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Before they were Black Flag: New book unearths shots of Panic in 1978
09.21.2018
05:30 am
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Forty years ago, the ink was still wet on Bomp! Records’ deal with a South Bay punk band called Panic. Several months would elapse before the group played its first real show at a Moose Lodge on the Pacific Coast Highway, but Panic had already committed eight well-rehearsed songs to tape, and Bomp! had agreed to release half of these on a seven-inch record before Thanksgiving. “Nervous Breakdown,” “Fix Me,” “I’ve Had It,” “Wasted”: all pure expressions of the Southern Californian desire for an immediate, total brainectomy.

Bomp! sat on the Nervous Breakdown EP. The 60-day period stipulated in the contract came and went. By February ‘79, when guitarist Greg Ginn released his band’s debut record through his ham radio mail-order company, SST, they had changed their name to Black Flag. But in October ‘78, when they were still called Panic and still expecting Bomp! to bring Nervous Breakdown into the world, Ginn sent the label a packet of photos and negatives for promotional purposes. These sat in a filing cabinet until about 2007, when they turned up in the excavation of the Bomp! warehouse that followed the untimely death of label boss Greg Shaw. Now, Ryan Richardson has collected them in the handsome hardcover volume PANIC!
 

 
It’s a mystery who shot these photos of Keith Morris, Greg Ginn, Chuck Dukowski and Robo. The letter Ginn enclosed with the pictures in ‘78 indicates they are the work of two different photographers, but Richardson tells me none of the band members recalls who they were. Producer and shutterbug Spot disclaimed the shots, Richardson says; Morris guesses that Ginn’s then-girlfriend (and co-writer of “Thirsty and Miserable” and “Room 13”) Medea Jones might be responsible for some of these pictures, or maybe not.
 

 
A few more shots, after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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09.21.2018
05:30 am
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Stunning, restored footage of the MC5 shot at one of original line-up’s final shows, 1972
09.20.2018
06:19 pm
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MC5
Photo: © Raeanne Rubenstein.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the recording of MC5’s seminal live/debut album, Kick out the Jams. To celebrate, guitarist Wayne Kramer has hit the road with an all-star band, playing the entire record plus other MC5 classics. There’s also the imminent release of a very cool vinyl boxed set of the MC5’s three LPs—but more on that in a moment.

1972 would prove to be the final year for the MC5, but early in the year they were still actively promoting their recently released third album, High Time. An overseas tour, with concerts in England and France, was booked for February-March. Bassist Michael Davis, traveling separately from the group, missed his flight to England, causing him to a be a no-show for a major gig in London. The MC5 played a few subsequent dates, before Davis left the band. One of the last concerts performed by the original lineup took place on February 11th at Friars, a club in Aylesbury.
 
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Footage shot at this gig has been uploaded to Wayne Kramer’s YouTube channel. The two clips—which have been restored and look/sound fantastic—reveal that, even as the group was reaching the end of the line, some of that ol’ ‘5 magic was still there.
 

 
Watch the MC5 after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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09.20.2018
06:19 pm
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‘Getting Nowhere Fast’: This female-fronted band released one of post-punk’s ‘best’ songs, 1980
09.20.2018
05:49 am
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GaOB c. 1981
 
The Leeds band Girls at Our Best! were only around for a couple of years in the early 1980s, but they left behind some solid tunes, including one of the finest songs from the post-punk era.

The story of GaOB! begins in 1977, when singer Judy Evans and guitarist James Alan met while attending art school. Alan was in a punk outfit called SOS, which Evans eventually joined. The group morphed into another act, the Butterflies, a purposefully pretty name that was a response to all of the negative and/or nasty monikers from the punk period. The Butterflies got some notice and had at least one high profile fan in Sid Vicious, but broke up as the decade was coming to an end.
 
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The cover of the first Girls at Our Best! single.

