After a month of no money and isolation during the coldest and shittiest winter this God forsaken ice tundra has seen since the 1970s, I’ve emerged from my cave with a new little batch of colourful little malcontents.
You hit an interesting point after you make enough of these things, I’ve found. Now that I have a vague sense of what I’m doing, and experimented with a few new approaches , I can authoritatively tell you all what I’ve learned about my artistic process. I can tell you all right now, with great certainty, that art is dumb. Really fucking dumb. It’s tedious, takes up a lot of my time, is on my mind constantly, makes me very little money, and at the end of the day, I’m an adult in my late 20s without a full time job making bizarre arts and crafts alone in my apartment.
And I would not have it any other way.
I’m going away on a expedition to collect some commissioned posters, and after I return and make those, I plan to keep my next plans for One Sheets on the down low for a little while. I’ve proved to myself and enough people that I’m not entirely wasting my time, and hopefully I’m able to whip up some stuff that will be really sweet.
‘Too Much Sibilance’, formerly The Brave Little Toaster To The Rescue
‘They Talk A Lot, Don’t They?’, formerly Pulp Fiction
‘One Of The Ones That Became Nothing’, formerly Pulp Fiction
I had a lot of extra scraps left over from the massive Pulp Fiction One Sheet, enough to make a whole 16 by 20 and 8 by 10 out of them. Those big ones are such a pain in the ass, but they are so worth it.
‘Man Of Tomorrow’, formerly Superman
‘Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na’, formerly Batman
‘With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility’, formerly Spider-Man
The three superhero themed One Sheets were a sweet commission series for my boss’ baby’s room. Super happy for the chance to make those. Start the kids off weird, that’s what I always say.
‘Hi, I’m Jerry Cianflone’, formerly 20+ Pizza Hotline flyers
‘Personality Goes A Long Way, formerly Pulp Fiction
Since starting this whole One Sheet business, I’ve had a number of people ask how exactly they are made. I decided that for perhaps the grandest, most complex, and most requested pieces I’ve ever undertaken, I’d document the entire process from start to finish. From assembling materials, to the first cut, all the way to the final top coat, I take you through every step of the dark and sticky journey.
Here now is a peek behind the curtain into how the artistic hot dog is made…
Due to the high demand I’ve had for this piece, I’m currently accepting offers via private message on Facebook or Twitter.
After my Christmas season commission rush, I was once again allowed the freedom to hack and slash whatever the hell I wanted.
I’ve still got a lot of posters to plow through, and I’ve already got my mind set on a really cool themed series in the near future. Coming soon, I’ll also be giving information on a very special commission opportunity, where you could have the chance to get a custom One Sheet of almost any film you can imagine.
Several of the One Sheets you see below are still for sale, and are currently on display at The Purple Room at Frame. They can be purchased by contacting me (@jdrenaud on twitter), or by sending a private message to my or The Purple Room’s Facebook.
“Very Protective”, formerly Dude, Where’s My Car?
“You’re The Only One I Trust”, formerly Rambo: First Blood Part Two
“Tonight’s The Night”, formerly Dexter
“Here I Come To Save The Day”, formerly Man On The Moon
“I Trust That Scratch Hasn’t Made You Useless”, formerly 300
“Revenge Is Never A Straight Line”, formerly Kill Bill Vol. 1
The second 30 by 40 inch canvas I’ve completed. If you closely inspect this bad boy, you will see small yellow scraps hidden in the mix. Fun fact, there are 88 of them.
I was fortunate enough to have a number of friends and well-wishers who supported my neurosis by commissioning One Sheets for Christmas gifts.
Included in this series are my first non-film posters, my first international commission, and my first double landscape.
Thanks to Chad Anderson, Dan Huen, Rory Fallis, Paul Mazurik, Ernesta Tobin, and Blair Renaud.
Also, huge thanks to Cory Falvo for his donation of a buttload of posters to the cause.
“Dream On, Skin Tube”, formerly Futurama: Space Pilot 3000
“Do Not Attempt To Defy Me”, formerly Pokemon: The First Movie
“Demented And Sad, But Social”, formerly The Breakfast Club
“Why Does He Keep Protecting Us?”, formerly Godzilla 2000
“Maybe You Should Drive”, formerly ‘Fear & Loathing’ art print by Ralph Steadman
“The Letter U”, & “The Numeral 2″, formerly U2 album covers
Made out of an extra large poster, spread out over two canvases. I was delighted to have my first musical One Sheets to be U2 inspired. I’m not really a fan, but I did listen to a lot of Negativland while making these.
For a plethora of reasons I don’t really feel like going into right now, I’ve decided to destroy all my old movie posters, and recompose them all into abstract pictures.
Each of the images you see are made entirely out of a single film poster, pasted onto a 16 by 20 canvas, with no other added images. I call them ‘One Sheets’. Mainly because I think it’s a snappy title for the series, and because ‘Decoupaged Copyright Infringement’ is too many syllables.
All unsold images are on display in The Purple Room at Frame Arts Warehouse, and can be purchased by sending a private message to @jdrenaud on Twitter.
“This Was An Abysmal Failure”, formerly Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
This was my very first attempt at a full 16 by 20 canvas, and I completely fucked it up. I didn’t like the fact that you could still read text and clearly make out certain images. The edges were frayed, I had bubbles everywhere, it was just a god damn mess. Mostly, I hated the fact that it was clear that I had just cut up an old poster. Granted, that is what I did, and what I am doing for all of these, but regardless, this one pissed me off. It really annoyed me how it proved that I didn’t have the skills or the intelligence to know how to use my materials effectively yet.
It sat in my hallway for a week, and it made me furious when I looked at it. The only thing I could think of when I saw it was “This Was An Abysmal Failure”. So, I took out my paints, wrote that on it, slapped two logos on either side, and to be honest with you, now I love it. A fitting start.
