21 Feb INTERVIEW WITH TOD JUNKER
Tod Junker creates masterpieces out of whatever he desires to do. He does everything from the thriving clothing line, Junker Designs, to the rock punk band, Die Fast. He has a flare for having fun with anything he develops and that is what makes him successful. I had the opportunity to receive his view on all he creates.
Rock Documented: Being from Houston, Texas, how was your childhood as a creative person?
Tod Junker: Well Houston was great! My parents were supportive. My mom painted, sewed and knit…and I had other friends that like to draw and create. I basically grew up running around in the creek making up adventures and drawing. The 1970 s were a great time to be young.
RD: When did you begin designing? When did you begin creating music?
Junker: Designing is a hard question…it was serious, I think I was in my teens. I would draw and paint all over my clothes and dressed as I wanted. To me it was art on clothes and didn’t register as fashion. I was influenced by bands and movies mostly. Maybe I was into character building. Music was kinda hand in hand with the clothes experiments. I started playing drums at maybe 12 or so…played drums in a bunch of punk bands in Houston. Blind Ignorants was maybe the most successful. I was heavy into Rush and Kiss but really got into the Circle Jerks and D.R.I. [Dirty Rotten Imbeciles] so those styles mixed well for me. In 1991, I started singing. Fronting bands is a blast.
RD: Why did you decide to design?
Junker: It was the simple need to have something I wanted that I just couldn’t find. I spent a lot of time looking at The Dead Boys and New York Dolls, Hanoi Rocks, and other punk bands and looking at the pants … the jackets, the t-shirts. There was no internet, so I just had to figure it out. I starting hand drawing my own Kiss, Frank Zappa and Dead Boys tees and putting jean legs on jacket bodies. I was around 16, I think.
RD: How old were you when you began?
Junker: 16ish for music and fashion
RD: Where did the band get the name Die Fast?
Junker: I think I was making fun of the “live fast, die young” saying. There is nothing romantic about that party and crazy lifestyle if you aren’t around to enjoy it. Around the same time was this other dumb resurgence of the “party like a rock star,” a romanticized version of the horrible truths of addiction and death. So, I figured if you prescribe to these things in a self-destructive way you should just “die fast” and get the fuck out of my way. It’s very hard to watch friends die. It happens. It’s terrible, and a lot is avoidable. Most of the guys I ran around with in high school are dead…either overdose or suicide.
RD: How did the band come to form?
Junker: The band formed in Los Angeles around 2003, I think. Now we are all in Texas. I like being home. It’s better here for me. It’s me singing, Glenn Gilbert on guitar (he also plays and tours with Richie Ramone), Jimmy Douglas on guitar, Roo Olivarez on bass, Chis Moye on drums
RD: Your debut single is titled “Handsome.” How did the band decide to release it as the first single?
Junker: It thinks it’s a really good album preview. It let people know what’s coming. It’s also catchy and not too fast. It’s recorded and mixed by Andrew Murdock he is really great to work with.
RD: Die Fast has an album coming out this summer, what was the recording process like?
Junker: Yes, we do. It will be called “creek/creak;” that could change. The album is unusual. It has been in the works for over 5 years, if not longer. Lucky for us, Andrew Murdock saw the band out and took a liking to us. We recorded Welcome to Hollywood ourselves, but he came in and produced and mixed it. That album is out now. That was the first thing we worked on. Then we agreed to do another. That’s “creek/creak.” That recording process was pretty standard, I guess. We practiced a lot, so I didn’t take a bunch of time once we were in there. What did have a pretty big impact on was the amount of personal on the record. It was done during the decay of the LA Die Fast and the birth of the Texas Die Fast. So, I think there were three different guitar players, three bass players, and three drummers. Three versions almost of the band. We also added two songs at the last moment as well. Chris LaForge was the Texas guitar player. He and I talked a few times when I was living out of state and he put the Texas version of the band together. I had known him through a bunch of other bands in Houston. So, we played together for a bit and revamped some old Die Fast stuff and wrote a couple new ones. Lucky for us, all he recorded rough demos on his laptop and he and I did a demo of “Dead Boys and Girls.”
Unfortunately, Chris died. He has a massive stroke getting off a plane in Las Vegas. We are stoked that he will be on the album anyway. His guitar solos on these songs are really fuckin high art. Great stuff. RIP Chris.
So, the album was a long road, that’s what I remember. Also Murdock, the producer, is the only guy to actually produce the band. Having another person there with ideas, comments and suggestions, or someone to just kick your ass some is a great help especially to me. He seemed to like take 20 or so for vocals…the takes were I could hardly continue he likes, as do I.
RD: Not only do you design clothing but you have also designed costumes for film and TV. How did that happen?
Junker: Robert Rodriguez, the film director, was collecting my jackets. I found out right about the same time I had made him some vests …. Just as a far out, I made him those vests to try and connect and let him know I am a fan, I want to work in film, and I am a Texan as well. He shoots all his stuff in Austin, so it’s a perfect match. I have worked on Sin City 2, Machete Kills, Dusk till Dawn: The Series and Alita: Battle Angel with Robert. In Alita he even let me act ……. I play “Exploder” and “Bad Robot”.
RD: Do you have a preference, music or design?
Junker: I think I won’t choose [Laughs], I love loud ….so music will always be my salvation.
RD: They’re both creative. Do you have any other creative outlets you want to show the world in the near future?
Junker: I would like to act more.
RD: Does Die Fast have any plans to tour?
Junker: Yes. Working on some possible dates with [the band] Bullets and Octane
RD: What is your favorite song on this new album coming out?
Junker: Hard to say…“Handsome” and “Satanic Overboard” are really good
RD: Anything else you would like to add?
Junker: “Handsome” the single and Welcome to Hollywood, the record, is out now! Please download it and add the Die Fast YouTube page.
Also please add Junker on Instagram at @todjunker .
Make sure to say hi! Thank you!
Tod Junker is a renaissance man, someone whose ambition and love of creativity has taken him out of Houston and across the lands. His success is art. When someone takes something that others sees as garbage and then makes it into art, well it is wonderful. Art can be in many forms and it is a wonderful thing. The world needs more artists. Check out Junker Designs as well as Die Fast.
*title image courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/junkerdesigns/