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David J Of Bauhaus/Love & Rockets: Undead And Loving It!

This Saturday, the man responsible for penning such Goth rock essentials as “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” and “No New Tale to Tell” returns to The Sunset Strip spotlight for a one-night only intimate engagement at The Viper Room. Of late, the cult icon has been keeping his musical docket plenty full with the recently released reworking of his classic Bauhaus anthem, as well as a myriad of other side-projects.
 
Speaking to TSS.com about his upcoming show, the current status (or lack there of) of Bauhaus and reminiscing about jukebox jammin’ with David Bowie, Mr. David J seems to have no shortage of New Tales to Tell.
 
Tell us about “Bela Lugosi’s Dead (Undead Is Forever)” that you released a few months back.  What is it about that song that just keeps drawing you back?
 
My dear friend Jill Tracy had the idea for a new version of “Bela” and composed the rather exquisite piano introduction. We recorded it live, vocals and all, and we nailed it first take. I incorporated the Lord Byron bit as it went very well with the mood of the piece. It’s taken from a poem called “The Giaour,” which is a Turkish word for infidel.
 
That song is very much open to interpretation and the original idea was strong right from the start. It abides, just like a vampire!
 
Speaking of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” one of the quintessential cult films for any music/cinema lover is The Hunger, in which Bauhaus had a notable cameo. Can you share with us the story of how the band became a part of that project? What are your memories?
 
The director, Tony Scott, saw Bauhaus performing “Bela” on TV and thought that we and the song would be great for the film. He ran it by David Bowie who agreed. My favorite memory is of hanging out with Bowie by the old 1950’s jukebox that they had on the set and taking turns to pick tunes. Him dancing in front of me and smiling that smile… Surreal!
 
What is the current status of Bauhaus and the current status of your relationship with Peter Murphy and Daniel Ash?
 
Bauhaus is no longer existent, not even undead! I have not seen, nor spoken with Peter or Daniel in many years. Still there remains an abiding mutual respect.
 
Seems like over the past few years there’s been a musical trend towards an ’80s throwback sound, and “darkwave” influences, very much reminiscent of your early work with Bauhaus. What are your thoughts? Have any of these newer bands caught your ear?
 
Sure! I like Interpol, The Faint, Wax Idols. There is a band from China called Rebuilding The Rights Of Statues, which I like a lot. They have a track called “Up Next: Bela Lugosi’s Back.” It will be interesting to see what Chvrches do with “Bela” as they are recording a version for the new movie Vampire Academy.
 
Speaking of cover songs: Over the years a number of bands have paid tribute to both Bauhaus and Love & Rockets on various compilations, etc.  Who/what’s been your favorite track?
 
There were some excellent covers on the L&R tribute album New Tales To Tell [released in 2009]. The ones that come to mind are “All In My Mind” by Black Francis; A Place To Bury Strangers doing “The Light”; “Holiday On The Moon” as rendered by Puscifer was great! Also, “I Feel Speed” by Dubfire…and I love The Flaming Lips’ off kilter take on “Kundalini Express” – a track which Beck was also doing live although I haven’t heard it.
 
There were a couple of tracks that were not included on that album, but that were recorded for it and which I love to bits. Namely, Johnny Dowd’s version of “Bound For Hell” and also Johnette Napolitano [Concrete Blonde] doing the most soulful reading of “Dogend Of A Day Gone By.” MGMT also did a good, albeit very faithful, cover of Bauhaus’ “All We Ever Wanted.”
 
From your experience, what advice would you give newer artists about inner band relations and maintaining any sort of longevity as a cohesive unit in the cutthroat music business? 
 
Be honest with each other, but temper that honesty with diplomacy.
 
In your career thus far, what single song, piece of art, career accomplishment are you most proud of? 
 
I was very pleased with that new version of “Bela.” I knew that it was a very tall order, but I believe we managed to pull it off with some aplomb! I am also rather chuffed with my forthcoming solo platter, An Eclipse of Ships. It has to be said!
 
What can we expect at this upcoming Viper Room show?  Any surprises, special guests, etc?
 
Well, it is going to be heavy on the L&R quota, but the set will also contain a sprinkling of Bauhaus and solo work. This band, which we have named The Gentleman Thieves, is one of the best I’ve ever played with. We rock out hard but can also be subtle with it. I feel re-energized and raring to go!
 
What can we look forward to in 2014?
 
A lot more live shows with the aforementioned combo following the release of the new album. I also have some other side-projects that I am excited by, especially a band called Stellarum. I just produced their debut album, on which I played bass and ended up joining the band! It features an amazing singer, Susan Dumett, who possesses an extremely beautiful four-octave voice.
 
 
 
 
 
David J performs the songs of Love & Rockets and Bauhaus this Saturday, Feb. 1 at The Viper Room. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $10 GA.  www.viperroom.com www.davidjonline.com 
 
 
 

Cherie Currie Rocks Good Cheer To The Sunset Strip

This Friday, Dec. 6 pioneering rock n’ roll frontwoman Cherie Currie returns to her humble beginnings here on The Sunset Strip for a very special Toys for Tots benefit show at the Viper Room. 