“Don’t Talk Like One Of Them”, formerly The Dark Knight SOLD
“Strikes and Gutters, Ups and Downs”, formerly The Big Lebowski SOLD
“Children’s Programming”, formerly Clerks $40
“No Real People”, formerly Reservoir Dogs SOLD
“Two Together Are Always Going Somewhere”, formerly Vertigo SOLD
Miley Cyrus has drawn a considerable amount of media attention for her salacious performance at the MTV Video Music Awards over the weekend. However, this is not the first time that the VMAs have drawn controversy, nor will it likely be the last.
Using a very complicated series of graphs and linear programming charts, I have created a 21 year projection for the ongoing history of controversial moments at the VMAs. Please keep referring back to this list every year to see how accurate I was.
2014 – Huge shock waves go out on the twitterverse when One Direction announces their break-up, citing creative differences. Naill Horan exits the stage giving what many in the audience interpret to be the seig heil arm gesture, though he denies it. Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s performance of their new single, ‘Rohypnol Rumble’, is edited from the show for time.
2015 – The twitterverse explodes when Justin Bieber announces his plans to portray Heath Ledger in the upcoming bio-pic of the late actor. Katy Perry wears a dress made entirely out of olinguito fur. This broadcast is also the last known public sighting of Pharrell Williams, whom is never seen or heard from again. Ben Affleck as Batman hosts.
2016 – In a comeback performance that few saw coming, Sarah McLachlan very visibly masturbates on stage for four straight minutes while performing her 1995 hit ‘I Will Remember You’. As a result, Twitter suffers an irreparable sever overload. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sues McLachlan for the necessary repairs to the twitterverse. Nicki Minaj wears a very strange hat.
2017 – Brazilian-born and Seattle-raised internet pop sensation Yoalin Karr sweeps the awards with his hit single ‘Done 4 U’, despite the distinction of never having released the single on a major label. A bidding war erupts to secure the rights to release his first album. Host Justin Timberlake is very visibly gaining weight. A Pepsi ad depicting an implied scene of incest draws controversy.
2018 – The Nu Metal Revival medley sees the surviving members of Limp Bizkit join members of Twerk-Metal band Caawk in a performance that ends in the accidental death of Caawk’s bass player, Naill Horan. Yoalin Karr’s performance is criticized for allegedly depicting a re-enactment the 9/11 attacks, of which Karr claims he’d never heard of before. Only 3 awards are given out all night.
2019 – The lowest rated VMAs in history, mostly due to the show being preempted for the debut of the new MTV reality series “Fuck, Marry, Kill”, in which a contestant is forced to actually fuck, marry, or kill three celebrities. (Jennifer Lawrence, Chloe Grace Mortez, and Willow Smith, respectively). One notable performance is the duet between Kid Rock and a hologram of Joe C.
2020 – One Direction reunites, replacing Naill Horan with the newly sober and born again christian Miley Cyrus. Host Tyler the Creator causes a stir when he steals all of the Moonman awards and starts to throw them at people in the audience, injuring several. Jay-Z is given the lifetime achievement award, but forgot to set his alarm from PM to AM, and is not there in time to accept.
2021 – Yoalin Karr proposes live on television to his girlfriend, Frances Bean Cobain. Chris Brown descends from the rafters of Radio City Music Hall, pouring what many first believed to be pig’s blood on the first four rows of audience members. It is later revealed to be blood from several people still on the missing person’s registry. A lengthy investigation follows. Hologram Joe C hosts.
2022 – After being snubbed by the awards the year previous, Kanye West decides to put on his own awards show across the street from Radio City Music Hall, inviting only friends and family to attend. U2 does a performance live via satellite from their privately owned space station. Malasian-American singer Tenai does her entire performance suspended in the air by metal hooks digging into her back, symbolizing something.
2023 – Lady Gaga accepts her lifetime achievement award in a very classy and conservative white evening dress. Her acceptance speech is simply “Alright, monsters. It’s time.”, before walking off stage. A single gunshot is heard. Later, 272,802 more suicides are reported by devout Gaga fans across the world. Bruno Mars is shown picking his nose in a cut-away, which quickly becomes an internet meme.
2024 – A tribute to the late 2 Chainz is sullied by a drunk and belligerent Justin Bieber and Robin Thicke, who storm the stage wearing ‘Bieber/Thicke 2024′ election t-shirts. Two unknown women are seen doing meth and making out with each other in the audience pit. They will later sign to a four record deal with Interscope records. This marks the first year that no awards are given out whatsoever.
2025 – A man wearing a Kendrick Lamar mask runs naked across the stage during Jaden and Will Smith’s unsettling medley of love songs to each other. People are stunned, but less-so once it is revealed that he was only one of dozens of naked Kendrick Lamar backup dancers, late to the show, who will be seen later during Lamar’s performance in the show. Tenai announces her new album will be released exclusively on Mini Disc. Two Girls Doing Meth and Making Out host.
2026 – Mumford and Sons perform a 47 minute jam set before security is forced to intervene and remove them from the building. Yoalin Karr announces plans to start his own religion. Most of the live acts are visibly masturbating themselves or others during each performance. Meanwhile, the 5th year of The Kanye Awards draws record ratings with the surprise reunion of the Talking Heads.
2027 – A protest is staged outside of Radio City Music Hall to prevent the performance of pop sensation Tristan Turner, with many feeling that his hit ‘There Without You (I Can’t Get No Fuck)’ bears too close of a resemblance to the 3 Doors Down song ‘Here Without You’, the latter of which has since become the national anthem of Cambodia. Turner is 4 years old. Nicki Minaj wears a very strange hat, made out of the corpse of Katy Perry.
2028 – No awards due to rain.
2029 – No awards due to floods.
2030 – No awards due to locust.
