Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Converge interview: Jacob Bannon

[The interview starts at a hotel room in Boston, MA. An intern prepares the items Jake requested in advance: Voss water, a neon green crazy straw, a throne decorated with sewn together plush animal cats, and a salad bowl full of Crunch Berries with all but the berries removed. Jake is aware of the All Berries™ brand but refuses, claiming he can taste the difference and enjoys his cereal best when seasoned with the sweat of the Commoners. He proceeds to pull a Burger King crown from a Vera Bradley handbag and places it upon his dome. "I was always denied these as a child," he adds.]

Hello! If you could in a couple lines, just give us your name and general background.
[Ahem] You very well know my birth name. If you are looking for a simpler title you can call me Bloodswan, Shiva, Amy Rose, or simply "The Artist."

Fair enough. A short summary of what you do?
These days, cowards outnumber the heroes, and the begging souls outweigh the calloused hands of the hardest of workers. Both in life and in art, the lack of passion is sickening, and the lust for complacency is poisonous. I am the artistic antithesis of that sinking world; a thorn in the side of their beast. I am for those who move mountains one day at a time and truly understand sacrifice. In my world of enemies, I will walk alone...

Uh, but you sing for a band right, Con—
I do not take part in any artistic endeavors, per se. I am art itself. Any art you perceive I create is merely an extension of my being. As I speak now, I create art. When I walk upon the earth, the imprints left behind are art. When I browse Walmart for Tomato and Basil pasta sauce, I'm partaking in art's creation. Only upon the flush of a toilet do I destroy art.

I get it. By me conducting this interview, I'm making art.

Let's level. Your name's Jake.
[Sighs] Of this soil yes, my name is Jacob. In the spirit world where my imagination is tied innately with the cosmos my actual name is a 12-minute succession of hums in rhythmic order, each more elaborate than the next.

Above: incredible Jake Bannon artwork

...That works. What inspires you?
Stardust, dark matter, counting the frowns of children, decaying birds, late nights at the Rabbit's Head Coffeehouse. In short, the hand of God. Anything can inspire me. "The Saddest Day" came from from stepping on a thumbtack; "When Forever Comes Crashing" is about Windows Vista; the entire "Jane Doe" concept album is inspired by a single strand of hair. With that one, I was enamored by a girl working at the local bookstore. There I was picking up a copy of The Audacity of Hope in braille for my dog when I noticed the long, blonde hair of blessing in the bag. Returning that evening I explained how this uncanny gift foreshadowed the destined entwining of our souls. When I invited her back to my place—the van I was living in at the time—she replied, "Probably not." I was so distraught I literally backed out of the bookstore, bumping into pedestrians and tripping over bums and whatnot. Six months later—shut off from that sick society—a record was born. I know what you're thinking. I learned my lesson: dogs can't read braille, either. Something about their paws being too small.

Fascinating. I may have some questions about lyrics once we get to that part. First I'd like to talk about your art. You do limited prints, t-shirts, logos. Your Photoshop work with album covers is phenomenal.
Most of my work is hand-drawn. It comes off robotically for some reason.

I particularly like the Converge emblem with the little red circle.
Excuse me, that "little circle" you refer to has a deeply personal meaning behind it. A plebeian such as you would call it artwork, for me it is the keystone to my enigmatic soul. The solution to the mesmerizing riddle that makes up my being. It is the black box of my spiritual airplane.

It sounds ...sacred. I respect your privacy and won't even as—
In short it tells the story of my flowering into womanhood. Like the Mayan calender it contains twelve parts, which for me signify the menstrual cycle. Look long enough and you'll see it's a depiction of the mons pubis. I am a woman. There, I said it. First time on record. "Hear me roar!" as we say. I am Shiva the Destroyer. I am the Goddess of Neptune. I am the black-gowned goth at your graveyard. This explains my volatile moods and love for the dramatic.

