Where are you from?
I’m from Virginia, Newport News. It’s like 50′s Detroit – Either your dad’s in the shipyard or the navy. My dad was in the navy.
What was it like growing up around army kids?
Army kids fight all the time. You’re always fighting your friends super brutally. Your dad’s mad at you because he’s in the army so he takes that out on you and you take that out on your friends. You get into this brutal gang where you have little kid fights. And it wasn’t just the kids. One time the shipyard went on strike for a year and there were gangs of 40-year-old men roaming the streets, wasted in the afternoon. My buddy Mike was smoking cigs in the woods and he got caught by a gang of 40 year olds that beat the fuck out of him in the middle of the day. He was 13.
Did you have access to much pop culture stuff there?
Not really. A lot of my earlier childhood was super Christian so I missed out on a ton of weird shit.
What kinda music were you into growing up?
I was listening to straight sick screamo. Xiu Xiu all the way, Bright Eyes all the way. I still fuck with those guys to this day on the regular. I will ride or die for both of those acts.
Did you ever make music in high school?
I was in a Christian hardcore band but it was only for a week. I did vocals. We did a cover of Puritan by Hatebreed, that song about rejecting Christianity. We flipped that into an anti-abortion thing, which was pretty raw, not really that chill to me. It’s kind of sad because a few years later the drummer went to Iraq and shot himself.
Damn… were you ever tempted to enlist?
Not really. There was maybe like a hot two weeks when I considered it. My dad had always been like, “Don’t do it.”
How did you get into comics?
My dad had a bunch of those B. Kliban books. He was a New Yorker cartoonist whose well known for drawing fat tabbies. Our local library had a bunch of sick stuff like the Smithsonian Comics collection. It has everything from 1910 to 1960-something. I found out about Crumb through that shit.
Did you go to art school?
I went to VCU, a state school in Richmond. I got a weird scholarship called the Commissary scholarship, named after those grocery stores on the Military Base because my dad fought in Granada.
What kind of work did you make in Art School?
For the first two years I was making these big Abstract Expressionist Paintings for no reason but the professors really liked them. The next year, I decided that was stupid and I was gonna just make a big painting of Paris Hilton and call it a day. Then all those professors that were down before jsut hated me. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do for the longest time.
What was the vibe like at VCU?
It was cool. Not many of my friends actually went there. The kids that I would hang with that you probably know, like Jonathan or Travis, they didn’t go there. They were just around.
There was a pretty cool scene in Richmond, right?
Yeah but it was very, very tiny. I started doing music shit sophomore year at college. I was young, didn’t know anything about music, but there was a whole like thing where you could pretend to be a musician for years and years.
This was the MySpace period.
I was a rager on MySpace. I was going so nuts there. Part of the reason people still think that something bigger was happening in Richmond is because we lied on MySpace. We’d have tons of little bands, me and my crew and every one had a different MySpace page. People touring around would be like, “Holy shit, there’s like 50 bands from the zone. The scene is popping. It’s super healthy,” and they’d show up and they’d just be in my basement, with 10 people. I’d be like, “Yeah, we do all of it.”
When did you start wanting to make noise music?
Late in high school I saw Laundry Room Squelchers, Rat Bastard’s band. Rat’s probably one of my favorite artists forever. He’s mad old. In the ‘80s, he was in his band, Scraping Teeth that was named Spin Magazine’s worst band in America. He’s been a Miami staple forever- Harry Pussy and all these bands looked up to him. He still does sound at this spot Churchill’s to this day.
What was a typical Rat Bastard show?
He’d gets a gang of girls to tour with him and just fight and throw amps. That’s all it was. Amps getting thrown into people and everyone’s fighting and freaking out while he’s chilling up on stage, soloing like an idiot while all these girls are punching people in the face. It’s pretty much the best band I can ever think of. I respect the shit out of Rat. He’s the greatest.
That reminds me of Narwhalz (Of Sound). What’s with the name?
It’s these whales that have this one deformed tooth. They suck. They’re like real pieces of shit. My buddy, Val, had this project called ‘Unicorn Hard-On’ so I just assumed this was how people name their bands. Val dropped her stupid name, but I refuse to drop mine. I’m going to keep my stupid name to the end of time.
How did Narwhalz become a gameboy project?
In the very beginning, I was circuit bending, and it sounded cool, but you couldn’t control it. They would break all the time and it sucked. With a gameboy I realized you could get the same kind of tones, control it and you could throw it against the wall and it wouldn’t break. There’s no rules to this shit. When you combine that with somebody yelling at you, causing a scene and throwing a fit… It’s just a really satisfying combination for me.
