Mercy Vision Thing.

S.W.O.R.D. Is a lot of The Go! Team’s first album.

FN:  You’ve also created comics purely for the web.  How does that differ from creating a book and do you think that’s where everything is moving?

KG:  Interesting and huge question. I think it’s certainly part of the future. I also think with the web, the fetishistic power of objects become more important. People are less interested in just the thing, and more the totemic object. You start creating physical comics as art objects. Stuff like the Asterios Polyp which came out is a fantastic thing. The physicality counts. Writing for the web, you start thinking about the lack of physicality, and what that means. And I’m not giving an answer to that, because there’s so many.

FN:  Graphic design plays a big part on Figment, because it’s often the fake band’s album cover that grabs someone’s attention first.  How big a part do you play in working with Jamie on the artwork that goes into Phonogram?

KG:  We love the covers. They’re probably the single element of Phonogram which we’re most satisfied with.  We’re proud of huge chunks of it but the covers are…well, they’re the closest to actually what we want things to be.  The britpop deconstructions of the first series set the fairly dark, critical tone of the first series.  The Club-Flyer/portrait approach of the second focuses in on the importance of each lead.  And by having two totally different approaches, we’re trying to show that we’re about trying new stuff and pushing.  There’s been an increase in record-derived covers since the first Phonogram series – which some people, complimentarily, have said was due to us.  For the second, there was no way we were going to do that again.  Culture has to move forward, and covers are the first attempt to contextualise the art it contains.

FN:  Have you ever created a fake band?  If so, tell us a little about it.

KG:  All the bands I’ve been in have been pretty fake bands. I mentioned the Mogwai/Wu cross – which also did a lot of things with suits and fake-on-stage-arguments, which was meant as a critique of the lad-stuff kicking around in the 97-98 period this was happening. We were cheery wankers like that.

But I schemed up a few. That band originally started as a one-off punk band, aiming to make a 20 minute set of Nation-of-Ulysses-esque stuff, somehow blagging onto the best support I could find, doing that one gig and never doing anything ever again. Just to get it out of my system.

Actually, it was always a bit of a kick when I saw a band who broke through who seemed to basically be what I was dreaming up. It was cheery justification – and also, a quiet pleasure in knowing there’s people out there who love pop music in the same way.

FN:  What advice would you give someone who has an interest in creating comics but has never done it before?

KG:  Do it. It’s the cheapest visual medium on the planet. You go from where you’re sitting now and publishing your first web-comic in a handful of clicks. And it’s best to start as soon as possible, because the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll get good.

FN:  See any bands on Figment that would be good fodder for a comic?

KG:  Actually, Phallic Acid reminds me of the first band I was ever in. Mid-teenage punky-metal thing called Phallusy.  Yes, we were very mid-teenage.

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If you’d like to find out more about what Kieron and Jamie have planned for Phonogram check out their blog by clicking here.

TheArtDepartment

Here at Figment we have strong feelings about what exactly constitutes a fake band.  In our opinion a fake band is a band that exists merely as an idea and doesn’t actually record any music, because the minute you record music the band ceases to be fake.  Our opinion is not necessarily the consensus however, as many people classify bands like Spinal Tap, The Rutles and even Josie and The Pussycats as fake bands.

Regardless of what you think constitutes a fake band though, one thing is for sure, a lot of people create fake bands.  They may do it with friends, purely for their own enjoyment or in the case of Mingering Mike privately, only to have it come to everyone’s attention by accident.  More importantly, for many people fake bands are a creative outlet, and in some cases, maybe the only music-related one they’ll ever have.

So that brings us back to the question of what constitutes a fake band.  If creating fake bands were a way for someone to unleash their creativity and it ultimately led to the creation of a real band, would that band still be considered a fake band?  If you had asked me that question a few weeks ago I would have said no, but that was before I stumbled upon an article in the Washington City Paper about a band called The Art Department, and was immediately struck by the fact that this very “real” band had indeed started as a fake band.  The Art Department is the creation of Jonathan Ehrens a Baltimore based musician.  Although started as a fake band (by our definition that is…without music but with a back story), Jonathan used the characters he created as inspiration and wrote and recorded music he thought they might play if they were real.  In the end, the music he created for that fake band led to him to start a real version of the band that tours, records and even has living, breathing band members.

So is a fake band that makes music really a fake band?  We still say no, but we thought we’d put the question to Jonathan Ehrens to see what he had to say on the subject.

(Editor’s Note:  You can either read the conversation or click on the player to listen to it.  You can also listen to some of Jonathan’s other bands at the bottom of this post.)

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Figment News:  First of all, I kind of stumbled across your band in an article in the Washington City Paper and was absolutely fascinated.  I’ve given you a background on what Figment’s all about, and I think what I was really interested in was we’re a website about fake bands, and when we say fake there’s no music whatsoever.  It’s more the idea of a band more than anything else.

Jonathan Ehrens:  Oh okay.

FN:  But I’ve noticed you’re a fan and avid creator of fake bands, but instead of just creating the idea, you actually go to the next step and actually write and record music for them.  How and why did you decide to do this?