2031 – No awards due to Daft Punk’s control over the west coast power grid.
2032 – The VMAs return, with survivors of The Great Darkness exhibiting their talents for those fortunate enough to still have a working television. Acts deemed ‘pleasing’ by the barbaric iron fists of Daft Punk are permitted to survive another year. The winner this year is Frances Bean Cobain for murdering her husband, Pope Yoalin Karr the First, live on the air. Hologram Joe C hosts.
2033 – A rag-tag band of disheveled pop stars set aside their differences and unite to crush the tyrannical regime that has constricted them into a life of violent pseudo-sexual torture. Together, a one-legged Rihanna, Marshall ‘Mohammed’ Mathers, Frances Bean Cobain, two of the four surviving members of Muse, and Drake’s brain hooked up to the body of a 15-foot cyborg, rise up to defeat Daft Punk and free their imprisoned contemporaries. It comes in second in the ratings to the season finale of ‘Rick Clarion: Retard Cop’ on AMC, starring Michael Cera.
2034 – The 50th anniversary of the awards features a lengthy montage of past VMA moments that helped shape popular culture over the years. From the infamous kiss between Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, to the public gaffes by Fiona Apple and Kanye West, not a single controversial or memorable moment in the five decade long history of the awards is over looked. The outfits, the gimmicks, the spectacles and the scandal. Performances that marked the arrival of new musical icons, and solidified the pedigree of those who came before. The montage artfully and without omission presents the long history of the MTV Video Music Awards for what it truly has been, and for what it has come to mean. For decades, it has been the annual event for the most visual generation of young people in history to see their idols at the peak of their pageantry. To see them expose as much as they can to as many as they can. Be it for reasons of misguided vanity, or in a pure desire to express themselves as true artists, it has become and endures as the widest forum for popular musicians to be seen and talked about by their public, and to hopefully never be forgotten. The montage is followed by a Pepsi commercial featuring two computer animated owls screaming racial slurs and farting on each other, which quickly becomes an internet meme.
“And then there’s this guy named Bob Log, you ever heard of him? He’s this little kid — nobody even knows how old he is — wears a motorcycle helmet and he has a microphone inside of it and he puts the glass over the front so you can’t see his face, and plays slide guitar. It’s just the loudest strangest stuff you’ve ever heard. You don’t understand one word he’s saying. I like people who glue macaroni on to a piece of cardboard and paint it gold. That’s what I aspire to basically.” – Tom Waits
I’ve been moderately obsessed with Bob Log III ever since I found myself at a show of his several years ago. I had seen some live footage and maybe heard a song or two, but is was not until I felt the full brunt of his live show did I become a full fledged devotee of the man. His sound is raw, primal, and ugly as all hell. Yet he wields the undeniable power to make the whole world dance.
I didn’t know if you’re looking for a new hero, but I sure as hell found you one.
Hailing from Tucson, Arizona, Bob was once the singing and slinging half of Doo Rag, a duo that paired him with friend and junk band troubadour Thermos Malling. The frantic guitar and distorted vocals of Log, coupled with the smashing and crashing of the improvised percussion section made Doo Rag a beloved sideshow attraction in their heyday, opening for the likes of Beck, The Cramps, and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. A fallout with Thermos mid-way into a tour opening for Ween forced Bob to adapt quickly to the sudden loss of fifty percent of his band, and like all great decisions born of desperation, it would be this sudden emergence as a one man band that would eventually lead Log to truly finding his voice. Luckily for the rest of us, that voice speaks through a crash helmet with a phone glued to it.
Since then, as a one man band Log has released four albums, toured the world relentlessly, and left a long trail of dropped jaws in his wake. Adding to the fury of his playing are his beloved and infamous ‘audience participation exercises’, such as inviting two women to sit on his knees while he plays, climb into a single person dingy and raft the crowd, and, most notoriously, presenting a scotch on the rocks to the crowd and politely requesting the crowd to dip their boobs in his drink. The drink, and the act, have been immortalized by what many have called his magnum opus, “Boob Scotch”.
I got the chance to sit down with Bob, (sans-helmet), to talk about his love of performing, his artful dodging of Interpol, and the skills one needs to acquire to gracefully play guitar while dodging low hanging ceiling fans.
(FULL DISCLOSURE! This interview is a few years old, transcribed from an audio interview I did with Bob before a show in Toronto in 2011. I had just purchased my recorder, and barely knew how to operate it. The audio from that session is pretty much unlistenable. However, most of what was said still applies today. He’s still amazing, he’s still on tour, Winnipeg is still confusing, etcetera, and so forth…)
J.D. RENAUD – I guess this is kind of foreign, holding your own microphone.
BOB LOG III – Yeah, I never hold microphones. I’ll do my best.
J.D. – There is a record store in Toronto, Rotate This, that has a super old Doo Rag poster on their wall. I asked the guy at the counter if it was for sale, and he just shot me this stone cold look. He told me “This store could burn to the ground and I could lose everything, but the only thing I’d be really pissed about losing is that poster”.
BOB LOG III – Aw, man! I need to go say hi to that guy! I was just remembering the first time I went to Toronto. It was when Doo Rag was opening for Beck on the Loser tour. I can’t remember the name of the venue. It was big. It might not be there anymore. There was a bunch of kids there, a lot of 14 year old girls, and they were all passing out while we were playing and being handed over the guardrails. Little girls passing out. That was my entrance into Toronto. Beck also let us crash in his hotel room, which was really nice of him.
J.D. – The guy at Rotate This told me that he saw you guys completely blind, and was blown away. He now has a personal attachment to that poster, that night, and in a weird way to you. I had a similar experience the first time I saw you a few years ago. Do you ever perform with that thought in the back of your head, that someone might be in the crowd who has no idea what you are about? Do you want to leave an impression on people who don’t know what they are in for?
