News

SDCC x GR 1729 Exclusive 3 – Hone Marilla GID by Mari Inukai

Giant Robot presents: Mari Inukai – who will be a resident at the Giant Robot booth. It doesn’t mean she’ll be there 24-7, but she will spend the majority of her time at SDCC hawking goods, making smiles, and drawing. We’ll have the Hone Marilla GID! $100 and it comes with a small original drawing. It’s displays beautifully. Also, DAILY mini-print releases. We’re working out the editions and details. Stay tuned!

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SDCC x GR 1729 Exclusive 2 – Sparq the Baby Dragon by Flat Bonnie

We’ve known Rick and Yukari for years and it’s a pleasure to see their project grow. Giant Robot is proud to host the exclusive, Sparq the Baby Dragon. All of the Flat Bonnie pieces are handmade with impeccable craftsmanship. Their work is consistent and has a look that is obvious theirs. We’ll be doing more with Flat Bonnie sooner than you think. Watch for their participation in a group exhibition, October 4th at GR2. We’re excited.

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Blood, Muscles, Bones, Street Eaters

  Photo: Shanty Cheryl

Photo: Shanty Cheryl

Holy crap, the new Street Eaters LP is perfect. From the backwards-masked vortex that leads into “Reverse,” one is immediately sucked into a brutally even struggle between drumstick wielder Megan March and guitar killer John No–each trading animalistic vocals as they trade primal beats and post-punk riffs like heavyweight boxers trading blows. And just as there’s no time for musical filler, there’s no space for lyrical stupidity, either. The sound may be rough but the songs are smart and solid and  suitable for those of us who grew up on indie punk as well as the crusty kids that use dental floss to sew patches onto their black Army surplus jackets.

After listening to the brand-new, hand-stamped CD (that comes in a stitched jacket) for weeks nonstop, I shot over some questions to the real-life couple/post-punk pair. Naturally, they answered my queries as a duo and from the road. Can’t wait until they finally roll into SoCal next month…


Blood::Muscles::Bones is a pretty stark title. Or does science necessarily equal bleakness?
The title was intended to evoke the bare necessities of life–in a sense, cutting out all the extra baggage that holds us back. Blood, muscles, and bones are vital components of the body that are found in every part of it and are always growing, changing, and moving. That sense of movement+change is also key to understanding how we approached making this record, which is about self-preservation and survival. I’m not sure if it was intended to feel bleak; rather, strong and real. Sometimes, if you want to build yourself to a place of strength, you have to face the bleakness head-on and accept it for what it is.

That first song is a real ass kicker! Street Eaters’ sound isn’t about studio tricks in any way, but the backwards tape part is so perfect for a song called “Reverse.” Can you tell me about that?
We do like to keep things raw and intense, which is something that can totally be lost along the way with a lot of studio tricks. We recorded onto 2-inch analog tape at Buzz or Howl Studios with Stan Wright, keeping things driving, and he did an old-school board mix in the studio. Non-digital, so if we wanted to change something we’d have to set the levels and mix it all over again from scratch. We decided to do the intro for “Reverse” after the song was already recorded, and we had a minute to think about it. We basically just picked a part of the song and ran it backwards, did some wild stereo panning, and it sounded perfect. (more…)



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GR X SDCC – 1729 – Exclusive 1 – BABY CE by MAFIA FACTORY

I’ll be posting our Exclusives and getting them up on social media as well. Hope you don’t mind these transmissions. This collaboration is a fun one. Imagine keeping in touch with a person you’ve never met in person. That’s how our relationship with Mafia Factory in Thailand has developed. My contact there did send his friend and family to come visit me at GR2. I felt awful since they were on vacation from Thailand but the five member family seemed to enjoy the bus ride.

Is a figure, a figure when it’s put together? Are the sum of it’s parts equal to a whole? It’s a philosophical question, but in this case, it’s the parts displayed nicely like a model kit. Put it together or just wear it. It’s a concept that’s deep and thoughtful and puts figures in yet another situation. The big kicker is that it fits LEGO brand items. It’s the size of a LEGO mini figure and you can interchange parts and stick it to bricks. We’ll have 200 pieces.  sdcctoy



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Metro Train Ride – First Time

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It’s nice to ride a train in LA. For most of those who ride, it’s not a luxury. It’s like riding a bus. It’s more of a tool to get to work or school. But for my first ride, it was a test of sorts to see how easy, how convenient, and if it’s something I could recommend.

