Monday, April 28, 2008

Logo #238: Blood Axis

Designed in 1989 by Michael Moynihan. Blood Axis had its roots in Moynihan's earlier, noisier band Coup de Grâce (expect that big beautiful archival Vinyl-on-Demand box set any year now). He now publishes esoteric literature through his publishing house Dominion Press. I can't recall ever seeing one photograph of him in which he smiles, although doubtless he must take enjoyment in at least one or two things in this life, but I don't think I'd necessarily qualify him as a "bummer." Ever known a guy like that? He's probably really good at drawing or squash or math but you'd never know it and he's probably got a backyard filled with cash that gets donated to Our Lady of the Worthless Miracle when he dies. The cross, in a way the inverse of the circle, doesn't get as much play in terms of logo design as it probably should - people occasionally get cagey about discussing their respective Christianities, and some see overly ostentatious displays of the cross as a little like wearing your bullet pendant to a dinner at the Kennedys - but straight lines are always attractive and when they meet, it's sweet geometric love.

Logo #237: Aesthetic Meat Front

The simple sigil of the Aesthetic Meat Front was duly divined in the halcyon days of 1996 by band founder Louis Fleischauer. Fleischauer: "I designed the symbol when I first started the Aesthetic Meat Foundation. It's a bind rune meant to invoke violent change (evolution)." He currently designs fetishwear under the AMF Korsets couture line and quite honestly they're the only thing even vaguely interesting happening in that part of culture these days - vacuum beds and big rubber mummification balls notwithstanding. As with most couture, fetishwear has more than its share of cheap, pedestrian material and tatty, unimaginative fabrications - but AMF Korsets operate as a stylish and incisive comment on fashion-as-skinned-animals covering slowly rotting sacks of meat. Not that some slowly rotting sacks of meat aren't occasionally deeply attractive!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Logo #236: Death in June

You thought this was going to be logo #14 or logo #88, didn't you? Academic chickens! The totenkopf logo was designed for Death In June by band founder Douglas Pearce in 1981. Pearce (who looks a little like Dave Pearce of Flying Saucer Attack): "I designed it, as I do 99% of the artwork, and it was first used on a sleeve in 1983 - although it had been around since just after the release of "Heaven Street" in 1981 as a patch design, etc. A screw-up on the 7" sleeve of "Holy Water" in 1982 meant that the '6' was left off." When asked whether he considered the totenkopf or the whip hand more emblematic of Death in June, he replied, "Now, now David. I've answered a couple of private questions - it's not going to turn into a book!"

Suitably enough, this Day in Death:
George Joseph Herriman ("Krazy Kat"; August 22, 1880 – April 25, 1944)
George Sanders (July 3, 1906 – April 25, 1972)
Paul de Vree (November 13, 1909 - April 25, 1982)
Dexter Keith Gordon (February 27, 1923 - April 25, 1990)
Phillip "Phil" Suchomel (Naked Aggression; April 19, 1969 - April 25, 1998)
Roger Troutman (Zapp & Roger; November 29, 1951 - April 25, 1999)
Bobby "Boris" Pickett (born Robert George Pickett; February 11, 1938 – April 25, 2007)
Enrico Donati (the last Surrealist; February 19, 1909 - April 25, 2008)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Logo #235: Flotsam and Jetsam

Here's a good example of a heavy metal band mascot that many consider as such but when you actually ask the band? Not to be! Flotzilla (also known as Flossie the Sea Monster) was designed by Kevin Tyler for Flotsam and Jetsam in 1992. Kelly Smith, Flotsam and Jetsam drummer: "Flotzilla was created as part of the story of Metal Shock and Doomsday that Jason Newsted wrote on the album. It first appeared on the cover of "Doomsday for the Deceiver." It wasn't used after that because Flotzilla was about that record, and there was already a Eddie in Iron Maiden and Megadeth had Vic Rattlehead. So we decided not to follow that trend." Not to be confused with The Jetsams, a cartoon about a family of trash that washed up on a beach in a dystopian future far, far away.