BOB LOG III – I wouldn’t say I think like that. In a way I do. I just try my hardest every fuckin’ night. It’s definitely music, but it’s also a sport. It’s this game I’ve invented, and every night I can win. I’ve always got to try hard. I don’t think “Oh, there might be people here who don’t know me, I’ve got to impress them”, I think “I’m going to play songs I love as good as I can, and as hard as I can, until it hurts”. That’s every night. There could be five people there, or five thousand people there, does not matter.
J.D. – Tell me about the “rafting incident”.
BOB LOG III – I don’t know when it started, maybe 2004 or 2005, but I started riding in a boat on top of people. It’s all because of Belingham Washington. This club was closing, and I was like “I’ve got to do something for them”, because they were flying me in from Australia for the show to close their club. It went from a $200 plane ticket to a $2000 plane ticket, so I was like “I’ve got to do something really cool for these people. I know! I’ll get on a boat on top of ‘em!”
J.D. – The decision was that sudden?
BOB LOG III – Pretty much. I was driving to the show, it was like a two hour drive from Seattle to Belingham. I’m thinking the whole way, and about an hour and a half into it I’m like (tire screech) “BOAT SHOP!”. I also then had to get a wireless unit for my guitar, because I figured if I’m gonna be in the boat, I better be playing, too. So I got those, did it, and the crowd went ape-shit. That’s when it started. I didn’t do it all the time, but I did it a lot. I did it probably six hundred times over about three years. Every time I did it, I always thought “God dammit, one of these day I’m going to get really hurt”, because really, I’m trusting a room full of drunk people not to drop me on my head. The only thing that kept my up for so long was that I’m kind of like precious cargo to them. They usually try really hard. But then, in Sydney, I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I have a theory. I think I got sent out over a bunch of girls who were trying to protect their hair. That’s not a dis on girls, I just genuinely think that’s what happened. I fell into a hole in the ocean and landed on my neck. I’m wireless, so everyone heard me go “THUNK! UGGH!”. Then I felt all this wetness around me, and all this broken glass, I was like “Oh no, I’m cut, I’m bleeding!”, but then I looked at it and it was just beer. So I got up and kept playing. I mean, it hurt, but it wasn’t that bad. Then about a week later, I’m driving through Italy, and suddenly each day I can’t move my arm less and less. One day I can’t lift it up past my shoulder, the next day I can’t life it up past my elbow. When I almost passed out while I was driving just because I tried to turn my head I thought “Yeah, this can’t be good”. I had to cancel three weeks of that tour. I told my doctor what happened, and, well, doctors don’t necessarily agree with what I do sometimes. They’re always trying to get me to stop bouncing girls on my knees. This doctor though, he said something that really stuck with me. He said “Do you want to ride in a boat, or do you want to play guitar?”. To be honest, I did think it over for like three days. “Do you want ride in a dingy, or do you want to play guitar?”. In the end I choose the guitar, because that’s what I do, dammit. I’ll be honest though, there is a boat in my car right now. It’s always there. I did boat the crowd for a few stops on this tour. I boated Belingham again, because I knew they wouldn’t drop me. Though they did seem to be trying to. Bastards. Rough waters in Belingham lately. If it’s ever a packed room, I might boat the crowd again, but I don’t do it as often as I used to anymore.
J.D. – Do you always keep it inflated and off to the side, just in case?
BOB LOG III – No, I’ll decide ahead of time. If a room is packed to the gills I’ll consider it. Low ceilings don’t work so well. I was shoved into a ceiling fan in Phoenix. I had to play guitar with one hand, and stop the ceiling fan with my other hand, and I remember thinking “Huh, I’ve never done this before. (haha) This is new.”
J.D. – Not to kiss your ass, but you are an incredibly proficient player. You do tend to steer away from what could be refereed to as “dicking around” on the guitar, though. No 16 minute solos, no noodling for the sake of noodling, none of the classic tropes of players with a lot of skill. You’ve stuck with bulletproof song structure, you get through a lot of songs in a set, and you do a ton of work on stage. Did you make the decision early on to keep that style and song structure and just stick with it?
BOB LOG III – Not necessarily. I’ve always loved guys like Johnny Cash and Chuck Berry, and pretty much every song they released was two minutes and thirty seconds long. Or shorter, for that matter. It just seems to be my natural… um… song writing… time… I guess (haha). I don’t know, I don’t really think about it. If you do think about it though, a lot of people in bands will do a solo here, or a solo there, whereas my whole show is a solo. When people say “Bob Log, you never solo!”, I say “Fuck you, I just solo’d that whole fucking show!”. I don’t really play melodic, I play rhythmic. And I don’t mean that I play rhythm guitar, I mean I beat the guitar like a drum. There’s notes in there, but I’m playing it with a beat. Really, if I was being honest, I’d say I only know how to do, like, four things. When I first started, I had a friend who started at around the same time as me, and he could play anything. He could hear a song, and just be able to play it, all the way through, no problem. I could never do that. I would hear a song, learn it wrong, and then it sort of became my own thing. I could never replicate anything I heard. Then I started the finger picking and thwacking thing, and I got really good at that, but there are still a whole bunch of things on the guitar that I don’t know how to do. That’s mainly why you don’t see me doing stuff like that, because I can’t. I admire people who pick something, stick with it, and get really good at it. If you look at guys like Bo Diddley, or Chuck Berry, or even Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, they really only do one thing, but they are amazing at it. James Brown is another great example. James Brown and Motorhead don’t make reggae albums. That’s the same for everything, though. If someone is really great at pole vaulting, you don’t really want to see them bowl. I am a pole vaulter. Don’t expect me to play tennis.
J.D. – What is your recording process like now? Now that you can get a pretty great sound out of a pretty modest home studio, do you still aim for lo-fi sounds purposefully?
