Artist Scott Krakowski Grew Up on DFW Music

Recently I was on a search to hire a poster artist for a project of my own, and I happed across Scott Krakowski, and his new poster for a show coming up at The Crown and Harp. I loved his work. I found his prices to be expensive-leaning, but I scraped my dough together and hired him anyway.

Scott has quite the history in DFW Arts. He grew up around here, on a diet of punk and other music, skateboards and comics and a taste for Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, R. Crumb and local shows at Trees and Bar of Soap. He's played in a couple bands, including (great name, here) Saddle Tramp, and he's done poster art for Fringe Media's independent films and shows, various venues, and more recently illustration for Dallas-based Terror Comics. He also helps Half Price Books keep their collective shit together. He still strums a little guitar here and there, but mostly what you'll see of Scott these days is very strong behind-the-scenes support.

Oh, I almost forgot. Scott was also "Redneck #1" in the movie Pot Zombies! Awesome.

I like your work. Can you fill me in on some other music-related art you've done? I've seen your newest poster for Crown and Harp, and a couple Bipolar posters. Is there more tucked away on the web somewhere, or ...?

I've been doing flyers for friend's bands since high school. I attended the University of North Texas and/or lived in Denton for most of the '90s and there was a lot of cross-pollination between the art and music scenes, which was a welcome change from what I was used to as a teenager in North Dallas. The Good/Bad Art Collective was probably the fulcrum for much of that as they were constantly blurring the lines of (performance/installation/ traditional) art, music and good taste. Among the many amazing shows they put together was the "Space Rock Vs. Roots Rock" show, which was inspired by a screen print I made for one of my classes as a printmaking major. They decorated the (long defunct but legendary) club The Argo to match the concept; half the venue was littered with bales of hay and other rural elements while the other half was covered with "futuristic" aluminum foil and other oddities. Four bands played in a mock battle of the bands playing up a rivalry that hardly existed.

That sounds like a real night out. Who were the bands?

Mazinga Phaser, Slobberbone, Transona 5, and Austin's Showoffs. The Dallas Observer and at least one Denton paper took the whole thing seriously though. So that was a lot of fun! I even sold some T-shirts! Since then I've done many posters and flyers and a few record covers, mostly for bands I've been in.

You've even done some some promo art for independent films as well, right?

I did quite a bit of promotional material for Fringe Media, who are local filmmakers and event promoters at one time, and a tiny bit of "acting" in a couple of their films. You might know me as 'Redneck #1' in Pot Zombies.

Pot Zombies! And comic art as well, right? Tell us about that.

I've recently started doing comic book stories written and illustrated by myself, just like I spent most of my time doing in high school. This time around they have been published by Dallas' own Terror Comics. I'm also working on a proper portfolio at this time.

Yes, you really do need to have an online portfolio. How young were you when the music-and-art you surfaced?

Music and art were always an important part of my life from childhood. I don't mean Mozart and Michelangelo. More of The Monkees and Marvel Comics variety. But my parents are both very creative. They can both draw a bit and are highly skilled craftspeople. My brothers were older and obsessed with music, and my brother Andy was also very into comic books. They all encouraged my artistic interests and there was never a shortage of weird visual influences, including horror and sci-fi films, or strange music from Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd to Tom T. Hall and the novelty songs of Doctor Demento. Discovering underground comics, The Church of the Subgenius, punk rock and skateboarding in junior high pretty much set me on my course.

The Subgenius congregation! Praise Bob. I'm guessing the musician part of you was next to emerge.

My friends' older brothers all were in bands so there were always lots of instruments lying around. Then came the late '80s and my first punk rock shows at an Elks' Lodge and a club called Slipped Disk respectively. The DIY spirit was always second-nature amongst most of my friends so punk rock made sense. Besides that I felt slightly more accepted in that scene and the skateboarding community than anywhere else. We eventually got brave enough to go to Lower Greenville and ended up seeing the Circle Jerks at the Arcadia Theatre (amazing but hundreds of skinheads!), and then we were prepared for Deep Ellum and a mind-blowing performance by the Butthole Surfers in their prime at the tail end of the Theatre Gallery.