Before heading out to “Rock This Christmas Down” and sing-a-long to all your favorite youthful angst anthems, catch up with Currie as she reminisces about her early days on The Sunset Strip, talks about a possible Runaways reunion and shares her newfound love of…chainsaw carving?

 

Paint us a picture of what The Strip was like in the mid-seventies when The Runaways were first getting started?

My goodness, it was just a completely different time… It was a magical time in music. There were bands like Zeppelin and [David] Bowie and Elton [John] and Suzi Quatro, Alice Cooper… I mean just heroes! And the clubs were wonderful. … They scouted good talent and worked to bring that talent to their clubs.

 

Do you remember your first show ever on The Strip?

We played the Whisky and we actually broke the record there! I remember the music editor for the L.A. Times was there and did a feature article on us that was pages long…and it was just an amazing night. Kids were hanging from the rafters, practically. At the time, it was the largest crowd they had ever had at the Whisky. 

 

You actually have a new Christmas single that was just released, that you recorded with your former bandmate Lita Ford. Tell us about that.

Yeah, it’s called “Rock This Christmas Down” [and Lita wrote it] with guitarist Mitch Perry. She called me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to do a duet with her on this Christmas song…  And I was on tour, but said, “absolutely!” 

So I literally flew in after the finish of my tour and went directly from the airport to the studio – never heard the song before – walked in and was just blown away by how great the song was.  And it was fun to have Lita produce my vocals. She’s awesome! I’m really very proud to not only be working with her again, but to be on such a great tune.

 

It seems like the relationships between you and the other members of the band are all pretty healthy. Any talks of a reunion?

Well Lita and I want to do a reunion, but Joan however is not quite sold on the idea at this point… But Lita and I are going to continue to keep working together and hopefully Joan sees that we’re having so much fun, that maybe she might change her mind. Right now though, we’re just focusing on us, and working and enjoying each other’s company making great music together. 

I’ve also actually started making a record with [former Runaways manager/producer] Kim Fowley and Lita is involved with that… It’s kind of like taking a hole in your heart from way back when you were a child and filling it with beautiful possibilities and new relationships.  Relationships that I thought were done and over and didn’t end well, and turning them into something I really wouldn’t want to live without today.

 

Now, The Runaways movie was based on your bio Neon Angel. How did you feel about the film? Were you happy with the end result?

Well how do you take two and a half years of absolute insanity and condense it into an hour and a half? I think that the actors were phenomenal. I’m so proud of Dakota [Fanning] and Kristen [Stewart] and Michael Shannon. They were just great!  I think [director Floria Sigismondi] visually couldn’t have captured the ’70s better…

I was very happy that my new book [an updated re-release of 1989’s Neon Angel] was coming out at the same time the film was coming out, so that people could get the real story and the details behind the film. But like I said, an hour and a half just isn’t enough to even scratch the surface…  All of our lives were complicated as kids… I’m just glad that people cared enough to make this movie happen, and that we have a whole new fanbase of younger people that appreciate what The Runaways did at a very young age.

 

In recent years you’ve taken up chainsaw carving. How did you discover that?

Well I sort of went from sketching to painting to relief carving…and then one day I was headed to the beach and passed a couple of guys chainsaw carving on the side of the road and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. So I went into their gallery and saw these amazing pieces of finely detailed, gorgeous art. And my little voice just kept telling me, “You can do this.” 

So against my family’s advice and everyone else’s advice – ‘cause you have to admit it’s quite dangerous – I couldn’t help it! I had to face that fear…  And my third piece was accepted into the Malibu Art Expo, and I started competing and placing in competitions and I realized that this was a calling…

Dolly Parton has a few… Dakota Fanning, I carved her a guitar – actually to scale – and presented it to her for her sixteenth birthday.

 

Anything special this year that you’re really looking forward to this Christmas?

Well this Christmas, being able to spend it with Lita Ford and have her in my life is the best gift I’ve had in decades. 





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Cherie Currie, along with special guest Future Villains, perform a benefit show for Toys for Tots this Friday, Dec. 6 at The Viper Room. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 GA. Bring an unwrapped toy to the show valued at $10 or more and receive a complimentary cocktail. www.viperroom.com For more info about Cherie Currie, visit chainsawchick.com and cheriecurrie.com



 

Brent X Mendoza

Week In Rewind: The Roxy Celebrates 40 Years, Celeb Date Nights + Emmy Parties

In case you missed it, here are some mega highlights from the week we just had!

 

The Roxy turned 40! That’s four decades of amazing performances and music. From Neil Young performing during the opening night to Bob Marley’s “Live From The Roxy” album and live show, Frank Zappa, Pee Wee Herman, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Jane’s Addiction, Adele, Alabama Shakes and so.many.more. What an amazing celebration! Check out The Roxy’s YouTube playlist for some of the live shows you may have missed. 

-“Springbreaker” Vanessa Hudgens turned heads with a wild show at Bootsy Bellows on Tuesday night.  

-The New York Times featured some vintage rock and roll and Sunset Strip images. 

-Sunset Strip “hometown hero” Slash was interviewed at the Sunset Marquis about his new movie. 

Robert Patterson was spotted at the Viper Room on a date with Sean Penn’s daughter. 

