Interview with Eric J Cockrell
So tell me a little about Blister, if you would.
Absolutely. Blister: A Punk Rock Memoir is the story of a couple kids in a punk band, named Blister and Harvey. The story spans a few years and is told as a number of compartmentalized short stories.
That’s interesting, so the book is a compilation of short stories?
It is, but the stories all tie together in some way and in the end they tell a full story. The whole experience is inspired by and about music. So I approached it as a band might approach creating an album. I’ve worked in marketing bands in the past so I’ve seen all of the stages of the album creation process from writing, to song evolution, to studio execution.
I wanted to make the Blister experience the way you would make a solid rock album. It’s got it’s singles and maybe more “radio friendly” tunes, and then some deep cuts that true fans might enjoy. Someone might pick it up and love a few stories, some might love the entire book.
So was much of this book is influenced by your work with musicians and are you a musician?
Yeah, for sure some of it is. There are parts that are based on stories that were told to me, parts that are based on shows or recording sessions I have attended, and parts that are based on dumb things that I did when I was a kid. Overall it’s fiction, but there is a lot there that was pulled from real life situations.
I personally have dabbled in guitar, but never played in a very serious way. A friend and I started a band in college and recorded a handful of mostly awful songs, but we never did anything with it.
Speaking of music. I see there’s an actual musical component to the “Blister Experience” as you referred to it. How did that come about and how involved are you?
Well, to go back, Blister started as an idea about ten years ago. I was working with marketing musicians and I was developing some comic book ideas at the same time. I began pondering how I might merge the two. I started writing the story as a series of comic strips, and the idea at the time was that I might release a strip a day and have the last week of the month revolve around a show and release an audio track along with that. Back then I didn’t really have the means to pull that off. Over the years I spoke to a couple people about perhaps working on that, but the styles never seemed to mesh with what I wanted Blister to be.
Last year I met this musician from Chicago, Jim Steinkraus. He’s played in a variety of bands. The Bigger Empty is his current band, they’re pretty rad if you’re into 90’s indie bands. I got to talking to him about the idea and he was into it. I sent him some stories so he could get into Blister’s head and he made the most amazing song with the help of bandmates Reuben Baird and Mike Felumlee. That was actually one of the coolest parts to me. Mike Felumlee drums for the Smoking Popes, which was one of the first punk bands I got into as a kid, and twenty-five or so years later, here he is drumming on a song by a band that I created. Pretty cool.
That is pretty awesome. So, what are plans for that music now that there isn’t a comic strip for it to go along with?
Actually Jim is putting together three tunes, they are part of one of the stories, and we’re releasing it as a digital album on iTunes, Spotify and the like, and packaging a download code with books bought through the website or in person. Actually there’s a Blister tune out there right now called “Bad Hand” that you can download at any of those places, or check out at www.blisterpunk.com
Great, so as a comic artist, do you still see a future for Blister in comics?
Absolutely. I’m actually working on some comic pages for an additional Blister story that will appear in an anthology comic that my friend, Eric Myers, publishes regularly. I’ve got a lot of left over story ideas and gags that I plan on continuing to explore via comics. I’m calling them Blister “B-Sides” in keeping with the music theme. The first comic story should actually release around the same time as the book.
So you have the book, music, and comics planned to release together. What else can we expect?
I’m working on merchandising and promotional ideas right now. I expect buttons, maybe patches. I’ve got bookmarks that I’m already giving away at reading events. I’m exploring audio books, maybe video. Right now I’m just focusing on the book/EP launch on May 27th.
Before I let you go, I’ve seen you’re involved in a variety of other projects. Any you care to touch on?
Yeah, actually the most exciting is a comic book series called “Defective Comics” that I began working on a couple years ago with my longtime friend, Darren Fitzpatrick, and a rotating group of old friends and fellow comic artists. It features a character I created back in 1992 called “Adhesive Man.” We put that out a few times a year.
(laughs) That sounds like fun. Well, it’s been a pleasure. Where can we find out more about your projects?
Thanks. You can visit http://www.ericcockrell.com for more information.