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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

@simpsonsXcore Speaks with The Witzard On Tastefully Re-designed Punk/Hardcore & Ska Cover Homages (Interview & Spotify Playlist)

It's a fairly simple, yet effective concept: "your favorite Punk, Hardcore & Ska albums, but with four fingers." That, in fact, is the mantra of Instagram page @simpsonsXcore (formerly @MillionsOfDeadSimpsons) whose creations can also, be found on Facebook & Twitter. sXc has tastefully re-designed both classic and contemporary Punk, Hardcore & Ska albums. The Witzard has been Following @MillionsOfDeadSimpsons/ @simpsonsXcore's Instagram since roughly September 2017 and to be completely honest, it's one of our favorite accounts!

We recently had an opportunity to conduct a comprehensive interview with SimpsonsXcore, which has been lightly edited for general clarity. Make sure you Follow @simpsonsXcore's pages on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for regular updates and side-by-side comparisons. Additionally, SimpsonsXcore was kind enough to put together a last-minute 20-song Spotify playlist consisting of their favorite Punk/Hardcore selections from 2018 exclusively for The Witzard.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
The Simpsons & Futurama Die-Hard

I. What made you decide to start re-imagining Punk/Hardcore album covers and posting them on your now-defunct @MillionsOfDeadSimpsons Instagram page?

It started as a Thread on a friend of ours' Facebook Wall. It was, initially, just posting band logos on top of screen-grabs, like Homer with the Rasta beanie next to a Sublime or No Doubt logo. They started to get a little more intricate as the Thread went on and from there, the concept was born. This was only ever meant to be a small joke amongst friends hahaha!

II. How do you typically go about selecting bands/albums covers to Simpsons-ize? Once you've selected an image, how do you decide which characters or scenarios to use?

So, we only like to do albums that we actually enjoy. The first bar: is this an album we like listening to? From there, are there any puns/references that match up with the band or album name? If no clever wordplay arises, then, is there a visual gag from a famous [Simpsons] scene or meme that makes sense with the existing artwork? The albums that make sense to do get whittled down from there. There are tons of albums we love that just don't lend themselves well to this niche medium.

III. What's your relation to the Millions of Dead Simpsons Facebook page? Now, what prompted your recent name change to simpsonsXcore (@SimpsonsXcore)?

Initially, another friend of ours was involved in that aforementioned Facebook Thread. The friend made the Facebook page jokingly, after the name Millions of Dead Simpsons was thrown around, parodying Millions of Dead Posers, which was obviously, parodying Millions of Dead Cops (MDC.) We made the MDC cover with Officer Wiggum and they threw it up as the profile pic. We made an [Instagram page] under the same name because they didn't have an Instagram account, at the time.

The mission of the two pages was different, though; we were only posting our own covers, which were actual replications of existing real albums... the FB page was very much more tongue-in-cheek with lots of sh*t-posting, though, they were posting our work, too. Eventually, due to exposure through VICE/Noisey (shout-out Dan Ozzi!) Epitaph Records and bands themselves re-posting covers, both pages grew and grew. It became confusing for people who would reach out to us regarding the [Millions of Dead Simpsons] FB and visa-versa, so it was decided that a re-brand was in order. We kinda liked the idea of having a name that wasn't a direct reference to an existing entity, so we changed!

IV. Now, how do you design each @SimpsonsXcore cover... did I see you typically do them right on your iPhone 7?

Not typically, exclusively! Hahaha, we use a suite of apps on an iPhone 7S. Most are free, one costs us about $5.00 a month. We've had to get creative in obtaining some of the things we want... but the specific apps we use are a little secret, hahaha. They're all on The App Store, if anyone wants to give this a go, they should play around and find ones that work for them!

V. What type of feedback have you received thus far from the participating bands, artists, or labels?

Feedback has been amazing! Bands we've looked up to for years have reached out to say "thanks." One mentioned that this was equivalent to getting a Weird Al parody of one of their songs, which is like the ultimate compliment. Knowing that not only music fans are enjoying this, but the musicians themselves, as well... it's just such a good feeling. We never expected to get here, but want to keep doing it as long as everyone is having fun.

VI. Thus far, which album cover has been the most difficult to Simpsons-ify? How about the easiest to re-design, so far?

A few have definitely been more challenging. The Magrudergrind cover was certainly ambitious, at the time. Someday, we'll probably revamp some of the older ones, as our standards have gotten a bit higher, as we've gone along. The Blood for Blood cover also, caused us to have to adapt and think outside of the box. The most rewarding one to pull off (and one we feel, is under-rated) is Minutemen's Double Nickels On The Dime with Otto on the cover. The easiest ones to pull off are generally, the ones that are mostly text-based, like Descendents or Man Is The Bastard, though, sometimes, tracking down just the right font is the hardest part.

VII. How did your newly-enacted monthly Instagram FREE album give-album contest in collaboration with Epitaph/Hellcat Records start? I would imagine it's pretty great to have the label(s)' support!

Epitaph reached out to us, after re-posting a few things. They've been great! We started the contests back in April or May and are slated to run through the end of the year. They had us tour their HQ last time we were in LA and have been very supportive. Shout-out to Matt & Brandon! They're the ones who actually ship the records out to each month's winner! They've been massive, in terms of our audience growth.

VIII. What we're some of your personal favorite Punk/Hardcore releases of 2018? Have you SimpsonsXcore-ized any of them?

Gouge Away, Birds In Row, F*cked Up, IDLES, Drug Church, Culture Abuse, Frontierer, and American Nightmare have put out some of our favorite releases of the year and we've covered a few of them! We try to keep it a good mix between contemporary releases and classic stalwarts.

IX. Are you currently working on any "top-secret" SimpsonsXcore-centric art or collaborative projects?

We have two more Epitaph give-aways this year. We'll just have to wait and see what 2019 has in store for us! We'd definitely like to do some more T-shirts.

X. Who were your personal favorite musical guests on past episodes of The Simpsons? What Punk/Hardcore acts would you, ideally, like to see animated into the show?

To be honest, we've been watching recent seasons almost out of obligation, but there haven't been many stand-outs recently, in terms of musical guests. There are numerous acts it would be fun to see in the show—it was great getting a quick Mighty Mighty Bosstones cameo in the Boston episode a few seasons back—but it's almost better, if that doesn't come to pass; leaves more room for us to bring those cross-overs to life ourselves. We'll see what happens, though, with Simpsons becoming a Disney [intellectual property] now. 🍩

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