Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The Metal Inquisition Archives: Pencil renderings of metal bands (Part 1)
This is the first post (I mean "piece") in what will probably be a long series of posts about the contents of the recently found Metal Inquisition Archives. Much like a time capsule that was left behind for decades, the Metal Inquisition Archives feature incredibly telling artifacts from the lifelong commitment to metal that my brother and I have shared. A bit like our ongoing Metal Archeology series, this one will focus on the contents of a single storage bin that was recently unearthed. For many years, most of the contents of the archives were kept secret, partially due to having forgotten about them...but also as a result of my sheer embarrassment of its contents. Some years ago, in an attempt to make Sergeant D laugh, my brother and I shared some key pieces from this collection, and laugh he did. To this day, there are still a few things about the collection that he continues to bring up in order to make himself laugh. We hope you have a similar reaction. So why share this stuff with the world, when we've been hiding it for years? I have no idea. Perhaps I think of our readers as our family. No, that's probably not it at all. I guess I'm just an all-around good guy and want to share the wealth with the world. Either that, or I'm self destructive and hate myself, who knows. Let's get started.
What are these things?
The items I'm sharing with you today are some one of the key pieces of the collection. Both the Smithsonian and the Getty have been after these for sometime, but we turned down offers that totaled dozens of dollars, so that we may share these with you, our readers. You see, these are just some of the amazing drawings that my brother and I created back in 1988 and 1989, although some are as recent as 1991. As you will see, the artistic skills shown in these pieces of art are only rivaled by our lack of understanding of the English language. Sadly, Blogger is not great at showing large images...but don't worry, at the end of this series I'll provide a link so you can download a hi-res PDF of these pieces, which are suitable for framing (Thomas Kinkade, eat your heart out). In the meantime, double click the images, and enjoy them at a much larger size.
Why were these horrible "masterpieces" drawn in the first place?
I don't have a great answer to this question. My brother and I were not exactly loners growing up, but the huge stack of drawings in front of me seems to tell another story. We had friends, enjoyed sports, and took public transportation all over the city where we grew up. We weren't sickly or awkward (at least not too awkward), but I guess we also liked staying at home and drawing away. We were always obsessive as kids, and when metal became a part of our lives, we dove in head first. In South America back then, the chance of ever seeing a live metal band was slim at best. The opportunity of ever seeing a world-class band, or even a fifth-rate thrash band (I'm looking at you Laaz Rockit) was non-existent. Similarly, we had no access to magazines or even metal albums. All of our tapes were tenth generation dubs with no covers, and perhaps as a result of this isolation, our minds were left to wander. Sometimes, we would see a tiny bit of a band's video at a friend's house, and our minds were blown to the point of having to draw the image that had been burned into our minds. Looking at many of these drawings, I'm taken back to that time, and can easily place why certain things are in these drawings, such was the impact that imagery within the realm of metal had on me. It's for this reason that I often feel that those of us who grew up in seemingly distant and secluded nations had a greater bond to metal and other subcultures. This is not something I'm particularly interested in debating, as I'm certain I could be proved wrong, but when I think back to just how insanely obsessive we were about metal, I'm often left to think that it was more about our surroundings than our personalities. Like a religious fanatic who praises the unknown, metal seemed like a distant heavenly thing, and we worhsiped at the altar of metal.
How/when were these masterpieces drawn?