Completely unrelatedly, the Song of the Moment is "Holland, 1945" by Neutral Milk Hotel

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Logo #234: Coil

Coil's symbol of chaos was originally designed by Jim Cawthorn in 1962 and appropriated by John Balance (born Geoffrey Laurence Burton, a.k.a. Geff Rushton; February 16, 1962 - November 13, 2004) and Peter Christopherson in 1987. Christopherson: "I would say (we started using it) around '87, not before. By the way, I would claim some small credit for first deriving the vaguely 'animal-skull-shaped' version of the chaosstar which occurs when you filter a normal one through a Photoshop Polar co-oordinates filter! This version was used extensively by Coil during the '80s and '90s." Perhaps no other shape since the circle has captured the imagination of modern logo design than the chaos star. SFA, Naked Aggression, Psychick TV, GWAR, Skullflower and Fire + Ice have all wielded it as an identity over the decades, and why no one's used it in a movie as a shuriken is beyond me. Talk about a system! Coil was one of the very first bands - along with Sleep Chamber, Master/Slave Relationship, Controlled Bleeding and SPK - I ever got into on my long journey into the nights and noises of experimental music, and I tend to like them on compilations and in little bits. As one focused album of songs - mmh, not so much. Highly, highly recommended: the "Gold is the Metal with the Heaviest Shoulders" and "Stolen and Contaminated Songs" albums. Your life is improved immeasurably for having heard those sounds at least once and possibly twice.

Logo #233: Megadeth

Vic Rattlehead, mascot for thrash metal band Megadeth was originally designed by Dave Mustaine in 1985 and fleshed out to his classic configuration by Edward J. Repka for the 1986 "Peace Sells… But Who's Buying?" LP and the 1990 "Rust in Peace" LP. Repka also presented Biohazard's logo the same year. Busy guy, that Ed Repka. Vic's story is that, because his mouth, ears and eyes are clamped and welded shut, he can neither speak, hear nor see any evil - which either makes him an innocent on par with Cassandra and her Complex or just a really great real estate agent. Here he is, selling the United Nations. It was really, really strange seeing Dave Mustaine in therapy with Lars Ulrich in the 2001 Metallica documentary "Some Kind of Monster." Dave's whole mindset was that Megadeth was always second to Metallica. Sentimental hogwash! He should take a cue from the attitude of Tampax: "We're not #1 - but we're up there!" Also, if any of you professional ironists want to start making t-shirts again that say things like "Prayer" instead of Slayer and "Megalife" instead of Megadeth - in the words of Lacy Underall, "Go for it!"

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Logo #232: RKL

RKL had their "Beanie Kid" designed by drummer Richard "Bomer" Manzullo and Dan Sites in 1983. Singer Jason Sears, speaking to Thrasher Magazine in 2002: “Some guy said, 'Ha, those kids will never be anything - they're just a bunch of rich kids on LSD, man.' The first party we played we didn't have a name for the band, so we put that one on the flier and it just stuck.” The Beanie Boy logo was born one night while Bomer and Jason were being tattooed. Bomer was attempting to draw a dragon tat pattern. On seeing the drawing, Jason commented, "Yeah, dude, it's Cecil! Where's Beanie?" Dan Sites was sitting alongside, drawing a flyer for a show supporting Suicidal Tendencies in Oxnard, and drew a beanie guy jumping from a building." As a band, RKL (Rich Kids on LSD) are almost as doomed as Battalion of Saints, what with how many people in the band have died. It's all the more surprising because RKL's home base of Montecito is slightly south of Santa Barbara, not the most discouraging and poverty-stricken part of the world. The rich kids are easier to find than a wet spot on prom night. Drummer Derrick Plourde (October 17, 1971 – March 30, 2005), Manzullo (July 19, 1967 - December 12, 2005), and singer Jason Sears (January 23, 1968 - January 31, 2006) have all died but the band theoretically still exists in one form or another, currently in yet another one of their increasingly frequent hiatuses.

Logo #231: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones' bulldog was drawn by Jerry Mattes, a friend of the band from Albany NY, in 1989 or 1990. The Boston ska-punk band's 1997 single "The Impression That I Get" would mark a high point in music for beer/deodorant ads and remained unsurpassed until Andrew WK's emergence on the scene with "Party Hard" in 2001 from the album "I Get Wet."

Similarly, the Password is "mensilingus."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Logo #230: Public Image Ltd.

