This Is Not a Russian Circles T-shirt
A while back, I was talking on the phone with one of my oldest friends and we got into the topic of new music. My take was that most of it doesn't interest me much anymore. At my age and after all I've been through, I just don't have the patience to listen to someone whine about their feelings. He couldn't help but agree. There are still a few bands that I get into, however. One is of them is Russian Circles. It's just great heavy rock. No lyrics. No whining. It's like ambient music for retired metal heads…
On a similar topic, I remember when the first Fugazi album was released, and the first time I heard a track from it. I was a sophomore in high school and I heard the song Waiting Room while listening to the Princeton, New Jersey radio station WPRB late one night. The music was a little challenging and hard to get into, for the most part, but the I liked the complete package with that band. They were a rock band with an uncommonly thoughtful philosophy, and that was cool to me.
On principle, Fugazi didn't make merch. Eventually, some clever person recognized a market and started bootlegging shirts. They said, simply, "This is not a Fugazi t-shirt." That became a hot fashion item at the time. (A search on eBay at the time of this writing shows an original listed for $445.00. A Fugazi long sleeve shirt from the same era is listed at over $1,100.)
My take on rock band merch is about the same as my take on lyrics in music: I could mostly live without it at this point. I rarely wear shirts with logos or printing anymore. Plain, simple, clean feels better. Sometimes I'll wear printed graphics if the branding looks good but would have absolutely no meaning to anyone who wasn't already familiar with it. With those considerations in mind, and in the spirit of the bootleg Fugazi shirts, I made a Russian Circles t-shirt. You'd have to know something about the band to understand it at all—in this case, that it's comprised by Dave Turncrantz (drums), Mike Sullivan (guitar), and Brian Cook (bass).
Here's an illustration of my original concept, followed by the actual shirt, as well as a video clip and photos from the last time I saw the band play live.
Russian Circles makes their own merch, but I kind of like the low-key nature of this and the play on a familiar cultural trope. Not that I'd ever wear one, though… : )