BOB LOG III – I never start making a record and think “I really want to make this sound like shit”. I grew up recording with 4 track cassettes. All of Doo Rag was recorded with 4 track cassettes. There has always been some 4 track stuff that has wound up on all my albums. Most of the time you can’t tell between the stuff that was recorded in studio or on 4 track with me, anyway. I try to record as well as I can with the stuff I’ve got. I’ve got a reel-to-reel 8 track recorder, too. It’s pretty much just a giant 4 track. Both of those things are kind of on their last legs, though. I am going to have to come up with some new kind of home recording system soon. If I can stick with tape, I will. I usually record my stuff at home, then I bring it to a studio, put it into their stuff and mix it from there. I like recording at home and taking my time. I don’t like going into a studio and being like “We’ve got three hours, guys! Let’s get the take!”. I’m never like that. I take my time, I’m never in a hurry, I never have a deadline. I do it when I love it, and it’s done when I love it even more than that.
J.D. – I can hear that in your albums. It’s clear you’ve never released something you’re not totally happy with.
BOB LOG III – Thank you! I hope that shows! I think every band has that problem, though. Every band I like, they all have that one album. That one album when you listen to it, it’s like “Oh, this was the album they had to have done by July”. I never wanted to be in that position. Even when I was 12 years old, I knew I’d never write a song because I felt I “had” to. These are my records, I’ve got to listen to them for the rest of my life. I’m not putting anything out unless I fuckin’ love it. Plus, nowadays, if people are just going to download them for free, I don’t see a need to crank out tons of material just for the sake of it.
J.D. – What is the appeal of Australia? You’ve made that your home away from home it seems.
BOB LOG III – It’s cool, man. America, Canada, Australia, we’re all the people who left or got chased out of England for whatever reason, so there are a lot of similarities. There’s a lot of differences, too. They know nothing of the letter ‘R’. I love the people there, though. They are hilarious, they are fearless, and they don’t give a shit if they get crap on their jacket when they come to a show. There is very little pretension there.
J.D. – When I first heard your albums, I was genuinely curious what the lyrics to your songs were. They are not the easiest to interpret a lot of the time. Thankfully, I managed to grab one of your lyrics books that you sold on tour way back when.
BOB LOG III – Yeah, I’m all out of lyrics books, unfortunately. People don’t believe this, but I actually spend more time working on the lyrics than anything else. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. People may not understand what I’m saying, but I know what I’m saying, and I am saying stuff. You can follow along with most of it, I think. Well, maybe not on the first record. I grew up listening to AC/DC and the Rolling Stones, and I still don’t know what the fuck some of the lyrics to those songs are, even to this day. I love my lyrics, I spend a lot of time on them. I’ve got to say them every day, so I take extra special care. That being said, it’s not the most important thing to me. Whenever I’m listening to music, any music, I’m listening to the guitar and the beat. The lyrics can be there, they have a place, but I don’t hear that first. It’s the guitar that’s really saying stuff. That’s how I write my songs. You should hear the guitar first before anything else. I’m not U2. It’s not about what I’m saying ‘about’ something. When I go play Japan, everyone understands me. Maybe not all the words I’m saying, but they understand the music. Not to bag on U2, but I’m sure there are people there who don’t know what the fuck they are saying, since they don’t understand the words. Whereas with me, it’s just BOOM-TAK-BOOM-TAK-TAK-BOOM-TAK-BOOM, and everybody speaks that. If I’m in Finland, they get it. Japan, North America, whatever. It’s truly an international language the way I do it.
J.D. – One lyric of yours that always stuck with me is “I’m a professional, God Dammit! I live in a car!” I like that sentiment a lot, and I think I do have an immense respect for professionals who live in their cars. People who picked a talent, stuck with it, and endure. I guess what I’m asking is what kind of car do you drive now?
BOB LOG III – Ha! Well, now I don’t, actually. That was written back when I was touring about nine months a year, and I would go through cars like shoes. I’ve never owned a car that lasted more than two or three tours. Last car I did have was an ’89 Lincoln Towncar with a sunroof, and I loved that car. I love touring in station wagons, I had a Mercury station wagon, a Ford, and a Volvo that I had to leave in the desert in New Mexico. The Mercury was left in Texas, there’s another in Portland somewhere. I’ve left cars all over the planet. Now I just rent cars. Not that exciting, but if the car breaks it’s way easier to get another one. I never want to miss shows, that’s my thing, and if you tour in your own car you’re bound to end up missing a show. Plus, you end up having to buy a new car.
J.D. – What are you listening to, what’s playing in the rental car now?
BOB LOG III – Lately it’s been a lot of old, old, old Andre Williams. Bacon Fat, Moselle, things like that. I got this whole compilation of Eddie Bo stuff, which is really cool. I go through phases with a lot of things. A couple months ago it was Solomon Burke. Really though, what I’m listening to the most of is Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout. The new generation of freaks from Tuscon. I knew the drummer’s mom, and when I first moved to Tuscon she was pregnant with him. I met him again when he was 8 or something. Then I hear he’s got a band, and I’m like “Alright, I guess I’ll check them out”, but then I saw them and I was like “OH MY GOD! Hey, uh, do you guys want to tour with me?”. They already started up after I moved to Melbourne, but every time I come back I try to find out what’s going on there. There is a bunch of cool shit going on in Tuscon right now, actually. It’s amazing. I’m old enough to see a whole new generation of bands come along, and there is some great stuff happening there. Tuscon is a magnet for that shit though, because it’s boring. When you live in a boring town, you end up doing something, because you have more time to do it. And that’s better than money, that’s better than gold. If you’ve got time to do something you love, you hopefully get good at it.
J.D. – I’m living in Winnipeg right now, so I know the feeling. I’m hoping for that same thinking pans out for me, too.
BOB LOG III – Oh, Winnipeg. Some day I’m going to figure you out. I love it, I’m not saying I don’t love it, but I’m still trying to figure it out, is all.