The majority of these pieces were done by me (each one signed and dated on the back), with a few being done by my brother as well. A few were done as collaborations since my brother was way better at drawing hair (especially mid-headbang), and I was better at drawing drumsets. You see, I badly wanted a set of drums, and my brother wanted a bass guitar. Although we lived in an extremely populous city, there was only one instrument shop in the whole city. We had never been there, as it was well over an hour away...so we also fetishized musical instruments as much as we did bands and metal in general. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that the first time I ever saw a set of drums in person, I nearly fainted. I was so excited that I simply couldn't contain myself. Again, this speaks to the level of isolation that we lived in. Still, it was a great childhood, and many of those positive memories took place at my desk, drawing these amazing pieces of art. My bedroom was next door to the family room, in which my father's Sony stereo system sat. Since I didn't have a stereo in my room, my brother and I took one of the oversized speakers (one of those huge ones with the fake wood veneer), and put it in my room so we could listen to music. In order to play a tape, we would have to go into the other room, start up the tape, and then go back into my room to listen to the right channel only, since we only had the one speaker in the room. To this day, there are certain Slayer and Venom songs that sound weird to me as a result of now being able to hear both channels. From time to time, we would play radio DJ for one another, plugging a set of headphones in the other room and using them as a mic. "And up next is a killer track from Slayer", we would say into the set of headphones, trying to entertain one another as we drew for hours. My brother was particularly good at it, taking care to mix music behind his talking, a skill that would come in handy years later when he hosted his own metal radio show for about four years. Keep in mind that I was 10-11 at the time. I'm not saying my age makes it any less embarrassing, but I'm hoping it puts things into context for you.
It was through that old, piece of doo-doo Sony stereo that we would make dubs from our friend's tapes. The stereo, I should tell you, did not have two cassette decks, oh no. The way we copied tapes was by playing the cassette on my dad's stereo, and placing a small boombox by the speaker, which recorded the sound from the stereo. We surrounded the speaker and the boombox with pillows, and made sure not to talk or make any noise during the full duration of the dubbing session. Now that you have a clearer picture of when a 10-11 year old version of me worked on these drawings, you can enjoy them that much more.
Let's just get this one out of the way right now. I know it's Mr Sergeant D's favorite, so this one's for him. Why on earth I shared this drawing with him many years ago, I'll never know...and why I'm posting these for all of you to laugh at me is also beyond me. First things first: yes, his shirt and the sticker on the guitar say:
Welcome to the hell
Did I warn you about my lack of English skills back then? I was 10 for god's sake, and all the English I knew was from Slayer songs and Eddie Murphy movies. This piece is unusual, in that it only depicts one member of a band, in this case the band is E.S.S., a made up crossover type band. When I say "crossover", I don't mean like DRI circa "Dealing With It". That would be way too cool. I mean, more like how Anthrax thought they were crossover by virtue of merely using the NYHC symbol on their guitars, and by having posed twice with a Variflex skateboard for a picture in RIP magazine. The band's name being three letters was a cue I took from bands that seemed to play har(d)core or punk, although I had never heard most of them. DRI, GBH, SOD, MOD...they all seemed the same to me. Again, I can't explain enough how detached I was from music and reality at large. Why his fretboard says "harcore", I'll never know. First of all (as a reader pointed out) it's missing a "d". But see.... I guess, he loved har(d)core music and wanted to let his fans know. Hey, no one gave James Hetfield any guff when he put that man/wolf design on his fretboard...so go take it up with him. The same is true for the backwards baseball hat, which I (for some odd reason) thought was a sign of being "har(d)core", and crossover. No one where I lived wore hats, it was a very American thing, and it seemed so odd to me. Note the GBH patch on his leg, which I erased for some reason. Lastly, I should point out that the guitar depicted is clearly a Jackson Dinky with a reverse headstock. I'm proud to say that after all these years, I'm a proud owner of that guitar, which I bought from one Sergeant D...active EMG pick-up and tremolo included.
- The unbelievable detail on his fingers. The poor guy's left hand looks like a packet of hot dogs.
- E.S.S. stood for Eat Shit Stupid. I have no idea where I came up with that. If only I had access to the Nocturnus time machine, I'd use it to go and ask the 10 year old version of me what I was thinking.
- Highly realistic pose, at least as far as the legs are concerned.
- The guitar strap realistically shows the slack created by the dude having picked up the guitar to do his sweet solo. Come on, give me some credit here!!!
Another made up band, this time it's Satan Sons, not Satan's Sons...just Satan Sons. Apparently possessive nouns were a difficult thing for me to learn in the English language. As I think about it now, it sounds like a plumbing business. Toilet clogged? Are your drains slow? Call Satan Sons, they'll fix you right up.
