There’s been a buzz about Grand Ole Party for a while now. The band recently released their first CD, Humanimals. The artwork was done by local artist Kelsey Brookes. The band’s previous EP also featured art by Brookes — a drawing of a giant octopus attacking Red Square.
“They played a party in my living room,” says Brookes. “It stood out for a few reasons. First, GOP was in my living room — that’s crazy enough. There were a few bands that played that night, but [GOP] was so good. The moment GOP started playing, everyone came in from outside to see what was going on. But the landlord had just installed a new lawn. They must’ve really spent some money — they redid the entire yard, front and back. The party swelled and naturally spilled out onto the lawn, trampling the fledgling grass and ruining it.
“I also remember a group of three girls making out in the living room at one point, which is crazy because, again, it was in my living room. There was also a female fistfight in the back yard. I think it was the same three girls that had been making out previously. Anyway, I told the band that if they ever needed artwork done to let me know. I gave them a few of my magazines.”
I knew you had done some posters — what kind of magazines have you appeared in?
“I’ve had art in a handful of artistic publications: Juxtapoz, RE:UP, Huck, Trace, and a few others. I have also been making zines for the past three years or so. I started making zines to promote my art and trade with other kids. It seemed like a good way to get a bunch of your art into people’s hands for cheap but ended up being a labor of love. As for posters, I have done a ton of GOP show posters here, especially when they first started out. I also sell prints through a British printmaking group called Pictures on Walls (picturesonwalls.com). Those guys are a real success story. They started out as a tiny, two-person operation and are now a huge influence in global printmaking.”
When you do the artwork for a CD, how much input does the band usually have?
“It depends on the band and the project. Some bands have an idea in mind concerning specific styles, colors, or imagery — which is totally fine, and I am happy to listen and incorporate their ideas. Other bands are open to whatever I come up with and are really just fans of the art. I enjoy being free to do what I feel — who doesn’t? — but sometimes it’s a fun challenge to have to work within certain parameters. Working with anyone can be a challenge, and there have to be concessions on both sides to get the piece finished. So far I haven’t worked with anyone that has had a heavy hand in art directing, which is nice.”
What album/CD art have you seen in the past that you liked a lot?
“Almost all of Santana’s albums are great, but I especially liked Abraxas and Amigos…just stunning work on both albums. Tommy Guerrero has worked with a bunch of really amazing artists, too. Barry McGee, Stephen Powers, Margaret Kilgallen, and Thomas Campbell have all done covers for him. Beck did a cool collaboration with Marcel Dzama on his Guero album, which I liked a lot. With bands, right now I’ve mostly just done GOP. We have set up an exclusivity agreement…I think it’s cool when you can have a specific artist associated with a specific band: think Raymond Pettibon and Black Flag and Minutemen. We wanted to set up that type of relationship.”
Do people ever ask you to come up with a piece to have tattooed?
“Maybe three or four people have contacted me to see if it would be all right. I am always down, but the one stipulation I have is that people email me a photograph of the finished piece — but no one has emailed me any photos. I’m not sure if they just thought better of it and didn’t go through with it or what.”
Have you had the experience of walking by a record store and seeing your work on a poster?
“The first time I logged onto iTunes and saw the Humanimals record cover — this was, like, last week — I got all excited.”
Did the band tell you the CD was going to be called Humanimals before you started working on drawings?
“I’m not exactly sure how they came up with the name Humanimals, but they came up with it on their own and asked me to fit an illustration to that name. It wasn’t really a tall order, as almost all of my figurative paintings are composed of animal and human parts. So the three-headed Tasmanian Devil was a natural choice. It works on many different levels, I think. The process I used to create the cover was kind of a mix between painting and drawing. Everything was done with acrylic and india ink, painted on paper using various sizes of brushes. I drew up a bunch of different sketches and with the band chose the one we all liked best and just inked it in right over the sketch.”