-Oh, and about those star-studded Emmy parties at BOA Steakhouse, Soho House  and Sunset Tower… 

 

 

Photo courtesy of The Roxy

The Red Paintings Canvas The Sunset Strip

Australia born, avante-art band The Red Paintings have been circling the globe for well over a decade, bringing their orchestral rock sound and all encompassing mixed media stage shows to the spellbound masses. Currently on tour to support their soon to be released sophomore album, The Revolution Is Never Coming, the band and their human canvases recently stopped by The Sunset Strip to perform an intimate, stripped down show at The Roxy Theatre.
 
Before hitting the stage, TRP frontman Trash McSweeney sat down with TSS.com for an enlightening discussion about the forthcoming record, mid-show paint pandemonium and what it’s like to literally hear colors.
 
 
 
So the band often gets billed with a wide range of very diverse musical acts, from Trail of Dead to Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. I imagine it is kind of hard to find tours with like-minded acts?
 
Well that’s sort of the beautiful thing about the band, is that we can play with so many different acts – like we played with Mars Volta’s side-project [Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group] in Europe a few months ago, which was awesome and we just did the Mindless Self Indulgence tour in America and now doing the UK and Europe with them as well.
 
 
 
Is it challenging performing in front of some of these audiences?  Do you ever feel like you’re sort of having to win people over?
 
You definitely get people who just think we’re a bunch of weirdoes and don’t get it. Usually that’s the time to stop the set and just talk to the crowd about art and our background…  We invite people to join us on stage and paint with us, tell us who they are…and the next thing you know, they seem to really warm up to us.
 
We’re definitely not the type of band trying to be rockstars. We’re trying to get people to have an experience and create a community – a harmony between art and music.  It works well for us.
 
 
 
You have a new record coming out October 1. Want to tell us about that?
 
It’s called The Revolution Is Never Coming and it’s taken me five years to make. It was a massive ordeal, and a complete nightmare. I worked with orchestras, choirs, Theremins… Everything was naturally tracked; we wanted everything to be analog.  
 
So while it was a bit of an undertaking, we finished it and the reviews have been coming out. Rolling Stone gave us four out of five…so I think in this day and age, it does pay to spend a little bit more time to get that vision in your eye right, ‘cause people really notice the production and whether you’ve gone that extra length or not.   
 
 
 
And the title?
 
Simply what I was trying to do is tell people that if you want to create a revolution in this world, get off your ass and create it yourself… ‘cause if you’re expecting everybody to do it for you, it’s not going to happen.  And that’s why the revolution won’t come, because human beings won’t allow it to.
 
 
 
For those that don’t know, you have a condition called synesthesia, where you experience music as colors, and this was sort of the foundation of the band.
 
In a nutshell, yeah. I was looking at artwork and finding the colors that were created in the brushstrokes and the different shadings, and I would find corresponding chord combinations on violin and guitar, and that’s how I would create the compositions…
 
And then eventually I realized that orchestras’ spectrum of color in my head was incredible! Same with records from bands like say Bjork or The Arcade Fire. I listen to that music and there’s just so much color… Funny enough, I’ve been told Bjork, as well as Jimmy Page, also have synesthesia.
 
It’s all about emotion… I think everyone out there subconsciously sees and feels things in color. For me it’s just kind of my conscious mind; I see it more clearly.
 
 
 
Now at every show you invite people from the audience on stage to express themselves artistically. What’s the strangest thing that’s happened, unrehearsed?  
 
Where do I start. Well, not so long ago a guy got on stage and said, “This is who I am!” And he took his pants down and he did a big crap on the canvas and rubbed it in.  And we were like, “Holy crap, pun intended!”
 
And another time a person got on stage grabbed the paint and the brushes, ran outside and started painting cars… We had another person that painted the bottom of their shoes and ran around making footprints, saying “This is who I am!”  We really bring the best out in people. [laughter] Venues don’t like that though. We’ve had plenty of venues say that we can never play there again.  
 
So now we have a bit more of a controlled stage show. We actually have people submit their artwork, and do a little bit of a background check. You kind of have to nowadays.
 
 
 
Finally, you’ve played The Sunset Strip a few times here at The Roxy.  Any crazy post show experiences you’d like to share?
 
I remember one time we went to the Rainbow next-door after the gig, and Rage Against The Machine were there… And our human canvas embarrassed himself and jumped on the table saying, “Hey, I’m the human canvas for The Red Paintings!” And their manager was like, “Hey, I know The Red Paintings. They’re cool!” So that was very exciting.  
 
 
 
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The Red Paintings’ new album The Revolution Is Never Coming will be released October 1 in the U.S.  www.theredpaintings.com  www.facebook.com/theredpaintings
 
Photos courtesy of Jessica Pix, RocketQueen Photography 
 
 
 
 
 

Faces Of Gibson GuitarTown: Stacey Wells

Featured in celebrity art galleries across the nation, Canada-based artist Stacey Wells has built her own celebrity following one brush stroke at a time, combining her two favorite subjects on canvas: rock stars and fine wine. Despite residing thousands of miles away, Wells has been a consistent presence on The Sunset Strip for the past few years, making frequent pilgrimages to capture portraits of many of the local bands for her “Reflections of The Strip” series.  
 
It was this passion for music, art and all things Sunset Strip that brought Wells to the attention of the Gibson GuitarTown project, which chose her to design the “Welcome To My Nightmare” Alice Cooper inspired guitar sculpture as part of the public art installation.
 
