News Segment


April 24, 2007

In honor of the impending 30th anniversary of the Star Wars saga, noted artist Matt Busch has been interviewed by the mysterious Maul Stanley (a parody hybrid of Star Wars character Darth Maul and Kiss guitarist Paul Stanley). Maul Stanley asked Matt about his work with a number of hard rock & heavy metal artists, including Kiss, Poison, Ted Nugent and System of a Down. A few excerpts from the interview follow:

Maul Stanley: What kind of music do you like to listen to while painting?

Matt Busch: I mostly listen to hard rock and metal. It gets me pumped up and keeps me going. Sometimes when I’m working on movie stuff I’ll listen to soundtracks. Occasionally I’ll throw on some ’80s guilty pleasure stuff.

Maul Stanley: How did John Dolmayan from System of a Down wind up providing the intro for your book Pucker: The Seductive Art of Matt Busch?

Matt Busch: I just asked him to. I was told years ago that he’s a fan of my work. I tripped out when I heard that because I often listen to System of a Down when I paint, so that was a weird circle. Anyway, I first met him a few years back at the San Diego Comic-Con. We’ve since become friends and he’s even hooked me up with backstage passes when System of a Down comes to town. He’s just a really cool guy.

Maul Stanley: Is it true that you were once rescued on the freeway by Poison drummer Rikki Rockett and a truckload of dogs?

Matt Busch: Well, one day my car broke down on the freeway. Long story short, Rikki was the only non-pretentious friend in L.A. who dropped everything to come and pick me up. He said, “Sure, I’ll throw the dogs in the hummer and come right out to get you.” Rikki was such a great role model for me. To this day, he’s one of the most down-to-earth guys I’ve ever met.

Maul Stanley: What was it like collaborating with Rikki on the Coven 13 comic book series for Rikki’s short-lived No Mercy Comics?

Matt Busch: It was awesome. I was so starstruck at first, being a huge fan of Poison. But Rikki and I became good friends. He’s really creative at anything he gets his hands into, so working with him was just the coolest. He’s got a great sense of humor, too, as you probably know. We’ve talked about doing more stuff together, even indie moviemaking, but it’s hard now that I’m not on the West Coast.

Maul Stanley: Have you done any other work for the members of Poison?

Matt Busch: Yeah, I also do stuff for Bret Michaels from time to time. I did some promo art for his movie A Letter From Death Row. I was also supposed to paint some huge stage banners for his solo tour last year but I was already buried with work.

Maul Stanley: You’ve also designed T-shirt art for the likes of Billy Joel, Alice Cooper, Motley Crue, Cinderella, Megadeth, Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne. How do you go about boiling down the essence of a musical artist into a single representative image?

Matt Busch: Every gig presents a different challenge. Sometimes the art directors I’m working with already know exactly what they want and sometimes I get to play. Typically, I get hired to do 3 to 5 idea sketches. The band picks the one they like best and I roll with that.

Maul Stanley: What do you think Kid Rock did with your painting of Pamela Anderson?

Matt Busch: From what I understand, he gave it to her as a Christmas gift a few years back. So the question is… what did she do with it?

Maul Stanley: For that matter, how did Uncle Kracker come to own your painting of Daisy Duke?

Matt Busch: Uncle Kracker actually came out to one of my Fantastic Visions art shows. He’s a big Daisy fan and flipped out when he saw the painting. I’ve heard that Kid Rock also has posters of the same Daisy painting all over his recording studio.

Maul Stanley: How did you become involved in the 50th birthday roast of Ted Nugent?

Matt Busch: Bret Michaels of Poison had been invited to the bash but couldn’t attend. Instead he called and hired me to do a painting of Ted. I also got to go onstage in Bret’s place and roast Ted Nugent in front of an audience of thousands! It was definitely one of the greatest moments I’ve had.

Maul Stanley: Maul Stanley commands you to tell him one good Kiss story.

Matt Busch: Okay. A couple of years back, I read the Gene Simmons book Sex Money Kiss. With the exception of Gene’s views on women, I loved the book and thought it was one of the best I’d ever read. Ironically, two weeks later I actually met Gene at the San Diego Comic-Con. So it was a perfect time to get into an in-depth discussion about it.

I was there with my then-girlfriend and during the conversation, Gene motioned to her and said, “You’re not going to marry her, right?” I was like a deer in the headlights! I told him that I was going to marry her and that she wasn’t like other girls. Gene was disappointed and said, “You didn’t learn anything from my book, did you? Read it again.”

He continued to cut down my girl, saying that she would eventually leave me for something better when the opportunity presented itself.

Long story short, a year later she did break my heart and did leave me, just like Gene said she would. I don’t mean any disrespect since my ex and I are now on good terms, but Gene was right about her. I have since gone back and re-read Gene’s book and he was totally on.

The funny thing is that I never introduced myself as Matt Busch, since I figured he’d have no idea who I was. I came to find out later that he’s actually a big fan of my work. How different that conversation might have gone had he known who I was.

So here we are several years later and I’m illustrating the Gene Simmons’ House of Horrors comic book at IDW Publishing. Small world.

Maul Stanley: When you painted the wall scroll of The Crow, were you tempted to add Kiss make-up over the whiteface?

Matt Busch: No, but holy shit, I totally need to do that now! I should do that with Gene’s make-up and send one to him! Haha!

Maul Stanley: How different a place would the world be today if your own band Passion had really taken off?

Matt Busch: Haha! Not a chance. The grunge invasion would have killed us just like every other hair band! Hypothetically, if Passion had taken off, I expect our most recent CD would feature Maul Stanley as guest on a few tracks…

Maul Stanley: Tell the world why you think Maul Stanley is so great.

Matt Busch: Because he’s the only Sith Lord who knows that Detroit Rock City is the place to be.

The entire interview is available here:

Maul Stanley is the unlikely new anti-hero who combines the spirit of the Starchild with the essence of the Sith, spiked with a dash of irreverence. Drawing inspiration from both the Star Wars movies and the rock band Kiss, the so-called Sithchild mixes the dark side of rock & roll with the dark side of the Force. Maul Stanley has appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and in the Triumph the Insult Comic Dog DVD. He can also be seen in the VH1 special When Star Wars Ruled the World. In honor of the impending 30th anniversary of the Star Wars saga, Maul Stanley will be issuing a series of interviews conducted with various rock stars regarding their own unique Star Wars experiences. Maul Stanley is about to descend upon the realms of both sci-fi and rock & roll in a big way, heralded by the ominous whisper…

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