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Art CVLT Interview Series:
Joey Southside of The Banner

Q: What was it that got you into drawing and design? Did Punk and Hardcore have any bearing on the style you eventually developed into?

Growing up, my grandfather was actually a semi-famous water color painter in the Hudson Valley area, he shared a studio with Norman Rockwell and things like that. I don’t know who the first person to put a pen or crayon in my hand was, but my earliest memories are of me drawing. My grandfather was primarily a painter but as a child he would always draw me pictures of the ocean on sea shells with ink pens and I think that’s why I always leaned more towards illustration.

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 Q: Who were some of your influences when you were first getting into design? 

My biggest influences were definitely Jim Henson and I suppose semi-related Brian Froud. Dark Crystal and Labyrinth were huge for me. Later on, Giger and Pusshead, and I was hugely influenced by comic books, specifically Jim Lee.

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 Q: You also do a lot of drawing – are your influences for your drawings different then the photo manipulation stuff that you do? 

I’m influenced by so many things to create, it would be hard to list them. It’s so random and unpredictable what I will see to get an idea and bang something out. Whether I do a photo collage or an illustration depends solely on what pops into my head when something gives me the itch. There’s no rhyme or reason to it that I can tell.

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 Q: What was the concept behind the iconic Banner hand symbol? It’s been used for years, and still to this day, it holds a lot of weight in the hardcore scene. 

I don’t think I have to explain at this point what the relevance of the Left Hand symbolizes, but the severed ring finger was intended to represent an unwillingness to commit and by extension be contained or confined. I guess looking back that also sort of lent itself to the lycanthropy metaphor that’s been a constant for our aesthetic and general vibe. The hand originally had a pentagram in the palm which again goes to the old werewolf/lycanthropy myths, and that eventually changed to the TB sigil.

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Q: Where did your inspiration of using the runic alphabet and symbols translated into band logos originally come from? Is the runic alphabet something that you’ve always been interested in? 

I’ve always tried to give our art and such a look that would seperate it from others. Our original artwork was very hard to read, which at the time wasn’t as prevalent as it is now, in hardcore at least. Also, at the time there weren’t a lot of the inverted crosses going around in hardcore punk. Eventually things shifted and changed, as they do, and a lot of bands had similar hard to read logos and lots of inverted crosses, so I started just using the sigil or the wolfhead and not writing the name at all. That was cool for a while and actually pissed people off, so it was a win-win for me. Fast forward to a few years ago, “Dark” hardcore became a thing and suddenly lots of people also thought it would be awesome to replace their name with a symbol or use barely readable letters. At this point I just said fuck it, and invented my own alphabet. It was a lot of fun and I’m almost able to correspond in it entirely. People get so butt hurt because they can’t read it, and I just love that.

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Q: When you were first designing these symbols and logos, did you have any idea that so many years later they would still be held in such high regard?

Not really, I was just trying to separate myself and create my own place. I think it kind of worked out as now the banner sigil and the wolfhead almost represent the two different sides of the banner and I think that’s kind of cool.

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Q: Obviously with The Banner being a band for 10+ years, you’ve been around the block in both the hardcore and design realm. How frustrating is it to see a lot of these newer bands taking concepts that you’ve touched on years ago?

Haha, it’s only frustrating when I realize how poor I am, or how difficult it is for me to do things. As a human, I have an ego and sure, to see other people get acclaim for things I did rubs me the wrong way sometimes, but at the end of the day I think we still stand alone with our aesthetic and that was always the primary motivator.

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Q: As far as I can remember, your artwork has gone hand in hand (no pun intended) with the Banner’s music and style. Did your style grow along with the music you guys were writing?

The same things that drive my physical art drive my music writing, so of course the things that result in art at the time also result in the music of that time. If anything, I think my art has gotten more simple, but in a good way, while the music has become just the opposite.

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Q: What was your favorite design/symbol/whatever that you’ve done to date?

I really like the Fleshtemple logo I did, and I still have lots of fun with the new alphabet. It’s always great to see kids with Banner wolfhead or sigil tattoos. That’s always so humbling.

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Q: What does a typical playlist look like while you’re working on stuff? Are there any bands you’re currently into that people need to check out?

Usually I put my whole playlist on shuffle, one song will come on, and then boom, I’m hooked. I’ll just click over to that band and blast it through. It’s most often Godflesh when I’m drawing though.

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Q: If you could design for any band, whether it’s a current band, or a band from the past. Who would it be?

Wow, The Misfits or Type O Negative. I would’ve died to do an Ink and Dagger design, Nine Inch Nails…there’s too many to list, hah.

 Q: Are you in the process of working on anything that you can shed some light on?

We’re (The Banner) doing another cassette in the next couple of weeks. That’ll have two originals and two covers on it. Then in December we go back to the Machine Shop to record a full length.

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Q: That’s all I got for you, any shout outs? Thanks for taking the time to do this!

I just want to say how proud I am of you and Zak and Kevin, and everything you’ve done with Old Wounds and now Sex Cross. It’s been such a fucking pleasure to get to hang, watch you guys start off, and grow as a fucking band to work so hard and gain the recognition you have. You really are incredible people and artists, and I am really am honored to count you guys among my peers artistically and more importantly my friends. I love you dudes. -JSS

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