J.D. – I don’t know either, it’s the geographical center of North America. Maybe that has something to do with it.
BOB LOG III – Yeah, but what are we doing there?
J.D. – I don’t know, good point.
BOB LOG III – “Hey man, we’re in the middle!” (shrug)
J.D. – Any hope for a re-release of the old Doo Rag stuff?
BOB LOG III – We keep talking about that, and I would like to make that happen. I love those records, man. I had so much fun with that band, it was illegal the shit we got to do. We were just two guys in a car, but all these bands loved us and would take us on tour with them, like Beck or The Cramps or Jon Spencer. It was not like we had people talking to people, we were literally just two guys in a car. They would just be like “Hey guys, wanna come with us?” and we’d be like “Fuck yeah!”, and off we’d go. It was so much fun. We got to go to Europe, Japan, all these places. We had no manager, no label, no nothing, it was just other people liking it and helping us. It was also us just saying yes to everything.
J.D. – There was a clip that came online not that long ago of you guys performing on some french talk show. That was insane, because it was the best quality footage I had seen of you guys. I’d heard the albums and seen some grainy footage, but nothing that up-close.
BOB LOG III – That was a pretty insane time. If you watch that footage again, look closely at my eyes (haha). Apparently Interpol was looking for us at that particular time, because one of the members of the band had smashed up a hotel room in Switzerland.
J.D. – “One”? You’re not going to say who?
BOB LOG III – I’m not going to blame anybody, but it was not me (haha). We had to leave very quickly at around six in the morning, drive all day, then play a show in Teluse that night. Then my booking agent called me and asked what happened in Switzerland the night before. I said I didn’t know what he was talking about, and he said that Interpol was looking for us, and that there was $10,000 in damage, and blah, blah, blah, good luck. Oh, and now you’re playing on French TV for seven million people in like four hours. So if you look, at the end of that song, you’ll see me get up and walk off stage, where I was expecting to get tackled as I got towards the curtain. That’s where my head was (haha). It was funny later, but scary as shit at the time.
J.D. – Frank Sinatra never left the house without a three-piece suit and cuff-links on. Are there any days when you don’t want to put on the jumper and just play in your normal cloths?
BOB LOG III – I want to stir up a room full of drunk people, till they’ve got no choice but to dance and smile. The suit helps. What sucks is when it’s still wet from yesterday. There was this one time, in Hamburg Germany, I’m in this dank, stinky basement. There’s water on the floor, I’ve got to take my shoes off, step in the water, put on this disgustingly wet, stinky suit, and then put on this wet helmet. Plus, now my socks are wet, too. I’m just quaking in the cold, and I just said out loud, to no one, “What the fuck am I doing?” (haha!) That was the first thing that came to mind when you asked that question. BUT, as soon as I play two notes, all that shit goes away. It’s all on after that. A lot of musicians, whether you’re in an orchestra, a symphony, or a band, when the music is really working, you get into this spot where you’re not in the now. Or you’re ONLY in the now. You’re in this tiny little moment where you’re only playing the song. There is no before, there’s no after. You get sucked into this little vortex. Every musician knows what I’m talking about, I think. If you’re in a band or a symphony it might take some time to get there, but as a one man band, you are there instantly. The whole night. There is nowhere else to go. You can’t sit back and relax and let someone else play for a bit while you think about other shit. No, you are instantly in the vortex. Other people get to go there, too. I think boxers get to go there. They can’t be thinking about their breakfast while they’re boxing. You have to really be thinking about the moment you’re in, and it’s a really special place to be. I get to do it about six months a year for an hour and a half each night. I have to say, I enjoy it.
For tour dates, videos, music downloads, and other wonderful Bob Log III related stuff, check out www.boblog111.com.
Before we go any further, please understand that I am fully aware of that. I’m not here to justify or apologize for any of the things I’ve liked in the past, nor am I here to validate or rationalize any of the things I like today. I’m certainly not a music scholar, nor am I claiming to be some pillar of musical integrity. I’m too far gone for redemption at this point, as my current iTunes playlist of k-pop ballads and songs ripped from old super nintendo games will clearly illustrate. I’m not here to tell you what is good or bad, or what you should or should not like.
That being said, let me explain to you why Big Shiny Tunes 2 is the greatest album released in the last 20 years.
The Big Shiny Tunes series is well known to all Canadians who had their formative rock and rolling years in the late 90s and early 2000s. Compiled and released by MuchMusic just before christmas time each year, it was the alternative rock companion to the popular MuchDance pop and R&B series. If you were a teenage boy (or an angry teenage girl), it was likely that you were going to get at a copy of the newest Big Shiny Tunes in your stocking that year, bought for you by that distant aunt who barely knew you but remembered you wore those baggy pants and had mentioned you liked that English singer fellow “Radio Ed” once or twice.
I was eleven years old in 1997. I had been collecting cassette tapes for a few years at that point, most of them bought based on a vague rudimentary criteria, namely if it was something I thought my older brother liked and would make me seem cooler by-proxy, or if Weird Al was somehow involved. That christmas, I would receive two very important gifts, my first compact disc boom box, and my very own copy of Big Shiny Tunes 2.
Ask anyone who is familiar with these albums, and they will agree with me that the second Big Shiny Tunes was by far the best the series ever produced. That’s not me being hyperbolic. That’s just a stone cold fact. The sun rises in the east, the moon orbits the earth, Scarface is overrated, and Big Shiny Tunes 2 was the best Big Shiny Tunes. Period. Case closed. Roll credits. Emmett Kelley, sweep up that spotlight.