I rode the train from the Westside of LA to Downtown LA. It’s not a big deal, except in this city where I’ve lived my entire life, there’s been no commuter train. People have asked, “What took you so long?” The answer is easy. I have a car, and I seldom go to Downtown, and I don’t find myself near that exact stop in Culver City. I actually drove to the stop, parked, used the machine which was easy to figure out, and then got on the train. I could have just drove and beat the train anyway. It’s less about why I took it, it’s more about taking it.

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The ride is a strange sight since you’re moving smoothly on city streets without stopping at every other light, there’s no traffic, you can stare into space or into your phone, and you’re on Exposition Blvd – a street just one block away from my childhood home. A street that one doesn’t use to drive eastbound.

There was a train perhaps in the 70s and early 80s that would wake me up at 6am on the weekdays, but it was hauling gear to the warehouses and factories. These were dirty freight cars, the type that hobos would ride. When one mentions trains in West LA, I still imagine a rusted red colored car and caboose. Yet, the trains of today are electric, seemingly space age, and at the same time, typical of what I’ve seen in every other city.

The ride to downtown happened without any incident. It was fairly empty on a weekend, although once the train got into downtown the crowds got larger. A few riders smelled like they just smoked out. The same stops as freeway exits pass, Crenshaw, Western, Vermont. The Convention Center / Staples is the Pico stop, and it’s convenient for a visit to Anime Expo where I got out with a Zelda and a Power Ranger.

The ride home was just as easy. Skaters going towards Venice sat near me. An older woman going to museums got off early on. A few other commuters rode until the last stop. My first questions from the non-LA train experienced is about the cleanliness. The train is clean, it’s worth riding, and it’s fun. Perhaps I’m a tiny bit proud of LA for having even just one train connecting the Westside to Downtown.

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Pen Magazine with New Attitude on Godzilla

I’ve been a Godzilla fan from the early days and I’m proud to be in this issue of Pen Magazine featuring the world’s beloved beast. One of the first questions from Japanese writers is about the “new” Godzilla and overall, I give it a thumbs up. I still long for the “man in suit” versions, but the newest actually works. In the end, I understand that Godzilla is cultish gone major, so making a huge Hollywood picture out of it has a difficult standard to achieve. How do you retain the old school charm and the new school needs of a modern film audience? It’s a subtle line.

I recall another question being Godzilla’s toughest foe. I chose Mothra. Imagine a moth that huge… Actually, imagine a moth that’s tiny. The weird moth dust disgusts us all. Imagine how much dust would come off of Mothra? Mothra is disgusting.

I’ll admit, I can’t read this article, so who knows what I said in it, but it’s an honor to be holding the treasured Godzilla items that I own. A vintage die-cast and a fairly modern vinyl figure.

See Pen Magazine online.

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Faces on a Mug (Mugs on a Mug!)

I curate art, but I don’t partake in creating it. A few friends know that I do little drawings once in a while – mostly to illustrate an idea or plan. They’re often simple doodles done in haste. After recently finding a page of little faces that I draw years ago, I posted an image and got a warm response. I decided to make a mug! I almost feel a bit of shame in showing my own drawing on a product since the artists I work with make such great things. I hope they don’t mind.

It’s $12. If you have any interest, here’s the link.

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Here’s a photo of the mug in use!

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Dinosaur Jr with Dale from the Melvins for Marshall Headphones; 7 Seconds with CH3 at The Roxy

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Holy crap, I just saw Dinosaur Jr. play a free show on a backyard porch with Dale Crover from the Melvins on drums. If you don’t get it, that’s sort of like seeing AC/DC with Jon Bonham, Metallica with Dave Lombardo, or you get the idea. Nothing against the real lineup–which rules–but this was a rad, one-time event that you had to be at. (more…)



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Uglycon Event – Uglydoll Ice-bat Turns 10 and a Marriage Proposal

Uglycon 2014 Ice-bat Turns 10.