 
 
How old were you when you first realized that you had real artistic ability? Was there a particular teacher or person in your life that really motivated you to continue down an artistic path?
 
I enjoyed doodling and playing with clay when I was young, but I think I first realized my talent when I was 12 years old… I drew a picture of Rod Stewart off an album cover. It turned out pretty good, and that is when I fell in love with faces and doing portraits.
 
I was lucky to go to a high school that had an amazing fine art program. There were two teachers that really encouraged me, and went above and beyond the call of duty to help me out… Like when my sculpture was too big for the kiln at school, Mr. Place took it to his home kiln to fire. It felt great that Mr. Place believed in my work so much; he really encouraged me. I won a scholarship award for that sculpture!
 
Also, I loved being in Mr. Chow's graphic/commercial design art classes; he always made everything so fun! He had a big stereo that he blasted… I can never listen to The Police, especially "Message in a Bottle," without thinking about Mr. Chow. I am sure it is no coincidence that I now have a series of paintings I call "Message in a Bottle" – paintings of wine bottles with rock stars reflected in them.
 
His class was the perfect creative zone; relaxed and you could get lost in music, which is the whole inspiration behind my art… He was very encouraging and we learned really cool things, like lithography. Mr. Chow thought I was really great at my commercial art projects and encouraged me in that direction. He kept one of my lithograph prints so that when I became famous, he would become rich [laughter]. I am working on that Mr. Chow!
 
 
 
You take special orders for paintings. Tell us about some of the more interesting commissions.
 
Well, I had this guy from Delaware send me his wedding wine bottle… He wanted to surprise his wife for their anniversary, so I did a painting of their wedding wine bottle. I reflected his wife's favorite rock star, Bono in it and called it "Bono Bordeaux." Then I painted their last name and special wedding date on the label. They loved it so much they paid for the art and sent me a case of wine. One of the perks of the job!
 
More recently I had a man that wanted to surprise his wife for her birthday. She loved Paul McCartney, so I did my first Beatles bottle, along with Paul McCartney's reflection. I hid little hearts in the reflections and called it "All My Lovin." I have to say the men are very thoughtful with their art orders!
 
 
 
What would you describe as your greatest artistic achievement to date?
 
My greatest artistic achievement would have to be having my art hang in the most prestigious celebrity galleries in the country and seeing my name on the celebrity artist lists at the ROCK STAR Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona, Gallery 319 in Woodland Hills and the Celebrities Gallery in Wailea, Hawaii. These galleries generally only represent celebrities, so it is cool that I am one of only three artists, and the only female, that they promote as celebrity artists. 
 
 
 
If you could design the album cover for any Sunset Strip band, who would it be?
 
I would love to design the album cover for Semi Precious Weapons. I'm pretty sure I would have free license to create something really out there and exciting! The first year that I attended (the Sunset Strip Music Festival in 2010) I fell in love with them! Amazing performance, really unique. I love the song “Magnetic Baby,” I think the lyrics are brilliant! The singer Justin Tranter owns them, "I can't pay my rent but I'm F*ckin’ gorgeous.” I love that guy! 
 
 
 
Tell us about your Gibson GuitarTown art guitar. What was your process? Have you ever worked in a sculptural medium?
 
It was a really fun project; I loved doing it. It was a little more challenging as I live in Canada so I painted my guitar at my house in Palm Springs… I had decided to paint Alice Cooper, as I really wanted my guitar to capture the unique vibe of The Sunset Strip…his looks, his music and his captivating performances all scream rock star! It was a huge pleasure and a great honor to paint Alice, a musician that I enjoy and admire immensely!…
 
After reviewing the shape (of the art guitar sculpture), I decided on a layout; and after a long prep of sanding, washing and priming, I did my drawing right on the guitar and started painting. It was really cool to paint on fiberglass – so smooth, the paint flowed easily. I loved it! I used professional acrylics and included some spray paints. I really wanted to add some silver, but I needed more control than the spray can offered, so I sprayed a puddle on plastic and painted it with a paint brush. I caused quite some interest in the neighborhood, as I had music blasting at all hours and the garage door open halfway so that I wouldn't get brain damage from the fiberglass resin. 
 
I dedicated my guitar to my friend and fellow artist Jeff Cahill, who passed away earlier this year. Jeff worked as a booker at On The Rox, and was well loved by The Sunset Strip community. Not only was he a talented artist, but he was a huge supporter of musicians and artists, always offering encouragement, kindness and a big smile that lit up The Strip.  
 
 
 
What's next for you?  What other projects are you currently working on?
 
Next up NYC! I just gained space on gallery row in NYC. Look out New York City here I come!
 
I am starting my new series of Bond bottles, which will feature the beautiful girls from the James Bond films, including (The Roxy Theatre owner) Nic Adler's mom Britt Ekland. I had no idea that was his mom when I began the series… I want to create an image that they would be proud of. It was so cool to meet her recently, and I think meeting her will help me capture her personality in my art. She is such a lovely person and now I am even more excited to paint her!
 
I am also doing a series of cityscape bottles that will reflect famous landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty. It is exciting, as it will open up my art to new people that love traveling, and perhaps would like to own a special art work that will bring them back to that place daily for an instant vacation. That is what I like to achieve with my bottle art, I want to make people feel a moment and relive it without leaving their home. I have many great cities planned. 
 
