Being a death metal illustration artist based in the United States, how well known are you becoming to death metal communities locally and across the country? How long has it taken you to get this far?
Honestly, besides a band like Markradonn, I am not sure that I am really known as an artist in the United States; that began as the result of writing a review for them in Blackened Horde Zine. I believe writing reviews for Altara at Blackened Horde increased my visibility as an artist but mostly as a reviewer. The cover that I did for Otto Kinzel and Operation: Underground may be the only US cover I have done, that I can think of right now and that was because of Haniel Markradonn. Due to my presence on Facebook, (I accept all friend requests, and love likes on my art page) most of my commissions have come from places like India, Indonesia and places in South America. California, where I live, has a very negative attitude towards all kinds of Metal. There are fans here, but small and dispersed. If I want to buy albums without using the Internet, I have to drive 100 miles to San Francisco on Haight Street to get anything worth listening to. I was not one of those kids that loved to draw. Most artists talk about how they have been drawing since they were four years old. There was no encouragement for me to pursue anything. I began drawing in college, with no idea what the fuck I was doing, still don't, and was asked to make posters for people in the theater department. That really sucked, so I really don't count that. My art career really began when a kind lady who owned an art gallery saw me sketching and she said she had a show I would fit into and I should bring her some work. So I spent a month teaching myself to paint, literally and gave her three finished pieces that were total Coop rip offs. She was expecting drawings, I misunderstood her, but it was fine. Sorry this is a long winded way to tell you how long it has taken me. October 2008 was the beginning, and it would have died altogether had it not been for Skinner Davis. Art of Skinner.com, so all can blame him, ha ha. Getting to be around a well-known and professional artist that is that prolific changed everything for me about art. Before that I had only been around people (no offense to anyone) who only talked about what they were going to do. After realizing that gallery shows weren't for me, and some movie posters that I did for film makers here in town I quit. Literally the art that was used, which were sketches not reflecting my work, were not supposed to be used. They were put up and I was so humiliated I quit. When I discovered Chris Moyen Thorncross, I realized what I wanted to as an artist and have been trying to build this business ever since. As a side note, I have gotten commissions from people who have not seen my work first, weird I know, word of mouth is important.
It seems as if stores where you can find underground music are few and far between in California these days. How many more of these stores existed previously?
The end of Tower Records I hear was the beginning of the end. They like many stores had begun to buy back and sell used products to stay afloat. Unfortunately when you discount and coupon everything you devalue the products. In my mind it creates a negative attitude with customers about the intrinsic value and worth of a product. I guess there used to be a wide variety of used stores here in Northern California at one point. The Bay Area has two major independent stores, Amoeba Records and Rasputin's. Amoeba on Haight St. is usually a gold mine for what I buy. Berkley used to have a great swap meet, and it still may have. I have plans to travel down to L.A. to go to Dark Realm, just to buy albums. I have never been there but it seems as if that would make an excellent pilgrimage. I would mention the name of the one franchise we have here, but they are so horrendous to the customers, their consistent barbarism does not warrant free press. That is a real problem with underground/independent record stores I have found, many not all or most, have employees that take elitist "hipster" attitudes towards the customers’ knowledge and that "intellectual terrorism" makes it easier for more sensitive introverted people like me to want to buy online. But I do not download, to be specific, iTunes, I do from private artists and smaller record companies. I could waste an entire life savings at Hells Headbangers.
How would you describe Amoeba Records and Rasputin’s to people who haven’t frequented either of those stores? What have you heard about Dark Realm Records from anyone you know who has purchased stuff there? What rarities are you searching for, from retail stores to internet labels?
The Amoeba on Haight Street is like a giant warehouse with rows filled with racks of music. While the one up here is a little different, if anyone has watched the documentary on Lemmy Kilmister, he goes to Amoeba in LA to get his mono recordings of the Beatles Box Set. The Amoeba on Telegraph in Berkeley is less exciting and in my past experiences and has way less to offer the metal fan. Rasputins on Haight has a lot of metal albums and the record store itself feels more like an old independent video store. I am pretty narrow in my focus, I go to the albums. I see the era of CDs as a dark time for music. I never liked them. The convenience was great but the sound was never alive the way an album is. Even cassettes were better.
I do not know anyone personally that has been to Dark Realm. I read about them online. I believe it is owned by members of Sadistic Intent. The people who shop there have posted some pretty impressive reviews. The pictures look cool. They also have an Ebay store and have listed some pretty cool material.
Your third question here, wow, that is hard. That could be a book answering that question. I one time spent two solid days shopping on Nuclear War Now and Hells Headbangers. While it is awesome to find stuff online and get it in the mail, nothing beats walking into a store and buying something I don't have from say Nunslaughter. Last time I went to the bay, I spent, well let’s just say a lot, but I bought albums with bands like Demonomancy, Infernal Execrator, Satanic Blood Spraying, Sathanas, Pseudogod, Morbosidad, Impiety, Crucifier and I could go on and on. I will say, that I have and do buy stuff I have not heard based on the art work on the cover. I have done so with Mark Riddick and Chris Moyen’s work especially. Another great one to look for is art done by Sickness 666. Total bad ass!