Public Image Ltd. had their logo designed by Dennis Morris in 1978. Driving to work today, I saw that the band Lit has a logo that's a riff on this one (it was on the back of a red windbreaker, incongruously enough), so we'll be covering that one in the reasonably near future tense. From this rather illuminating interview with Morris: "F&F: Is it true you designed the PiL logo? Dennis: Yeah, I did the logo. I did the first single sleeve, the one that was in a newspaper. I did the first album sleeve, and 'Metal Box'. F&F: I was never sure who designed it. I know that John Lydon said he done it but... Dennis: [laughing] John said he designed it? F&F: Yeah. Dennis: Well, it was John's idea - you see what I mean - in terms of we had a meeting and he spoke about it and he put the idea of public image, but the idea comes from an aspirin! F&F: A pill. Dennis: Yeah, exactly the same as an aspirin. F&F: I think it' s the best band logo that's ever been designed. I think it's absolutely brilliant. Dennis: Yeah, it's very distinct." One of the greatest songs ever written about expectation and alienation is "Public Image." If no one gave a shit about you before and you find yourself in a band and cultivating a public image, having people suddenly come up and tell you how cosmically badasstic you are can be a deeply cynical prospect. Here's John Lydon and Keith Levene on Tom Snyder's show in 1980 - cynicism notwithstanding.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Logo #229: The Residents

The top-hatted eyeball was designed by Homer Flynn in 1979. Seeing as this is the image with which The Residents are most often associated, I wonder if I should include icons that are less logos than they are items with which various musicians are associated. Elton John's eyeglasses? Altern-8's face masks? Digital Underground's Groucho glasses?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Logo #228: The Press

André Schlesinger crossed hammers with laurels in 1984 and created this enduring Oi! band logo. Is the exclamation point mandatory? I guess there's no Oi Headquarters for the copy desk to call on that one. Schlesinger: "At first, around 1984, when the project was first christened The Press, the logo only consisted of the name and crossed hammers. By 1986, the laurels had been added." He now performs as maninblack and currently embraces a rather different type of Skinheadism.

This Day in Death:
Gustave Moreau (April 6, 1826 – April 18, 1898)
Ottorino Respighi (July 9, 1879 - April 18, 1936)
Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955)
Martin Hannett (Joy Division; May 31, 1948 - April 18, 1991)
Alfred Hawthorn "Benny" Hill (January 21, 1924 – April 18, 1992)
Bernard "Bernie" Edwards (Chic, Allah and the Knife Wielding Punks; October 31, 1952 – April 18, 1996)

Logo #227: Ministry

This riff on the anarchy symbol was designed for the most recent version of Ministry by the unholy troika of Jello Biafra, Al Jourgensen, and Lawton Outlaw in 2004. From my review of the Ministry live action at the House of Blues in Los Angeles on April 6 on their final tour before dissolution (so to speak), forthcoming in issue #50 of Signal to Noise, on newsstands near you: "This is another one for our idiot President!" Jourgensen cries. "It's called "No "W"!" He hangs from the chain-link, his voice become a long and plaintive shriek, the kind reserved only for those who fall from great heights. They're one of the most rhythmically gifted groups in all of pop music, even if they did admit to stealing ZZ Top's beats here and there, and myopia notwithstanding, it's extortionately difficult to believe that Al Jourgensen would give all this up. Rumor has it that he plans another Lard album, and possibly more Revolting Cocks albums. The disorientation that the lights bring is such that if one closes one's eyes, a whole other kind of dreaming happens. And yet one of the problems with this kind of rapid-fire depiction of disaster and calamity, playing out across the screen behind them as it does, is that it presents the impression that this is a constant, linear world of misfortune, all the time and at once everywhere. In reality, like the joke by Steven Wright about the place that's open 24 hours, these things do happen – just not in a row. There is an inherent loneliness to catastrophe that is difficult and undesirable to grasp. A tree falls in the forest. There's no one to hear it. That's rather the point, actually. " Conversely, "Die hard with a heart made of stone / you'll never see me 'cos I'm always alone" is one of the most brilliant stanzas ever written.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Logo #226: Negative FX

Singer Jack "Choke" Kelly designed the Negative FX sigil, a take on hardcore's HxC icon, in 1982 for the Boston hardcore band's Taang album. Here they are, doing "Might Makes Right." Their legacy - in these days of cultural necrophilia - is an impressive one; they played five shows in their short lifetime but their impact lies somewhere between that of fruit flies and flash fires. Sometimes one LP is all you need. They turned into Last Rights. Really, sometimes one LP is all you need!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Logo #225: The Queers