The performances are pretty memorable.
See, if I was smarter about this, I never would have recorded anything. That would have been the smart move. I don’t know how music works. I don’t know how to play an instrument. It’s insane that I got to tour around and pretend that I knew what I was doing. The performances aren’t music really. It’s only an A rated show for me if I get to berate the audience and myself and go into the true free mind zone of pain and stupidity.
What other bands were you in?
There was Google Earth. That was me doing the exact same thing as Narwhalz, but with four drummers. Adult Moan was the best band out of the scene. I ride or die by that. “Casio adult’s pretending to be babies fetish’ concrete. Their big hit was “Do you have one too?” I don’t think I have to go into what that entailed. Then there was the Church of the Crystal Light. That was me and Jonathan Coward’s New Age band. We wore robes and forced audience members to drink out of a wooden vat filled with Crystal Light.
Wasn’t that the name of your venue in Richmond?
After living in this punk house and throwing shows in the basement we needed to upgrade, so, we moved into this dilapidated house. It was $800 for the whole building. The downstairs floor became a gallery kind of thing and we lived upstairs. The first day, Travis fell through a floor and the basement stairs collapsed. We fixed it up and lived there but we didn’t have power upstairs, so we’d have to run extension cords. In the wintertime, if someone ran a space heater, it would blow the whole circuit.
How long were you there?
We only had a year before the cops shut us down, super hard. We’d been having these huge awesome blowout parties, People touring would come by. It was a good spot. Some of the people that played there are doing really well for themselves still. Do you know Chino? Back then he was doing a project called Diamond Black Hearted Boy. He played at the house a bunch of times. True Richmond Legend. There were just tons of kids doing cool shit.
How did it end?
The cops in Richmond were doing this thing called CAPS: Community Assisted Property Services. They were filing noise complaints against people all over the place and shutting down venues. See, in Richmond, there was this weird law that said the only way you could have any kind of show was that if you matched what you sold in alcohol with food. There was a sushi spot that was hosting hardcore shows, and whenever someone punched a hole in the wall they’d cover it with a Japanese print. It was tight.
So CAPS was shutting down places.
Yeah. They failed to shut down that Sushi Place, but then they served this other house venue a $5,000 noise violation on a Sunday when nothing was happening. They had to go to Court, and when they did, the CAPS asked about The Church of Crystal Light so we knew what was coming. Then, one day, we woke up and the house was surrounded by cops and firemen. They were banging on the door, but we just didn’t answer. They hung around for a while and then just left. Then we just moved the fuck out. The landlady called us and was like, “The cops tried to find out about you all, but I didn’t tell them nothing.” She ruled so hard.
Was that around the time you moved to Baltimore?
Yeah. I’d been going up to Baltimore a bunch. For years, people there wanted me to move there and I’d be like, “No way! I’ve got my own city. I run my own city. Fuck you. I’m never moving here.” I did this for years and then I moved there. You just can’t trust me in those kind of moments.
Did you get a job there?
The first week I was reading one of those alternative papers and saw an ad for a medical study. I got so deep in the medical study thing. That’s how the nicotine thing started.
Were you a big smoker?
I’d only started smoking late in college. I never smoked weed though. I’ll never smoke pot as long as I live. I mean, the thing with drugs is, when you get the call, you hang up the phone. When you see Dave Matthews high as fuck, you go, “I will never smoke this shit again as long as I live.”
So you got into medical studies.
Yeah, they were looking for a college graduate who loves nicotine. They also liked me because I’d ask questions about everything. I was mad interested in all the shit they wanted to do because it is really fun. They just set you up in like an abstract predicament and you have to figure out why you’re even there.
What was one of these abstract predicaments?
Like you’re at a big machine and you have to pull a lever to get a puff off a Newport cigarette and it doubles every time. So you do it two times to get a puff, four times, puff, eight times, puff, 16 puff, 32, until you’re just sitting there, like a maniac, tugging the thing. They do the same thing to monkeys. Then, at the end of it, they’re giving you like $300 in cash. It was insane. They pay like $100 an hour to pull a lever. I can’t believe that was my only job for like almost three years.
Was that around the time when you started vaping?
I started vaping because I was still hooked into the system. I got this other weird med study where I got paid to quit smoking, so I immediately started vaping.
Vaping was pretty new at the time.
They were like, “Oh, it’s not like a thing yet. It’s like going to be a thing pretty soon, though.” It sounded awesome. Vaping kind of hit the states at the same time but they’ve had the same technology since the ‘60s. It’s just mixing liquid nicotine with vegetable glycerin and producing this fake smoke- it’s just the smarter and smaller batteries that changed everything.