Evan and Alan started Girls at Our Best! simply to document the songs they were writing, but after Rough Trade Records heard one of the tracks, they encouraged the duo to put out a 7-inch. In April 1980, the GaOB! debut, “Getting Nowhere Fast” b/w “Warm Girls,” was released via their own label, Record Records, which was distributed by Rough Trade. “Getting Nowhere Fast” was named NME’s “Single of the Week,” and made the top ten of the UK indie chart, but Girls at Our Best! wasn’t exactly a band; it was still just Evans and Alan. So, with high demand for a second 45, a bassist and a drummer were brought aboard.
 
GaOB!
 
After their second 7-inch, Girls at Our Best! signed with Happy Birthday Records. The label put out a couple more GaOB! singles, as well as what ended up being the group’s lone full-length, Pleasure, in October 1981 (a pre-fame Thomas Dolby plays synth on the record).

In late ‘81, GaOB! headed to America for a brief tour, which did not go well. Seemingly no one knew about the band—they had a Spinal Tap-like experience when nobody showed up for a record store appearance—and they all grew increasingly sick of each other. Girls at Our Best! called it a day in 1982.
 
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“Getting Nowhere Fast” is a perfect post-punk song. Possessing a killer, angular guitar riff, and a propulsive bassline, the defiant lyrics speak to the emptiness of capitalism, the passiveness of the masses, and the feeling that your failing life isn’t what you signed up for. After two exhilarating minutes, the number ends in an abrupt, dramatic fashion.
 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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09.20.2018
05:49 am
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David Cronenberg on Andy Warhol
09.20.2018
05:49 am
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The soundtrack CD from the Art Gallery of Ontario show
 
In between A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, David Cronenberg curated a Warhol retrospective at the Art Gallery of Ontario. ANDY WARHOL/SUPERNOVA: Stars, Deaths and Disasters, 1962–1964, a selection of work from Warhol’s first years at the Factory, also appeared at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, but the AGO show was special in at least two respects.

Only the Toronto iteration of the show presented Warhol’s death and celebrity paintings alongside his early films. For instance, Cronenberg set Silver Disaster #6, Warhol’s silkscreened image of two electric chairs, in the middle of a triptych, looping the movies Kiss and Blow Job on either side. The director also recorded a soundtrack for the exhibition which he narrated himself, splicing in contributions from Dennis Hopper, Amy Taubin, James Rosenquist, and Mary-Lou Green. In a masterstroke, Cronenberg included Elvis’ recording of the title song from Flaming Star on the soundtrack; as he pointed out at the time, the Don Siegel movie that was the source for Warhol’s Elvis I and II is “about racism, and everyone dies in it, including Elvis.”

Recall that the brilliant explosion characteristic of a supernova is the moment of a star’s death. With its Ballardian preoccupations, the show might as well have been called Death Drive. Fittingly, the Guardian marked the fifth anniversary of 9/11 by running an interview with Cronenberg about his contribution to ANDY WARHOL/SUPERNOVA.
 

David Cronenberg at the Art Gallery of Ontario, 2006 (via Seems Artless)
 
The show also provided an occasion for Cronenberg to reflect on the New York underground scene that inspired him as a young filmmaker. He told a wonderful story about Stan Brakhage’s first encounter with Warhol’s movies during a Q&A at the museum:

Stan Brakhage, who was a very hardcore—I think he just died recently, didn’t he—just very hardcore art-art-art-film maker, with work in Super 8 and 16 mm and ultimately in video, but very, very obscure, difficult, you know, not very well known except in his own circle. Andy really knew everything that was going on in New York. He knew the underground, he knew the music, and he produced the Velvet Underground’s first album, I mean, he was into everything. He knew what was going on with underground filmmakers at [Jonas Mekas’] Co-op, and at one point, once he had made a few films, Jonas Mekas told Stan Brakhage he must see this work of Andy Warhol’s.

So he watched about 16 hours of Andy’s stuff, and he came out, and he said, “This is trash! This is ridiculous, this is ludicrous, it’s nothing. I mean, it’s absolutely nothing, it’s bullshit.”

And then Mekas said, “Did you watch it at 24 frames a second?”

And he said, “Yeah.”

