Friday, July 30, 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Barbarian Riot Squad - UK Bootleg '85

My friend Harper just sent me this email with photo attached:
"Dude, a guy my wife went to high school with in New York heard about the buzz on BRS and sent an iphone snapshot of this LP he got from his older brother in '85!"

I almost forgot this thing even existed. Thankfully, this was a pretty rare UK released bootleg of Barbarian Riot Squad's first EP with some really poorly recorded live tracks from a few shows in and around London on the B side. I've been told that this bootleg can go for upwards of $200 on eBay.

Please don't waste your money on this shoddy bootleg! Laser Beams Records will be releasing an official copy of the first BRS EP later in 2010.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Nerve Agents "Kill Your Idols/ Nerve Agents Split EP"

Here's an out of print gem from my old band, The Nerve Agents, that I'm making available for free download now. This was the last recording I did with the band.
The cover of The Nerve Agents side of the split.
This split EP was the result of a friendship we gained with Kill Your Idols after doing a short tour on the East Coast with them in the Summer of 1999. The idea was for each band to do two original songs and one cover song each. Kill Your Idols covered "Goodbye to You" by Scandal and we covered "Suffragette City" by David Bowie. For obvious reasons I can't post the Kill Your Idols side for download, but their side is fantastic! As a matter of fact, all their stuff is great and I recommend it highly!
The Nerve Agents in Falls Church, VA 1999

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Humble Beginning of Barbarian Riot Squad

Barbarian Riot Squad started simply out of a necessity to create some original punk rock music to score an animated short I'm planning to work on in the future. As I was starting to write the songs, I realized just how much I've missed playing , especially hardcore punk rock! That's my roots and despite the fact that I've gotten older and don't necessarily look that punk very much anymore, I've always considered myself a punk for life! Thus, Barbarian Riot Squad was born.

This is my first foray into being a solo musician. I hope to get a band together so I can play live shows with this stuff. In any case, I'll be releasing Barbarian Riot Squad music and records from time to time. Right now, I'm working on a 5 song EP that I hope to have out before the end of the year.

Below are some sample clips of what I have recorded so far. These clips are works in progress. They have not been mixed or mastered and I still need to record the vocal tracks. I'm posting these now so that you can get an idea of the direction I'm taking with Barbarian Riot Squad.

I might use the design pictured above for a t-shirt or a patch or both.

Using some of the influence I've taken from some of the "Cartoon Modern" art style I've been really into, I made this illustration for Barbarian Riot Squad. I also, made 3 wallpapers using this image for anyone interested.
 Click below to get the wallpaper:

16:10 aspect ratio
16:9 aspect ratio
4:3 aspect ratio

See you in the pit!

The Nerve Agents "Self-Titled"

This record is still in print and can be purchased cheaply through Revelation Records. I played bass and guitar on this one respectively as Kevin C. and K.Cross, Eric Ozenne did vocals, Tim Presely also played guitar, and Andy Granelli played Drums.


Here's an out-of-print recording from one of my old bands for you to download. This time its GOODFELLAS, one of the lesser known groups I was part of. We hailed from Oakland, CA from about 1995- 1998. During the lifetime of the band, we recorded one full length LP and one 7" EP. Personally, I don't mind if the LP is lost to time and remains hidden, but I'm still pretty happy with the "E.B.S.R." EP we did. Its really when the band was coming into a sound and direction that I preferred. Friends of ours in other bands, such as Screw 32 and A.F.I., were calling their style of punk rock E.B.H.C. for East Bay Hard Core. So, being the cheeky skate punks that we were, we decided to call our style of punk rock E.B.S.R. for East Bay Skate Rock.

The first lineup for GOODFELLAS was Shawn Chatelain on guitar, Will Thompson on bass, Tom Landon on guitar, Jude Ramirez on drums, and I did vocals. By the time we recorded "E.B.S.R.", Brian Hood had replaced Tom on guitar. Soon after that recording, Will left the band and I played bass as well as did vocals for the remainder of the band's existence.

Although, this wasn't one of the more successful bands I was in, I miss this time incredibly as well as all the guys in the band. Unfortunately, I've lost contact with a couple of them and I only get to see the others on very rare occasions.

Enough rambling. Here's the GOODFELLAS "E.B.S.R." EP...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

BIG RIG "Expansive Heart + Demo"

Excerpt taken from the Lookout Records catalog:

"Originally released in 1994, this EP was recorded by a short-lived San Francisco bay are supergroup of sorts that featured vocalist Jesse Michaels’ (Common Rider, Classics Of Love) return to music after the seminal punk/ska band Operation Ivy broke up in 1989. Big Rig also included members of Screw 32 and Pitch Black. These four songs are unique melodic punk with Jesse’s trademark vocal style. This record has become a sought-after classic because of its memorable music, emotional power and passionate lyrics. Original packaging artwork by Jesse Michaels."

