Posted on August 18, 2009
With Punk Rock Chords banging in his ears, the “workhorse” slams together two of his favorite things – Rock and Street Art – with a careful eye.
He likes the dirt and the grit and diversity of New York, where he’s based today, as well as the thoughtfully applied paint of a well-placed stencil. You’ll see it in his work, painstakingly detailed and applied to faces, sidewalks, subways, tunnels, building facades, and the mighty canyons of Manhattan. Logan Hicks captures the haunted cityscape with his mammoth and marble-heavy photorealism, shocked with stinging hot colors, glowing in the sky like Armageddon looming.
That’s why he’s the perfect force to shepherd street artists to make custom pieces for “21st Century Breakdown”, the new Green Day album. The 90’s punk band’s 9th album has inspired a roving art gallery to be shown off as they roll their tour around the world, and they asked Hicks to assemble an impressive list including Ron English, Chris Stain, The London Police, C215, and Broken Crow.
Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong says, “Punk Rock is ground zero for us. It’s been my education”. His schooling continues in the visual world with help from Hick’s curatorial skills. “Seeing the pieces that our new album has inspired is very exciting. Many of the artists Logan has chosen show their work on the street, and we feel a strong connection to that type of creative expression, ” says Armstrong.
Just back from installing a 6,300 foot mural on the street course of the ESPN X-Games in LA with his crew of Jeremiah Garcia (n10z), Surge MDR, and Meow MDR, you would think Hicks is a little winded. Nahhh, the burly family man isn’t called ‘workhorse’ for nothing.
We asked Mr. Hicks if he could take a break and talk about the traveling show he curated,
and after he submitted his newest stencil to the “Beach Blanket Bingo” show at Jonathan Levine Gallery, he crowd-surfed over for an inteview…
Brooklyn Street Art: What moved you to take on this responsibility; to curate a roster of this caliber street artists to interpret the entire new album by Green Day?
Logan Hicks: The manager for Green Day is also my manager. We were talking one day and I had told him that Art is the new Rock and Roll. Back when I was in high school, I was always on the look out for the new band, or song that paralleled my own feelings or ideas. Once I found it, I would play that sh*t every day. Back then it was punk rock, so I was on a Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Agent Orange, or MDC kick.
Now I find kids rocking Shepard Fairey stickers the same way I would play music. It is an expression that shows others what you are into. The conversation morphed into the idea of literally drawing a line between the music and the art as a form of expression. From there, I went through tons of artists and worked with Billie Joe Armstrong to pick the ones that we thought would work best for this project. From there the project was born.
Brooklyn Street Art: Are these one-of-a-kind originals? And are they for sale or is it more of a traveling gallery?
Logan Hicks: They are one of-a-kinds. The execution of the show is still in talks, so we may do prints, or a catalog, but at this point the only concrete plan is that we will travel the show to as many stops as we can, and display the originals in a gallery like setting. I’d like to see this travel, and be as approachable to as many people as possible.
Brooklyn Street Art: Each of these pieces is responsive to a specific track on their new release. Did you give the artists any other guidelines for their work, like turn the volume up to 10 and bang your head on a cinder block?
Logan Hicks: Actually the only guideline that I gave them was that I requested they make their piece without listening to the music. I wanted the piece to be a response to the lyrics, not the music. So the majority of the artists got the lyrics before the album was even released. That way they only had the words to go on. I just feel that sometimes the music can skew the perception of the song. Especially with Green Day, their lyrics can be a bit acidic but the melodies are a bit poppy. I wanted them to focus on the content, not the presentation so it was a truer interpretation of the song.
Brooklyn Street Art: Surprisingly to some youth, before there were the 90’s there were the 80’s and 70’s punk rock scenes. What bands were you slam dancing to for inspiration at that time?
Logan Hicks: Tons. A very brief list would be: Minor Threat, Cro-mags, Bad Brains, Butthole Surfers, The Pixies, Rudimentary Peni, 9353, Agent Orange, Circle Jerks, Descendants, Government Issue, TSOL, Joy Division, X, Crass, Exploited, Fear, Agnostic Front, The Cure, SNFU, The Addicts, Unsane, Dead Kennedys, GBH, UK Subs, DI, Sex Pistols, Cock Sparrer, Motorhead, 7 Seconds, Reagan Youth, and Black Flag. There were literally hundreds of bands that I would play on a weekly basis. I was a huge punk rock kid.
Brooklyn Street Art: A lot of the street-artists on this project work with themes of social injustice. Was that why you thought they would be able to interpret Green Day?
Logan Hicks: Yes, partially. Artists like Chris Stain are perfect for a band like green day because both are talking about the inequality, or finding your place in the world. Others like Ron English point out the absurdity and injustice in the world. Other artists were chosen because I thought their style was raw, or particularly suited for the project.
“Well maybe I’m the faggot America, I’m not a part of the red-neck agenda..”
Brooklyn Street Art: American Idiot” was a blunt instrument that smacked some sleepy heads. Do you like art that attempts to wake people up?
Logan Hicks: I crave diversity, so yes, I like blunt work, but I also think that work like Lucamaleonte is great too. His work is subtle, and a bit somber. I have never been the kind of guy who is into just one kind of style. I like the full array of style. Back when I was listening to punk rock, I would also put on Run DMC or Public Enemy. Even Bob Willis and the Texas Playboys would find their way into my play list. I just like art that is well thought out, purposeful, and well executed.
Brooklyn Street Art: Among the international group of fine artists you called upon to submit work, who handed their work in on time, who was late, and who told you the dog ate it?
Logan Hicks: Ha-ha. Most were good. When you deal with a large group of artists, you have to expect that some will drag their feet. I did have one rather well known stencil artist who waited 3 months to read the contract, then one week before things were due told me ‘ this is not a good project for me’. That was rather disappointing. Rather than say who was bad, I will say who was good. Ron English was extremely prompt and had his shit in more than month ahead of schedule. Total pro, and great guy to work with. There is no one in the group that I wouldn’t work with again though.
Brooklyn Street Art: Bonus Question: Which one is your favorite? Why?
Logan Hicks: Mine. Why? Cause I totally rock.