He said, “Stan, I want you to go back and watch it at 16 frames.” Which, of course, makes it longer. “Because if you’ve only seen it at 24, you haven’t really seen it.”

Being the hardcore guy that he was, he went back, and he sat there for, you know, 20 hours, came out, he said: “He’s a genius.” True story.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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09.20.2018
05:49 am
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David Lee Roth and Ozzy Osbourne’s insane ‘cocaine challenge’ of 1978


 
In 1978 Van Halen and Black Sabbath teamed up for a tour to end all tours. Van Halen shared bills with a bunch of big acts in ‘78 during their first world tour, all of whom immediately regretted the decision because VH was next to impossible to upstage. I mean, how do you follow a band that shows up to a gig by parachuting from a plane, then catches a ride from a van waiting for them on the ground, and starts playing the show still wearing the jumpsuits they jumped out of the plane in? Oh, and they just happen to be Van fucking Halen, no big deal. Of course, the members of VH didn’t actually jump out of a plane in California just so they could play their set at the Anaheim Stadium Summer Fest in September of 1978, they had stuntmen do it, so they didn’t miss out on happy hour before the show. Priorities, Van Halen has ‘em.

In getting back to VH’s tour with Black Sabbath, Sabbath quickly learned their choice of opening bands might have been a mistake. Ozzy told writer Greg Renoff (author of the fantastic book, Van Halen Rising) that he and Sabbath were “stunned” after witnessing Van Halen’s set during the start of the tour in Europe in May of 1978. 1978 had been a rough year for Sabbath, and their collective drug and alcohol consumption was at an all-time high. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but this was especially true for Ozzy.

Ozzy was so messed up he actually quit the band, briefly forcing Sabbath to replace him with Dave Walker (Fleetwood Mac/Savoy Brown). Ozzy would return, and the tour rolled on through Europe, eventually wrapping up in the U.S. for the second leg of their North American shows. The night before the tour stopped in Nashville, Tennessee, Roth and Ozzy decided to stay up until nine in the morning doing blow to see which one of them would faceplant first. Score one for DLR for having the balls to challenge Ozzy to a competition involving drugs without dying in the process. Somehow, both Roth and Osbourne made it to the airport, got to Nashville, and checked into their hotel. Later on when it came time to head off to sound check, Ozzy didn’t show up. The tour manager had never given Ozzy the key to his room which would explain why Ozzy wasn’t found there either.
 

A photo of Dave Walker, a Brummie pal of Tony Iommi, during his short time with Black Sabbath. On January 6th, 1978, Black Sabbath appeared on the British TV show ‘Look Hear’ performing “War Pigs,” and an early version of the song “Junior’s Eyes” penned by Walker. Listen to it here.
 
Things got frantic quick given Ozzy’s less than stellar track record of not being a responsible human and it had everyone thinking the worst—the singer had been kidnapped or was lying dead somewhere in Nashville. At some point when it became clear Ozz wasn’t going to materialize in time for the show, Roth said members of Sabbath asked him if he could sing any of their material, but he didn’t know any of their lyrics. Van Halen would play their opening slot, but Sabbath would have to cancel for obvious reasons. By this time the hotel and surrounding areas were now swarming with the local police and the FBI, all searching for Osbourne. At the center of it all was David Lee Roth, as he was technically—as far as anyone knew—one of the last people to see Ozzy alive. Searches for the singer turned up no clues, no sightings, nothing. Then, as things were starting to seem quite bleak Roth recalls Sabbath had been hanging out sitting on a carpet in the hotel lobby, grim as fuck waiting to have their worst fears confirmed. What actually happened was a very out-of-it-Ozzy headed up to what he thought was his room, #616, as he still had the key from the previous night’s hotel in his possession. The room was being cleaned and Ozzy told the housekeeper to beat it so he could crash for eighteen hours or so after doing blow for half a day with DLR. According to the police report, when he woke up, he realized he was in the wrong room and toddled off to his real room where he picked up a call from a Nashville detective. Dave remembers at around 6:30 in the morning a not dead, maybe only half dead Ozzy walked out of the hotel lobby elevator. Here’s a hilarious quote from Lt. Sherman Nickens of the Nashville, Tennessee PD on the incident. Oh, Lt. Nickens, if you only knew!