I am also doing a series called "My Fifteen Minutes" reflecting famous artworks such as Andy Warhol's “Marilyn,” Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” and Michelangelo’s statue of David. I want to save these wonderful things and capture time in a bottle to enjoy forever.
  
Other than that, I will be painting like crazy to keep up with the demand. I have a lot of galleries to fill!
 
 
 
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Stacey Wells will be exhibiting at the Los Angeles Punk Museum (7191 Sunset Blvd.). Opening reception is Saturday, Sept. 21.  For more info visit www.lapunkmuseum.com 
 
To see more or artist Stacey Wells work check out www.artistwells.net. Photos courtesy of Stacey Wells.
 
 
 
 

SSMF Partners With RISK, Ethos Gallery For Two Limited Edition Prints

The Sunset Strip is known for its long history of influencing music and the arts. This year, in celebration of this history, the Sunset Strip Music Festival (SSMF) has partnered with Ethos Gallery and graffiti artist RISK to release two special limited edition SSMF poster prints.
 
“Sunset Strip is California to me. I have so many good memories there. From sneaking into shows when I was in high school, to business meetings as a young adult, to having been celebrated as an accomplished artist for painting a guitar for my heroes, The Doors, last year. Being the first of many great artists to create an annual limited edition poster for the Sunset Strip Music Festival is truly an honor! The Strip continues to be a chronological calendar of highlights in my life,” stated RISK.
 
The 18”x24” prints are numbered and signed by RISK. They will be available online beginning August 1 at www.buckshotprints.com for $100 per print. Only 200 prints are available.
 
“Ethos Gallery is proud to spearhead the first SSMF limited edition prints with world renowned graffiti artist Risk. Believing in the power of art to commemorate the important moments in our lives was our inspiration for this project. We hope this small piece of the festival will serve as a reminder to all who attended of the magic they experienced in 2013,” noted Lisa Falcone, co-founder of Ethos Gallery with Eddie Donaldson.
 
“It is exciting to work with RISK and Ethos Gallery and celebrate the Sunset Strip Music Festival through art. From photography and concert posters to street art, art and music have coexisted on the boulevard for decades. The special prints are a great way to celebrate these two art forms and the music festival,” noted SSMF co-producer and The Roxy owner Nic Adler.
 
Ethos Gallery is also participating in the August 3 SSMF street festival by curating a live art exhibit. Street artist Gregory Siff will be among the artists participating in painting one of the 10-foot-tall Gibson GuitarTown art guitars, which will be auctioned for charity.
 
The all-day street festival will feature performances by Linkin Park, Wale, Awolnation, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Logic, Slick Rick & Doug E. Fresh, Asher Roth, Finch, Street Drum Corps and more. Proceeds from the festival will benefit Music For Relief, the nonprofit organization Linkin Park founded to support disaster relief, provide aid to survivors of natural disasters and support the prevention of such disasters via environmental programs. For information about the festival and tickets, visit www.ssmf.com.
 

Faces Of Gibson GuitarTown: Danny Curnen

Anyone who’s ventured by The Roxy Theatre in the past few years has probably stopped to admire the eye-catching artwork that adorns the venue’s poster boxes. Danny Curnen (a.k.a. Danny Excess) is the artist behind most of The Roxy’s now signature aesthetic show posters, and he is now branching out into the sculptural medium with his own ten-foot tall ZZ Top-inspired Gibson GuitarTown art guitar, which will soon be installed on the fabled boulevard where he lives and works.  
 
With numerous accolades that include being named one of the “Top 10 Poster Artists of 2012” by Creative Bloq (U.K.), creating a design for Lisa Marie Presley that will soon be on permanent display at Elvis Presley’s Graceland, and joining the creative company of other notable GuitarTown artists – such as Kat Von D, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and sculptor Eugene Daub – Curnen is definitely on the fast track to making a name for himself in the art world.  (Oh, and did we also mention that he’s also a professional musician and drummer for L.A. band  Love And A .38?)
 
 
 
How old were you when you first realized that you had real artistic ability?
 
I feel like everyone has artistic ability, it’s just a matter of applying yourself. I think most kids draw during their elementary school years…  And for me, in high school, I really got into punk rock music. I’m from the San Francisco bay area, which was, and is, very rich in punk rock. I became really intrigued by the crude photocopy posters and flyers that all the local punk bands would put out. It was a genre of art that I could relate to and maybe even do myself.
 
I started collecting all of the local independent fanzines, which I would read in all the school classes that I didn't care about. I remember in my high school drafting class the teacher asked me why I wasn't paying attention… I showed him my copy of Maximum Rock N' RolI magazine and responded with "I’m busy getting a real education.” The next semester I took a graphics class at school and began working on my own T-shirts and flyers.  
 
 
 
What challenges have you had, as far as finding a balance between making aesthetically pleasing art for a show versus the marketing of that show? 
 
A lot of band’s agents don't see the value in poster art. Some do, but most don't…  There are a few bands out there, like The Black Keys, that almost always have awesome poster art for their shows, and then there are bands that never do.  
 
