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Weezer’s newest release was off my radar for much of this year. Generally I stay abreast of upcoming musicâespecially from my favorite bands, but over the years Weezer and I have slowly shifted from blood-brothers to good old friends you rarely visit but feels like “yesterday” when you do. Even when I first heard rumors something new was coming from Weezer, I didn’t give it nearly the attention I might have fifteen, ten, or even five years ago.
Then I saw the Weezer cover art for Everything Will be Alright in the End.
All of a sudden, Weezer wasn’t just back on my radar, but had my rapt attention.
It’s rare anymore to be arrested by an album cover. Their purpose has obviously changed a few times over the past thirty years, and nowadays are designed with thumbnail images in mind. So when Chris McMahon’s awesome illustration for Everything Will Be Alright in the End cover caught my attention, I recognized something must be special about him.
Once I got to know a little bit more about Chris as an artist and his processes, it became increasingly clear why I connected to his work. He takes forgotten itemsâthrowaway thrift shop paintings, bulk estate auctions, or straight-up trash, and breathes into them new life. It’s obviously something I love, not only since I try to do the same with my own artwork, but have long been following other artists like Thomas Allen and Mollie Greene who share a similar soft spot for trash with hidden beauty.
The monsters Chris adds to each painting not only demonstrate incredible skill by their seamless integration, but also have tons of personalityâwhich makes them entirely charming and relatable. I love the fact that you assume each character had always been a part of the pieceâas if it were never really finished until Chris added his own imagination.
Thanks, Chris for taking time to share a little bit about yourself! Keep up the fantastic work.
Tell us one of your favorite odors.
Ferrets. Whenever Iâm in a pet store, I have to immediately go smell the ferrets.
What is it about that particular smell?
Not to sound super freaky, because I know that ferret isnât a popular odor, but itâs something that immediately transports me to the place in my brain where positive aspects of my childhood live. My parents got me a ferret for Christmas when I was young, and I remember lying awake at night in my bedroom, listening to them bring it into the kitchen. The noise it made running around its cage sounded like they were constructing something metallic. I had envisioned robots, but I loved the weird cat-snake even more.
What experience makes you feel alive?
I feel most alive when Iâm out experiencing new things and new places. Sometimes I get locked into routines that involve familiar surroundings and activities, and I appreciate the familiar – itâs comfortable. And often breaking out of those routines is uncomfortable. Recently I packed my family in the car and drove to Chicago after finding that Banksy had a piece up on some small breakfast place. Iâm used to small towns, so just being in a larger city was surreal in some ways. But it was an adventure, and I feel like random adventures are necessary in life. And the breakfast there was great.
What fears do you have?
I fear loss. I fear losing what I have, the people that I love. Sometimes I fear taking risks, and sometimes I fear that by avoiding the risks I havenât taken, Iâve missed out on wonderful things. Also, bears.
What have you learned about yourself over the past year?
Iâm learning that itâs okay to not do things perfectly. This year, Iâve had a lot thrown at me, both good and bad. This year, I saw one of my paintings on the cover of Weezerâs new album – all over the web, on the Tonight Show, in Time magazine, Rolling Stone. This year I saw my father die, and have become keenly aware of how important it was to me to share the positive things in my life with him, and how each success carries that little sting with it. And Iâm realizing that life keeps on keepinâ on, and if you canât perfectly dodge and juggle all of it, the world doesnât explode or anything. Weâre all doing our best. I can only hope to do my best.
Are you working on anything cool right now?
Iâve got a few paintings in the works. I just had a listening party when the Weezer album dropped, and I had been holding onto a painting given to me by a friend for several years (he gave it to me wanting me to vandalize it with monsters). I finished it recently and surprised him with it. Iâve had a lot of things on hold recently, but my brain is gearing up to do more.
Do you find your creative work a spiritual experience? In what way?
I find my creative work invokes my inner child, which is a spiritual experience for me, in a sense. Being an adult is only palatable in short bursts. Being creative is like recess for your mind.
What tunes have you been hooked on lately?
Iâve listened to a lot of Weezer of late, and their latest album is great – I highly recommend. Other than that, my musical taste is all over the place. My staples are Nine Inch Nails, a lot of old school electronica (and some new stuff – Iâve been listening to the new Deadmau5 a lot recently). My comfort music is an 80âs playlist. Iâm going to see MC Chris in a few days, so Iâve been listening to some of his stuff recently. And Clarence Johnson just produced an excellent album with Romulan and AWTHNTKTS
Also, Shpongle. Always Shpongle.
More Chris McMahon
Super-huge thanks to Chris for taking the time for this interview. Check out more of him around the interwebs.
See full post here: Strong Odors2014-10-27.