“Ozzy Osbourne may have been kidnapped or been the victim of some other form of foul play. Here’s a man who makes a lot of money and has never missed a show in ten years. He doesn’t drink or use dope. He disappears and his people are so frantic. So it was possible that something had happened to this man. While all the time he’s sleeping.”

Let this be a lesson to you folks: never challenge David Lee Roth to a cocaine duel—you will lose.

Sabbath returned to Tennessee with VH a few days later to make up the gig and by most accounts it wasn’t great, as Osbourne’s voice was shot. What follows are photos of VH and Sabbath (one is NSFW) taken during their massive tour in 1978. Also included below is footage of Sabbath’s incredible performance at the Hammersmith Odeon on June 1st, 1978, and equally impressive bootleg audio of Van Halen’s set the same night. Your speakers are about to get a well-deserved workout.
 

A collage of amusing headlines and articles about Ozzy oversleeping in the wrong hotel room in Nashville.
 

 
More coked-up mayhem and mischief after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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09.19.2018
08:42 am
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Gorgo smash, Gorgo chomp, Gorgo roar: Gorgo comics 1961-65

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When Ray Bradbury wrote “The Fog Horn” he probably didn’t imagine the whole bestiary of monsters his short story would inspire. Though his beast from the deep attracted by the lonesome call of a fog horn made only a fleeting appearance, it was enough to encourage producers to turn Bradbury’s story into a hit movie The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms in 1953. The creature in this film (designed by Ray Harryhausen) was a fictional dinosaur called the Rhedosaurus, which once set loose from its cryogenic sleep deep within the frozen Arctic laid waste to New York. The allegory of a hideous giant flattening whole cities and killing thousands of innocent lives was highly topical at a time when nuclear annihilation was a mere push button away.

This ole beast partly (alongside Edgar Wallace’s King Kong which had been re-released into cinemas in 1952) inspired Japanese movie makers to come up their own reptilian giant Godzilla in 1954. (Godzilla is apparently made up from the Japanese words for “whale” and “gorilla.”) Instead of using Harryhausen’s beautiful but time-consuming and finicky stop-motion animation, the Toho studios opted to use a man in a rubber suit smashing up balsa wood sets to save on time and money.

Director of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Eugène Lourié went onto make The Colossus of New York about a cyborg that wrecks the Big Apple, before coming up with his own story of gnarly sea monster, this time one of biblical proportions Behemoth (aka The Giant Behemoth) in 1959.

Lourié then forged ahead with making his first full-color monster movie Gorgo, which was in part a homage to Godzilla and to Bradbury’s original short story, but he also pushed a strong environmentalist moral. Gorgo is really just a revenge flick of an angry mom who comes to get even with those bad guys who kidnapped her baby son. Gorgo is the name given to the kidnapped offspring—in part inspired by Medusa and by the Spartan Queen Gorgo, who was an early cryptanalyst able to discern the secret message hidden on a wooden tablet covered with wax. Gorgo’s mom is called Ogra. While most think Gorgo does all the smashing and a-chomping, it was in fact mommie dearest Ogra.

The film also has a second moral message which in this case is that a man sows his own destruction, as the film’s central characters Captain Joe Ryan (Bill Travers) and Sam Slade (William Sylvester) who capture Gorgo off the coast of Ireland chose a sinful greed of money rather than what was best for the creature and the rest of humanity.

In an obvious nod to Godzilla, the film was originally set in Japan. However, this was thought too close to the Japanese mega-monster, so Paris then Australia were considered before producers picked London as the global metropolis marked for destruction.

American producers Frank and Maurice King saw money-making potential in having Gorgo merchandise ready for the film’s release in 1961. This included toys, posters, novelization, and a series of short-lived comic books that featured Gorgo as a cross between a chomp-and-smash monster and a sometime savior of humanity who can take on aliens from outer space and other monsters who want to wipe out mankind. Twenty-three issues of the Gorgo comics were published between 1961 and 1965 by Charlton Comics. Among the many artists who worked on this rare and highly entertaining comic was Steve Ditko, who went on to co-create Spider-Man. Gorgo also appeared in a comic book spin-off series called Gorgo’s Revenge/The Return of Gorgo between 1962-64.
 