Considering when this was drawn, I would have to say that the influences for this piece were primarily the Ultimate Revenge video, and seeing the back of the Venom Black Metal album cover. What is the bass player on the right doing? Honestly, and I'm not even kidding, he's doing some sort of salute or prayer to the devil. Seriously. I remember thinking about this, and you will see it appear in other drawings. I guess that's what being raised in a catholic country will do to you. Can you imagine walking into your 10 or 11 year old's room, only to find him drawing this?
- The bass player is using a chain as a guitar strap
- The lines coming up from the top of the page are my highly realistic depiction of the amazing light show that Satan Sons no doubt had.
- Guitar player on the left has an SOD patch on his trenchcoat (kinda' funny since the name of the band shows I didn't know how to speak English at all)
- Slayer t shirt
- sweet band logo, which predated Deicide's trifixion
Let's just talk about the obvious thing first. Yes, the band's name is Anti Posers...and yes...the slogan behind them says "slay a poser, & get a free yo-yo". Even typing it out, I get the shakes, and begin to laugh. I have no rational way of explaining this at all...except that I must have hated posers back then, and felt the need to convey it through a made up band that I drew. As far as how the band ran this promotion, or if it was their label or management that gave out the yo-yo's I don't know. You have to give it up to these guys, for feeling so strongly about a single message and really running with it. The was no mistaking their stance on posers...they were like Bikini Kill, Nocturnus, Voivod, Earth Crisis or Nile when it came to their singular lyrical focus.
- The dude on the left has an "I hate posers" shirt, while the guy on the right has a shirt that repeats the yo-yo giveaway promotion they were currently advertising on that tour. These guys HATED posers. For real!
- I clearly got sick of drawing, and chose to cover the faces of two dudes with hair...thus minimizing my workload. I was smart, even as a little kid.
Another piece featuring a band you are now well-acquainted with, E.S.S. This one features the usual rubbery legs (see guitar player on the right), oddly shaped people (singer and bass player) and that all important "ahh fuck it" moment. What do I mean? it's the moment when I clearly decided I had been drawing long enough, and just wanted to be done. In this case, you can see how little effort was put into the drummer. His arms make no sense, the drumset sucks even more than everything else...I had clearly had enough and wanted to be done. If you're wondering where else in the world of metal this "ahh fuck it" spirit can be captured, look no further than the cover of Death Angel's Act III album. As Sergeant D has rightfully pointed out in the past, the artist wasted like six weeks getting the drapes to look realistic as hell...and when it came time to paint the people in the seats he just said "ahh fuck it", and drew repetitive stone statues. Speaking of Death Angel, when did they go from looking super sweet, like this:
Which basically amounts to the dudes that change my oil with a nasty case of Tommy Victor's Disease. Which reminds me...a lot of white people make fun of Cross Colors clothing, which many-a-minority rocked in the early 90s. Well, its payback time. Let white people (and some Filipinos apparently) get laughed at for wearing Affliction. Okay, back to the drawing.
- "Not Man" t-shirt, an homage to Anthrax, whom I loved at the time.
- E.S.S. flag being waved around by the badly drawn, chubby singer. This is definitely influenced by the Anthrax home video, where Scott waved that huge "NOT" sign.
- Check out the guitar player on the right, he's doing a killer solo as he slides on the floor. Weee!
- lots of guitar picks taped on the mic stands, which means they were probably throwing out tons of them to their adoring fans.
- bass player is wearing bermuda shorts, another Anthrax nod
- The guitar player on the left, is the same guy that was depicted on the first drawing. See his fretboard? It also says "Hard(c)ore". In this drawing I found yet another way to spell the same word incorrectly. I deserve some kind of award. Apparently he plays for a hugely popular band, but still prefers the warm, bluesy sound he gets out of his small 2-12 Fender amp.
- The bass drum on your left says "don't you fuckin' look at me", an obvious Antrhax reference.
- The monitor on the left has a number on it, 83. I remember seeing rented equipment being numbered like this when watching large concerts on TV, probably by someone like Jose Feliciano.
Hope you liked these, and hope I didn't oversell them. There are many more to come, as well as other weird crap from our archives. Another post about amazing art coming up this Friday.