We had a mom and pop store here in Long Island, New York known as Slipped Disc that existed from the early 80s to the late 2000s. On a Youtube clip (http://youtu.be/Qfos6l1iedA) the owner said there will always be a need for such stores as opposed to buying material online. What are your thoughts on the subject?
This could be a can of worms opened so I will try and not digress too much. We saw what happened to Borders Books and people wait for the same thing to happen with Barnes and Noble. The problem is businesses have to grow, change and offer more and new things to get people in. Ryan Dunn has that metal documentary series and I believe it was stated that thrash metal died because it had no more to offer, it couldn't change. Well that is an American standard, it is not true in other countries. Thrash is probably more alive in many ways, old and new than ever before. I don't want to promote torrent sites, but if you look at Rockbox and Metal Tracker, you spend months pouring over the vastness of bands. If you love it, if you download it, buy it. Or as many as you can afford.
Here is the hard part, there is nothing more exciting than finding something new or cool when you walk into a store. But I live in California, and while there are many who would want my blood for saying this, California is the most conflicted state you could possibly imagine. What we have here are wealthy communists. Oxymoronic I know. People are always pontificating about what you should not do, eat or own. There is a real attitude against owning things, and especially a lot. But if you were to look at Google Traffic what you would see is very large single passenger occupants of very large vehicles racing towards red lights and sitting at green lights. There is this hypocrisy out here that it is ok if I have all I want but other people should really restrict their buying, they should recycle. Santa Cruz California is a perfect example, a town with a lot of wealthy people where business owners promote communism in their stores. Why is this important to the answer, it does come to bare. It is the excuse for illegal downloading. Here is the other hypocrisy, I know many artists, that want to sell their wares, but they want to download everything for free. So they can make money but no one else can. That is bullshit. Somehow if it is free it is less like being a "consumer". But then how do the people who make things you like survive? Mom and Pop stores cannot exist when everyone is stealing music. It is ironic in the age of downloading, the people who are against corporate greed are killing industries in "protest" , but indulging their own greed buy downloading terabytes of other peoples work for free. Sorry for the diatribe.
US thrash died because bands became more melodic for bigger fanbases or more revenue, but it led to the end of their careers, at least until the 90s. Aside from this, what do you think of the confrontation between Metallica and Napster from around that time?
It is weird how we put things in perspective. When I was much younger I thought that bands and people that were famous were sort of ordained from on high to be these idols or monoliths in our lives. That only certain people were good enough to be Celebrities and Rock Stars. You get older and more informed and that changes. I look back at all the music and bands that I like and I realize that not every song is awesome, not even every album. Then you realize it takes a lot work. Often times the best music comes from people’s most difficult trials in life. There is a strange opinion in America that white people cannot be poor, I mean really poor but if you go back and watch documentaries about the thrash bands and how they came about these guys, did not come from money, they were living solely of the generosity of others. I cannot blame them for getting more commercial. I mean if you had nothing and then suddenly you had money, I think anyone would swing for the fences anyway they can to survive and to continue doing what they love. The public and the media's created perception ultimately decides. The media in conjunction with the public is like the reign of terror without the guillotines. While the advent of Nirvana and grunge was the nail in a lot of coffins. Shareware, which was inevitable in my opinion, is more like a huge obstacle for making a living as musicians and even film makers. I am not a huge Ayn Rand fan, but she would see this period as a time for smart people to make money. During times of financial collapse there have always been people who knew how to make a buck and turn a profit more than ever before. Other than touring and merch bands didn't seem to evolve financially to the climate of times to survive until the fad passed and re-emerge until much more recently where 80's and 90's bands are seeing some revival. It sucks that some are seen as just a novelty. Metallica was so huge they had a platform to take a stand against Napster and shareware, but the people were not going to have it. People got tired of shelling out hard earned money for an album with just one good song. The record companies really did take advantage of people in turning out endless products. Now you could just get the songs you wanted and not pay for it. It was the same thing comics did, they knew people believed in collectability. That it would be a long time before people caught on that making tons of copies with different covers would ensure a comic had no value. They basically sold junk bonds I guess. Then again for a company this comes down to survival. Shareware, torrents, is sort of an equalizer. People who don't have money to buy everything they want, can get a ton of stuff for free, maybe somehow empowering themselves on the one hand and then not knowing when to be ethical and stop to realize all the harm they are doing as well. Something free has no value, and I think that contributes to consumers’ attitudes towards an item’s purpose and necessity. Discounts is another thing, people don't want to feel ripped off, so if it is discounted they are somehow in on a deal and they can feel good. They are still suckers, they price things higher, then put them on sale or give you a coupon as a selling ploy. For whatever the reason, I feel as if the revolutions of music and change have really stopped. Musically we are truly in the postmodern world, and being as such will now just see re-imaginings. I still think there are still great Thrash Records to be made. Better to make them than not.