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More glorious Gorgo covers, after the jump….
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.19.2018
07:50 am
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‘Messin’ With the Boys’: The brief (& very blonde) musical career of Cherie Currie & her twin Marie


Cherie Currie and her twin sister (born two minutes before Cherie) Marie.
 
Shortly after The Runaways combusted two-or-so short years into their existence, vocalist Cherie Currie put out her first solo record, 1978’s Beauty’s Only Skin Deep. The album included a duet with Currie’s twin sister Marie, “Love at First Sight.” The record, supposedly produced in part by Kim Fowley (Currie has said Fowley had no involvement in the album’s production), tanked. However, the misstep didn’t stop Currie and her twin from teaming up and putting out two more albums together, Messin’ With the Boys (1980) and Young and Wild (1998). During the early 80s the Currie twins were all over the place appearing on The Mike Douglas Show (season nineteen, episode 174) and also landing featured appearances in the 1984 film The Rosebud Beach Hotel with Christopher Lee (!), and Tom Hanks’ one-time bosom buddy, Peter Scolari.

Thanks to some of the history of The Runaways’ finally being laid out in the 2010 film The Runaways (based on Cherie Currie’s 2010 book, Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway) more fans have been exposed to the band and their impact on the male-dominated world of rock and roll. According to Cherie, when the demise of The Runaways was drawing near, Fowley started spreading rumors in Japan—where The Runaways were superstars—that Currie didn’t have a twin. Then, to help stir the PR pot, he released more statements saying Currie did have a twin and the pair would soon be back to play a few live gigs in Japan. People went nuts of course and by the time Beauty’s Only Skin Deep was out, the blonde sisters were playing to crowds filled with fanatical fans. Cherie would beat out actress Kristy McNichol for the role of Annie in the 1980 film Foxes
 

Wonder twin powers, ACTIVATE! Cherie (left) and Marie (right).
 
These days, Cherie Currie keeps busy as a chainsaw artist in California running her own gallery in Chatsworth. After meeting during the recording of Messin’ with the Boys, Marie would marry Toto guitarist and vocalist Steve Lukather. Interesting side note; Cherie was once married to actor Robert Hays (Airplane‘s Ted Striker—NEVER FORGET!), and their only child Jake occasionally plays with Currie while she tours.

So if you didn’t already think Cherie Currie and her twin Marie were about as cool as they come, now you should. I’ve posted some nostalgic images of Cherie and Marie, as well great footage of the girls performing some tunes from Messin’ with the Boys and their appearance in The Rosebud Beach Hotel rocking out to “Steel,” one of the songs written by Cherie and Marie for the film’s score.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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09.18.2018
08:09 am
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Cheerfully INSANE vintage Kentucky Fried Chicken TV commercials
09.17.2018
12:14 pm
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Nothing says savory, fried chicken goodness quite like a forced interrogation of Colonel Sanders, does it? At least that’s what some aspiring Don Draper convinced the Kentucky Fried Chicken chain’s iconic founder for this pretty out there TV spot: Associate your food with Cold War paranoia!

Good thing they passed up on waterboarding him, they’d have probably gotten the Colonel’s secret recipe out of him, pronto.
 

 
And then there’s this one. Does anything quite convey the notion of “Hey, relax, take it easy, save the dishes and serve the family some fried chicken tonight!” quite like air raid sirens and a finger beckoning you to get into a manhole that opens up in your kitchen? I didn’t think so.
 