JE:  I guess, let’s see, I think originally it was just, I would record music by myself just because I had the ability to, I had, as a teenager, I had a 6-track recorder and this was sort of the easiest way for me to write songs or come up with ideas because I feel like, I had a high school band at the time and we would play guitar and bass and drums and like whatever came out was what we did, but by myself I had the ability to sort of conceptualize.  So it was mainly on a song-by-song basis.  So you know, like this is gonna be a stoner rock song with country vocals or that kind of thing.  Then I kind of took it further.  I wanted to do a surf album, so I kind of invented some personas for that.  Mainly afterwards for that, but yeah, just different ways of coming up with different sounds.  Like, The Art Department was one where I just felt it warranted more than just one song or two songs.  I wanted to do a whole album, so it was really easy way to come up with songs and just kind of let your self-critic go and just pretend you’re not yourself.  So I kind of just adopted some personalities for each member of the band, like I created a back story sort of just so I could get it so I could focus more on playing the music as somebody else from a different time and place then who I was.

FN:  So did it kind of help you in essence kind of flesh out what you wanted ultimately to do musically, creating that back story first?

JE:  Uh, yeah, I think especially in the instance of The Art Department, and another one that I did, Factoid of the Dustbowl, that only has like four of five songs.  But uh, it definitely helped me like just imagine the type of music, these people, and where they are, and at what time and the type of music that they would come up with.  Rather than, rather than feeling the pressure of needing to come up with something new and exciting right now, it was easy, easier to kind of come up with something that maybe was new and exciting in the past.

FN:   Okay, so I mean with The Art Department why did you decide then to make it real band by playing live?

JE:  My friends, who I had played with in another band, they really like it and wanted to play it out.  And I wanted to be in a sort of a real band I guess.  I just felt like it was really hard going around town and talking to people and they’d be like “are you in a band?”  And I’d be like “oh kind of”.  I record by myself and I have all these CDs I can give you, and it’s very vague.  People don’t really listen to CDs if you just give them to them a lot of the times, I find, they just sort of let them sit there and forget about it or they’re like reluctant.  I mean that happens to me too, and a lot of times I’m in the wrong, but when people hand me CDs my natural inclination is to think it’s not very good [laughs], but then a lot of times I’m proven wrong, but it’s sort of an instinctual thing I guess.  So I wanted to do something like, I thought it was the most different and the most accessible in a way.  So, I wanted, it’s still sort of a vehicle on the forefront of the broader, my broader musical ambitions.  It’s definitely an ear-catching kind of thing.  It’s poppy, but it’s technical, so it’s difficult to play, the songs, so it has both of those elements to it.

FN:  So when you were creating, originally when you were creating The Art Department as kind of an idea, and you were creating this kind of back story for the band, did you actually create other band members as well?

JE:  Yeah, in the original band, there were, how many were there?  I think there were 4 people in the band.  There was a girl who played drums, whose brother was the guy who played tambourine and sang in the high-pitched voice.  They were like blond in my head [FN laughs] and like younger than the other two people.  And the main guy, the main singer-songwriter guy was a quiet olive-skinned guy, with, who always wore a baseball cap when he sang and he played music on the side.  And then the bass player was a local Native American, like sort of a fat drunk guy [JE laughs], Native American guy, who just liked to have fun and just sort of stumble upon these sort of alternative music kids or whatever. Cuz I feel like, I don’t know, I mean a big part of the sound came from the Meat Puppets and they were from Arizona, and so I chose Carson City, just because I figured something similar could be going on there and maybe they like caught the Meat Puppets one time or something.

FN:  So now, I mean like when you guys now play live, do you actually kind of don those personalities or has it become something different?

JE:  No, originally it was going to be, we were going to kind of continue the lie, and pretend that we were a tribute band and that we were like these guys who found this CD, through some miracle, of a band that no one had ever heard of and we thought they were so good that we were going to imitate their sound to just like spread the gospel of how good they were [laughs].  And then eventually we just decided to drop that and just be a regular band, which is cool, I mean like it definitely opened up the sound, it wasn’t as constricted.  I don’t really think in those terms.  When I was recording the first album, I was like I was kind of like doing character, like method acting, like when I would play I would think about what would this guy play here, what kind of thing would he do, not clearly what I would do.   I like characters in terms of movies and TVs, but I can’t act and obviously making a movie is really hard, so I figured it was a good way to like get in character and play with the idea of a character.

FN:  So how would you describe The Art Department’s sound?

JE:  I always have a hard time with this.  It depends on who I’m talking to, but it’s…it’s uh…fast.  [Laughs].  I usually just kind of break it down and say I mean its really fast, and I finger pick really fast and there are really high-pitched active bass lines and punch drums.  I usually just break it down that way.  I don’t know it’s hard to fit it into a genre.  People that we play with a lot say it just sounds really like 80’s college rock.  So I guess I would say it’s that sort of thing.

FN:  On our site, basically people create fake bands, and they’re allowed to, if we don’t have a genre they would like, we allow them to create genres, so…

JE:  Yeah I did create one.  Neofolkapsychapopadelica.

FN:  There ya go!  [Laughs]  Can you say that one more time please?

JE:  Neo-folka-psycha-popadelica

FN:  Very nice, very nice.  We have Wimpadelic, we have Dorkadelic, we have Dad Metal, we have Amalgum, we have all kinds of crazy things.