Metallica clearly made it on their own terms (though if not for Venom and Motorhead thrash might not have happened as it did), and there are still good thrash albums being made today, even though their impact on music is not exactly the same. But as much as mom and pop stores, do you think there will always be a need for music that shatters complacency?
That is a scary fucking question. That is kind of like asking me to be Alvin Toffler. I think the next hundred years of human history, if we make it, will literally be an absolute time of tyrannical change or our own path to ruin. Many parts of the world outside of the US enjoy Metal, Heavier Music and diversity and for some are just getting it for the first time because of the internet. America has a culture that is changing demographically fast. The identity of America is not white bread any longer. While I believe that some of the greatest and largest groups of Metal fans are Latin, it is not part of their popular culture here in the United States. If this changes and the Metal from South America and Mexico takes hold with younger Hispanic audiences in America, you may see a revival the way it supposedly was for kids in the 80's during the PMRC era. I am just suggesting this as a possibility. What I see here in California is people just wanting Rap, but the club music hip hop, not hardcore stuff. Music does not seem to be an act of defiance anymore but more of a way to conform. The way men do with talking about sports. While I am talking about conformity you can include the fact that people today want the government to do everything for them. They see a bleak future with no way to make a living. There has never ever been a time in history when a people dependent on their leadership fared well. So the end result to this question is that as dependence grows so will censorship. It is inevitable. People will not want stand on their own two feet until that is totally taken away. In the past people will fight to get their rights back, but now we are a place where we are monitored by our computers, other peoples cell phones who are being cowardly narcs, and a media that will hang you out to dry if they can frame the story well enough. You cannot expect a cuckolded generation to want anything groundbreaking. They want safety and they will get it, with a price tag no one will want to pay. How this all applies to the question is I believe the rest of the world is going to be forced into the same position globally to come up to speed and long story short we may not get the opportunity to see if the return a great new music will happen. This is the Post Modern era and all that implies, I guess people will just have to dig back thirty years for every generation and rehash the past to spoon feed it to the youth. Sorry I cannot be more positive on the subject. Post Modernism sucks but is a reality.
It is true that times change, interests change and reality is always changing. White bread society hated rock and roll in the 50s because it incorporated music from other cultures. Considering that big business is white bread exploiting those same cultures, and black music helped influence metal (blues) and punk/hardcore (ska, reggae), extreme music will likely not fade but transform into another entity. As you said there is a strong metal lifestyle in Latin countries; not only that but bands the world over are incorporating their cultural roots into metal, branching out into new directions all the time. Bad Brains and Skindred add reggae and dancehall into the formula.
I just figure that there are many factors to weigh in on concerning the future, many are quite positive but there are unknown factors. I never ever want to hear metal and reggae together. Ever. Or Swing. I have immense faith in the cultures and countries that still embrace Metal. But the reggae, dancehall elements just prove my point about Post Modernism and the future of all art forms. It is an ideology that prescribes a death sentence to new creative forms. In mentioning the blues, you bring up an excellent point about the power of music and unfortunately a sad element in its creation. I mentioned about the poverty of a lot of thrash bands. I know some were middle class kids. But blues singers, those guys had pain. The great ones, you can hear the suffering in their voices. There was a heart and soul poured into these amazing raw recordings. It also stemmed from playing along with the rhythm of the trains passing by. The click clack of the trains moving parts. You don't believe me, listen to the song Johnny B Goode. Why I think that is important is, the elements of culture and the life of the musicians are the heart of the music. If a singer can deliver that soul in any genre, and a band can create that message in tone and rhythm all music has a future.
How many bands have you reviewed for Blackened Horde zine? Are you reviewing for them currently?
I am still currently reviewing for Blackened Horde/Crimson Moon. I get honored with great free music and get hear about bands often I couldn't hear about any other way. If I really love them, I will buy a hard copy if I can find it. I prefer albums always over CD's. That is just me. I have posted all of my reviews on Twitter, I know I have done well over a hundred reviews for sure, and probably on my way to 150. I particularly love getting music from other countries and in other languages. Music that is not performed in English can very often have a whole other feel and rhythm. That is why I am never disappointed by underground bands from Mexico and South America.
What is your opinion of Blackened Horde/Crimson Moon as a zine? What does it have to offer? Is it a publication you would recommend to the readers?