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It began years ago and now it’s back in “Phase Two.” After a few Uglycons, then a hiatus, and now completed second year in a row, the event is better than ever. It’s hard to top the madness of last years event, since it was the “Return of Uglycon” which was insanely ambitious except for an even larger endeavor this year – a secret marriage proposal hatched over messenger months ago. Nick Caruana and Kim Chadwick from Buffalo, New York made a trip last year, and became friends of Uglydoll and Giant Robot.

Uglycon began months ago, as bits and pieces of planning hatched and the chain of events for the day were planned. What worked last year? What didn’t work? The event was actually simplified, but at the same time, improved. Strange how that can happen. We removed a few events, and made sure that the ones we liked were well executed. Lastly, how would we handle Nick’s plan.

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(That’s David and Steve Guerra Enky Skulls who made the cape for Ice-Bat)

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Uglycon Partner Locations

The buttons, signed mini-prints, or magnets might require a purchase. They’re distributed at our partner’s discretion!

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Uglycon Schedule!

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Giant Robot Time: 6.13.14 – Game Over artwork now available!

giant robot time: 6.13.14 | art by: eddie xu

 

 

Event

 


 


Origins Plushes

Uglydoll


New and insanely cute Uglydoll plushes. Featuring Ice-Bat, Wage, Babo, and Ox!

Plush Clip Ons

Uglydoll


We have a handful of fun new clip ons to check out!

Hats

Uglydoll


Stay cool and gear up for Uglycon!

Toothbrush Holder Owl

Kikkerland


There’s no better way to replace that old grimy toothbrush holder!

Cards

Ray Young Chu


A fun alternative to the traditional, plain, and boring card.

 

 

 

 

 

GR2: Photos Game Over Art Exhibition and Game Night

By ERIC

Game Over and Game Night proved to be a fun combination at GR2. It’s where Game art, meets games and gamers! We have to thank Kyoto Wild, The Pack, and Scratch Race!

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2015 Sawtelle Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90025

2062 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025

 

    

 

 



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Uglycon June 21 – Some Image Leaks

Uglycon will be next week and we’re working on the bits and pieces of the exhibition and associated events. The images you see here might all be for nothing. We might change everything in the next week, etc. But we’re up to some of the same “tricks” as last year and it should be fun.

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Giant Robot Time: 6.6.14 – Game Over Exhibition Reception x Game Night this Sat. 6.7!

 

 

Game Over

June 7 – June 18

Reception: Saturday, June 7, 6:30-10 PM

Giant Robot, Angry Bananas, Destructoid and Meatbun is proud to present GAME OVER – Art Inspired by Games.

It’s not just an art exhibition, it’s also a Game Night. Imagine seeing art but also trying out some of the games made by equally talented designers! It’s happening.

Experience, KYOTO WILD by Teddy Diefenbach is a 4 player weapons battle, SCRATCH RACE by Messhof is a one button velodrome racing game, and experience Ben Vance’s THE PACK with Art by Rob Sato.

Artists Include:

Aaron Brown, Alex Chiu, Andrew Hem, Bert Gatchalian, Brian Luong, Caitlin Anne, Cam Floyd, Candie Bolton, Cassia Lupo, Chris Mostyn, Cory Schmitz, Dan Goodsell, Danni Shinya, Edward Robin Coronel, Elliot Brown, Enky Skulls, Eric Nyquist, Gary Musgrave, Hawk krall, James Kochalka, Jen Tong, Jeni Yang, Jeremiah Ketner, Jerome Lu, Jesse Tise, Joey Chou, Jon Lau, kaNO kid, Ken Taya, Kenneth Wong, Kerry Horvath, Kevin Luong, Kiyoshi Nakazawa, Koshin Finley, Kwanchai Moriya, Leah Chun, Lena Sayadian, Lucky Nakazawa, Luke Chueh, Mari Inukai, Mari Naomi, Mariel Cartwright, Mark Nagata, Martin Hsu, Mike Kuo, Minion Me, Miso, Nick Arciaga, Nidhi Chanani, Omo Cat, Peter Kato, Ray Young Chu, Rina Ayuyang, Roland Tamayo, Ronald J. Llanos, Ryan Crippen, Ryan Jacob Smith, Sana Park, Sara Saedi, Scott Bakal, Sean Norvet, Shawn Cheng, Shiho Nakaza, Shihori Nakayama, Stasia Burrington, Theo Ellsworth, Tyson Hesse, Wayne Johnson + even more.


