November 21, 2012
Bad Brains are one of my all-time favorite groups!! I first heard Bad Brains in 1984 on the seminal hardcore compilation LET THEM EAT JELLYBEANS which included their track “Pay To Cum”. I loved the song and I was hungry for more. My friend had the ROIR cassette first Bad Brains album and I was hooked. The record had blistering speed, power, (positive mental)attitude, aggression, and a heap of great melody. On top of the great hardcore songs, there were reggae songs on the album that made it much easier for me to admit to my punk friends that I was secretly Jammin’ to Bob Marley.
I made home-made t-shirts on both white(drawn with sharpie) and black(paper-cut stencil) of the iconic first album cover with the Capitol being struck by lightning. I love the ROIR album and Rock For Light, but I was blown away when I picked up I Against I, the bands third album, which diversified their sound with funk grooves, metal flourishes, soulful vocals and song speeds other than “the fastest”. When I saw that the song “I Against I” was playing on MTV’s 120 Minutes I thought that Bad Brains would surely achieve the commercial success they deserved to complement the critical acclaim they’d earned. That didn’t happen because this world isn’t always just and Bad Brains were too far ahead of the curve.
I first saw Bad Brains live in ’89 on the tour for Quickness, the follow up album to I Against I at the same venue in Providence R.I. where the video for ”I Against I” had been shot. The show was one of the most energetic and chaotic I have ever been to. The venue was WAY over capacity and the crowd was completely possessed by the music. I was amazed by HR’s showmanship and the band’s chops… they were f’ing tight even though the scene was unhinged!
I’ve seen Bad Brains many more times since then. I’ve also made a few art pieces in tribute to Bad Brains over the years, and through my friend Glen E. Friedman I was able to do an official art collaboration with the band in 2008. As a result of that collaboration, I became acquaintances with bassist Darryl Jenifer who asked me if I’d be interested in doing the art for the upcoming Bad Brains album which featured the band’s original lineup. It was hard for me to grasp that a band I loved so much would consider me to do their album art, but of course I said “hell yeah”. Darryl shared some of the songs from the “Into The Future” album and they ROCKED! I think the material on this record has a vibe similar to I Against I as powerful but with a great groove.
I’m incredibly honored to create art for this release and to be connected to a band that has provided so much inspiration, energy, and sheer pleasure for me over the years. Thanks Bad Brains! There will be a limited edition 18×24 screen-printed poster of the cover art released in conjunction with the album. All four members of Bad Brains and I will sign it. Stay tuned and keep that P.M.A.