I really like what Altara is doing. She loves music. I know many of the reviewers have different styles and in reading many of the new reviews I think there is a more concise approach by fans of music here. There are some reviewers that can write pages about a CD and describe things that I cannot. I know an arpeggio when I hear it and tremolo picking but much of the technical is a mystery to me. Vocals are the most important to me; if the vocalist is communicating more than just singing the lyrics. But as a fan I get to tell you the impact of the work of the artists on me. Without this venue I would have never heard of Bukowski Family, and may have even overlooked them based on the name. But in reviewing them they got 10 out of 10. The magazines in the store are ok; they still boost the bands with the sales in touring. But if you are a fan you know some of the best music never gets promoted. You have to do the leg work. Sites like Blackened Horde are one of many great resources. I hope that if someone reads my review and likes what I say they will immediately go to Youtube and check the band out. The greatest thrill for me is when I get blurbed by the band on their site. A really great band in Italy called Darkened put part of my review and the rating on their site and it just blew me away. Altara always tells me when the band appreciates the review and that in itself is a reward. So yes, I believe everyone who loves metal should go to her site. I wanna get a little political, for a second, Metal has a lot of voices, but when people who have a real voice in the metal community blatantly show disgust for one form of music, it is damaging in that creates animosity. I love all kinds of metal, not everyone has to. But Eddie Trunk showed disgust for Death Metal. And Scott Ian kind of corrected him. Still, it is his show, his opinion, but c'mon, they have a real voice. Much bigger than the one I have. Those guys bag on anyone who has a criticism. But Death Metal is my favorite and now I cannot even turn on VH1 at all for fear I will see that douche in an ad.
You stated you met Otto Kinzel through Haniel of Markradonn. Did Haniel send him any samples of your work or did you personally send samples to Otto? Was the cover art you did for Operation: Underground chosen from your art that existed already or did you design something specifically for him?
Honestly I think the pieces that I did for Otto Kinzel and Bluntface Records was purely from the recommendation of Haniel. I sent Otto two ideas, and right off the bat he picked one, which is a joy when you do not have to draw twenty or thirty ideas only to have the band go back to the first idea. Otto is a real gentleman and professional. I did however, because I wanted to give him something special, revise the drawing around twenty times. Some of that process is posted on my art page on Facebook, Alaric Hannibal Barca, I know a shameless plug. I have been asked by people who commission work from me to give them something pre-existing, I prefer everyone gets something brand new. Realistically if the band or band member has a vision and can communicate what they want I can get someone a piece of new art relatively quick. A day if I have to, depending on size, a week at the most depending on sketch approval.
Revising your piece for Otto twenty times sounds like a painstaking process. After that many revisions did the piece finally come out the way you envisioned it? What did Otto think of the resulting artwork?
The artist that I am, I only see what I consider flaws. I do have to wait for some validation from others. But at the time I finished the cover, it was my second favorite piece I had ever done. He used the piece, he thanked me for it. I definitely block out compliments, the validation comes from people coming back and asking for more work. The strange thing about the process for me is that the image takes shape on its own. I have been told some artists see the basic idea and then draw it. I have to flesh things out. I also never work from reference. I don't know how people look at something and draw it. I guess it is sort of a different set of muscles so to speak that need to be developed. The original piece that Otto picked of the two sketches was unrealized. He was into the idea of using decapitated heads, and in the beginning there were just two on pikes. At the end of it there were six heads and two skulls and upside down crosses. I had tried to create a new demon for him but in the end used my own devil style, that was inspired some by Spawn and the head inspired by the Devil in Haxan.
What aspects of Spawn and Haxan’s devil helped inspire the piece you designed for Otto? Has he approached you for more pieces since you designed it for him?
With the reference to Spawn, I mean the muscles, and to a degree how I approach shading and cross hatching and such. That is not to say that I can ink like that. Outside of Death Metal Art, my favorite art is the collaboration between Greg Capullo and Todd McFarlane, before they color it. Todd's inking of Greg's work to me is masterful. While I used different horns than the Haxan Devil I gave him the high bat ears sticking straight up. So no rip offs just inspiration. Otto has emailed me some since then about various things but he has not commissioned any new work. But Operation Underground is really recent. He has people knocking on his Facebook door wanting to do work for him.
How many other science fiction or horror movies helped you think of ideas to develop in your work?
Honestly, while I used to love watching movies, I have never drawn inspiration from them directly. I suppose that the way they are influential would be that I would love to come up with some characters that I myself found as appealing as Darth Maul or if I could come up with an original demonic visage the way Clive Barker did with Pinhead. I have no desire to draw other people’s characters or work. Even the Haxan thing is real loose in inspiration, no one is gonna sue me over it. Ha ha. Music is and has always been my main source of inspiration. I would just prefer to listen to old Mercyful Fate on repeat. While I see people online bag on Ghost, I love Ghost. Lyrically they really put me in a creative state of mind. I saw them live and the atmosphere was palpable.
Describe your working relationships with Skinner Davis and Chris Moyen Thorncross and how they assisted you in becoming noticed for your work.
