New Raleigh is excited to have Karen Mann join us to dig deeper into the local music scene and talk to some of the great artists who have helped shape Raleigh and North Carolina’s music scene. Mann’s involvement in the music community includes being guitarist for Chew Toy - the 90’s NC grunge band, along with years of local music coverage on her blog Mann’s World. The site includes her own filmed videos and content on the area’s most exciting rock acts and can generally be regarded as the encyclopedia to local rock. After reading this interview with Brian Walsby be sure to check out Mann’s World
It’s hard to figure out exactly how to describe Brian Walsby. Is he a drummer/cartoonist, or a cartoonist/drummer? He’s equally revered for both talents: He has drummed with California straight edge band Scared Straight, local legends Willard, Shiny Beast and Patty Duke Syndrome (with Ryan Adams) and current hardcore icons Double Negative; and drawn for a slew of local and national magazines, and illustrated album covers, most notably for the Melvins. This Saturday, April 4, at Tir na Nog, he’ll show off both his music and his artwork, at a release party for his new volume of drawings, Manchild 4 (Bifocal Media) . If you’ve lived in Raleigh for any length of time, you’ll recognize the bands and characters in his work, which often revolves around bands he’s been in, crappy jobs he’s held, and relationship issues he’s had. This volume also includes a written diary of his time on tour selling merch and cartoons for the Melvins, as well as a CD of two live Melvins shows, one in 1989 and one in 2008.
Double Negative will headline Saturday’s show, which will also include sets by The Loners, Goner and Des Ark. According to Brian there will be original artwork for sale, as well as limited slikscreen posters and t-shirts of late Minutemen frontman D. Boon and other legends..
1. You often include other cartoon characters (especially Charlie Brown and Snoopy) in your work. Which well-known cartoonists most influenced you, and have you ever been told by cartoonists to stop using their characters?
Brian: Well, I always was a big fan of Charles Schultz and his Peanuts was a huge influence on me as a kid and continues to be a huge influence. There was just nothing like Peanuts at the time. It had a lot of heart, and it was sort of melancholy, and in a way it dealt with a lot of what real life has in store for us humans. The characters didn’t always win, and there was a lot of heartache. So you know, it sums up real life pretty well. Plus, having had drawn Charlie Brown millions of times, I just think it is funny to stick him in funny places. Other people I like are most of the artists that worked on Mad Magazine back in the early seventies when I was a kid, like Mort Drucker and those guys. I also liked Robert Crumb a good deal, too. There are a few others that I am forgetting I am sure. As far as I know, no one has told me to stop drawing Charlie Brown. I don’t think I have made enough waves for that to have happen. I would be honored, though.
2. Your stories are often autobiographical, including relationship issues and arguments with friends, and identify people by their real names. Have you ever gotten into trouble with people because of this, and is there anything you consider to be off-limits?
Brian: Yes, I have gotten into a little bit of trouble. Part of the problem is when I do that kind of stuff, I have no sense of knowing what is off limits and what isn’t. I just do it and deal with the possible consequences later. But then again, there have been times where I have self censored myself because I just thought that the world didn’t need to know EVERYTHING. Like when I was married, I just thought that the world didn’t need to know my failures and self loathing to that degree. I think that they can see it in the rest of the work, without having to go that far. I am kind of a melancholy type of person to a certain degree but I will say one thing: even when I do a cartoon that gets down on myself or other people, it is like writing a song, a document of the time. I may not feel that way even two days later and it may not have the same meaning it had when I did it. It is mainly “getting it off my chest” stuff. I would probably go nuts if I didn’t have that outlet. And if I have to have a conversation with someone who I alienated, so be it.
3. If you were forced to give up either playing drums or drawing, which would you give up and why?
Brian: Oooh..that is a tough one. I wouldn’t feel right without either. But if I was forced to do so, I guess I would stop playing drums. The reason why is because you can’t be in a band with only drums but I can do whatever I want with the drawing.
4. What’s next for Double Negative? Any other trips to Europe planned?
Brian: Things have slowed down a lot for DOuble Negative as of right now. Real life has a way of doing that. Scott and his girlfreind opened up a resturant THE REMEDY downtown (as you know) and that is a huge time consumer for him, Kevin is continually busy being a father of three and Justin got married awhile back. We tried to record our second album last year but it didn’t work out for a variety of reasons so we will try again later. When that is, I have no idea. But hopefully soon. In the meantime, three of those aborted songs recorded with COC’s Mike Dean have been tinkered by Scott and will be soon released as part of a split single with a band called BATTLETORN and it will be released on Volcom Records very soon. So that will be a teaser for that second record that will eventually be on the way. No plans to Europe or any real touring but you never know..I will be going on the next MELVINS tour in August though. I guess that doesn’t count. Maybe I can give out Double Negative stickers like last time.
5. Why did you pick the bands you did (aside from Double Negative, which is obvious), for the book release?
Brian: Charles has a way of overcompensating. I thought we were just going to have us and the Loners, just like last time. Then all of a sudden, Goner and even Des Ark were added. I thought that was pretty cool, since I do like all three of those bands. It is like the cream of the crop of local music. We did try to get Birds of Avalon and Whatever Brains to play but they were saddled with other plans. I never thought of asking Kenny Roby, either. I really like him a whole lot. So anyways this is what happened as far as the bands go, not that I think we got “sloppy seconds” cause all of the bands are really good. I think we won’t have any problem getting people to come down. The bands are all good and different from each other, and they get to see them all plus get the book for ten dollars, plus food. SO you know..it is a good deal.
See New Raleigh’s Manchild 4 Preview to see exclusive pages from the new comic.