Father Interview with JB Sapienza
Name: JB Sapienza
Bands/Projects: FUTURISTIC WRIST WATCH, Garlic Beard & Ross Lafond, MY NAME IS JONAH, UNDERGROUND INC.
UNDERGROUND INC.: https://www.facebook.com/undergroundincorporated/
Deviant Art page http://jbinks.deviantart.com/
Patt Kelley video: https://vimeo.com/115090073
Soundcloud page: https://soundcloud.com/jb-garlic-beard
QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a musician/cartoonist/filmmaker etc?
JB – I started playing drums when I was ten years old because they give you the option in 4th grade to play an instrument. I’m not sure exactly how old I was when I realized how fun it would be to play music, but it was early in life. Five or so. I know I was in the backseat of my dad’s car & a Beach Boys song came on the radio. At the end of the song it all faded out & I remember thinking to myself that, as a band everybody just played quieter & quieter until it was time to stop recording. & I remember thinking that whole process of making music sounded fun as hell.
A few years after I started playing drums I started messing around with making sound collages on tapes, using a My First Sony tape player that belonged to my little sister. I would write bad raps & stuff & rap them through an oscillating fan. An early memorable chestnut was “The name is JB I got twin named Nick / something something something & I got 3 dicks.” (very classy)
Cartoonist. I have been drawing as long as I can remember. A family friend babysat us when we were around 2 or 3. He had an eagle tattoo that fascinated us, so he drew one onto each of our arms. Which translated into us drawing all over each other, & then the walls & then finally my Mom put paper in front if us. I pretty much never stopped drawing. She & I used to draw still lifes together when I was 5ish.
Movies. Not until I was in high school. A lot of our English & Language teachers allowed us to make videos instead of writing book reports. So a core group of us would always choose that option & make pretty bad short films. All in camera cuts. No real adherence to the rules of cinema. Horrible “acting”. A live score added by somebody running behind the camera with a boombox. I got to play Wedge Antilles once (we were comparing the Odyssey to Star Wars) & another time I played the guy who rapes the blind girl in A Patch of Blue (we let the actress pick who would perform that role, I’m not sure if that was a compliment or not) People in school stopped me in the hallway to tell me they liked my performance for those two roles in particular. Or more accurately they said, “I was watching so&so’s video project & I said to myself, ‘That’s JB!’” Which I guess isn’t a compliment at all. So for whatever reason, that translated into me wanting to make movies some day.
QRD – What are a few highlights of your musical/cartooning/movie career?
JB – Music wise I haven’t done much of anything noteworthy to anybody but myself. I’ve had the opportunity to play or record with some talented folk & work on some beats that I am very proud of. I made an album called GARLIC BEARD & ROSS LAFOND - SWORD CANE TECHNIQUE that I’m pretty happy with. Ross is an otherworldly beat maker. One day in the near to distant future in an alternate timeline I’ll be putting out an album by a band I am in called Futuristic Wristwatch. & the album is probably going to be called THE BALLAD OF JOHN RATZENBURGER IN TIME & SPACE. I’m looking forward to being able to say that project coming out is a highlight.
In cartooning land. I had the honor of doing a 2 pager in Patt Kelley’s Parasitic Twin #2. I’ve done a couple of promotional posters for a movie theater chain in NH that I am pretty proud of. & of course editing & art direction for the yearly “MY NAME IS JONAH” FCBD comic. The 6th issue just came out a few weeks ago. (http://www.mynameisjonahfilm.com/#fcbd). This is probably the last issue.
I just did the cover for the excellent horror movie guidebook by high school pal (& fellow video project maker) Brian W. Collins. His book is called HORROR MOVIE A DAY: THE BOOK. One of the best horror movie websites in the history of horror movie websites.
Movie-verse. My biggest highlight is putting out my first film, the documentary MY NAME IS JONAH, which I made with two of my friends from those high school video project days. Phil Healy & Jon Caron (& some other very talented people). The movie played all over the world & won a handful of awards in the process. It should be available to the general public in the someday soon times.
I’m really excited to be working on UNDERGROUND INC. with a filmmaker named Shaun Katz (director) & my buddy Adam Lovett (producer). I’m co-editing & animating & helping to produce this one. It’s a documentary about the rise & fall of the alternative music scene in the wake of Nirvana & the “grunge explosion”. Though, it is definitely not about Nirvana or “grunge”. If you were/are a fan of the early to mid 90s alternative music scene then one of your favorite bands is featured in this beast. (I should actually get back to editing the movie as soon as I stop answering these questions.) UNDERGROUND INC. is maybe going to be done at the end of this year? Don’t quote me on that.
& finally, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with my wife a couple of times. She is an English Language Learner teacher, grades 4-6. I’ve helped her make a couple of videos for & with her students. My favorite one was a Q&A video where cartoonist Patt Kelley answered the kids questions while he taught them how to make a comic. It was really fun to make & the kids got a lot out of it. A few of them have started making their own comics!
QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?
JB – Whoa. Curveball. In the back of my head I have always wanted to be a dad. But I’d also have been 100% happy having never spawned. I’m incredibly glad I did & wouldn’t change it, but the honest answer is 50% of me never wanted to play this game. I guess I’d have to say the year we decided to start a family is the age I was when I decided I wanted to have kids. I believe I was 33.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?
JB – I’m responsible for another human being. That is both the positive & the negative.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?
JB – Dude. I’m the best around. Nothing is ever gonna keep me down. Or my family. I’m not sure I’ve had any negative impact on them yet. Maybe sometimes I have my head up in the clouds thinking about the work I should/could be doing when I’m actually watching my daughter. Once she gets old enough to form full sentences I’ll ask her this & get back to you.
QRD – Has your daughter effected the music/cartoons/movies you make &/or listen to?
JB – My daughter, who is abut to turn 1, really responds to music. So I’ve had her sit in my lap while I work on beats & she kind of sings or beat boxes along. If I poorly strum a guitar she will toddle over to a drum & play it mostly in time with me. Which is pretty amazing. She gets a huge smile on her face like, “Dad, we’re jamming! We’re jamming!” But, no I haven’t changed anything I listen to or make for her sake.
Cartoon wise I haven’t really drawn in front of her yet. For whatever reason.
Movie-verse, we don’t let her watch TV yet. So she has no idea I’m a filmmaker. But I couldn’t let her watch MNIJ until she was at least a teenager. & some of the other projects I have coming down the pipeline are much too old for her. I do have some kids movies in my head too. I’m in no more or less of a rush to make them because of her creation.
QRD – Do you think being involved in music/art has made your daughter different than her piers?
JB – I honestly have no idea, as I don’t spend much time hanging out with her peers at daycare.
QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from a musical/cartooning/filmmaking career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?
JB – & how!
QRD – Given the limitations having a family has on being a touring musician/working cartoonist/filmmaker, would you have toured more earlier in life if you’d known?
JB – Yes & YES. Youth is a thousand times wasted on the young. I wouldn’t change a lot of what I’ve done in my life because it all adds up to the person I am today & the junk that comes out of my fingertips/mouth/brain, but I absolutely would have been more proactive in getting my career started earlier in life.
This goes back to the “positive effect” having a kid has had on my art. It’s not just my life that I can fuck up now. I’m not worried about my wife, she is capable & intelligent. But it will take both of us being successful to raise a well-adjusted child. It’s as if my back were up against the wall & I have no choice now but to do it & do it well. Since “it” is the only thing I am good at.
QRD – Do you think being a father or a musician/cartoonist/filmmaker has a greater impact on your community?
JB – Great question. From a purely math point of view, a few thousand people have seen MNIJ on it’s festival run. Once it is available on streaming & DVD/Blu, I imagine that number will expand exponentially. If something I helped create has a positive effect or gives the viewer an emotional catharsis, or just makes them think for even 1% of the people who interact with my art, is that actually more valuable than raising a caring & intelligent human being who could potentially save the universe from a time traveling alternate dimension jumping despot & unite the 12 clans across the cosmos?
Probably. I’m going to go with “probably”. My fatherhood is probably more valuable than my dumb comics or whatever. But if my dumb comics or whatever makes me the person who raises my child into the person capable of saving the universe, then I guess the answer is that they are equally important. Probably.
QRD – Would you rather see your daughter eventually become an artist or a parents\?
JB – I just want them her to be happy. Whatever that means is what I want.
QRD – Both family & art seem like things that will take up as much of your time as you’re willing to put in. How do you end up dividing your time?
JB – I’m lucky in that right now I’m able to stay home & work on UNDERGROUND INC. so I’m home when my wife & daughter get home. I work until it’s time to play dad. Then I work a little more once the girls have gone to bed. We’ll see what happens after this project is over.
QRD – What does your daughter think of your art?
JB – She seems to dig it.
QRD – Do you think you could ever do a project with your daughter?
JB – My kiddo loves music enough that I’m going to buy her an electric guitar or a bass & let her explore music on her own. If we get to the point where we’re doing a Partridge Family thing I’d probably be more embarrassed than anything, but would be smiling from ear to ear at the same time.
If she grows up to be an artist, I imagine we will collaborate in some capacity.
QRD – Any words of advice to young people?
JB – Don’t wait for somebody to discover you. Just make work & put it out there. Don’t wait until it’s perfect, don’t be too precious about it. Just make work. Because then you’ll be a dad & your life will be over. Happy Father’s Day! Just kidding. About the life being over part. & the happy father’s day. That’s my day, don’t take it away from me.