sin, skin, tonic and above the din of the copy

by Art Chantry:

this is the very latest brand new cd cover i designed for the mono men’s release on estrus records called “sin&tonic” (the lp version was called “SKIN & tonic”). but, what’s interesting about this cover for this cd (remember cd’s? they’re so retro!) is that i designed it almost 20 years ago! so, this brand spankin’ new cover is twenty years old.

---i can safely say i wash;t thinning about that cover when i did this 20 years ago. in fact, i was trying as hard as i could to STAY AWAY from bluenose/reid miles work like this. i was trying to a sleazier rattier cheesier aesthetic that you found in old men's magazines of that same era. i dunno who designed all those mags,but some of them were brilliant. that was my model, not reid miles. ripping off blue note had already been down to death at that point. the whole sub pop aesthetic was a blue note rip off (that i orchestrated). so, i had no interest in repeating my work. i wanted a different aesthetic - as different as sub pop vs. estrus. totally different.---AC

this record was originally released by estrus in 1994. it had two different cover designs (LP & CD) along with a promo poster and promo tshirt. there was also a seperate 7″ single (called “mystery girl” – a great tune) released alongside the lp/cd. we also put together a promotional beer coaster to go with this package. the beer coaster design was an abbreviated and simplified version fo the 7″ single sleeve design. dave crider (estrus head honcho and my client/collaborator) decided he liked that beer coaster design so much that he switched the original CD cover design (which played more directly off the LP cover) with the beer coaster design. and that was the way the original cd cover was released.

20 years later, estrus is starting to re-issue a lot of their recorded catalog. when it came time to re-release sin&tonic, dave (true to form) wanted to do something a little different to differentiate the old release from this new re-issue. he suddenly remembered that original design i did back then and decided to use it as originally planned 20 years ago (before he switched it out for the beer coaster design). and THAT old design is the one you see here. it’s so weird to design a record cover, not use it and then completely forget about it, only to see it finally used ‘correctly’ a generation later. it’s pretty cool. this is a great record cover design!! (even if i do say so myself).

one of the odd things that that happened (as happens so often out there) is that a ‘hip young’ sportswear company put out a series of clothing (tshirts, etc,) that they called their ‘mono men’ series. they actually took the ‘beer coaster’ design (the one that was also used on the original cd cover for ‘sin&tonic” 20 years ago) and used it on their tshirts and crap to sell! it was a total bootleg ripoff and they ripped it directly from us and even named it after the band!!! pretty ballsy, huh? this sort of thing happens to me (and dave) so often that it’s almost impossible to stop it at this point.

i sent a letter of ‘cease and desist’ to the company and forgot about it. i never even bothered to check to see if they stopped. all i know is i’ve tried to sue people before over this sort of thing and it’s just too damned expensive to pursue. the ripoffs know that, too. they’ve actually laughed at me when i told them to stop. and the courts really rarely come down on ‘our’ side. the system is rigged in the rip-off’s favor. just the truth. i was once told by a lawyer i hired to sue a ripoff that in order to ‘win’ my case, i had to bring in witnesses who could claim in front of a courtroom that getting ripped off was NOT a “standard industry practice.” how on earth was i gonna do that?

one of the problems in the music and fashion industry is that (like estrus records, who built sooooo much community and started soooo many careers) once you put stuff out there, the vultures swoop in and start grabbing. it’s the american way. nobody ever got rich coming up with ideas in america – it’s the guys who copy the ideas (usually badly) who get rich in america. so, estrus (and yes, me, too) got copycatted by a bazillion hustlers trying to make a fast buck on our grand and noble efforts. that’s how it works when you do good work in america. it’s a sad truth. my little story about the clothing company is just one tiny tiny example of a personal history that could fill volumes of horror stories like that.

so, if you want to find out what the real thing looks like and want to hear some really important and endlessly copycatted music, check out estrus’s catalog sale they are having right now. dave is emptying out his warehouse and getting rid of amazing stuff at a steal. a quick looksee of the bands he pioneered out there (a small list is below) is like a history of the garage/surf/trash amercian/international underground (NOT GRUNGE) of the 80′s/90′s/00′s. it’s some of the best music i’ve ever had the pleasure to see and listen to. and i got to do a majority of the covers and posters, etc. for this label, too. check it out at “” right away and you won’t be sorry you did. honest.

dave crider and estrus records was one of those pivotal labels that changed the direction of rock music. for many many reasons (not the least of which was the frank honesty of dave crider – he suffered fools as bad

s i do) this label has been pushed aside in favor of the copycats. but, if you make the effort ot actually listen to this music (and look at the grand artwork on the covers – hint, hint), you’ll realize that the ‘estrus’ name is truly a ‘good housekeeping seal of approval’ of trash rock at it’s wicked finest.


a few of the bands estrus worked with: the mono men, man or astroman, the mummies, southern culture on the skids, shadowy men from a shadowy planet, the 5,6,7,8′s, the makers, dead moon, girl trouble, the fall-outs, the quadrajets, the soledad brothers, the mooney suzuki, the phantom surfers, the trashwomen, the immortal lee county killers, the mortals, the drags, impala, the oblivians, gasoline, jackie & the cedrics, the mad 3, satan’s pilgrims, sugar shack, electric frankenstein, the nomads, jack o’ fire, the lord high fixers, the mortals, the coyote men, the untamed youth, deke dickerson, watts, the dt’s, the insomniacs, the baseball furies, the monkeywrench, the volcanos, gas huffer, the swingin’ neckbreakers, zen guerrilla, teengenerate, the fatal flying guilloteens, the tikis, thee butcher’s orchestra, the gimmicks, the von zippers, the hellacopters, the screamin’ furies, the fells, the switch trout, estrella 20/20, the 1,4,5′s, the woggles, the galaxy trio, the fireballs of freedom, the crown royals, the midnight evils, the mistreaters, the splash 4, the tv killers, the diplomats of solid sound, the no-talents, the cybermen and dozens and dozens more. all of them great. no brag, just fact.

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