I hope that I did not make it sound as if I worked with Chris Moyen, WOW, that would blow my mind to do a collaboration with him or Mark Riddick. I was inspired by his style and subject matter. It was that step that I needed to go from being a painter to pen and ink illustrator. The reason having a friendship with Skinner was important for me as an artist was that I saw firsthand what it was like to actually do illustration as a successful business. It is more than impressive to see that kind commitment and work ethic he has and his ability come up with and create that volume of work. I’m sure before I probably had a lot of ideas about art that only amounted to pipe dreams. Before Skinner moved away he was a one man force for encouraging artists here and would get them shows and include them wherever he could. I am sure he still does.
How do you think a collaboration with Skinner or Mark Riddick would turn out? Describe what you have seen of Riddick’s artwork. I know he does album covers and whatnot for bands. How would you rate him?
Mark Riddick and Vince Locke from Cannibal Corpse fame did a collaboration that was beautiful. I am an artist, that cannot put my art in perspective with other artists, especially ones that I admire greatly. It is not humility, but I put those images that I love on a pedestal. If I did a collaboration with Mark Riddick I would be so intimidated, I would not be able to look at my own art next to his. Like many people who paint you should just know you will never ever be Frazetta. No one has come close even when it is an attempt at a genuine copy. Because of comics, I have a style that is different in some ways, because I deal more with muscle, and that is me working out my own issues with power the same way using the Goat is. This is not a negative, but I do not think at this point Skinner would do a collaboration with me. It would be total yin yang though if we did. He is a true competitor, and accomplished at it. He kicked my ass up side and down at air hockey one time. My motivation is not competitive, purely introspective, the way Joe Coleman is with his art. I own Mark Riddick's book Death Metal Illustration. He has been at it since 1991. I have some of his band’s CDs and a lot of albums with covers that he has done. He sent me an original illustration when I bought his book. I have it framed in my studio. He is the master of zombies and dripping viscera. If I had to describe his work as an artist he is a God, totally, without question. But I feel that way about him, Putrid Matt Carr, Chris Moyen, Toshihiro Egawa, Vince Locke, Sickness 666. For me it all about the GOAT!
Who is Joel Coleman and where can people view his artwork? How do you relate to his creations as an artist?
Ha Ha, Joe Coleman is a bad mother fucker! You can google the shit out of this dude and click images. He has several books, which I personally own. So people can come over and look at them if they want. Ha Ha. He is a New Yorker, but has gallery shows all over the world. He makes paintings about brutal sick psychotic people. He takes the parts of the stories that he identifies with and includes them in the paintings with minute details. It takes him months. He calls his process internal digging. Because he uses the act of creation to reveal things to himself. There are some artists that love all subjects they want to paint and draw it all. Some though have more narrow muses. I think that I fall into that category. I have tried to explore multiple subjects, and it makes it hard as hell to do commissions that have nothing to do with my interests. I am very aware of my muses, why they are what they are and I would not want to exorcise them if I could. There is art that will stand alone when put next to more conventional fare. While that may sound as if I am going against my notions of post modernism, it really isn't. The uniqueness comes from the interpretation of the individual, and that is why anyone who wants to give it a go should. You never know what my happen, what you may change in the process. Art has its conformists. The fine art crowd is condescending and repetitive, demanding tyrants that will have it all rehashed over and over as long as they think it is pretty. If anyone say Americas Next Great Artist, that will really clue you into how pretentious that scene is and how vapid art critics can be.
Internal digging sounds like an interesting way to interpret art. Do you think conformity in art makes those artists who are following their own vision stand out more, and be remembered longer (if you consider Picasso and others as original as him).
The short answer is people, and often time academics (which I loathe as a college graduate) decide. Sometimes the wealthy elite class plays a huge role in it by spending ridiculous amounts of money. But art, no matter what is propaganda. You just have to hope the perfect storm of circumstances comes along and creates a legacy for your work. There is an epidemic of cute art in the world right now, and it sells, it can be placed and marketed on anything. I have no problem with that, it gives people an opportunity to excel and make a living. Clive Barker once said that "time is kind to generic work". Whenever you have an abundance of a particular form of work, there will always be a few pieces of art that stick, that stay in the cultural diaspora and continue on beyond their creators. I do not know how to address the Picasso thing directly. I have a story though, about perception. I went to see Todd Schorr's work in San Jose, and it was an amazing installation. His work goes way beyond eye candy, and is cute but with a dark side to our culture. There was an old woman with her daughter pontificating and being pretentious as hell about art and Todd's work. Here is the irony: she was blathering about history in art and how the pieces had no real meaning while standing in from of a piece with Walt Disney and Salvador Dali in it. What a collaboration.
From the album covers and assorted artwork you have seen by Mark Riddick, which have most stood out to you?