The numbers don’t lie, either. It is still the fourth highest selling album in Canadian history. Considering we’re talking about a compilation album comprised mainly of artists who had yet to (or would never) achieve those numbers on their own, that’s pretty impressive. Sales and figures aside, it is still without question the best selection of songs the series ever compiled. There was nothing particularly wrong with the first Big Shiny Tunes, but some of the choices were glaringly odd, and did not endure the test of time as well as the sophomore effort in the series (Poe? I mean, really? Fucking Poe?) Succeeding volumes would try to recapture that magic, but would never quite make it over that high water mark.
Sales of the series begin steadily dipping with each successive release. It’s no mystery that the record industry took a major punch in the dick with the rise of downloading in those years, and that the need for compilations like Big Shiny Tunes would soon become irrelevant. Beyond that whole rigmarole, rock music itself got a lot less easy to compartmentalize in those years. The internet has made the various sub-genres of rock boisterous enough to support and promote themselves, and all flavors of rock are now easily accessible to the pasty-faced distortion-loving kids of today. Back in the day, genres of questionable similarity mashed together in those early volumes of Big Shiny Tunes, the logic being that it was all technically “alternative rock”, and that all the misfits just had to learn to play nice together. We had to just suck it up if we didn’t like the fact that Sugar Ray and The Prodigy were on the same album.
For a lot of us, it was all we had. There was no other grand public forum for a less than universally palatable rock bands at the time, making those albums likely the first time a young music fan would hear something like Marilyn Manson or The Chemical Brothers, outside of course for the basement of that weird kid at school who smelled like paint thinner and whose parents had that garage we were never allowed into.
That’s not the case anymore, it seems. There has not been a new volume of Big Shiny Tunes since 2009. Big Shiny Tunes 14 may end up being the last in the series, as most kids today view being given a mix CD of current radio friendly rock songs the same way I would have felt in 1997 being handed a wax cylinder with the Men In Black soundtrack on it.
So why was Big Shiny Tunes 2 the best, you ask? Is it because it was broad enough in appeal and varied enough in content to pretty much appease everyone’s musical tastes at the time? Did the MuchMusic scientists crack the code and pick the best seventeen songs that they knew would define that place and time for so many young people? Was it just the perfect time to release an album of borderline-badass rock songs aimed at stupid suburban kids?
Probably all of the above. Mostly the last one. I should know, I was one.
Saying Big Shiny Tunes 2 is a great album is not to claim any sort of musical superiority over my peers or elevate my rock critic snobbery. Just look at it…
1. Prodigy – Breathe (Edit) 2. Blur – Song 2 3. Third Eye Blind – Semi-Charmed Life 4. Smash Mouth – Walkin’ On The Sun 5. Sugar Ray – Fly (featuring Supercat) 6. Bran Van 3000 – Drinking in LA 7. Marilyn Manson – Beautiful People 8. Holly McNarland – Numb 9. Bush – Swallowed 10. Matchbox 20 – Push 11. Collective Soul – Precious Declaration (Remix) 12. The Tea Party – Temptation (Edit) (Tom Lord-Alge Mix) 13. The Chemical Brothers – Block Rockin’ Beats (Radio Edit) 14. Wide Mouth Mason – My Old Self 15. Radiohead – Paranoid Android 16. The Age Of Electric – Remote Control 17. Stone Temple Pilots – Lady Picture Show
Yeah, I’ll admit, some of those are pretty bad. Some of them are shit, quite frankly. Some got worse over time, and some endured the same level of shittiness without the benefit of ironic distance. I don’t need to say which ones, I think we all know which they are. It’s hard to defend them as enduring classics, but like it or not, a better selection could not have been made for that time and place. I’m not sure if I could adequately explain it to someone who was not there, but you need to appreciate how incredibly handy it was to have an album at that time to embody all the various forms of disillusionment that I and my peers were about to feel in the next decade.
All the stars aligned on this one. These songs endured over the years for me, and are often recalled in the same memory along with each other. If ‘Stuck In The Middle With You’ is to forever be thought of in connection to Reservoir Dogs, ‘Lady Picture Show’ will always be remembered as the last song I heard before the discs would change in the player. I can’t hear any song off this album without thinking of the other songs that came before and after them. Their connection to this album will forever be how I associate them.
I’m biased, I know. I’m sure anyone who did not have the exact same upbringing as me could easily poke a few holes into my theory about this being the greatest album of my generation. However, I refuse to think that my admiration for this album is just some sort of Andy Rooney-esque old man rant about how things were better when I was a kid.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I do think that. Of course I do. I was a kid, this shit was made for me. I hate today. Today fucking blows. I’m 26, bald, can’t pay my phone bill, and the hallway of my apartment building always smells like onions. In 1997, every day was just Ren and Stimpy re-runs and me sitting in front of that boom box lip syncing to Blur and Age of Electric. You tell me I’m wrong in thinking that’s awesome and I’ll call you a coward who is missing the point.
I can’t be objective about the quality of the music, no matter how much I force myself to think analytically about it. I can’t have hindsight about something that essential to my upbringing. The thought does often cross my mind, though. Do I still like the songs that were on this album, or do I still like these songs because they are on this album?
Remember, I was eleven when I first heard it. I had a lot of leg work ahead of me before I was ever going to figure out what I actually liked. I was still a summer away from even finding the Beastie Boys. I was intrigued but intimidated by heavy metal, thought most electronic music was boring, and did not have the attention span to sit though a whole album by any band I had only known from their singles. I would only ever get out of that head space through time, patience, and a whole lot of trail and error.
I can vividly remember being in my teens, sitting in a bus station, listening to my just purchased copy of The Cramps’ Bad Music For Bad People. I’ll never forget thinking that everything had irreversibly changed for me the moment the album ended. Nobody helped me find it. It was not ‘recommended’ to me based on some youtube or iTunes algorithm. I just went to the punk section of a record store and took a risk. I felt like I had won, like I had achieved a special prize in the field of cognitive exploration. I had to listen to a lot of shit before I found the stuff I actually liked, but eventually it started to pay off, and I was armed in that exploration with the knowledge and insight that albums like Big Shiny Tunes 2 had instilled in me.