Purchase this release at
Purchase this release as a digital download

BIG RIG wasn't around for long. We only recorded one 7"/CD EP and a demo. The band started with me on guitar and two friends from high school, Brandon Riggen on drums and Doug Sangalang on guitar. We soon got Jeremy Goody, who would later play keyboard for Pitch Black, on bass and Jesse Michaels on vocals. In 1994, Lookout Records put out the "Expansive Heart" EP:
Track List:
1. Expansive Heart
2.Will Alone
3. New Fist
4. Persistance
Liner notes in the insert of the vinyl release of "Expansive Heart" say, "BIG RIG was a short term musical project. We played for a couple of months this year (1993) and then went onto other things. We decided to put out this record simply because we developed a liking for some of our songs and thought it would suck if nobody heard them."

Before we had decided to make it a "short term musical project" we recorded a demo in 1993:
On the demo are different versions for three of the songs that would wind up on "Expansive Heart" and three songs that have never been released before now.

Track List:
1. Escape From The Freezing Ice Hut
2. Our Secret Hours
3. Mr. Down and Out
4. Will Alone
5. Expansive Heart
6. New Fist
Click below to download the demo. The last track I've included in this download is a work in progress that never got finished. Its added here for posterity. The sound quality for the work in progress and the demo version of "New Fist" has some crackle, but they were transferred from an old cassette tape.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Origin of "Monsters Are Go!" & my Dad

"Monsters Are Go!" is an all ages comic story I've had kicking around in my head for a few years now. I've been pretty lax in doing much work on it because of my freelance work and a ton of other lame excuses. The fire to complete the first "Monsters Are Go!" book has been re-stoked hotter than it has ever been since the initial excitement of finishing the first draft. I have my Dad to thank for that.

In the Spring of 2006, my Dad got sick and was hospitalized. He had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease a year or two earlier and was not reacting very favorably to his medication. Initially, his stay in the hospital didn't seem like it would be too serious . Everyone, including my Dad, thought he wouldn't be in for too long, the doctor would find a better medication, and everything would be cool. In fact, I talked to him on the phone and he seemed optimistic and in relatively good spirits.

I can't remember exactly when, only how I felt, that I got a call from my Dad's wife telling me it was important that I came to the hospital right away. What had originally been thought to be complications with the Parkinson's medication was actually a rare kidney disease that I can't spell and can barely pronounce. Over the course of the next couple months, my Dad was hooked up to a dialysis machine a million times and I was traveling from San Francisco, CA to Woodland, CA a lot. Some days my Dad was alright, but mostly, they were either bad or worse.

My Dad's doctor ended up calling a meeting with the family. I really wanted good news, but knew it would be the contrary. To sum up what she said, "We've done everything we can. Your Dad is dying." I think my Dad was being told at the same time because, when I returned to his room, the look on his face was the saddest and most fearful expression I have ever seen first hand. My heart ripped apart. Perhaps its needless to say, I was destroyed. I'll never forget the look in his eyes.

In between tears, my Dad wanted to hear everything that was going on with me. I told him that I was thinking about moving to Portland and about my new girlfriend Laura (Now, my wife). When I had run out of the important life stuff to tell him, I told him about "a dumb little story" that I was thinking about doing as a comic book. He wanted to hear the whole story. I mean, all of it. In detail. This wasn't too surprising. My Dad was usually pretty supportive and interested in the things that interested me. For Example, when I was a teenager, I became a punk rocker and started a band. So, my Dad sound proofed the garage and pretended the songs we wrote were awesome. But I digress...

There was a dry erase board, in my Dad's hospital room, that I used to illustrate the characters and some scenes from my "dumb little story" I was thinking about calling "Monsters Are Go!". On the same day we found out my Dad would be dead soon, my story made him smile and it got some genuine laughs out of him. At the end of the story, his eyes saddened again. He quietly said, " I wish I could see it."

That was the last time I saw him.

For some unrecognized reason, this morning as I sat down to work, this memory came in and clobbered me from out of nowhere. Damn, I miss him.

After the waterworks chilled out a bit, "Monsters Are Go!" became extremely important for me to finish. So... Dad. "Monsters Are Go!" is for you. And because... I wish I could see it too.