Poster art still really isn't a mainstream form of artwork, and a lot of people still don't see the value in creating a piece of art for a band or show. A lot of agents see things in terms of numbers, and they think that a huge photo of an artist with as much information as possible squeezed into the design is what sells a show. 
 
The idea behind poster art is that by creating a work of art for an event, not only do you create an advertisement that won't be thrown away, but you create something that has thought put into it, and that people want, and will even pay money for it.   
 
 
 
Is making art for commerce sake less valid than making art for art’s sake?
 
It can be, but it all depends on how you approach it. I've always looked up to the artists that make a living getting paid to do what they do, instead of getting paid to do exactly what someone tells them to do. This, to me, is the difference between a “graphic designer” and a “poster artist.” Usually when you commission a poster artist, you are paying them for their concept, their vision and their execution. Fortunately, I’m now finding myself more and more in this situation. For the most part, when a company comes to me and commissions me to create something for them, they are asking me for a concept and to do what I do.    
 
 
 
Tell us about your Gibson GuitarTown guitar.  What was your inspiration?
 
I have not done anything at all like this in the past, but I plan on doing a lot more projects like this. It’s great that they asked me to do this, and it’s really great that I get to create a piece that honors a legendary band such as ZZ Top. 
 
I began this project by looking at past GuitarTown guitars, studying what I thought worked and what didn't work so well…  I came up with a lot of really elaborate ideas, but started to realize that those ideas would be too expensive and very time consuming. I considered using an automotive wrap, but I felt that this route would have looked too perfect and corporate, not artistic enough.  
 
There is something to be said about the pieces of eye candy that come in the form of imperfections. I wanted to do something hands-on. When you use your hands to create something from your heart, soul and brain, it’s not going to be technically perfect. My favorite pieces of art and music have imperfections, which, to me, give the piece character.   
 
I decided to go in a street art/wheat paste direction, with imagery based on the ZZ Top car and their album “Eliminator.” Street art is something that I’ve always loved and am very familiar with.  I did a drawing, I tweaked the drawing in Photoshop and Illustrator, and then printed the design on paper in pieces, in black and white. I then hand-cut the design with an X-Acto blade. The glue that I used to bond the design to the guitar is a homemade wheat paste. Next, I distressed the design using spray paint, watercolor, sand paper, coffee, etc. I don't think everyone will quite understand the route that I took, but that’s okay. This is the analog recording approach, not the “edit and compress everything in Pro Tools” approach.  
 
 
 
Where do you go from here?  Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
 
There are two things that I do – art and music. I really just want to grow as much as possible as an artist. I hope that I am able to create pieces of art over the next 10 years that when I look back, I know that the things I made and created were a positive inspiration. To me, the ability to inspire others is the ultimate sign of success.  
 
 
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Danny Curnen’s ZZ Top inspired Gibson GuitarTown Guitar, “The Eliminator,” will be on display at the Saturday, August 3 SSMF street festival before being placed along the boulevard. for public display.  
 
To see more of Curnen’s artwork check out www.dannyexcess.com
 
 
Photos courtesy of Genie Sanchez and Danny Curnen
 
 

2013 Gibson GuitarTown Features Works By Mike Shinoda, Lyle Tuttle & Kat Von D

A new round of giant art guitars are coming to The Sunset Strip! The 2013 installment of Gibson GuitarTown on The Sunset Strip will feature works celebrating 2013 Sunset Strip Music Festival (SSMF) honoree Joan Jett, Janis Joplin, Love, ZZ Top, Alice Cooper and Debbie Harry, among others. The guitars will be unveiled at a private ceremony on July 17 and will be on display at the Saturday, August 3 SSMF street festival before being placed along the boulevard for public display.
 
A range of artists participated in the 2013 installment, including Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, tattoo artist Kat Von D, tattoo artist Lyle Tuttle, who was close friends with Janis Joplin, sculptor Eugene Daub, who recently created the Rosa Parks sculpture for the U.S. capitol, and jewelry designer Kathy Rose
 
As in previous years, the 2013 Gibson GuitarTown art guitars will be auctioned for charity at the end of their “tour.” Proceeds from the auction will benefit Music For Relief, the nonprofit organization Linkin Park founded to support disaster relief, provide aid to survivors of natural disasters and support the prevention of such disasters via environmental programs. 
 
Collectively, the previous auctions have raised more than $106,600 for charities, including the Los Angeles Fund for Education’s “Arts Matter” campaign, which funds art and music education programs in Los Angeles public schools; the Los Angeles Youth Network, which provides services for homeless youth; West Hollywood Library and funds to support public art in West Hollywood.  
 
The full list of guitars being unveiled at the July 17 launch includes:
 

Danny Curnen, “The Eliminator”

Mixed media guitar inspired by the music and influence of rock and roll band ZZ Top. (Performances at Whisky, House of Blues Sunset Strip.)

Graphic designer Danny Curnen was recently named one of the ‘Top 10 Poster Artists of 2012’ by Creative Bloq (UK). His design for Lisa Marie Presley will soon find a permanent home on display at Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, TN. His artwork has been featured at legendary festivals such as South By Southwest, the Sunset Strip Music Festival and the Los Angeles Vegan Beer Festival, and he is the official poster art and graphic designer for The Roxy.

