swag, sag and swagger

by Art Chantry (art@artchantry.com):

SWAG. i love swag. especially cheezy rocknroll swag. i’m not talking merely tshirts and/or posters, etc. i’m talking SWAG (all caps)>

this little piece o’ crap is a set of buttons for the toilet boys (remember them? made quite an impact and then vanished). i think they were designed by edward o’dowd (a great designer who was also in the band – “electric eddie”). i’m not sure he did them, but if he reads this, then maybe he can set the record straight for me.

AC:dave crider and i loved this crap and we tried to emphasize the packaging as well as the music and the band. the idea was to help create a complete "brand" around each band and each record and make the label unique. we did a great job. we seemed to piss a lot of folks off, though. it seems like the label (quiet, though not gone) has been overlooked in the current "garage revival" stemming out of nyc (who never really a presence in the earlier revival. just the facts. the old scene popped out of remote corners of the entire planet and secondary western and southern cities. almost nothing came out of nyc back then.) so strange since estrus was maybe the label most influential in promoting the garage/surf/hotrod/bachelo r/etc. music rebirth in the early 90's. a great label. the records still sound great, too. it was sort of a"good housekeeping seal of approval" if it was on estrus. it was hard to find a clinker in their catalog.

over the years i’ve done goofball swag for hundreds of strange little rock bands (that always seem to break up before the record comes out). i’ve designed the usual posers and tshirts, etc. but i’ve also done matches, buttons, paper hats, swizzle sticks, car air freshers, little black books, guitar picks, x-ray glasses, stickers, water-transfer decals, counter cards, barf bags, mobiles, zippo lighters, bookmarks, masks, temptoos, bowling shirts, and god knows what else.

over the years i’ve also been given enormous amounts of weird little swag items. the very best things were from demented underground garage bands from the early 90’s. bands like the mono men, the makers and man or astroman? got so deeply into it they were producing and selling things like hair combs (for those pompadors) and flashlights and space dust. why? i dunno. but it sure was cool swag.

it’s a rich history totally undocumented.


AC: … weird little swag items kept the touring punks in cheeseburgers on the road. without product to sell, they had to rely totally on small town amateur promoters of dubious character. when it comes to great swag, necessity is the mother of invention – and DIY.

…i went to a hank williams jr. concert and they were selling jewelry (cheap gaudy fake gold embedded with lots of rhinestones) saying “bosephus” (his chosen nickname). i almost bought a bosephus ring that draped over several knuckles (like old school rapper rings)…

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