I can only assume that eleven year olds are getting their music today the same way I currently am, by exploring the internet trying to find things similar to what they already like. I’m sure we all think of this as a superior method of being exposed to new music than grabbing the latest Big Shiny Tunes, but I can’t help but wonder if this method does more harm than good in the long run.
Do young people ever make mistakes buying music anymore? When was the last time you bought an album you were sure you were going to like, only to find out it was a piece of shit? I still buy albums, but only after I’ve previewed the tracks to death, ensuring I don’t waste my precious fifteen bucks on something I’ll end up hating. I certainly did not have that attitude growing up. I blew hundreds of dollars collecting albums that I would immediately regret buying after the first agonizing listen. Has anyone in this country under the age of sixteen even done this once?
The scour and rip method works great for me now, but I can’t imagine how I would have approached it if I didn’t have the first few years of my musical intake easily weaned on me by the corporate monoliths that tried for years to convince me that Treble Charger was a good band. Am I nostalgic for being spoon-fed my media by a room full of executives? People who assumed there was no way I could not love the songs they foisted upon me in a grungey looking black and yellow package?
Sure. Well, a little bit, anyway. It was a much simpler time in my life. They would never convince me to like Wide Mouth Mason, but I digress.
Big Shiny Tunes 2 helped immensely in getting me started down the path to figuring out what kinds of music I liked and didn’t like. It was a buffet of options I could pursue deeper on a track by track basis, over a long period of time, with my own chosen conviction. So many amazing albums had been released at that point that I would not discover for years, but I would eventually find using Big Shiny Tunes 2 as a musical canary in the coal mine. All I had was it as my starting point, and the desire to dig deeper and find more.
While in the process of digging, of course there were a few years where I arrogantly thought I had it all figured out. Maybe it was because my embarrassment in genuinely liking cheesy forms of entertainment reared itself as I got deeper into my teens, but for a while there, I hated Big Shiny Tunes 2. I dove head first into a punk rock and horror movie bubble of “FUCK YOU!” that no socially inclusive inclinations would dare penetrate. Eventually, like all young self-flagellating jackasses would (or should) eventually do, I started taking myself less seriously, broadened my horizons a bit, and remembered that at one point in my life I really liked Bran Van 3000. It’s hard to pretend you’re some sort of stoic, culturally learned badass when you know that is a salient truth about yourself.
That’s what I fear about today’s kids. Younger and younger, they are more certain of why they are fucked up, only because they have easier access to be obsessive about it. They are not forced to live their lives as ambiguously pissed off as I was.
I thought I was a lot of things I ended up not even coming close to being. I’ve worn every shade of black you can probably think of, all in a desperate attempt to figure out what I was actually mad at. A kid today can feel pissed off, type his or her symptoms into allmusic, search the ‘moods‘ section for something that suits their fancy, and be listening the perfect song that articulates their unique pain within moments. After that, the introspective search ends, and a new pre-teen Smiths fan is born.
Meanwhile, back in the dark ages of the late 90s, I actually had to go to the store and buy Dead Kennedys, Nick Drake, Portishead, and Carcass albums, trying to figure out what combination of dejected and lonely I actually was. I’d sit in my room with a stack of albums, trying to crack that code with limited success.
That search never ended for me, though. Nor do I think it ever really ends for someone passionate about music and what it means to them. Filling that void in yourself is the foundation of a long term appreciation of music, and whether I like to admit it or not, Big Shiny Tunes 2 was the album that forced me to explore why music made me feel the way it did.
It shaped me, because it gave me options. Its better if you are forced to try out a few forms of rebellion before you find out which one suits you. An eleven year old kid today could find every song The Clash ever made if he wanted to. Or Odd Future. Or Stevie Nicks. Whoever or whatever they choose to idolize is incidental, what matters is the volume of content they can access for any artist is easily deep enough to get lost in. Whatever avenue they decide on, for better or worse, will permanently alter how they view and interpret anything else they are exposed to.
They will never have to pick for scraps. They will never be thrown the proverbial bone with a compilation of songs that might be outside their wheelhouse. They won’t be shown that all countercultures exist because everyone is dealing with the same shit, just in different ways. They will have infinite access to all these countercultures, but never be exposed their contemporaries with due diligence. They can pigeonhole themselves as misunderstood twats faster than ever before. All kids are misunderstood twats, but they need to know there is kinship between them and all the other misunderstood twats out there. The Holly McNarlands and Radioheads and Third Eye Blinds of the world have a lot more in common with each other than you’d probably think.
Infinite choice gives you the opportunity to have standards, and therein lies the problem. Kids should not have standards. Standards and taste are things that should evolve with you over time. You can either choose to have them evolve or not, but you can’t enter the world of music and art with the assumption that you’ve seen the mountain top before you’ve actually climbed it. Kids should have options, and should be fortunate enough to have sheppards though the wasteland of shit that is most of what they will be first exposed to. Even with our newfangled technology, it should still be a challenge for them to figure that all out on their own.
The experience of finding new music has been greatly simplified, but finding music that shakes you out of your comfort zone and makes you question yourself is still as arduous as it always was. Those voices are important to find, and kids should be forced to dig for them.
It should be hard. They should make mistakes. They should spend money on albums they will regret, rather than just mindlessly downloading and deleting them. They should spend weeks, months, perhaps even years screwing it up before finding out they got it all wrong and having to start all over again. The tiniest glints of help in that search should be coming from a big brother’s record collection, a weird recommendation from a friend, or a cheap compilation album bought for them by a parent in a gas station.
The bar has been set pretty high, but one can only hope that gas station album is as formative in their education as Big Shiny Tunes 2 was for me.