 

With Alice Cooper

And of course, there’s nothing that sells chickeny goodness quite like implied nudity in the Lady Godiva-themed spot, after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.17.2018
12:14 pm
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The grotesque and unsettling animated films and artwork of Erik Ferguson
09.17.2018
09:48 am
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01ferg.jpg
 
Yeah, we know, social media has changed the way we view art. Galleries and exhibition spaces and even movie houses need no longer apply—just an Instagram or Vimeo account to post the latest work and receive an immediate response from viewers. Artist and filmmaker Erik Ferguson has been using Vimeo and Instagram to promote his work and engage with his audience for the past few years. He considers these platforms as “focus groups” where he can test concepts and use the feedback (“hundreds or thousands of comments” per post) to develop future designs. Neat.

But Ferguson isn’t your run-of-the-mill artist whose work can sit easily on your..er…Facebook timeline without comment as his work is decidedly strange—an unsettling mix of the grotesque, the bizarre, the preternatural, and the quasi-sexual. It’s what some people might term “icky.” One of his most (in)famous creations is a misshapen character called “Rasch,” who he describes as looking like “a tumor on legs”:

People are simultaneously repulsed, fascinated and amused by “Rasch“, to the point where I’ve had up to 700 000 plays and 15,000 likes for some of his images/videos on Instagram. One of my fans recently called Rash “scardorable”, because he is cute and creepy at the same time.


 
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Ferguson was born in Norway, when he was a child, his passion was soccer until his old man bought him a Commodore 64 and he got the bug for computer games. He moved to Scotland where he studied for a degree in Media and Cultural Studies at Queen Margaret College, Edinburgh, but during this time, Ferguson became more interested in 3-D animation and would often stay up all night so he could focus on what he loved and what he had to do for college.

After graduating, Ferguson returned to Norway where he joined Bug, a production company specializing in motion graphics, visual effects and 3D animation. He stayed with Bug for eight years honing his skills as “Artist, Creative Lead and ultimately as a Head of Post-Production.” He then went freelance working with a range of clients across the globe in film (Guardians of the Galaxy, Pyromanen), animation (Rihanna MTV VMA performance), and design (The Horrors, P4/TRY/APT).

The rest of the time Ferguson works on his own projects. These usually start out as an idea like making something with a beak as he did with his short animated film Blind Bird. He rarely sketches out his ideas preferring to spend a couple days working with digital sculpting tool ZBrush before moving everything onto the 3-D animation software Houdini.

Zbrush gives you great tools to sculpt realistic looking flesh, muscle and tissue. The key though is to animate the stills that I produce in Zbrush, which is where Houdini comes in. Movement has been instrumental to making my creatures more believable and more realistic.

The finished results end up as startlingly original images and deeply unsettling animations.
 
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See Erik Ferguson’s bizarre animations, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.17.2018
09:48 am
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Jello Biafra drumming in a punk band, 1979
09.14.2018
06:35 am
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Jello Biafra came to the aid of fellow punks at a show in 1979. For one song, captured on videotape, he manned the 4 Skins’ drum kit.

As will be immediately apparent, these are not the 4-Skins of Oi! fame, but an unrelated outfit from Portland, Oregon. Everything I know about these 4 Skins and their performance with Jello comes from the notes provided by the person who posted this on YouTube: Eddie Morgan, whose copy editor must be on vacation.

1979 the 4 skins opened for the dead kennedys,but there drummer at the time never showed up so jello biafra played the drums,,,,4 skins where a crazy young punk band from portland oregon ,with mark bar,Phil meanie and eddie jetson and the great sam henry on drums….sam played with the wipers,eddie started a band in san francisco called condemned to death,phil moved to new york ,,,and mark bar stayed in portland and played in many great bands…..video by Mike Lastra.

Given the striking resemblance of the backdrop and Biafra’s outfit in this clip to those in the widely bootlegged video of the Dead Kennedys’ Earth Tavern show in Portland on November 19, 1979—also directed by Mike Lastra of Smegma—I think we know when and where this was shot. It would also be a shocking coincidence if the Eddie Morgan who posted this on YouTube turned out to be a different person than the Eddie Morgan who sang in a Portland punk band under the name Eddie Jetson.

Incidentally, have you ever heard David Thomas of Pere Ubu play guitar on the Pagans’ “Boy Can I Dance Good”?
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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09.14.2018
06:35 am
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