A Conversation with Jacob Bannon

Interview by Jenny Handke

Back in 2004,
Burlesque co-founder Wes Winship made his way to a Converge show at Triple Rock Social Club. At the time, Burlesque was finding its legs and building a reputation and had screenprinted the show’s poster, designed by longtime friend and BRLSQ collaborator, Aaron Horkey. Here, Wes saw firsthand Bannon’s way of marrying visual art with his music in a way that feels like they’re extensions of one another in complementary mediums. Between sets, the two were introduced and the rest was history. Jacob and Wes immediately clicked and the two eventually got to work on various projects, like “On My Shield” and “Year of the Hare.” In the last decade, Jacob and BRLSQ have joined forces, creating some of our most popular and fastest-selling prints, like Jacob’s 2015 FRAGMENTS series and art show at CO Exhibitions, a week-long, team-driven print and design project that resulted in more than 200 one-of-a-kind mixed media prints with the help of the entire BRLSQ team.

This Tuesday, July 11th, we’re doing it again and releasing two new prints designed by Jacob, “As Above, So Below,” and “A Rumble Beneath.” Both pieces passed through the hands of our team, where we combined a handful of mixed media techniques including spraypaint, splattered and dripped acrylic paint, and sanding to create bold and unique textures on each sheet of paper prior to screenprinting. These two prints were first debuted at Full Bleed, part of Roadburn Festival 2017 in The Netherlands, where Jacob’s other band, Wear Your Wounds, was performing. Working with Jacob has always flexed our creative brain, stretching what we thought was our capacity to innovate and deliver as a team. These two new prints follow suit in the Bannon-esque tradition of gusto and collaboration. As a tribute to our longtime collaborator, we dropped in with Jacob to get a glimpse of his creative process from his perspective, and a peek at what to expect next from the visual artist and musician.

B: Collaboration seems to be a common theme in your work that I've seen and heard. Have you always collaborated with artists and designers within the scope you do at Burlesque, or was that a new realm for you when you first started producing with us? Why did you decide to collaborate with Burlesque in the first place?

J: I approach creating art from a designer's perspective. If there are things that are within my wheelhouse that I can create, I go for it. If there are situations where collaborating with others makes the most sense, then I am all for it. I feel it is important to be flexible and work well with others. We all learn from one another and are better for it.

B: Wes and Mike light up about  having a hand in your creative process. It's not too common for artists to ask their printers to co-produce art. What's your take on collaborative work like this and do you work as closely with other designers/artists in other creative projects, including music?

J: I really respect the craft and execution of print making. It is an art form within itself. I feel a lot of artists do not give the printers they work with enough credit. It is their insight and knowhow that allow an incredible print to be produced. Wes and Mike are no exception to that. I should also say that I have definitely challenged them in regards to what is possible in print making. I’m always trying to push things farther than the previous project, and they are always game for that challenge.

B: Fragments sounded like a huge undertaking with an incredible turn out. What was that week like for you, and what was the motive behind that concept? What was most fulfilling about that week?

J: Fragments was an interesting experiment. It was a busy week of creating things. A lot of trial and error, and little sleep. Wes approached me with the idea some months before in a formal way. Prior to that, we casually discussed some sort of in-house collaboration where we could approach printmaking from a more fine art based mentality. It was a success for sure and I hope we can do it again down the line.

B: In Rungs in a Ladder you talked about an accident, which obliterated your knee. How did your recovery shape your persona, and how do you think dark experiences like that influence your art today?

J: That would be best answered by a therapist. At this point, who knows. I just pour what I have into making art and music, as well as promoting others efforts. I am very grateful for the art and music worlds and the platform they have given me.

B: What are some other big influencers -people, places and/or experiences- that have a hand in your process and style?

J: Directly Francis Bacon, JWM Turner, Pushead.
Any of the artists and illustrators active within the punk/hardcore/metal world when I was younger.

B: Your work is very theme-heavy. Lots of female subjects, silhouettes, female silhouettes, color and contained chaos. Even when you pair your music and your artwork, there's this sense of audiovisual harmony going on, like both mediums are just progressions of the other. Where do these junctions come from? Is there a hidden message or story behind the themes in your work, specifically the females and contained chaos that's in both your artwork and music?

J: The feminine form is a beautiful thing and the male form is a beautiful thing. I’ve used both in my work. I feel that they can tell a poetic story without the use of words. When I am creating work to be paired with music I do my best to marry the two ideas. With the end goal to have them compliment and enhance one another. I a lot of my work it collage and mixed media work. With that said I have hundreds of thousands of pieces of source material that I’ve used over time. As I build things they tend to take on a character of their own, with their origins being obliterated in the process.

B: What should people expect to see in your work debuting on our website on July 11th?

J: A number of collaborative pieces that were created by myself and Wes.
Kinetic artwork that expands the idea of what is possible through the world of printmaking.

B: With that, what kinds of projects are you cooking up these days? What's next for you?

J: I released a 300 Page art book titled “Dunedevil” recently. It is mainly abstract work and experiments that I created over a weeks time in a dune shack in Provincetown, MA. I also released an experimental album of the same name as a companion piece to it all. I am in the middle of a large project for my own band, Converge. I hope to have that finished up shortly, then on to the next project.

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Thanks Jacob! Don't miss "A Rumble Beneath" and "As Above, So Below" when they arrive in our online store on Tuesday July 11th.