JE:  There’s this one guy in Baltimore who has this guitar that he makes that is mainly springs that he hits and he calls his music Boingcore.

FN:  [laughs] I think at this point it’s kind of fun to create genres, because it’s kind of gotten, the whole genre thing has gotten so out of hand that you might as well.

JE:  Someone else will do it anyways…if you don’t do it yourself.

FN:  That is correct.  Why let the press do it for you right?

JE:  Yeah. Yeah.

FN:  So have you created other fake bands?

JE:  Yeah, I the first one I think that was ever a deliberate attempt to create a fake band was a surf band called The Hypnic Jerks.  And that was just because I wanted to make a surf album, and that I did when I was like 17.  After that, other ones were Factoid of the Dustbowl, which kinds of sounds like, I was sort of imagining people, these sort of weirdo’s in the dustbowl who like read to much and were like drinking all the time.  Kind of like sickly weirdo’s [laughs].  Playing like, I don’t know you’ll hear it; it’s kind of strange acoustic kind of stuff.  Then there’s Art Department.  The Revoltn Developments is a garage rock band.  And that one was also kind of, I really didn’t come up with up with like, I guess the bass player I kind of had a character in mind, but the rest of it, it was mainly it was just a sound.  I mean I just wanted some really loud garagey stuff.  And let’s see…there’s…give me a second, I have to remember.  [Laughs]  Sword Swallow is a noise, sort of noise, like pop-noise kind of thing, that was the only one I ever thought of as being right now or taking place at the time it was created and just sort of like somebody like me, but not me, sort of, I was in college at the time, so sort of the white college kid, but he wasn’t me.  [Laughs]  So that was Sword Swallow.    I guess I play under the name of Jonathonian W. Ehrenkranz, which is kind of my name in a weird way.  That’s like a sensitive acoustic rock kind of thing that I would never do under my own name, because it’s a lot of breakup songs and that kind of thing.  [FN Laughs]  Let’s see, I think there’s, there’s other ones…

FN:  So it sounds like you’ve created quite a few then.

JE:  Yeah, most of them I haven’t done entire albums for.

FN:  Just songs?

JE:  Yeah, I did, cuz I guess there’s almost, there’s two albums for The Art Department, so that’s obviously the most.  Then there’s like 9 songs for The Revolting Development, six or seven for The Hypnic Jerks, four or five for Factoid of the Dustbowl.  There is one that I had called The Anywhere, and that ended up, I just kind of used it under my own.  My main like solo recording thing is called Repelican, and that will be just a lot of kind of like recycled songs, like if I only had just like 2 songs by a fake band then I’ll put it under my own name or the Repelican name.  There was one band called The Anywhere that was like an 80’s power pop band but I ended up just using my own name for that one.

FN:  Okay.

JE:  Then there’s October Railroad, which is that idea I was kind of describing earlier, which was basically just, stoner, slow sludgy stoner rock, but with sweet country harmonies.

[Both laugh]

FN:  Well it certainly allows you to kind of expand your palette doesn’t it?

JE:  Yeah, I mean people always, yeah.  I mean, no one really heard a lot of this stuff until recently, because The Art Department is getting some local attention, so then some people asked me to hear more.  And they’re like “man, you sing in a lot of weird different ways, and you do a lot of different bands.”  And I don’t know I like lots of different types of music so it’s hard for me to use one.

FN:  No, that’s great.  I mean I’m kind of the same way.  I listen to a little bit of everything.  So I know how that feels.  People ask me who is your favorite band and I really can’t answer that question, because I have so many that you know

JE:  Yeah, what time of day is it?

FN:  Yeah, Exactly.  What kind of mood am I in?  Etc.

JE:  What did I just eat?

FN:  [Laughs] So now tell us about Mobile Lounge Records.  Is that…

JE:  It’s kind of defunct at this point I would say.

FN:  Oh, really?

JE:  Yeah, that was me and my friends in high school.  And at this point, I don’t really, my ex-girlfriend updated it and she hasn’t lived around here for 2 years so.

FN:  Okay.

JE:  I don’t know HTML or anything [both laugh].  So that kind of killed it.  And then the other guy, one of the other guys that I started that label with when we were I don’t know like 15 or something, he pronounced it dead online one day without asking me, like there was a MySpace page for it, and he was like “this is the end of Mobile Lounge Records” and he didn’t even ask me.  [both laugh]

FN:  Oh nice.

JE:  And he was kinda right. [both laugh]  I am thinking about starting another label, but like trying to make it like one that I can live, or try to make it like a job, it’s kind of a dream at this point, but I’m trying to do that now, but it won’t be under the Mobile Lounge name, it’ll be a clean slate, and I think the first thing we’ll release will be the new Art Department.

FN:  Okay.  And what do you do when you’re not playing in The Art Department.

JE:  I work at a radio station, that’s where I am right now.  Yeah, I’m an engineer of a talk show and I edit news pieces for Public Radio.

FN:  Very interesting.  Well tell us where can people check out more about The Art Department or some of the other artists you’ve mentioned or bands that you’ve created.

JE:  Where can they find it?