Well, none of the females I know fit that bill. Perhaps it's a good time to change subjects.
[The Artist reaches into what appears to be a homemade hidden chest pocket in his zip-up hoodie. He pulls out a a marijuana cigarette and lights up]

Let's talk lyrics. If you don't mind, I'd like to ask for some insight regarding your more popular phrases.
[Peers at the ceiling, then exhales deeply] Arthritis.

For example, what's inspires "Death to cowards, traitors, and empty words"?
One evening, I found myself browsing the local library. At some point I asked this elderly clerical wench named Helen for a pencil to write down my picks from the catalog. It was critical, I was researching all four members of Black Eyed Peas. Hours later... nothing. How could she be so unhuman as to forget? Didn't she notice I have tattoos? Finally near closing she came around to the bathroom and spotted me dwelling in despair near the baking fiction section. Suddenly she remembers and apologizes and finally comes through. I used her pencil and a Post-It-Note to pen the words in question. It was too late by then. Basically fuck old people. Fuck this uncaring world.

I would've never guessed. And what of the chant "I will... rise again!"
You're prying deep [laughter]. I've never expressed its meaning publicly. This will be another first. Maybe by speaking out it'll remove this taboo topic from its shroud of darkness, and help free others the jaws of the same beast. Basically I have bladder problems. The line is repeated eight times, the same number of times I get up during sleep. It doesn't help that I love Diet Coke, loaded with the diuretic caffeine. As bit of trivia I wet my pants in the studio twice while recording this song. It wasn't enough to sing it. I needed to feel it.

"How we get older and how we forget about each other"?
Early-onset dementia.

Okay this is a bit out of left field, but I recall some time ago a story about a kid who stole from Deathwish, the label you run. Wasn't it a bit tactless to taunt some 16-year-old kid with physical violence? Is it really worth it to imply you will seek him out in person over two seven-inch pieces of vinyl?
Hardcore stands for loyalty, unity, duty, devotion, trust, family, friendship, solitude, strength, honor, trust, unity and loyalty. It also stands for trust, devotion, and honor. Me and my pack of wolves are not afraid to snarl. You should see what happened to my Grandma after borrowing my bike pump without permission. How can I put this subtlety... let's just say she doesn't smile like she used to.

[Standing on throne and pointing] Because the left side of her face is paralyzed!

Gotcha. Some accuse Converge of retreading the same ground and catering to a more "mosh" audience—specifically noting a decline after the sonically diverse "Jane Doe" record.
Would it not be just as bad to conform to only releasing great records? Sure, you get diminishing returns when you're on your 4th attempt at a record you previously perfected. So what? We're not Starkweather trying to define a genre here, we're thinking about our retirement. Often I tell people not to think of the new records as Converge records. Think of them as records by an entirely different band.

To ease the pain.

Sound advice. Well, what everyone wants to know is, what are you up to these days?
Petting my dog. Preparing for menopause. Watering my weeping willow bonsai plants. I've been writing a lot, mostly unanswered love letters to Björk. I'm a volcano of lyric writing at the moment. As far as studio work, let me clarify: there's a common misconception that bands must evolve to stay relevant. A quick look at the 80's metal legends disposes of that ideology. We still have complete creative freedom, we're simply not inclined to push its boundaries. That said, there will be a great lyrical deviation on the upcoming record. I've decided to stray from the personal sentiment that has plagued albums past, and instead will be focusing on more objective topics. Look for "Dead Baby's Heart in a Vial of Tears" to hit stores in early 2012.

Well, I think that just about sums it up right there. Thank you very much for your time and your insight—it has really been a pleasure. I have to confess, Mr. Bannon, doing this interview has been high on my interview wish list for a while now.
That's Mrs. Bannon to you.

[He leaves. A bowl of Crunch Berries remains soggy and untouched.]


  1. Faggot bitch. See some sun

  2. Faggot bitch. See some sun

  3. Love Converge but this interview made me LOL

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. this is the only good thing converge has ever done

  6. Is this for real?
    isn't jacob bannon straight edge?

  7. This should be funny, but its not. Jacob Bannon is a very successful artist whos body of work puts you (whoever you are) to shame. I guess if ripping him makes you feel better about himself it is worth it cos it sure wont affect him!