"Monsters Are Go!" has gotten derailed a few times since its inception. There were large gaps of time where I just couldn't seem to get to it because of wedding planning, getting married out of state, the honeymoon, freelance work, my need to generate income was causing me to work some extremely ungodly hours, and, honestly, a little fear. Also, I created a comic character named Monkey Mod. The response to this character initially over-shadowed any images or rumblings I ever made about "Monsters Are Go!". Therefore, it only made sense to direct my focus on Monkey Mod.

Despite everything, I haven't stopped thinking about "Monsters Are Go!". In fact, there have been a couple false starts, re-writes, and format changes. I still believe in this story, so I'm switching gears and putting Monkey Mod on hiatus until I finish a "Monsters Are Go!" book. 


Below is some of the art I have made for "Monsters Are Go!" over the past few years. I hope this will not only show the past work that I have done on this project that will never get used, but also show my progression as I wrap my head around this cartooning thing.

This is the piece of art that got the idea for this story rolling. Originally, it was just a rainy afternoon drawing. Later, I started to have ideas for this character, who is now called Gordon the Muck Monster, in my scripts.

This image was going to appear as on the title page of the first version of the book. The guitar chord that runs off the page was going to continue underneath the dedication and publishing/copyright information pages.

The guitar chord would eventually lead to this page, which is the page right before the first page of the story in the original version. Its making me cringe to look back at some of this stuff, as I think my skills have grown quite a bit.
Anyway, this is the first character design I settled on for the character called Miles the Mystery Ape.

This next image is from page 1 of the first version of the comic.

Page 2 of version 1. At the time I liked the characters here in this angry mob, but that is one boring page. Not dynamic at all. But hey, I did this page years ago. I think I fixed it in version 2 of this same scene thankfully.

Page 3 of version 1. There are a few things I see wrong with this image, but I still like certain aspects of it. For example, the look on Gordon's face and the telephone poles & wires behind him.

Page 4 of version 1. Oh man is right! Its hard to look back a few years at this stuff and see some of the bad choices made. On the upside, I am thankful that I see the progression I've made, as an illustrator, by looking at these old things.

Page 5 of version 1. This page was intended to be a full bleed page and kind of mimic Miles' introduction in a similar way that Gordon had.

Page 1 of version 2. I know the image says its page 9, but I was counting all the pages including dedication pages, etc. that were leading up to this. It is however the first page of the next version of the story. I obviously changed the format and had done another re-write at this point. I wanted to change the format to be released the same size as a 7" inch record since the story is basically about little monsters in a rock and roll band.

Page 2 of version 2.

Page 3 of version 2. Pages 1-3 of this second version are my retelling of the action in page 1 of version 1. After reviewing version 1, I didn't think that the storytelling was nearly clear enough & I added some silly dialogue to these newer pages to give Gordon some instant character development the first version lacked. Some of the dialogue I wrote for this version has made it to my latest draft.

Page 4 of version 2. Here I made the scene from page 2 of version 1 much more dynamic. After this page, I ran out of steam on this version. This page was created right before I had to start traveling back and forth from Oregon to California to deal with my wedding planning. I also got slammed with illustration work at the same time.

Right when I got back from my honeymoon, I made these images for some 1" buttons I was going to produce. I thought better of that idea when I reminded myself that I only had finished 4 pages of the 96 I had planned for the final book, and I had better just concentrate on that instead of merchandising right away. I guess I was a just excited and over zealous. My thought when it came to picking the color scheme for these characters was that of the colors of an ice crean shop.
From left to right, these are the faces of Gordon, Miles, and (for the first time outside of my sketchbook) Kalliope Kaiju.

At the very end of the December of 2008, I started to get frustrated with how long this project was taking to get off the ground. So, I began flirting with the idea of making "Monsters Are Go!" a children's picture book. I created this image not only to see what coloring style I might use for the comic, should I continue along that path, but more to see what a page of the picture book might look like.

This is the last "Monsters Are Go!" illustration I have produced to date. I had to hastily make this for the inclusion in an art book that the Emerald City Comic Con put together to benefit the Seattle Children's Hospital in April 2009.
This illustration also shows the first time I've drawn Kalliope's full body outside of my sketchbook.


So there you have it. The idea began in 2005, while I was just finishing up art school, and has been kicking around in my head ever since. I've been working on a new draft of the story and, so far, it is my favorite one. I'm currently working on a re-vamp of the character designs as well. Its probably obvious though, as I feel that I have become a better writer and illustrator over these past few years. I'll be posting all of my progress as soon as possible.