Red Mountain Print

Dan McCarthy


Five color print on white paper. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Ninja Mug Set & Day & Night Heat Sensitive Mug

ThumbsUp!


Wake up the world with your morning cup of coffee.

Kaiju Monster & Mole Miner Light-Up LED Keychain

Gama-Go


A playful take on the traditional LED keychain.

Fionna & Princess Bubblegum

Funko x Adventure Time


Your favorite Adventure Time characters are now available in vinyl form!

Optic Nerve

Adrian Tomine


Several issues of Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve are back in stock!

 


 

 

 

 

The Mural at Wirtz Elementary School

By MARTIN

My buddy and fifth-grade teacher invited me to a mural painting at his school in Paramount, CA, last weekend and it was rad. Visiting artists for this second annual outing included Dustin Klein and Rich Jacobs from Oakland, Tim Kerr from Austin, and Koji and Kota Toyoda, Yosuke Hanai, and Hi Dutch from Japan.

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Preview of The Future Crew (E3! Edition)/LA Game Space benefit w/ Daedulus, Starry Kitchen, Attract Mode, and other homies

By MARTIN

Monday night’s event at The Well (which also features contributions from Doseone, Daniel Rehn, The Future Crew…) is a fundraiser with proceeds going toward LA Game Space, our city’s very own experimental, open source, and very cool epicenter of video games supporting innovation, education, and exhibitions.

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Q&A with Josh Landau of The Shrine

By MARTIN

I met the guys after their killer set at The Roxy a few weeks ago and they happened to be the coolest dudes ever. I went ahead and asked some questions to singer and axeman Josh Landau afterward…

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SuperAwesome Zine Bazaar

By ERIC

I’ve spent 16 years of indie publishing Giant Robot and it continues in directions unknown but the beginnings are in the roughness of the GR zine – Issues 1 and 2. Oakland Museum of CA put together a zine bazaar featuring the likes of Deth P Sun, Hamburger Eyes and plenty of Bay Area zines.

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Magic of Japan Week in review (a.k.a. Return to The Magic Castle)

By MARTIN

Magic of Japan Week 2014 at The Magic Castle came and went and it was totally rad. And not just because I got to hang out with two kick-ass magicians from Japan and take some pictures inside a camera-free club. No, it was awesome because it was the same as it always is: a claustrophobic, creepy, and uncool members-only spot where you can see close-up, irony-free tricks and illusions performed by magicians for magicians.

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Takashi Murakami at The Orpheum with Pico Iyer

By ERIC

In a small crowded area in downtown LA, Takashi Murakami said, “It’s like when I first saw Giant Robot magazine in New York.” It’s been years since I’ve spoken with Murakami who in between our last meetings, has gone from superstar to megastar, from world wide artist and now filmmaker. I’m not sure which is greater, but he’s the bigger one.

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2015 Sawtelle Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90025

2062 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025

 

    

 

 



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The Mural at Wirtz Elementary School

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My buddy and fifth-grade teacher invited me to a mural painting at his school in Paramount, CA, last weekend and it was rad. Visiting artists for this second annual outing included Dustin Klein and Rich Jacobs from Oakland, Tim Kerr from Austin, and Koji and Kota Toyoda, Yosuke Hanai, and Hi Dutch from Japan.

What a killer collection of artists and how cool did the completed mural look. The school faculty and parent volunteers that I met on Sunday were thrilled. On Monday, it was the kids’ turn to be blown away.

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Building up to the weekend, 130 or so fifth graders were invited to submit art inspired by the visiting artists as well as Shepard Fairy, Albert Reyes, Mel Kadel, Keji Ito, and Thomas Campbell. The pieces were displayed in the cafeteria, and on Monday there was not only a viewing but an old-time music concert by Tim Kerr with his pal David Bragger followed by video presentations from the artists. In each clip, the artists applauded the students’ creativity, shared some favorite pieces, and then gave away artwork as motivation for the lucky ones to develop their art.

Of course, Erik is very happy with the sense of community, campus beautification, and excitement among students that his brainchild has spawned. But even better, he says that the students who are put in the spotlight aren’t always the most academically or socially successful kids. Being recognized for their unique thinking and creativity gives them a reason to be interested in school–and stoked on life in general.