While he is the zombie king, I am all about the goat. So his Baphomet work first and foremost. Like Chris Moyen as well who is also all about the goat. There is one where a girl is sucking the crucified saviors cock, and it is enormous is definitely one of my favorites. He is great at pictures of torturing Christ. I love how he doesn't kowtow to convention and try to make his girls comic book sexy. They are dirty and vile. Because of what happened to Brian DePalma I want to clarify for those who jump to conclusions. That is not a way of saying I or anyone is a misogynist. If a woman in art is portrayed as bad, which they can be, it is honest, it IS NOT A REFLECTION UPON ALL WOMEN. It is total bullshit when people do that and it is so common to try to make villains.
It is a misconception that art in metal is degrading to women although women appreciate it and understand it’s not intended to be degrading or disrespectful to them. Art imitates life so they say, and violence is prevalent in society. Your thoughts?
This question would require volumes to answer. Why did Cain kill Abel? Regardless of the opinions of doctors, shrinks or pseudo-intellectual terrorists, I think it all comes down to perception. Humans have an incredible and powerful sense of survival. What threatens it can cause violence. Men have a terrible burden to be sexually viable. Everything we do is about being virile. Imagine living in a culture that had a vast preponderance of men, say a billion, but hatred towards women, and prizing only their virginity. You have a whole bunch of angry men needing to get laid that direct the energy into violence. OK, that is glib. It is easy to blame a gun. Harder to blame people because they have reasons, and many ways to be perceived. That gets difficult. There are Death Metal bands that sing a great deal about violence towards women. Honestly I would think that most of that is because they don't get the attention from women that they want. A woman with a glance can make a man feel like a God, or she can destroy him with just a single flash of disinterest or completely ignoring you. I doubt we as men consider often enough what they may be feeling at the moment. We just want them to want us all the time. Poverty also is a great motivator for all kinds of violence in many areas. Whether it makes you become a soldier and go to war because there are no jobs, or you rob a convenience store and it goes wrong. At the end of the day I go with personal perception in relation to our desires.
What does the goat imagery mean to you, and why do you resonate with it so strongly?
This gets really personal. I am going to try and stay on the surface. Paradox is one word that comes to mind. It begins with the concept of an all-powerful god. Which by its very nature contradicts itself. To be ALL powerful you must be able to do anything. ANYTHING. If you can do anything you can destroy yourself. If you can destroy yourself, you can be destroyed and cease to be all powerful. Two concepts that contradict each other. The apostle Paul said, although speaking I am sure of his own writing, because at the time Constantine had not commissioned the Council of Nicaea, that if any part of this is found to be untrue, then it is all untrue. I will regret saying this because there are a million clichés from people that are not true about how the bible contradicts itself. People who know nothing about it pass on ill-informed notions constantly. One major concept in the Bible is erroneous and unravels the whole Christian view. Based on what the bible says, Adam and Eve, also Lucifer cannot in any way shape or form be responsible for sin. Why? Because God tells you over and over, he is outside of time, he knows the future in every detail. The Bible says that before the foundations of the earth were made, God knew us, each and every one. He knows who will be saved and who will not. He could create any future and any destiny. He could have created, in all his power, ANY paradigm for man that he wanted but he chose to create one where they were able to sin and he knew they would. A created being, even Lucifer, therefore created to do this with foreknowledge cannot be responsible for acts only a creator could make possible. If something that is so erroneous is the basis for all the murder and killing, up until the age where Communism beat their death toll in a fraction of the time, why should I not adopt the chosen symbol of defiance against their tyranny. Ironically they created it. The Catholics fearing the Templar Knights power claimed they we in league with Satan to turn favor against them and that they worshipped a statue of a goat Baphomet. This is just one small reason. I live in an area where churches try and shut down businesses under the guise of religion but for their own personal gain. They have huge fences and guards. Books like guns are not dangerous; people give them power and bad ideas follow.
So how do you choose to express your views on religion through your artwork, having considered the ideas you thought up from studying the Bible?
How do I answer this without coming off like a villain? When I portray violence in my art, most often decapitated heads, I choose to think of it as the death of ideology and ideas. Sanctimonious? If there are babies, just like Butchered At Birth, I choose to look at it as the death of innocence. So I am in that respect dealing with metaphor. Ideas are powerful, or to quote V, ideas are bulletproof to the individual. I really dislike hearing people talk about translation and meaning concerning religious texts. Those individuals rarely have any knowledge of exemplars. It is easy to try and dismiss a religion or work without knowing anything about it, and counting on those you are talking to have less information about the subject than the proselytizer. Opinion and interpretation are words used to shut down the exchange of real ideas and knowledge. Having one’s ideas attacked is an awful and dangerous thing. I was once speaking in a large group of people who were interested in my unique views about the philosophies and ideologies in religious concepts. At the end of my little diatribe on the paradoxes concerning sin and the devil, one woman in the room said "that is fine but god did not create the devil". Despite everyone else in the room’s insisting that I was correct, and a bible verses brought up online. Her only solution was to go ask her priest. She had to hear it from a source that she deemed worthy and was sure would take her side. It is a shame that humans have blind spots, but at the same time they serve us. It is when ideology and belief begin to destroy things, when we act out of survival with equal force. So creatively I take this frustration out in my art. But in the big picture I do not think we are in control as a species, that all of this is part of adaptation, or survival of the fittest. Ideology and religion is at the heart of one tool we as animals use to control, or be controlled by until ultimately one day we reach extinction. All life strives on overcoming and adapting to adversity. At the same time I give sort of serious answers, as if this is my life's mission and dogma yet at the root of everything it comes down to the images in art throughout the history of metal is what I respond to. I cannot be sure how much or how little my feelings on religion play a part. I think you can be both a fan of Slayer and everything they do and still go to church. It depends on how well you can compartmentalize and rationalize your likes, loves and ideas.