FN:  Yeah.

JE:  Well, let’s see, the new record, the master tapes have yet to be mixed, and they are being held hostage in Athens, GA, where we recorded it, by the guy who recorded it, he’s just sitting on them right now, and we want him to mix it as soon as he is willing to.  We recorded that in April and we’re still sitting around waiting on that.  So hopefully that will be, I don’t know, something people can get their hands on at least online.  The first album is pretty much out of print, but I mean if anyone wanted to send me a message on MySpace I would send them a copy.

FN:  And can people listen to some of the songs on MySpace?

JE:  Yeah, we’ve got a bunch of songs there – live songs, first album songs, and some of the newer songs.  And then, I don’t know if you look at the, on MySpace, the top friends there’s Repelican and The Revoltn Developments, those are just two of the fake bands and if you click on those then you’ll see other top friends.  It’s sort of, it’s intentionally elusive I guess.

FN:  Sure.

JE:  I don’t want to throw out, I also do this and I also do this and I don’t want to be a dick about it.

FN:  Gotcha.

JE:  So I let people discover it if they feel like it.  I’ll hand CDS to my friends, just CDRs and stuff.  I guess the main one, I mean I’m focusing on Art Department right now because they’re a real band and people seem to enjoy it.  I mean I feel like, I don’t know if I went out and played straight garage rock people wouldn’t really care, you know, as much if there was something different.

FN:  It’s certainly, I mean, one of the things that struck me immediately is that obviously we have an interest in all things fake when it comes to bands, being a site that is kind of devoted to that idea.  This is the way I’ve always thought of it also, I create fake bands myself and my friends have done it for years, and I think one of the reasons we do it is because it is a creative outlet, but you’ve in essence taken that one step further even, and that is to then apply music to it as well.  We always have a question back and forth with our users and with other people who we talk to about this about is it a fake band if you are recording music?  But I think in your case, it really is because that’s where it was born.

But getting back to The Art Department, are you planning on touring at all?

JE:  Yeah, I think we are going to tour at the end of September, just as west as Chicago or St. Louis and maybe Tennessee and North Carolina, just like west from Baltimore, down and back up.  We like to go west and south.

FN:  Are there any new fake bands that you’ve created that you’ve yet to unleash on the public?

JE:  Yeah, but this time I’m getting a little more collaborative with my fake bands.

FN:  Okay.

JE:  [laughs] So I don’t know, there’s one called Aftershave Everywhere, it’s a good band.  It’s like a blues band, its sort of Captain Beefheart sort of, but no drums, because drums are too easy.

[both laugh]

I have to keep fighting with them on that, like no man, you put drums in there it’s too easy, everyone’s already going to like it because there’s drums.  You can make it good without drums.

FN: [laughs] That’s great.  Now who makes up The Art Department?

JE:  It’s me and Mike Meno plays drums, and Jason Howe plays bass.

FN:  Okay.

JE:  That’s it.  We don’t have a tambourine really anymore.  On the record we put it still, but live it’s…we had a tambourine player, but it felt really weird having a fourth member who just shook the tambourine and also it’s really hard to do, people don’t realize it, playing a tambourine at that rate for twenty-five minutes straight or whatever.  We definitely have a live thing that we do to, that someone who likes fake bands might appreciate, cuz we don’t, like we’re deliberately anti-stage banter, we don’t pause in between songs, we don’t play longer than 20 minutes, we don’t tune even if we’re out of tune.  We just go, we get up on stage and go ch, ch, ch…and we just start playing and it’s over 20 minutes later.

FN:  So I have one last question for you and that’s, what’s better a fake band or a fake band come alive?

JE:  A fake band come alive!

[both laugh]

FN:  Well in your case I can’t agree more!

So what do you think?  Let us know by posting a comment!

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[audio:Cell_Abrasion.mp3] – Cell Abrasion “Cell Abrasion”:  A Baltimore duo, reluctant to play and perform, only recorded one song and got so depressed that they never played again.

[audio:Diana.mp3] – The Anywhere “Diana”

[audio:MFT.mp3] – The Anywhere “MFT”

road-to-woodstock-cover-image

On August 15, 2009 Woodstock turns 40!  Hard to believe isn’t it.  After all these years, the Festival’s mix of music and peaceful coexistence still resonates as strongly as it did on those three days in 1969.

On June 30th, a new book hits shelves that not only tells the story of those 3 days in Max Yasgur’s field, but also the events leading up to the Festival and the incredible amount of work, determination and just plain luck that made it one of the most famous music festivals of all time…at least thus far.  In “The Road to Woodstock”, Michael Lang, one of the four organizers of the festival, worked with Holly George-Warren to create more than just a reminiscence of the festival’s highlights, but rather a fascinating first-person account of all the trials and tribulations that went into creating those 3 legendary days of music, peace and love.

With the summer music festival season in full swing here on Figment (we just had the Merchants of Metal Festival on June 6th and the Under the Big Top Festival on June 8 – 10th) we thought it would be a good idea to talk to Michael Lang to see if this architect of Woodstock’s experiences might prove insightful and useful for our budding organizers when planning their next Festival, and thankfully he was game, no pun intended.