 

Eugene Daub, “Call Me”

Mixed media guitar inspired by the music and influence of Debbie Harry, lead singer of Blondie. (Performed at the Whisky.)

Eugene Daub is the recipient of the highest National Awards for sculpture and relief sculpture. He is the president of the American Medallic Sculpture Association, and a fellow and board member of the National Sculpture Society. Over the last 30 years Daub has designed and created many public art commissions for the United States government, private foundations, universities and corporations and has exhibited in the British Museum and the Smithsonian Institute, among other locations. His sculpture of Rosa Parks was unveiled by President Obama on March 27, 2013, in the U.S Capitol, Statuary Hall. The concept and pedestal were a collaboration with Rob Firmin. 

 

Simone Gad, “Dolly Parton and The Sunset Towers”

Mixed media, abstract guitar inspired by country music legend Dolly Parton. (Performed at The Roxy.)

Simone Gad is a self-taught visual artist who has exhibited in local, national and international museums and galleries for more than 44 years. Gad is a six-time grant recipient and Getty-sponsored PST artist who was featured in Lyn Kienholtz's encyclopedia, “L.A. Rising; So Cal Artists Before 1980,” among other numerous publications. Her guitar is part of a continuing series of paintings that focus on Los Angeles architectural monuments and famous females. 

 

Tsipi Mani, “Unvarnished”

Mixed media guitar celebrating 2013 Sunset Strip Music Festival honoree Joan Jett. (Performances at the Whisky.)

Tsipi Mani is a multi-media painter and sculptor with skills working in oils, clay, acrylic, bronze, aluminum and steel. Her paintings and statues fill her home and can be seen in a Beverly Hills gallery, as well as in a few commercial buildings in West Hollywood.

 

Juliana Martinez, “Don Jose, Que Chévere!”

Tile and mixed media guitar inspired by legendary guitarist Jose Feliciano. (Performed at The Roxy, Whisky.)

Juliana Martinez created her first mosaic at age 9 and was hooked. She currently creates public art pieces and accepts private commissions. This is her third contribution to the GuitarTown on The Sunset Strip art project. In 2010 she created a mosaic guitar celebrating the "Summer of Love” and in 2012 she created “There’s Something Happening Here” celebrating Buffalo Springfield. 

 

Kathy Rose, “Alanis Morissette Utopia”

Guitar embellished with semi-precious stones, natural material and mixed media. Inspired by the music and message of singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette. (Performances at the Whisky, House of Blues Sunset Strip.)

Kathy Rose is a recognized jewelry designer and businesswoman. She owns and operates Roseark gallery in West Hollywood and Santa Monica, and has launched Kaviar Jewelry and Native Rose clothing line. She also serves as the accessories editor for Foam magazine. 

 

Mike Shinoda, “Soldier In Repose”

Acrylic and spray paint. Linkin Park's first shows ever were played on Sunset Boulevard. In this illustration, the band's iconic "Hybrid Theory" soldier is shown in a moment of reflection. (Performances at The Roxy, House of Blues Sunset Strip.)

Mike Shinoda is a songwriter, performer, record producer and visual artist. He is best known for his vocal and musical endeavors with two-time Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum alternative band Linkin Park. Shinoda graduated with a B.F.A. in Illustration from Art Center College of Design in 1998 and received an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 2009. He has a hand in most artistic facets of Linkin Park’s artwork and imagery, including art for the band's albums, merchandise, web and stage.

 

Lyle Tuttle & Mark Phillips, “Tribute To My Friend, Janis Joplin”

Mixed media guitar celebrating the colorful music career of Janis Joplin. The design features her portrait, signature, tattoos and other mementos of her life. (Performed at the Whisky.)

Lyle Tuttle is a well-known American tattoo artist and tattoo historian. Tuttle opened his first tattoo studio in San Francisco in 1954. He has tattooed Janis Joplin, Cher, Henry Fonda and Paul Stanley among others.  

 

Kat Von D, “City Of Angels”

Graphite on paper and graphic wrap guitar using a modern day approach to the old school black and grey style of fine-line tattoo art. The guitar celebrates the prominence of the Mexican art culture that originated in the 1970s, here on the streets of Los Angeles.

Kat Von D is a renowned tattoo artist and the star of the former hit television series LA Ink, which ran for five successful years. She is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, High Voltage Tattoo, The Tattoo Chronicles and Go Big or Go Home. She is the creator of a popular makeup and fragrance line for Sephora. She is also the founder of Wonderland Gallery, an art gallery and boutique located next to her tattoo shop, High Voltage Tattoo, in West Hollywood, where she resides with her awesome hairless cat, Piaf. 

 

Stacey Wells, “Welcome To My Nightmare”

Paint and mixed media guitar inspired by musician Alice Cooper. (Performances at the Whisky, House of Blues Sunset Strip.)

Stacey Wells has become a familiar face on The Sunset Strip, recently creating a collection of art she calls “Reflections of the Strip,” which features musicians who have made it big after starting on The Sunset Strip as well as new, talented bands that are paving their way today, playing at The Roxy, the Whisky and the Viper Room. 

 

The Wizard, “Forever Changes”

Graphic wrap guitar inspired by iconic 1960s L.A. band Love. (Performed at the Whisky.)