Didn’t you end up injecting Nicotine, too?
I did a nicotine injection study and it was the most healing, spiritual, crazy thing. Let me explain what went down. You’re in an MRI machine- a big ass magnet that’s as powerful as the earth’s magnetic core. You can put a frog inside an MRI machine and it will float because it basically causes all the water molecules in your brain to shift slightly. That’s how they view the shifts and can map your whole brain. So I’m in this machine and they strap me with an IV unit and they pump me full of nicotine.
How did it feel?
Honestly, it felt like going into a spaceship- like your face is melting off. After they hit you that hard with it, then they give you the saline and your body gets all calmed out. It was amazing, like angels playing harps. They only let me do it at the study twice because I have a super low heart rate.
Was this around the time you started Slippy Syrup?
Yeah. Kate really wanted a business. and this was the only business that made sense. You don’t need a ton of shit. You don’t need to stress out. You just pay as you go. It took a couple of months but Kate was really good about making the original flavors. I kind of want to switch the game up and do poppers next. The legal drug game is so much more twisted…
We met with the spice king in New York! It was wild. He’s obsessed with dogs too- he’s got all these Bichons. He was looking for the next CBD oil and knew we were the only ones fucking around with Damiana, this herb I used to quit smoking. It’s a sex herb in Mexico. People smoke it and then they bang.
So for you it’s really not about what you’re selling.
No it is… I love the company. Selling shit online is like living off the land, being a farmer. You buy the seeds, pay the debt on your tractor every year. It involves some manufacturing effort that you do, and you’re done. I think in the future, we’ll be more like that where more creative people realize that creative freedom comes from monetary freedom and monetary freedom comes from living off the land and that’s selling shit online. Why not branch into weird abstract products that fit your whole thing?
I was looking at your website and it said like “Brian Blomerth 2012 – 2016” You’ve only been making comics for four years?
2012 was when I started taking it more seriously, to try out this comics thing for real, you know. The first one, The Small Dog Other, you can tell that it’s almost a tryout.
Were you like, “I’m going to put human bodies on these puppies.”
Yeah, totally. I was like, “Oh, shit. This is it for me.” I’d been drawing Poms since the MySpace days. That’s been my breed for a long time. I’m life partners with a real good Pom that has been “crafted in my image” to quote the good book.
Like William Wegman has with his dogs.
In college, I was lying and telling people that William Wegman was my dad. We had Peter Halley’s daughter at our school so it wasn’t a huge stretch. I’d be like, “William Wegman’s my dad, I hate my dad. I ride for Pomeranians, I draw Pomeranians.” William Wegman is such a jackass, but at the same time, respect. I’m jealous. He just came with this stupid ass thing and just rode with it his whole goddam life. One should be so lucky.
Are you the author of all the stories too?
Yeah. I still don’t think I’m really that good at the writing but I’m trying. Underground comics are weird and interesting because you’re kind of expected to put it all out there. 60’s traditionalists. Some of the shit that I’ve put in doesn’t make any sense to me but I just had a deep urge to make it. You’re like, “Oh, there are these dogs. One dog comes across a statue of another dog So, of course, he climbs up there and cuts the statues dick off.” Like why wouldn’t he, you know? Then you get it printed. Then you’re giving that to people that you’re meeting the first time like that’s a completely normal/rational thing to do.
So are a lot of the comics improvised?
The Small Dog Other I wrote as I went along. Hypermaze I had the whole concept and I plotted out the story beforehand. That one is more silent in most of the parts, then there will be a ton of talking, and then silent again. Plotwise-I like shit where you are long for the ride. A lot of great 70’s movies work like that. Failed Logic… But I get better every year. It’s the way it goes. Maintain and defy your batting average.
Your comics have a lot of sex, which is funny cause they’re dogs.
Yeah, that happens a lot. I know a lot of people are going to think that I’m a furry freak for that shit, but fuck them. Furry people are freedom incarnate. I don’t think their weird at all. When I was a kid, there was a weird comic store like two or three miles from my house. I’d ride my bike up there. If it didn’t say ‘adults only’, I didn’t want to see it. Still to this day, I want to write for the adults only section.
You’ve done a lot of flyers and posters too.
Doing covers is my bread and butter. That’s another sick thing I didn’t think was going to happen is that later in life that I’d get to do like real musician’s album covers. Luckily, I’m not pigeonholed and I can do a folk cover and a rap cover. Both genre’s have to deal with the dogs though.
And you’re committed to the style.
100%. There’s going to be no changeups. There’s going to be no changes. No one’s going to change this path I’m on. I’m my own boss in this regard. Who gives a fuck?
Where are you from?