And then, the local music scene? What are some of your earliest memories of local shows? Fuzzy memories are especially appreciated.

I remember most of the great shows I saw at Trees except for one in which I was apparently the unscheduled entertainment during a performance by Jeff Lile's DDT (Decadent Dub Team) on a bill with Whitey and Bad Mutha Goose. A girlfriend and I had decided to mix a little tequila into our Slurpees before the show. I suppose we were underage. She must have neglected to tell me that there was about half a bottle in mine so I proceeded to black out upon entering the club. I decided to get up on stage during DDT's set, hip-hop dancing the entire time and attempting to yell into the microphone. A minor rival from my school was onstage videotaping and I somehow managed to question his manhood on mic multiple times during all this. I must have been more entertaining than a nuisance as I was told that I received a handshake when I was booted off the stage. Ah, youth!

Wow. Along with your fuzzy memories of Trees, I imagine you tore up a lot of Denton ground in your youth as well. True?

I saw so many life-changing shows in Denton during my time there that it's difficult to single one out. But seeing Mr. Quintron and Miss Pussycat with the whole puppet show and everything on Halloween at the Good/Bad Art Collective was certainly a thrill! Back in Dallas in the mid-'90s I was lucky enough to attend a bunch of really great "garage rock" shows at the Bar of Soap but the most memorable would have to be a very soulful group from Japan called Gasoline. They obviously knew very little English but were quite well versed in the international language of Raw Rock and Roll. Woah! I played my first live show ever at the Bar of Soap so it holds special memories for me. I was in a Texas-music/country/roots band called Saddle Tramp, led by the great Duane "Chadillac" Bennett, now of the Slow Movin' Snakes. We opened for Donnie Ray Ford of many fabled Dallas bands.

Local music all-time faves? How about local artists as well?

Some of my all-time favorite local bands include Bedhead, Eleven Hundred Springs, Slobberbone, Bobby Patterson, Centro-matic, Dooms U.K., Electric Freestyle Fantasy, The Fungi Girls, The Deadites, RTB2, Oddlot, The Naptime Shake, Stumptone, Goodnight Ned, The Lonesome Losers, Stickmen with Rayguns, The Nervebreakers, Fireworks, The Marked Men, The Street Arabs and Hares on the Mountain.

My favorite local visual artists include Clay Stinnett, Jason Barnett and Mark Nelson for painting and drawing. Matt Bagley for printmaking and Alison Fechtel's photography.

If you were some sort of bureaucratic authority presiding over the decisions of the local music/arts community, what changes/improvements would you implement? Are we truly a community? Do we support each other properly as a community?

To be honest with you I feel that I'm able to give a more informed opinion on the musical community as opposed to the arts community. Just take a look at how many bands I listed as compared to the artists! But I'm trying to remedy that by attending more art shows and participating much more. I actually struggled with my own personal artwork and the art world in general for many years as I was too concerned with things that just aren't that important such as politics and popularity contests, which were all only magnified by bouts of crippling self-doubt. Do the work for yourself. Don't edit as you create. Put it all together in a pleasing form and send it out there into the world. If you put your heart and soul into it then other like-minded mutants will respond in kind and you will be a success on your own terms.

Dallas is the best and worst of all worlds when it comes to local music, or anything other than the really big-name touring bands. For the most part I'm disappointed in the behavior of Dallas audiences at most shows I personally attend. Standing with your arms folded glaring at the band with a "show me something I haven't seen" look on your face or having loud conversations during a band's entire set don't lend themselves to a fun show experience. This isn't always the case, but sadly it's generally the annoyances that you remember. It genuinely warms my heart to be in a conscientious but lively audience that truly appreciates live music. We've always had a surplus of world-class bands and venues and there does seem to be a true music community here, but I often wish that the cliques would mingle a bit more and get out of their genre boxes.

I couldn't agree with you more on the cliques crossing over and blending.

I really enjoy an eclectic bill but sometimes I feel like a minority in that regard.

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