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Unhappy with the defunding of the arts in his classroom, Erik started the program about five years ago by asking some of his favorite artists to participate. To see it grow, inspire kids, and create a partnership with other teachers, the principal, local businesses, and the PTA is as inspiring as it is cool.

I love that my generation of peers who grew up on punk rock, skateboarding, outsider art, and other DIY ways of thinking are changing the world like Erik is. Congrats to Erik, the artists, and the sponsors, and bravo to the supporters in the PTA, faculty, and district. Can’t wait to see next year’s event as well as the ripples of awesomeness to come.



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Preview of The Future Crew (E3! Edition)/LA Game Space benefit w/ Daedulus, Starry Kitchen, Attract Mode, and other homies

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I would go to this anyway. Daedulus seems to perform more often in Europe and Asia than in his hometown of L.A. (DJ sets or otherwise) and Starry Kitchen’s tofu balls are always welcome in my mouth (usually on Friday afternoons in banh mi form). But even better, Monday night’s event at The Well (which also features contributions from Doseone, Daniel Rehn, The Future Crew…) is a fundraiser with proceeds going toward LA Game Space, our city’s very own experimental, open source, and very cool epicenter of video games supporting innovation, education, and exhibitions.

Sounds rad, right? On top of that, Devolver Digital will have four playable games projected as well as on HDTVs.  Attract Mode co-founder/LA Game Space director Adam Robezzoli carved out a little time to answer some of my questions about this excellent event, which was planned in conjunction with Unwinnable.

This will be a super fun evening on its own, but can you talk about its purpose and why you’re doing it on Monday?
People from all over the world are in town for E3, so it’s a great opportunity to come together as a community and help raise funds for LA Game Space.

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Why it will be awesome?
The music! We have a ton of great musicians performing and DJing including Daedelus, Doseone, Chrome Canyon, Grimecraft, and Arcane Kids. Daedelus and Doseone actually composed two of the best soundtracks to two of the best games released in the last year (Nidhogg and Samurai Gunn).

Add to that live video synthesis from Sam Newell and Evan Shamoon with more videos by Johnny Woods and Daniel Rehn. Plus, there will be official screenings of demoscene productions by The Future Crew between sets.

And everyone’s favorite underground restaurant gone legit, Starry Kitchen, will be slinging tofu balls and more house specialties all night.

What’s one aspect of the event that you are particularly excited about?
Many people at the event will be experiencing the demos by The Future Crew for the first time. These 10-minute A/V experiments were made in the computer underground of the early 1990s and still look incredible, which is even more amazing when you realize they are only the size of an iPhone photo!

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More info at Future Crew E3! Edition’s Facebook event page or go straight to ticketing at Eventbrite. Seeya at The Well on Monday night! Support indie video gaming!



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Q&A with Josh Landau of The Shrine

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Like a lot of guys, I’m guilty of mostly listening to all the old bands I grew up on, but holy crap I love The Shrine. The young power trio from Venice plays unironic, razor sharp, and totally fun metal in the tradition of Motörhead with cosmic riffs from outer space like Thin Lizzy and the good times of Van Halen. Yet they are also informed by the stony heaviness of Sabbath and aggro DIY spirit of Black Flag–which is why they have a bitchin’ split 7″ covering songs by both of the bands. But even better is their amazing new LP, Bless Off, which takes off like a rocket straight into your nearest earhole and flies out your ass. The quality of songs, chops, and riffs blew me away.

I met the guys after their killer set at The Roxy a few weeks ago and they happened to be the coolest dudes ever. I went ahead and asked some questions to singer and axeman Josh Landau afterward…

MW: Can you hypothesize why Bless Off shreds so hard when many bands fall short in their second effort?
JL: We’re influenced by stuff with roots–ripping off guitar riffs from old stuff that’s withstood the test of time–and there’s an infinite well of inspiration in that shit. We’re not looking out for what wave is popular right now for 5 minutes.

