Thursday, 30 August 2012

Interview: Glenn Smith

Glenn Smith's instantly recognisable art has become iconic within Australia's underground/heavy music communities, and continues to spread to wider audiences. His images drip with his unique brand of stylised, hyper colourful horror and gore, but the strongest impact of his work is in its savage humour and sardonic commentary. Jon Dangerous interviewed Glenno in July, and we are proud to present the results here. 

Jon Dangerous: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. 

Glenn Smith: Grew up in Orange, lived in Sydney. Did Lawnsmell. Sydney spat me out back to the hometown, but now I’m back, harder and faster than before. Married to my best friend Gina and killing it with art…paying the rent at least. Got a new band called Chinese Burns Unit and life rules with my 2 cats, Pishy and Cha-chi. 

JD: One of the first things I saw that you had done was the Necrotardation comic. Are there plans for, I mean the band, to do anything else? 

GS: I would like to, but my thunder was stolen by Metalocalypse. Necrotardation was the original, but they had the budget and the celebrity voices. I also lost my drive for doing comics. Illustrations are far more satisfying to do and as a result, I get to say more, quickly and often. Everyone knows that bands like Necrotardation never really die...we may see some sort of retardmetal revival. If Sadistik Exekution can keep surprising the naysayers, anything is possible. 

JD: You have often worked with Ben Hutchings. Are there any more plans to collaborate à la the Glenjamin stuff? 

GS: Love to but as the ball rolls quicker down the hill, inertia keeps things on a straight track. It’s hard to do side projects when there is rent to be paid. I still think Ben Hutchings is the greatest and I’d love to do more stuff with him if the chance arose. I still have a box of those books to shift. 

JD: Your art involves a lot of lines (tattoo artists hate it). Other than the main subjects of your work, I often see weird and wonderful things when looking at the line detail of your art. Am I crazy? How intentional is this? 

GS: You are just as crazy as me, I’m sure of that. Seen your stagecraft in action over the last few years and you are a nut. The devil is in the detail. The opposite can be said of really simple art, but it’s not my thing to reduce things to blocks of simple colour. Lines are great for creating shapes and movement. Artline pens are marvelous. Sometimes I intend a subtle line thing but everyone gets a little something different from all types of art, that’s why it’s so great. It’s not a simple finite thing. [It’s] like good music you can listen to all your life, receiving different things on each listen. 

JD: Something I’ve always enjoyed about your artwork is your ability to take the piss out of pretty much anything. Do you ever find yourself working on something and chuckling away about it? Has it ever stopped you going through with an idea ‘cause it was perhaps a little “too much”? Who's next in line for some schtick? 

GS: I crack myself up. If I don’t it’s a failure. I am my audience and this way I connect to others of a similar bent. Outraging those that walk a different path is the greatest gift to culture you can give. “Too much” is sometimes dancing around taboos and political correctness but I still believe parody is in everything. It’s in the intent and cleverness of execution where your success is found. The world shits me in so many ways. There is so much parody that isn’t funny. My favourite targets at the moment are the religious (any) and the terrible, so-called alternative music that is being sold about the place. 

JD: What art stuff do you have in the pipeline?

Luckily I have my site up and running so you can see my output ( I just did the Frenzal Rhomb art, new Summonus art, new Church of Misery tour poster…but THEY JUST PULLED OUT!!!!!! I believe you are better off just checking in on my site every now and then. I don’t quit creating. I better have an exhibition soon, a bit of show and tell would be a good break from this rotten little office.

JD: Tell us about the band, and can we expect to see you guys in Canberra any time soon? 

GS: Can’t count on us doing Canberra soon. We barely play by design as well as logistics. We are all very busy with life and other bands. John Irish is in a stack – he plays drums – Pure Evil Trio and Black Vat Trio. Jonny T is the other guitarist and he plays in The Optionals, Grand Fatal, Brave the Burrito. And Jay sings in a little band called Frenzal Rhomb. I’m writing/singing almost all the songs and demoing them with Jay. Jay pretty much pulled my sorry arse out of “retirement". Didn’t think I’d do music again, too much of a hassle, but this band is super fun and super casual. The music is fun, catchy punk shit. It’s great being able to do harmonies and stuff. Feedback is that it’s similar to Lawnsmell but a whole lot more thought out, heavy and a little less naïve. It’s a style I suppose that is classic but no one is really doing it around the place – simple punk shit with none of the bullshit of scene awareness or a big plan.  

JD: Chinese Burns Unit have more songs than Axl Rose did for Chinese Democracy. Are there any plans for a release or several? 

GS: The album, vinyl, is almost done, followed by a split with the awesome Dick Nasty (hopefully soon). I’ve demoed so many songs that there may be a CD giveaway of these ditties at a gig soon. CBU is a time-poor band. We are rich in tunes and some sort of balance will need to be found to keep the releases flowing. I have 100 plus songs done, and some of them are rippers. I can’t give you an exact breakdown of the quality/quantity equation. We rule though. 

JD: Any last words or advice for budding young artists out there? 

GS: Keep it original, don’t be too precious, learn all the disciplines. Carry a book to sketch ideas and concepts – you’ll forget your best thoughts and observations if you don’t get them down on paper. Draw every day and get better each day. Set up a desk – couches will cripple your spine. Visit the art gallery on the uninspired days. That’s enough free advice.

All images used here were taken from Glenno's web site. In case you missed the address above, you can see more, and also hear some Chinese Burns Unit tracks at: CBU's album is planned for release on Poison City Records some time later this year!

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