Maul Stanley Interviews Matt Busch!
On occasion, Maul Stanley sees fit to interview noteworthy individuals within the realms of science-fiction and rock & roll. As a twisted fusion of the two forces, who better to conduct such artful interrogations?
The latest victim of the Sithchild's ongoing inquisition is acclaimed Star Wars artist Matt Busch. Though Matt's biggest claims to fame stem from his work with science-fiction and movie properties, he has also achieved notoriety within the glamorous underworld of rock & roll. As such, Maul Stanley felt compelled to shine a light on this wretched hive of scum and villainy... what some might call the Dark Side of Matt Busch.
How did you come to earn the title "The Rock Star of Illustration?"
The short answer is that Real Detroit Weekly, a magazine here in the Motor City, gave it to me.
The long answer is that I think it has to do with the way I present my art. For example, when I have an art show here in Detroit, it's a huge extravaganza with rock bands playing, animations of my art projected on movie screens and attendance ranging from the hundreds to the thousands. Certainly not your typical art gallery showing where they serve tea and crumpets.
It's funny, but even before anyone called me "The Rock Star of Illustration" I always had this vision of a career that didn't exist. If you're notorious at rocking out, you become a rock star. If you are a top sports athlete, you become an all-star. You get the idea: movie star, porn star... but how come there aren't any "art stars?" It's not fair. The crowd at the top of our game in the art world should really be included as "stars." So that's something I always strived for. But now that folks call me "The Rock Star of Illustration," I guess I'm content with that and will have to shut up about the whole "art star" thing. Haha!
What kind of music do you like to listen to while painting?
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.
How did John Dolmayan from System of a Down wind up providing the intro for your book Pucker: The Seductive Art of 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.
Is it true that you were once rescued on the freeway by Poison drummer Rikki Rockett and a truckload of dogs?
Haha! Wow, you really did your research, Maul! Where the heck did you find that?
Maul knows all.
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.
What was it like collaborating with Rikki on the Coven 13 comic book series for Rikki's short-lived No Mercy Comics?
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.
Have you done any other work for the members of Poison?
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.
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?
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.
What do you think Kid Rock did with your painting of Pamela Anderson?
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?
For that matter, how did Uncle Kracker come to own your painting of Daisy Duke?
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.
How did you become involved in the 50th birthday roast of Ted Nugent?
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 commands you to tell him one good Kiss story.
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.
When you painted the wall scroll of The Crow, were you tempted to add Kiss make-up over the whiteface?
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!
How different a place would the world be today if your own band Passion had really taken off?
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...
You are a man of impeccable taste.
What is it like to have achieved success in the fields of both Star Wars and rock & roll?
I pinch myself every day and can't believe some of the cool opportunities I've had. That being said, it was also a slow, uphill battle to get here and the success was never overnight. So I'm pretty grounded. I have even bigger dreams and plans from here but if my career tapers off at this point, I'd still be a happy guy.
Have you ever sneaked any rock & roll references into your Star Wars work?
In episode 5 of the How to Draw Star Wars video series, there's this bit on procrastination where I bust out a guitar and start playing the Star Wars theme.
Which Star Wars character needs to set loose his inner rock star?
Han Solo would make a pretty cool guitar player. Darth Maul would shred on bass. General Grievous could be the four-armed stick man. And after seeing Natalie Portman do that hot gansta rap on Saturday Night Live, I'm dying to see Padme let loose and rock out. I know she has it in her.
Conversely, which rock star would make for a great character in the Star Wars universe?
Most people don't know it, but Marilyn Manson actually is a Sith Lord.
How would you envision the ultimate crossover between Star Wars and rock & roll?
In an epic battle for the universe, both Jedi and Sith band together to stop the forces of awful bands like Pearl Jam and Counting Crows!
Are there any particular Star Wars characters or projects that you'd still like to take a crack at?
There isn't a Star Wars character I haven't yet cracked! The only Star Wars product that I haven't officially worked on is the comics, which I love. I know the pay on comics is awful, but just for fun one of these days I'd love to do a fully painted Star Wars comic book.
Where is the 12" Boba Fett action figure you received as a gift in 1980?
Ha! Oh man, same story as every kid my age. Mom got rid of it at a garage sale when I was away at college.
It still hurts a little.
Can you draw Star Wars?
No, but I've somehow made a career out of telling other people that they can! Haha!
Tell the world why you think Maul Stanley is so great.
Because he's the only Sith Lord who knows that Detroit Rock City is the place to be.
The malevolent Maul Stanley congratulates Matt Busch on surviving their encounter and for providing the requisite information, per his questioning. Maul now regards Matt as a worthy opponent and looks forward to their next engagement.
Further information on artist Matt Busch is available at his website: