Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review: Border Wars Vol. 1 - The Architects

>> Good morning, sports fans! Today we speak of something magical. Do you like flipping awesome jams? Of course you do. Do you like comics? Don't toy with me. You're a cool kid, of course you do. As a music lover and a comic book fan have you ever asked yourself "is there some way I can have it all?" 

>> Enter the Architects - the badass band from Kansas City who are here to make your wildest dreams come true. The band is releasing their new album Border Wars as five separate EPs alongside five comic books written by the bands singer, Brandon Phillips and illustrated by Mallory Dorn. The story takes place on the gritty border of Texas and Mexico and so far follows the lives of a death row inmate, a corrupt sherif, a mysterious girl who is hit by a car and the son of a televangelist. This cast of characters will prove to be something extremely unexpected, to be sure. [I can't wait to find out!] 

>> I was able to speak to the man, the myth, the legend Brandon Phillips regarding the comic and the first EP. Brandon is a huge fan of The Who's Quadrophenia, which was The Who's album and movie salute to the lives of their fans. Quadrophenia definitely influences the writing of the five volumes. Brandon said that they wanted to make their own Quadrophenia, but not borrow too much from it. Border Wars is ultimately about the fans. It's about their lives, and the things they do. "Let's make this about the sort of kids that come to our shows, who like our band," says Phillips.  It's about taking ordinary jobs and making them extraordinary. In my humble opinion, Brandon is on his way to becoming the Tyler Durden of the modern concept album. 

Some comics that inspired Brandon were Hack/Slash, Sin City and he hopes to reference television shows like AMC's Breaking Bad. He decided to work with Mallory through their mutual love of noir and Sin City. Brandon wanted Mallory to draw the comic her own way, "her own version of cinematic." Mallory and Brandon hit it off instantaneously, "she had a fire in her guts to do something like this" says Brandon. After preliminary character sketches, the style was set and the comic came to life.
From Border Wars vol. 1

>>Brandon wrote the whole story for all five episodes. The band wrote more than enough songs to populate all five episodes, but left the door open to continue recording. The six song EP starts with a song that should be blasted out of your Trans-Am, ripping through the desert after you've "Heisenberged" your way out of a sticky situation, and maybe you're on the run from the cops. With sunglasses on. "Peter Fonda is sort of about some of the characters, and a person who is drawn to danger. A self endangering lifestyle. It's a theme song for Bill, for Angel, [characters in Border Wars] that sort of person."

>> However, you'll still understand the songs without reading the book. The first EP is an amazing stand-alone for gritty adventures under the hot sun. If comics aren't really your thing, not to worry, folks. The songs all speak for themselves. "My mom wouldn't go out and buy a comic book, but she'll listen to the radio...we just tried to write songs that my mom would like," jokes Philips. 

>> While one might find the first volume incredibly mysterious, it was meant to be that way. Brandon wrote the ending that he wanted to read and worked backwards from there. Readers can expect big, cool reveals - a la the end of Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction

>> Check this out if you're a fan of Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC or The Ramones. This series is an incredibly refreshing way to enjoy music and a new medium of art that maybe you haven't tried before. I can't stop listening to the EP, and I'm sure you won't be able to stop once you've hit play. Be sure to pick up Border Wars vol. 1 from the band's merch store and hopefully we'll be seeing the comic book on the shelves of our favorite comic shops soon. Catch the Architects blow down the doors and kick out the jams on tour through November - and get your boots on, folks. "It's gonna be a heartbreaker." In other words, it's not to be missed. 

Peace, Love and Family Breakfast, 

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