MW: While you guys always seem to have fun, you are a super tight band. How did you guys meet and how long have you known each other? How would you describe each guy’s contributions to the combo?
JL: We’ve been a band a little over 5 years now. I met our drummer Jeff when he moved out here from Baltimore ’cause he couldn’t get a band together out there. Court and I had flipped out over Thin Lizzy at a party a month or two before that. When we all jammed together for the first time, I realized that just the three of us could make enough noise and decided to just get shit going. We had all been playing music for years, and liked the power of being tight and hitting the nail on the head all together at the same time. So we practiced, I started singing, and we worked at it until we could do it in our sleep.

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MW: Is writing songs something that just happens when you’re hanging out and jamming? Or are you killing yourselves, fixing, refining, battling amongst each other?
JL: We used to jam a lot more, like 5 or 6 hours a day, 5 times a week. The first few years of the band we didn’t know what else to do and didn’t want to do anything else. We didn’t tour yet, and had to work really hard to get on a show or to set up our own shows, so we just spent a lot of time jamming and tripping out. The songwriting usually comes out of riffs I make up while sitting on the toilet playing guitar. Nowadays, we’ve been learning new songs as we record them, trying to catch some of the good mistakes that come out and the energy that happens when ya play something new for the first time and are still fighting to get it right–before you totally wire it into your brain and get confident and lazy.

MW: The title cut is amazing. Kinda reminds me of C.O.C.’s “Holier” or Slayer’s “The Crooked Cross” but way more upbeat. Can you talk about being skeptical yet stoked at the same time?
JL: For sure. Around every corner and on every news headline you can’t help but feel in your gut that the human race is totally screwed and on its way out. When ya look at history, freedom seems to build–civil rights, womens rights, segregation, the church’s influence on people–for the last hundred years, all that stuff in this country seemed to really change for the better. But now it kinda seems like it’s all being removed secretly and no one talks about it. I’m not an informed person at all, but it just seems like police brutality and the people in power’s actions toward poor people, sick people, and unfortunate people are at an all-time fuck you. I’m totally skeptical of anyone with “answers” or conspiracy info, too. People and their Internet statistics are shit. Some 9/11 conspiracy site I saw once also had some bullshit about the recreational swimming pool for the guests at Auschwitz. What are you gonna do with that info anyway? I’m super thankful of where I grew up and where I live, and that people aren’t dropping bombs right here and I don’t have to steal to eat or get clean water. As fucked as things are, a lot of people I see complaining have got it so much better than most of the world and they don’t appreciate it. If you’re not gonna fight to try make some kinda positive difference that’s fine; you don’t have to. I don’t really do much. But at least be stoked on what you do have and fucking live. When the lady on the corner starts preaching to you about needing God in your life and a tie around your neck, you can tell her to bless off. (more…)



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SuperAwesome Zine Bazaar

Zines push forward

I’ve spent 16 years of indie publishing Giant Robot and it continues in directions unknown but the beginnings are in the roughness of the GR zine – Issues 1 and 2. Oakland Museum of CA put together a zine bazaar featuring the likes of Deth P Sun, Hamburger Eyes and plenty of Bay Area zines. A few of them knew GR which is the reason why the event was happening, but most didn’t seem to care too much. It was a reason to bring their goods and publicize and perhaps earn a buck. Maybe GR is now the bad guy who is the zine that went glossy and is now the subject of a museum exhibition, and the zine punks are fighting the man by earning a buck at the spot and not giving a shit back. Or maybe most have no idea what GR is and that’s ok too. Or maybe, they’re expecting me to say hi first… I’m being cynical.

The tables were filled with zine makers, many who I’ve seen or heard of from past zine fests and the audience came through and voraciously consumed zines. It was a great sight once again. From LA Art Book Fair, LA Zine fest to OMCA Zine Bazaar, the high energy continues. I laid out the GR 1 and 2 reprints, artist’s zines and a few books and met with friends, new “fans” and “old fans”. The latter meaning fans who grew up with GR in other cities which might not have had the cultural variety that I had. They said thank you in various ways and one even said, “thanks for making culture cool.” I signed some SuperAwesome Catalogs, GR 1+2s, and the Big Boss Robot vinyl figure. The zine bazaar was a quick two fine hours. Wish it were three.