You can either listen to the interview [audio:Michael_Lang_interview.mp3] or read the interview

Figment:  The 40th Anniversary of Woodstock is August 15 – 18, 2009.  Why do you think 40 years later Woodstock is still such a cultural touchstone and symbol of peace and liberation?

Michael Lang:  Well, I think part of it is because when it occurred in 1969, it was so out of context.  We were in a terrible war in Vietnam, there was a lot of unrest in America, the government was very conservative and unresponsive to what certainly the counterculture was interested in, and suddenly in this huge generation gap comes this very special shining moment, when a huge peaceful community arrived.  So it was kind of like a light in the darkness, and I think that was a symbol of hope for people.  And I don’t think that has been extinguished over these 40 years.  In fact, I see a lot of the roots of what we’re doing with today having been planted in those days.

Figment:  From almost the beginning the Festival was plagued with issues – from having to move the site to a huge overflow of fans to all these different things.  How did you keep it all together and what’s it like putting something like this together?

ML:  [laughs] I had the time of my life.  I mean I love big things with lots of moving parts anyway, and it was, for me it was a dream just to be able to…to be a part of it was a dream come true.  To try and make this vision that Artie and I, Artie Kornfeld and I sort of dreamed up in his living room over the course of a few [laughs] late nights…and to have it happen in a way that we sort of aspired to in terms of how people related to each other, and kind of being able to prove that when we were in charge the world was kind of a kinder place.

Figment:  You worked with Holly George-Warren on your book.  What was the writing process like and was it fun or hard revisiting all of those memories?

ML:  You know it was very hard in the beginning.  It was hard first of all just to establish a rhythm with Holly, because I really had to make a commitment to go back there before I could really remember in a real way what went on other than all the things I’ve talking about for all of these years.  So I’d do interviews and Holly would write them up and we’d go over them, and they weren’t really resonating.  So I started to write as well, and I started to rewrite things and when I actually made the commitment to I guess to revisit that in a real way, everything sort of opened up and we got into a real nice rhythm together.  I really enjoyed it after that.  In the beginning, I was sort of completely panicked that I wouldn’t remember. [laughs]

Figment:  So is it harder writing a book or throwing Woodstock?

ML:  It was definitely [laughs], it was definitely more complicated throwing Woodstock, but I don’t know which was harder.

Figment:  Well, going back to some of things you do remember about the show, there’s a lot of legendary performances.  Was there one that was a favorite or were you too busy dealing with everything to actually take in a lot of the show?

ML:  I took in a lot, because a lot of my time was spent on the corner of the stage and my office compound was right behind the stage, so I got to experience a lot of the music.  The stage and our P.A. was kind of the lifeline for the festival anyway.  You know, I’ve thought about this a lot, the highlight, there were so many of them, the Hendrix rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, and Joe Cocker, and Crosby Still Nash and Young’s debut into the world, and Santana’s sort of amazing performance were all startling moments, but I guess you know the most, I guess the performance that had the most impact for me was Sly & The Family Stone.  That set was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.  Just the response of the audience the way that energy sort of took off from his performance was unbelievable.

Figment:  Yeah, I’m a big fan of Sly…

ML:  I’ve seen him dozens of times and I’ve never seen anything approaching this performance.

Figment:  Really?

ML:  Yeah.

Figment:  Do you think it was just brought on by the moment?

ML:  Yeah, I think he just picked up on that energy in the crowd and just threw it back.  There was this…during “I’m Gonna Take You Higher” there’s this call and response that goes on that’s like a half-million people at a gospel revival [chuckles] it’s unbelievable.

Figment:  I understand in the book you talk a little about the negotiations you had with Albert Grossman to get Dylan to play Woodstock.  What was that like and why in the end did Dylan not end up playing Woodstock?

ML:  You know it wasn’t actually with Albert, cuz Albert wasn’t managing him by then.  Albert…they had parted ways.  Dylan was one of those people I really revered most in the world.  I thought that because, he was you know so put upon by everyone as being the sort of, the leader of a movement, which he never wanted to be, from what I’d know of him, that I really didn’t want to try and make a booking effort.  But I did go to see him, and I spent an afternoon with him at his house a couple of weeks before the festival, and invited him to come thinking that might be a sort of an easier way to go where he wasn’t advertised and so there wasn’t this pressure, but he did not.  He went to the Isle of Wight a couple of weeks later, perhaps if I’d made an offer he might have come, but I think it worked out for the best anyway.  He would have been too, I think, too much of a focus for what we were doing anyway.  It’s the same reason I didn’t try to book the Stones or The Beatles, although I did try and get John Lennon.  I didn’t want it to become about any one act, I wanted, we all sort of felt that we wanted this to be about the people and about the sort of the whole family of music and musicians that were involved in the counterculture.

Figment:  Well, speaking of the counterculture, obviously here were quite a few leaders of the counterculture that were there, one being Abbie Hoffman, and I guess there’s always been a rumor and again I don’t know if any film of this exists [laughs], it’s always something I’ve, a story I’ve always heard about it.  Is it true that Pete Townshend hit Abbie over the head with his guitar when Abbie took the mic during their set?

