As a hardcore and punk disciple whose ethos is steeped in the fortitude of DIY’ness, New York graphic design magician Mike Joyce has banged out album art for everyone from kiddie punks Fallout Boy to indie-rock hooligans the Lemonheads to the iconoclastic legend Iggy Pop, right out of his Village pad.
But it’s wasn’t until Joyce, a forty-something yet ageless punk who perpetually sports Chuck Taylors and Germs tees(see above pic), launched swissted last year did the floodgates open to both critical acclaim (count punk godheads Adam Pfahler of Jawbreaker, Bad Religion/Epitaph Records chief Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion and Amphetamine Reptile Records proprietor Tom Hazelmyer as big fans) and the subsequent book deal.
The just-released 200-page behemoth swissted (Quirk Books) represents Joyce’s visionary melding of both his punk rock and visual art lineage. The forward-thinking designer takes vintage indie and punk concert posters from shows that actually happened including, his beloved Agent Orange, Hüsker Dü and the Ramones, gives them the Swiss modernist treatment -- shape-shifting colors and fonts set in a singular lowercase design -- and comes away with a radical, mind-fucked punk and art juxtaposition of ginormous proportions. swissted not only compiles the most killer of Joyce’s posters but his book comes equipped with perforated edges so you can tear out your faves and adorn those bare walls with classic shows of yore.
Hive caught up with the mastermind behind swissted to talk about five inspirational bands and shows that set him on his way -- with some choice visuals to go along with it.
1. The Ramones with the Runaways and Suicide, 1978
I always thought I was born about ten to fifteen years too late and this is one example why. I was only five at the time of this show but sixteen years later I would move to New York City and live directly behind The Palladium. A few years after that, in 1997, I’d watch Fugazi play the last Palladium show ever. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but it would be a trend of historic NYC venues shutting down over the next several years.
2. Bad Religion with Jawbreaker and Glee Club, 1990
One of my good friends in high school put on this show at the Eagles Lodge in Schenectady, New York. Eagles Lodge was a true old-man’s bar where a bunch of 80 year-old regulars would drink whisky up front while a bunch of 16-20 year-olds would slam to anything and everything that came to our town. I was fortunate enough to catch a then-unknown Jawbreaker open for Bad Religion in their prime at this tiny dive. My friend Patrick’s band, Glee Club also opened.
3. The Germs with Middle Class, Bags, and Controllers, 1978
Like the Sex Pistols before them, the Germs put out only one album but left an indelible mark on punk rock. Being someone who was always interested in the visual arts as well as music, I was struck by the massive contrast between Germs’ front-man Darby Crash’s chaotic howls and the minimalist cover design of their only album, GI. The simple and elegant blue circle on a solid stark black background with clean typography was a refreshing break from all of the skulls and safety pins that pigeonholed the genre. Other great bands like the Adolescents, Gang of Four, and Public Image Limited would also avoid the expected visual clichés by creating bold and modern album covers that would later serve as a great inspiration for my swissted poster project. I think a lot of people who aren’t familiar with the genre would be surprised to see how “unpunk” many punk records looked.
4. The Replacements with the Goo Goo Dolls, 1991
Not all of the bands in the swissted book are punk. My favorite band of all time has to be the Replacements. These guys did it for themselves and nobody else. Was their sound punk, hardcore, or straight-up rock and roll? Were they geniuses, fools, or just drunks? I love that they refused to be typecast while putting out some of the best, and commercially ignored, albums of the ‘80s. One thing I think is fun about looking at many of the swissted posters are the strange lineups. Back in ’91, the Goo Goo Dolls were a sort of Replacements copycat act opening for their idols. Who knew they’d go on to sell millions of records with their glossy, power ballad hits.
5. Three with Zombie Squad and Ed Gein’s Car, 1987
Growing up just outside of Albany, NY in the mid-to-late ‘80s, there were plenty of New York Hardcore bands to see but I was more into the sounds coming from L.A., Minneapolis, and of course Washington, DC. Three was a short-lived band from D.C. on Dischord Records, breaking up even before their only album was released. Dischord had an incredible roster of talent starting with the great Minor Threat, Dag Nasty, Gray Matter, Ignition, Marginal Man, Scream, Jawbox, Government Issue -- the list goes on and on. Not only did I love the bands Dischord signed, I really respected the label’s DIY ethos -- signing only local acts, producing albums and singles completely self sufficiently, and putting on shows on their own terms. The music, spirit, and philosophy of the label and it’s artists has always served as a great inspiration to me and swissted was totally born out of that DIY spirit.
swissted is out now via Quirk Books.