In Sam Dunn’s Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey Tom Araya (Slayer) states he was brought up Catholic. Being on the same page he considers his band’s music art and a reflection on society. His interview led me to conclude that singing about violence and doing violence are two different things, regardless of what beliefs you adhere to. Does this make sense to you?
I saw a different interview where he was asked about God Hates Us All. While his answer was God does not hate us all, his body language suggested that he was conflicted about the answer. I do believe that what they sing about is a reflection on society. How often have you met people that are religious and you think this is what God wants. This is who he called, and depending on the faith died for. Holy Shit! The Nazi helmet they use has led some people to think that they are Nazi's, or they are at least racists. Which is ridiculous. I think that singing about the brutality of the Nazi's is the extreme reflection of the brutality of humanity on one another, unless that is what the listener wants, like in all art, it is a perspective on the human condition. Philosophically I think that what Slayer does is an example of Sartian philosophy, as I understand it, other people are hell. In whatever form that may take. So it makes sense to me.
Do many bands and/or zine editors from India, Indonesia and South America contact you for commissions? Are they mostly demo or CD covers or pieces for zine artwork?
In India, the one record label I dealt with is Mortuary Records, other than that it is usually individual band members that contact me about doing a CD cover, demo, flyers for shows or T-Shirt designs. 90 percent of the work I get comes from people contacting me on my Facebook page, which I did not expect. As I start to do conventions, I suspect I will get more work in the US. It does seem to be one the best ways to network. Hopefully Kirk Hammett will continue to do his Fear Weekend Convention. Lots of bands play and band members attend.
Provide some more information about the Fear Weekend Convention. How often have you attended these shows? Are they held at the same location each time they take place?
As far as I know, the first one was this year. I did not get to attend unfortunately, but a friend of mine did and he posted pics and told me about it. Here is the website for those who want to travel to San Francisco. http://www.fearfestevil.com. When it comes to music, people do love album covers and t shirts, but the music and the musicians are the stars. What I do is treated as inconsequential for the most part. Bands do not usually want to pay artists for their art when they are independent. It is only when the record company pays that I think some of those guys get the real big cash payouts. Being as such it is hard to know what type of conventions to attend. I think I could get people interested at horror conventions. Between Facebook, my own website, and several print on demand sites where people can order my art and have it put on just about anything from flip flops to car mats, t shirts and wallets, you name it the net seems to be the most important vehicle. If anyone is interested in buying my lovely art on usable items, I have stores on Red Bubble, Fine Art America, Zazzle and Nuvango. Shameless plug number two.
Are there other local or out of state conventions you are planning to attend to promote your work?
There are many, I really want to do a San Diego Comic Con. Cons are in high demand right now. There is competition to get in, and they favor giving tables to people that have been consistent in showing over new applicants. I applied to Emerald City Con twice and still have heard nothing.
Do you have any information you can share about your stores at Red Bubble, Fine Art America, Zazzle and Nuvango?
These sites are just one way for artists to get people to see their work, increase your net presence and see art you might not otherwise see. Since 2008 people have lost faith in making money. This is and always will be a false illusion. If you give into fear and believe it than you will be a victim of the propaganda. Yes, there are times when it is hard as fuck to find work. Yes people will use good paying jobs. Those who only see working for other people as their only option in life will have very tough times, because companies and employers owe you money for your work they do not owe you a guarantee on a living. So the number of artists putting work out there has jumped astronomically. While I am not an Ayn Rand fan, I do believe she is right. During very tough economic times there are people who will make, or find ways to prosper during economic volatility, which very often is created and manipulated. Necessity is the mother of invention. A huge influx of art will no help everyone, but out of the millions of voices creating, the collection will create a few voices that will stick. I think one of the dangers though, is the over use of this strange desire to just combine other peoples work and call it your own. If you dig just a little deeper you will find your own original voice. These pay on demand sites, with perhaps the exception of Fine Art America, which has some but not as much of these producers of Post Modern examples of creativity. If you want to sell stuff now, then I recommend doing cutesy colorful work or do what they guys that shot the Banksy documentary, Exit Through The Gift Shop did.