ML:  Oh yeah, there’s no rumor about it.  I was sitting right next to Abbie when he jumped up and grabbed it.  And in fact, Barbara Kopple and I, Barbara’s a director and she and I are just finishing a documentary for VH1 that will air the weekend of the festival called “Woodstock:  Now & Then”, and while we don’t have the footage we do have the audio track of Abbie grabbing the microphone and then sort of being bonked.  I think the Who have the footage, because they got all their outtakes, and so I don’t think they’re letting it out, but it was certainly not legend it actually happened.

Figment:  Okay, and did he recover from that?

ML:  He did.  Quickly.  [Laughs]

Figment:  Thankfully…thankfully.  So I wanted to ask you too, what’s your involvement with the new website Woodstock.com?

ML:  Well, we’re in partnership with Sony Legacy on putting that together and it’s, you know, we’re still tweaking it and all, but we’re hoping it becomes a useful tool.

Figment:  And what other projects do you have coming up, beyond the book, that you’ll be doing in regards to the anniversary?

ML:  In regards to the anniversary, we’ve got a couple of things.  Something with the School of Rock, who we also shot for this documentary that we did for VH1, and possibly on the anniversary weekend with their schools around the country .  My book is coming out, I have another book which we’re doing with Genesis Publications that will be out in July.  The Ang Lee film is coming out, nothing to do with us other than it’s “Taking Woodstock” which is…about us, I guess. [Laughs]  So there’s tons of Woodstock related stuff going on all summer.  We were trying to do, and I’m still frankly holding out some hope, for an event at the end of September in New York which will tie into Climate Week and this, the meetings that are going to happen in Copenhagen a couple of months after that, which relate to you know the world, different governments policies towards global warming and the things [Figment – climate change], and climate change exactly.  It’s the follow up to Kyoto.  So we’re hoping that Woodstock becomes sort of the way to get that message out, if we can pull this together.  It’s very difficult this year to get sponsorships for these events.

Figment:  I’ll bet. I can imagine.  One other kind of legendary story, is it true that a lot of the bands on Saturday night you had to talk to them about playing longer since there was such a huge overflow of fans.

ML:  No, absolutely not.  In fact, the reverse was true.  We were running so late that we were hoping people would play shorter sets.  You know, look at when we finished.  I mean, Friday night we finished I think 2 hours late, Saturday we were 4½ hours late and Sunday we were about 12 hours late [laughs].  So the last thing we wanted were longer sets.  The only one we wanted a longer set from was Richie Havens because we couldn’t get bands ready in time to go on after him.  But after that it was a question of trying to fit everybody in.

Figment:  And is that based on, when you are talking about Richie Havens, is that based on the fact that people were having a hard time actually getting to the site?

ML:  Yeah, people were, equipment was stuck on the roads getting in and just the overwhelming congestion in the area.  We started flying equipment by helicopter, but it took awhile to get everybody organized.  We actually only started an hour late which was a miracle I thought.  [laughs]

Figment:  That is a miracle.  I’ve only been involved in some small things and I know the logistics that go into these things, and I can only imagine how crazy it must have been.

ML:  It was amazing.  We were hiring every helicopter in the state just about to get everybody in.

Figment:  Well, that leads me to my last question and then I’ll let you go.  If you had to do it all over again would you?

ML:  Of course, I had the time of my life and I think that it was a great experience for everybody who, or almost everyone who attended.

andywarholcoversbook

Andy Warhol is an artist who has certainly received his share of coverage over the years by art critics, writers, journalists, filmmakers, and even Mr. Warhol himself.  In fact, it often seems as if there wasn’t a minute of Warhol’s life that hasn’t been documented in some way.  That’s why I found the recent release of the book “Andy Warhol:  The Record Covers:  1949- 1987” so interesting.  I had no idea that Warhol had created so many covers or that he had done them throughout his entire career as an artist.  In fact, one of his first commissions was an album cover.  “Andy Warhol:  The Record Covers 1949 – 1987” is a fascinating look into Warhol’s work in this design medium, and it led me to seek out the book’s author Paul Maréchal, himself an avid Warhol cover collector.   Paul is the curator of the art collection at the Power Corporation of Canada by day, but his love of Warhol drove him to create this definitive collection of Warhol’s album cover design work and we are thrilled that he agreed to speak to us about this aspect of Warhol’s work as an artist.

Figment:  Most people are familiar with the album covers that Andy Warhol created for The Velvet Underground & Nico and The Rolling Stones, but I for one had no idea how many album covers he designed over the years he was alive.  How did you find out about the breadth of his album cover design work?

Paul Maréchal:  My collection and the book on Warhol’s record covers were born from an intuition:  if one can design revolutionary record covers such as the Velvet Underground’s peelable banana and the working zipper for the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers, it is because you certainly know a great deal about record covers. I thought that an artist who can come up with such creations must certainly have done a lot of them to demonstrate such mastery and understanding of the medium. It is the main reason why I suspected Warhol had done many more. It then became a conviction that drove my research all along the way. I already knew about those two covers of course, like most people. From as early as 1996, my goal was to write the catalogue raisonné of those records covers, a type of book or compendium listing each and every work of an artist in a field of creation (the words catalogue raisonné are also used in the English language and also refer to the same thing). The purpose of publishing a catalogue raisonné is to make people aware of the existence of a body of work by an artist, the most complete one that exists, and to have people submit you other works that are unknown and that might be added in a further edition of the book.