Born in a nondenominational hospital to two able-bodied humans in the year of our Lord 1984, The Wizard has spent the last 29 years traveling the Earth, harshing mellows. The Wizard currently spends his time farming hair, clicking furiously and making dreams real.

 
Additionally, artists from Ethos Gallery will create a live art piece during the 2013 SSMF street festival on August 3. The artists will paint the guitar outdoors throughout the day. Ethos Gallery, located in the heart of the Los Angeles art scene, specializes in fine art, street art, and live art installations.
 
Gibson GuitarTown on The Sunset Strip originally launched in August 2010 with 20 10-foot tall fiberglass Gibson Les Paul model guitars strategically placed along the legendary Sunset Strip. Each guitar sculpture celebrates a musician, personality or artist unique to The Sunset Strip’s history. Previous years have included works by artists Shepard Fairey, RISK, Tristan Eaton and John Kosh and have celebrated The Doors, Buffalo Springfield, Van Halen, Stevie Nicks, Jane’s Addiction, Slash, The Runaways and Cheech & Chong among others. 
  
 
 
Photo: Mike Shinoda's guitar in progress.

5 Questions With Brent Amaker

If Sergio Leone and Quentin Tarantino picked up guitars instead of cameras, chances are their music would’ve sounded pretty damn close to Brent Amaker and The Rodeo. The Seattle-based six-piece recently stopped by the Viper Room on The Sunset Strip to bring their new record, Year Of The Dragon, to a growing cult following of fans across the U.S.
 
Before donning their crisp, white western wears and taking the stage, Mr. Amaker himself took a moment to speak with TSS.com about their much buzzed about new full length, the blur of life on the road and the quest for – of all things – a laundry detergent sponsor…
 
 
Western music from Seattle? What are the origins of The Rodeo?
 
Me and a group of friends decided to try and write some western songs influenced by music from the past…  It's been a long time since modern country music has had any real attitude.  
 
When we first formed, we were riding our motorcycles to our gigs. That was the one thing we all had in common – we liked to ride. But in the end, the bikes were a logistical nightmare. So we ditched 'em and kept our focus on the music!
 
 
 
Tell us about the new album, Year Of The Dragon. Is there an overall theme?
 
2012 was actually the year of the dragon, and that's when we did most of the work. The overall theme is based on our travels, I suspect…  
 
We take a western cinematic attitude and apply that to things we've experienced as a band. And if you think about it, most western films are based on cowboys traveling and overcoming obstacles. That's what we do; most of the things I write about are inspired by real life. And while this project may have started as a concept, we now live it every day.  
 
At this point the songs are coming from a very real place.
 
 
 
Who would be your dream collaboration?
 
I'd love to work with Mark Mothersbaugh. DEVO is one of my favorite bands of all time. We are influenced by a lot of music in film, and Mark is "the man" when it comes to scoring soundtracks. If I could ever get him to produce one of our records, that'd be the shit!
 
 
 
What's the story behind your song "Tequila Cerveza?"
 
I've found that touring as a band can be a lot like an episode of the “Twilight Zone.” Every day leads to a new town, and every day becomes a time loop of driving to the gig, loading in and playing the set. It becomes your reality, and it's not like any other reality out there.
 
"Tequila Cerveza,” to me, represents that moment I step on stage on a night when I've been touring too long. I can't even imagine what's happening with the people who are in the crowd. I don't know what they did with their day. I don't know there problems. So the best thing I can say to a room full of strangers is "let's drink!”
 
 
 
Please recount your most infamous rock n' roll road story.
 
A lot of people of have been talking about the time I ate a bloody steak on stage. Our girl Bunny took her shirt off and served it to me with a glass of wine. The band kept right on playing and we kicked back into our set the second I was finished eating. I really enjoyed that experience. I felt like a king!
 
 
 
Bonus question: What's the secret to keeping crisp, sparkling white outfits when on the road?
 
We wear our matching black outfits during the day, and change into the white ones right before we perform. When we're done, it's back to black. I'd really like to find a laundry detergent sponsor soon so I have a better answer to this question.
 
 
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Brent Amaker And The Rodeo are currently touring the U.S.  Their new album, Year Of The Dragon, is available on iTunes.
 
 
 
 
 
Photos courtesy of Jessica Pix, RocketQueen Photography
 
 
 

THE SUNSET STRIP REMEMBERS RAY MANZAREK OF THE DOORS

 

The Doors’ founding keyboardist, Ray Manzarek passed away today at the age of 74, after a long battle with cancer. 

 

As the honoree of the 2012 Sunset Strip Music Festival, Manzarek and the other founding members of The Doors were recognized by the city of West Hollywood and the legendary venues along The Strip for their immense contributions, impact and legacy that has helped make this fabled boulevard the landmark destination it is today.  

 

Those who attended last year’s SSMF streetfest (pictured above) were fortunate enough to witness one of Manzarek’s last performances jamming alongside fellow Doors band mate, guitarist Robby Krieger, in the middle of The Sunset Strip—the place where it all began.

 

 

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Tonight at 9:30 p.m. all the venues along The Sunset Strip will dim their lights to pay their respects to Mr. Manzarek.

 

Read our 2011 interview with Ray Manzarek where he humbly expresses how he wants to be remembered.  

 

 

 

Brent X Mendoza