Drawn by longtime Pictograms reader Christopher Appelgren in 1998. Appelgren: "I did Green Day's "Kerplunk" album artwork including the smiling flower logo and the insert art for their first album "39/Smooth." I didn't do the electrocuted man but that seems to be a wholesale version of a warning sign from England. One of the greatest band logos of all time is the SOUP unhappy face, designed by Richie Bucher, who also created the art for Green Day's "Dookie" album, among others. Have you seen it? Also, Jesse Michaels' Filth, and the Operation Ivy "skanking guy" logo is memorable. I designed the Queers logo and album art for all of their Lookout! releases except one. I also created logos/album art for The Donnas, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Green Day and a number of others, including my bands The PeeChees and The Pattern."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Logo #224: Skinny Puppy

Jim Cummins designed the logo for the cover of the the band's "Too Dark Park" LP in 1990. It's another simple, stylish icon that looks great airbrushed on the back of a leather jacket. Combining the best of performance art - shock, and possibly some spinach mixed with some mysterious dark viscous material - Skinny Puppy probably got more people aware of animal rights and veganism than most any other alternative band through the '80s and '90s. Well, short of Morrissey, maybe. Then member Dwayne Goettel (February 1, 1964 - August 23, 1995) died and things got kind of blah from there on out. This was the scene as recorded by this reporter at the Skinny Puppy live action in Los Angeles on July 3, 2004: "Oilfield fires and airplane graveyards from the film "Baraka" appear alongside fog and lasers as war-torn bodies of children inspire a battle between heart and mind where ultimately neither wins. Skinny Puppy's ohGr emerges, beaked beast costumed in tatters, his voice sliced and excoriated on delivery - but after all these years offstage, it's a bit like what Keith Richards remarked to John Fogerty: He'd better start playing Creedence songs lest everyone think Ike Turner wrote "Proud Mary." The vitriol of "VX Gas Attack" and "Pro-Test" filtered out with the gasps of the effects machines misting the audience with vapor and sonic assaults; cEvin Key on keys as the synth tones rebounded off the resounding pounding Justin Bennett gave the drums. Klieg lights flood the audience as ohGr's image is incorporated in CGI visuals (courtesy of Travis Baumann and William Morrison) of rebirth and fire simulcast behind him. Drenched and drenching the front rows with some kind of reddish bodily fluid (possibly hematospermia), oGhr holds a gas mask like a stereoscope, cocooning the stage in police "Do Not Cross" tape, his paroxysmal moves shimmering in the black light. Yet repetition of images without context is such that, were you a neocon who liked industrial music and the war in Iraq…two tickets, please! In much the same way that news of "mad cow" disease increased hamburger consumption, the brain-melting cavalcade of crucifixes / W. / flags / Osama / swastikas / Hitler / war-wounded unveils a double standard: Though the artist alleges that certain symbols no longer hold relevance in modern society, he fetishizes those symbols as intensely as a cargo cult operating a ham radio unit made entirely of bamboo."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Logo #223: Emerson Lake and Palmer

Emerson Lake & Palmer's stylised skull was designed by H.R. "Don't Call Me Guy-ger" Giger in 1973 for the "Brain Salad Surgery" LP. The thing about Giger's work is that although it's sexual and perverse and doomed, there's a very empty aspect to it. A lot of space in those paintings - and in space, no one can hear you scream "It's Gee-ger!" Most of Giger's work looks like it was set up aeons ago and then abandoned and we're only now catching up.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Logo #222: Crass

Designed by Dave King in 1978. It's a take on the Ouroboros myth with the extra added insight of being critical of Christianity and/or the military. Poor snake wants a tail for a snake but Christ says no!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Logo #221: The Meatmen

These and other cartoon images of the band were drawn by Brian Pollack in 1983 through the majority of the band's history. "Crippled Children Suck" and all that. Not to be confused with another cartoon Meatmen, so if you're looking for that, likely you're in the wrong place!

Why so silent these past couple of weeks, boss? Well, I'm currently musing over an image dump on which you, too, can include pitchers of your tattoos of band logos. Also, I've written a largish article about rock band logos for a publication this summer. It may or may not happen. You know how these sorts of things are. Updates as they reach me, of course.