Figment:  Was there one cover in particular that prompted you to put together this book?

PM:  The cover that started the whole adventure (a collector’s journey and an author’s creation) was unfortunately the Paul Anka cover for the The Painter album. I say unfortunately because this cover was done from two of four existing portraits of himself Anka commissioned to Warhol in 1976 and shortly after asked Warhol to use as an album cover in exchange of a substantial fee. It is too bad I have to mention this one because, contrary to 95% of all Warhol covers, this cover was not a creation designed specifically by Warhol to be an album cover and represents what I consider to be a “recycled artwork”, i.e. a work of art that was not created for the sole purpose of a cover design but is used in that purpose or an art work used after an artist’s death for the same purpose. Warhol knew it and agreed to it so I guess it is OK. It is unfortunately not the case for most artworks reproduced on album covers in the big music business, even today. Especially in the field of classical music: Aren’t you tired of seeing reproductions of impressionist paintings on the cover of classical music albums, or even worst, a touched up photo of the artist? It is so sad and pathetic. But when I came across this cover for the Anka album flipping through the bins of a Montreal record store, it is the one that fired up my imagination and made me [see] a connection with other potential albums Warhol could have created. It could have been any other album but it was that one.

Figment:  How did Warhol first get started designing album covers?

PM:  Warhol started designing album cover as soon as he arrived in New York in 1949, fresh out of Carnegie Tech School in Pittsburgh. It is most probably the very first commercial job he landed a few weeks upon his arrival in the Big Apple. It is his friend and classmate George Klauber who introduced him to Columbia’s then-artistic-director Robert Jones who gave him an assignment for three little drawings to illustrate three different album covers (A Program of Mexican Music and Alexander Nevsky). My book reproduces those two while the third one remains unknown to this day. I can’t wait until someone comes up with the third one! It is one of my great hopes for this book is that someone somewhere knows about the third one. Even the specialists and the people at the Warhol Museum don’t know about it. And don’t forget this third one is certainly unsigned which adds to the difficulty of identifying it. Many people have submitted me with potential third ones but no luck so far.

Figment:  Do you think he viewed this work as an extension of his art or was it merely a job to pay the bills?

PM:  Designing album covers was certainly a job any graphic designer would anticipate to do in the course of his/her career at the time.  Designing album covers was done more and more since 1938 after an experiment, in that sense, convinced Columbia records executives that cover design did increase sales.  Some 11 years after, Warhol arrived in New York City.  Warhol certainly didn’t view it “as a job to pay the bills“.  When you come to think of it, designing album covers is one of the most difficult job a graphic designer could take.  It is probably the reason why I consider that at least 80% of the album cover design is so lame.  The challenge is beyond imagination: you have to suggest the musical content of an album without imposing your own vision with the image you create.  It is more about suggestion than persuasion.  It is all about letting the listener develop his/her own world from the creation you offer to the listener as an artist. To put it in a few words you literally have to draw music!  Warhol was certainly well trained at that since he did exercises such as creating an album cover while he was in school at Carnegie Tech.

Figment:  Did Warhol develop some of the elements of his style from designing album covers?  And if so, what stands out about his album cover designs’ that sets them apart from other designs of the time period?

PM:  Warhol certainly realized very early on in his career that album covers would be a fantastic vehicle of communication to attract new audiences to his art.  His art would enter the lives of classical, foreign or jazz music listeners but also those of fans of spoken words creations like radio crime drama, documentary, foreign language students etc…  My book is a witness to those very eclectic creations Warhol harnessed his skills to.  A brand new and varied audience [was exposed] to his works and an audience he wouldn’t certainly have reached in the normal course of a normal career as a graphic designer.  I think by designing album covers, Warhol strongly developed the receiver side of his personality along with his transmitter side abilities; basic communication skills.  When you consider Warhol’s oeuvre as a whole, you realize he was extremely efficient at transmitting what he had received from the society he lived in, namely the consumerism and the celebrity-obsessed society so characteristic of his and our times. You have to admit he was extremely prescient in that respect.

Another aspect one should consider in regards to his early works is the depiction of movement clearly visible in his early designs for album covers: Warhol drew hands playing musical instruments, dancers dancing, angels playing trumpet etc…, in one word: action. His early works for album covers is not static. He knew how to draw lively figures, contrary to a lot of fine arts of the times depicting static scenes such as still life and portrait of models sitting or standing still. This preoccupation for movement is certainly an indication of his involvement in cinema that would come up a few years later.

Figment:   Was Warhol drawn to music in the same way that he was drawn to other forms of pop culture?

PM:  Warhol certainly realized at some point, and very early on, that pop music would somehow translate into the fine arts as well.  Evidence of that can be found in a painting he did as early as 1956, a work he titled Rock n’ Roll.  That painting has disappeared since but we know it from a photograph that was rarely reproduced.  With Elvis and the Beatles in mind, Warhol had this intuition that culture in general was opening to a brand new youth market the same way it opened in the music field.  Music became pop so the fine arts had to become pop sooner or later, so one might think of Warhol’s understanding of his times.  Warhol musical environment was extremely present in his life: he would listen to deafening rock music while painting with the radio blasting opera AND the TV set on (but without the sound).  Warhol was listening to art while creating art.  It is very easy to see he was sort of translating all this musical presence into his own art.