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Ray Potes – Hamburger Eyes

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Magic of Japan Week in review (a.k.a. Return to The Magic Castle)

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Magic of Japan Week 2014 at The Magic Castle came and went and it was totally rad. And not just because I got to hang out with two kick-ass magicians from Japan and take some pictures inside a camera-free club. No, it was awesome because it was the same as it always is: a claustrophobic, creepy, and uncool members-only spot where you can see close-up, irony-free tricks and illusions performed by magicians for magicians. You need to know one to gain entry to the enigmatic mansion at the base of the Hollywood Hills. This time, the talent just happened to be from Japan. (more…)



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Takashi Murakami at The Orpheum with Pico Iyer

In a small crowded area in downtown LA, Takashi Murakami said, “It’s like when I first saw Giant Robot magazine in New York.” It’s been years since I’ve spoken with Murakami who in between our last meetings, has gone from superstar to megastar, from world wide artist and now filmmaker. I’m not sure which is greater, but he’s the bigger one.

Takashi Murakami was the subject of a Q and A at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles. The brightly lit marquee spelled out his name as if he were a movie or a band. A line of many recognizable art fans formed outside an hour early. Over 1400 tickets were sold to see him speak with Pico Iyer, an author of ten books who has lived in Japan for decades. It’s part of the Broad series of talks which features interviews with artists and is a powerful set up for their own up-and-coming museum in downtown LA across from MOCA.

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Pre-talk, I got to go to the upstairs vip area. Mark Ryden, Eli Broad, Murakami, Tim Blum and a crew of artists I’ve had the pleasure to work with, hang out.

Takashi appeared with his mini convoy. Translator, photographer, and perhaps assistant. It was nice to catch up with Takashi, and it went into a blur. It was a conversation about our lives. It was nice to see him continue his hustle and still be chill. He’s obviously hit that mark where he can be an otaku and a goofy guy wearing a plush pink hat. He can say what he feels, do what he wants, and still be part of art history. He’s wise enough to know that he doesn’t have to care so much. Do people need to love him, do people still think he’s a heel, does it matter? No. I don’t think so.

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Joanne Heyler Curator of the Broad

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Hug photos-don’t like them, but this one works, maybe because it’s blurry.

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These days, he makes giant art pieces including one that’s 100 meters long. His studio is still gigantic, he still has tons of minions, and he’s still hard working. He’s splitting art time with cinema, which is obvious after seeing his short pieces like the Inochi interstitials and his Louis Vuitton animation. The talk spanned his personal history, his work with the art establishment in Japan, Fukushima and his own giving back to art. It barely scraped the surface on topics that can be extrapolated into hour long conversations. He mentions that his helpers basically say “fuck you” when a project is done and they’re disgruntled and leaving his “factory”. He mentions that his job is to say “no” and not be satisfied which is basically buying him time to perhaps say “yes” after everything is done and each possible avenue is explored. It’s that drive that makes him Murakami. Most won’t understand, and that’s for the better.

Talks like this often go too fast, and the fella who held up the 5 minutes and then 0 minutes signs was largely ignored. He held those signs for a while and then the show was complete. It lasted about an hour and could have gone two. Some questions from the audience came in and were largely useless, except for the one question about advice to a young artist. He mentioned how it’s easier to get into art these days, much like a band in the 90s, but your career might be quite short, so “be careful”.

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Andrew Hem and Nathan OtaIMG_2741 copy

After the talk, some wanted the hipster burger next door where handle-bar mustaches and pipes were being handed out. Mark Ryden wanted to go anywhere and that was closeby. We thought about it, then realized, it’s hipster burgers, it’s packed, and I know it’s not for me. I suggested that home would be better. We opted for a old and nearly forgotten place in Little Tokyo, where it would be easy to get a seat in a vinyl booth. They’ll make earnest food that’s been tested for decades. What’s wrong with places like this? Are hipster burgers really better? Are we fooled by the mixes of simple spices? They’re quickly disappearing and I’ll miss them all.

It turns out, when our food arrives, Murakami comes in with his staff. He looks at our food: simple ramen, gyoza, and fried rice, and says that’s what he’s about to eat. He sits with us for a photo and laughs. We shoot some and he shoots one and posts it quick. Some rumble quietly at the coincidence that he’d show up at the same place. I thought, “Is it?”

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Andrew Hem, Rob Sato, Sean Chao, Nathan Ota, Takashi Murakami, Edwin Ushiro, Mari Inukai



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