Punk Cartoonist Brian Walsby on New Hardcore Bands: "Who Cares Anyways if You Think It Sucks?"
Brian Walsby has been playing music and creating original content for almost three decades.
Brian Walsby has been plying his musical and artistic crafts for longer than many of us have been able to wipe our own asses unassisted, yet the California native and longtime Raleigh, North Carolina, resident remains humble as he adjusts to life as a father three years shy of becoming a quinquagenarian. I had the good fortune of getting ahold of him before his upcoming tour with the Melvins, and he was kind enough to answer some questions.
In this, the second half of our interview, we discuss topics ranging from the influx of memes on our culture and how he's integrated them into his artwork, how active he currently is as a drummer, the Descendents versus ALL, and his philosophy on punk rock exclusiveness.
New Times: You've pulled from a number of classic comic sources, from Peanuts to "Goofus & Gallant" to Mad Magazine vignettes, however, more recently, you've begun doing your own interpretation of memes, such as the Batman-slapping-Robin meme, which you did probably 50 versions of (the majority of them hilarious). Are the meme works kind of throwaways meant only for the online crowd or will we maybe see these in printed form as well?
DC Comics may make a stink about it, though that hasn't stopped you before. Do you see yourself, as the internet continues to integrate itself into every nook and cranny of daily life, doing more of that kind of work?
Brian Walsby: They are only throwaways in the fact that if I have a funny idea, I can do them really quick and put them up there in Internet land. I have done a lot more of that stuff this year and I think it's great, actually. Never before has it been so easy to share what you do with people, and you can get feedback really quick. Sometimes, it worries me how much time I spend on the internet and how utterly dependent I have become on it but it is a great tool. I have definitely benefited greatly because of it. I have sold a decent amount of stuff just from being on Facebook alone.
No plans for any printed versions of that stuff. I am not in a financial position to do any of that stuff myself and I also don't really know the legalities of these parodies and other swipes that I do. I imagine there are some but they are pretty much in the spirit of Mad Magazine, so I don't know... Has Mad Magazine been sued before? I am sure they have, but I don't really know.
Brian playing drums with Double Negative a couple of years ago.
How are things going with your band, Double Negative? I imagine that it's tougher finding time with everything else you have going on, however I know you just recently played a show with them. Would you ever think of bringing the band on tour with you when you go out with the Melvins?
I haven't been in Double Negative for at least a few years now. Pretty much four months after Willow was born, I played my last show with them.
There was a lot of turmoil in the decision to step down when I did. Basically I was this position where I was trying to please both my home life and my band life, and I was doing a really poor job with both of them. The two main things behind everything was the fact that two of the guys really wanted to pursue the band more seriously at that point, and two of the other guys have children in their lives, and the two never really met. We all have known each other forever but things got really heated and I was really mad for a while afterwards.
I was honestly just mad at myself really. I sort of blamed them for the choices I had made in my life. Not with Willow, but with everything else. They knew it, too. I was supposed to have made this sacrifice and quit the band, and meanwhile I was in this situation and its basically two nice people that really don't have a great relationship and they just had a kid. Yeah, it sucked.
As things have turned out, recently, I have reconnected with Justin and mainly Scott. He had kind of gone through something similar minus the kid part. We have always had sort of a strange relationship, a love-hate thing. But he was one of the only people that got in touch with me to see how I was doing, and that does mean a lot. And recently Scott called me up to ask if I wanted to fill in for a bit and I jumped at the chance. We practiced three times and played a show. Next month there will probably be a handful of shows and maybe a little recording and that is going to be it.
I am also playing with these three other friends of mine (Clay Merritt, Tom Hailey, Joshua Pankte) in this project that is going to yield a really nice recording coming hopefully fairly soon, and I am pretty excited about it. It's a lot different than Double Negative and probably more my speed these days. But the important thing is that we patched up whatever friction that was there and it's like taking care of a little unfinished business. At least that is how I see it. It's been only good stuff, and none of the bad stuff.
If you could assemble a fantasy band comprised of anyone, living or dead, who would be in it? You've got a drummer, two guitarists, a bassist and a vocalist to work with. Go!
Oh man... How do you answer a question like that? Okay let's see... The singer is going to be Scott Walker circa 1966. The bassist is going to be the late Tracy Pew of the Birthday Party. One of the guitar players is going to be Zoot Horn Rollo of the Plastic Band. The other guitar player is going to be the late Denis D'Amour aka "Piggy" of Voi Vod. And for drums, I am going to go with George Hurley of the Minutemen, right after the band recorded the Punch Line record.
What are the three main albums currently in rotation on your record player, mp3 player, CD player, tape deck, etc.?
I have usually these week long obsessions with some band. It changes all of the time. So the last three obsessions I have had have been the Blue Oyster Cult, the Beach Boys, and Slayer.
You said in an interview once that, "anyone who's offended by this [your comic send-ups] probably deserves to be." Has there ever been an instance where you've regretted writing something negative about someone? Did they ever directly contact you about it? If so, how did that play out?
I used to have these run-ins with people years and years ago, but nothing really worth mentioning because it's nothing I want to gloat over. I will admit that back then there was some sort of a little thrill when I realized that mere paper and pen could produce such spectacular misunderstandings but not so much anymore. Now those things are just business as usual.
That doesn't really happen anymore, even with the internet. I don't think I have any done anything that bad. It's not like I am drawing cartoons where I am saying that I wish someone would drop dead of a horrible disease or whatever. It's pointing out funny things that are basically representing something that has some truth in it, something that goes back to satire in things like Mad Magazine.
I stand by that quote, too. It's really not that big of a deal, or at least it shouldn't be.
Walsby has become renowned for his satirical send-ups.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? In others?
In other people: sheep like mentality. In myself: I am going to go with being too hard on myself.
You've got a couple of sweet ALL shirts for sale on your website. What's your favorite "era" of theirs, if you have one, and where does Milo fit into that? Also, are you excited for Filmage?
I can't wait to see it! I am, for sure, a fan of the Descendents and ALL. I am not sure why ALL always gets the short end of the stick since, aside from the involvement of Milo Aukerman, it's been the same three musicians since I think 1987 or so. Both have had good records and at least one record I am not crazy about, but they are usually very consistent.