Figment:  If you had to pick one album cover that you think really captures his esthetic which one would it be?

PM:  That is always a difficult question, but if I had to keep only one it would be the Kenny Burrell on Blue Note 1543 Warhol designed in 1956. The movement of the hands playing the guitar along with the low angle point of view borrowed from the photography and cinema speaks to Warhol’s future as an artist using photography and cinema extensively.  For some reason I also like the John Lennon cover for the posthumous Menlove Ave. he did in 1986.  The way the portrait is closely cropped is a sign of closeness between Warhol and Lennon.  You even feel a sort of intimacy between the artist and his model.  The choice of colors is also very sensitive: the black background and the orangey hue are very reminiscent of the countless candle lights vigils held after Lennon’s death while the pink and blue colors of Lennon’s portrait on the back cover reflect Lennon’s peace activism.

Figment:  What is the importance of album cover art in Warhol’s total body of work?

PM:  It is the most constant vehicle of creation of the artist who is considered a commercial illustrator from 1949 until 1963, a painter from 1960 until 1963 and from 1972 until 1987, a filmmaker from 1963 until 1972, but also a sculptor (the Brillo boxes for instance), a record producer, a television host, a publisher of the magazine Interview, an author of books, a show designer etc…But Warhol designed record covers from 1949 until 1987.

Figment:  I understand you are involved in helping Stéphane Aquine, the curator of contemporary art at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, develop a show around Warhol’s album covers.  What was that experience like and where can people see that exhibit?  Is your book an extension of this show?

PM:  My collaboration with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for this exhibition was an exemplary one.  First of all, I must say that I always thought that museums would not exist without collectors which is kind of an oxymoron…I like very much the idea that a museum can developed an exhibition from one collector’s collection and can actually listen to a collector and understand his collection. To recognize the importance of collectors, like the Museum does, is a good sign of humility in a sense; it acknowledges the fact that museums are not omniscient on all levels, and they don’t live in a closed world.  I was very impressed with how the Museum perfectly understood what to make of this exhibition. My collection of record covers and the book I wrote about it were just the basis or the start for this exhibition. A very enthusiastic Stéphane Aquin put together this exhibition in such a fantastic way, [that allows you] to fully explore Warhol’s creative process through music.  It is a world premiere I am very proud of and I want to congratulate the Museum for this tour de force.  Warhol specialists suspected the importance of music in Warhol’s works but surprisingly enough nothing had been done before on that subject alone, despite the countless books written on Warhol so far.  Most are just coffee table books of course. I like to think of mine as a scholarly coffee table book…but like every good idea, it seems very simple once it is done. The signs were everywhere in Warhol’s works: the portrait of musicians and signers, the Merce Cunningham and John Cage connection, the six music videos he did, the Velvet Underground album he produced and design the album cover for.  In fact, it seems that this collection of record covers created the missing link to associate all those parts together and expressed a continuous thread, in terms of the narrative, to explore Warhol’s involvement in music…and dance!  So to answer your question, no, my book was not an extension of this show but its basis in fact.  The exhibition is currently at the de Young Museum in San Francisco (they had 22,000 visitors on the opening weekend alone!) and it will open at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh on June 10.

Figment:  What do you think Warhol would think about a site devoted to creating fake bands and albums?

PM:  Warhol would be an absolute fan of the Internet and your website. Warhol was extremely into new technologies and media.  He made sure his film and video equipment were of the latest models.  Later he created with Beuys and Higashiyama the first artwork created by fax in 1985, and even went on in 1986 with the creation of the first computer generated portrait, a portrait of ex-Blondie signer Debbie Harry.  That portrait made the cover of New Musical Express newspaper edition of January 11 1986.  But to answer your question more directly, Warhol would certainly have liked the idea of a website devoted to creating fake bands and albums.  Warhol once declared that “If someone faked my art, I couldn’t identify it” (ref.:  Giant Size, Phaidon, 2006, p.166).

Figment:  Are you a music fan?  And if so, do you have any plans to do further books on the subject of album artwork or was this merely a labour of love by a big fan of Andy Warhol?

PM:  Like everyone on earth, I think, I am a music fan.  Music is part of every life. People’s tone of voice, a language, the sound of the rain falling, everything is music. Music is about rhythm.  Rhythm is even found in silence to paraphrase John Cage! Every single thing in life has a rhythm.  I learned to appreciate Warhol’s through his album covers but I also like a lot the works of other artist who did album covers.  My other favorite artist certainly is Reid Miles with whom Warhol worked on a few jazz covers. Jim Flora is also one of the best.  If I am ever to write another book on record covers it would definitely be on Reid Miles.  His creativity, his invention of creative typography carried so well the modernity found in jazz.

We’d like to thank Paul for taking the time to speak to us about his book and encourage you to check it out the book and the exhibit at either the de Young or Warhol Museums.  If you’d like to read more about how Paul put the book together I encourage you to check out this NY Times article.