Shed some light on the documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop and the messages this film carries?
This is a movie about pure juxtaposition. It sheds light on our perception of fame and the illusion that it is and creates. The mythology we as humans create, when we make gods or mice out of men. Here is a guy who wants to make a documentary about Banksy, and at the end of the story for a brief moment becomes supposedly by accident a renowned artist. But he outs himself at the same time with the documentary. I will quote V again, I am just pointing out the paradox of asking a masked man who he is. Banksy does not what you to know who he is. I understand he has been apprehended, but I am content to not know. Just like it is not important to me who Papa Emeritus II is in real life, it is the character that matters. If an artist is to become truly successful today it is all about branding and media. Where not all that long ago historically it was only the work that mattered. Not that being a rogue in your personal life didn't help, it did. Caravaggio, Picasso, Hemingway. Most artists I meet just want everyone to like them. There was a time when it was about meeting your fate, kicking people’s asses the best way you could. Revolting against the status quo. Which at least Bansky has to some degree. I think if government became suddenly more fascist, most people would not have the conviction to die for their work. For me that is the juxtaposition for all the cutesy message less crap that people want to buy. Simple themes, no message, little soul. While people may hate me for saying this that is a reflection on the buyer as well as the creator.
I’ve been hearing of fanzine fests taking place locally in New York. Are there any zine fests taking place in your area? If not, would you attend one to make zine readers more aware of your work?
There used to be a store in San Francisco that sold mostly zines. Haight was kind of an unofficial birthplace. I would totally go to a zine fest to shop and sell. Now I think you would have to go to a Comic Con and find a booth that had them. I have always liked the zine format, and have plans here shortly to make ash can sized collection of my art to sell online, so be on the lookout. There is a really great zine I communicate with regularly called Zine Death Metal that I am doing a piece for. People should totally check them out on Facebook. He only prints 66 copies in English. So get them fast.
From where is Zine Death Metal based? What bands are showcased in that zine and how can it be acquired?
São Gabriel da Palha, Brazil. See South America. If you have not seen the Iron Maiden documentary Flight 666, you are not a metal fan, but when you do you will see what real dedicated fans are and the amazing passion they have that should give hope to see metal reconquer the world. You contact him on your Facebook, Zine Death Metal. He will give you his email for his Paypal. And then he will send it to you. He features independent, underground Black and Death Metal bands. His focus is on the truly brutal. The one I have in my head right now has Azaghal on the cover and on the inside there is Diaboli IMperium, Myotis Treble, Impious, Baphomets Horns.
How much of your work is available for viewing on your official website?
I originally started it to be an online portfolio before I knew what I was going to be doing for sure. So it was just going to be for my commissions. Well not all of my commissions are congruent with my style and what I want to be known for. So probably only a 10th of my work right now is online. There is some stuff that was just made for my online stores. Mark Riddick wrote keeping making art in your style so people know what you are about and people will find you. I believe he is right. So I mostly I post the stuff that reflects what I want people to expect from me. People have commissioned me without seeing my work, which I think is odd. But if the recommendation is that strong or the person who recommends me is that confident than I don't mind, I just really appreciate it.
For your website, how do you choose what best represents your own style and what ends up posted?
The stuff on the site is my pen and ink work. Black and White. It just has to fit into the Death Metal art style I have adopted. Which is the same for my print on demand store styles as well.
What do you do with your artwork that hasn’t been posted on your website yet? Do you plan to develop it until you feel it can be displayed there?
I have piles of stuff, and they have designations. Almost everything will become something. Even stuff that flails or gets forgotten in its pile could end up in a book of my collections of work so people can see the process. Some gets redrawn, re-envisioned, used as inspiration in other ways. I have collections of gore work. I have not been in the mood to deal with or post due to recent family tragedies. I have focused more on the darker spiritual nature of my work. Cannibal Corpse has always had a huge impact on me and I thought the new album would invigorate some of my artistic carnage. I like the album a lot but it is not the spark. Working alone as I do, it is hard to put everything up. I have no one to go put it all up; you have to see what happens. I do put stuff up I hate sometimes, just to see what happens and get perspective.
So how much perspective have you gotten from posting material you dislike, and how should this be helping you as an artist in the days to come?
On the one hand you want to leave people wanting more. One the other hand people are always asking what is next. As an artist you can create something one day and hate it. Look at it months later and really like it. So it should all go up. I am getting there. Being prolific though is dangerous, too much can devalue the art. Try selling a copy of Spawn number one. They made so many for a really long time it didn't increase in value, I have no idea what it is worth now, but most likely will not match the first appearance of Superman. The work that I like best is the work I do for others. It all helps to fill my websites.
Alaric Barca official website