Pressure Sensitive: Behind The Labels with
Here at Zepaltas Wines get a lot of nice comments about our labels, but sadly, we have never formally acknowledged who is behind the packaging designs. I would love for you all to think that I am the genius behind every element of Zepaltas Wines, but it’s not true. Over the years I've been lucky to cross paths with so many super-talented people, and it's such a cool feeling to collaborate with some of them. I come up with a million half-assed ideas, and the occasional good one. Thankfully, I know some pretty cool designers to help get my ideas translated to the bottle. Here is the first installment of Pressure Sensitive with Mr. Henry Owings, a guy who has been doing a boatload of work for Zepaltas as of late. We talk rock, Atlanta, food and parenting. Enjoy! –ryan zepaltas
Name: Henry H. Owings
Born & Reside: Salisbury, Maryland. Wicomico County. November '68. Currently live in the East Atlanta Village, Atlanta, Georgia. Since Spring '97.
ZW: Most people in the wine world are probably unfamiliar your body of work, but I first heard your name when I picked up my first issue of Chunklet music magazine back in the day. Tell us how it all started with design and print work?
HO: My wife likes to say that I'm an autodidact, and I guess it all starts with Chunklet. Chunklet, to the uninitiated, was my attempt at a publication in the early '90s after being continually discouraged by how my writing was being presented/published in the alt-weekly in Athens called the Flagpole. 1993 seemed like a good year to start something new (I was 24) and Athens was about to explode (again). Independent of the publishing of Chunklet, I was getting into releasing records (The Oblivians, Man…or Astro-Man?, The Olivia Tremor Control amongst others) and spent many hours at the REM offices with my good pal (and mentor) Chris Bilheimer watching him design the sleeves to records I was putting out. I didn't know THAT was called graphic design, but so be it. That was how I got into my current profession. In the summer of '96, I sold a small stack of records (pre-eBay, mind you) and bought my first computer for $3000. I spent the second half of '96 in my room figuring out the computer and what exactly design is while working on issue 12 of Chunklet in my mom's house in Pennsylvania. Arrogantly, after four months, I thought I was ready to go into the world and hang my shingle. Boy, did I have a lot to learn. However, people took pity on me and I've had some great experiences along the way. Working for Revenant, Table of the Elements, Light in the Attic, Numero Group, Mr. Show, the Comedians of Comedy, The Jesus Lizard…..the list is pretty endless at this point. But it all started very modestly. You will be able to read about it in my autobiography which I'll write when I have a free year.
ZW: Chunklet magazine was famous for tipping sacred cows of the music industry. Has anyone ever tried to kick your ass because of what was printed in Chunklet? One issue featured “The 100 Biggest Assholes In Rock.”
HO: A couple people have tried to corner and/or intimidate me, but at 6'1" 220lb, I'm not too easily scared. Moreover, once people realize I'm just having fun, I tend to diffuse the situation pretty quickly. And plus, people love me! What's not to love?
ZW: Chunklet is also a record label specializing in putting out great records from underground rock bands. What was the first record you put out? What are you releasing in the near future?
HO: The first record I released was the "Go! Pill Popper!" 7" by the Oblivians in '94. I had seen them perform in Atlanta (billed first of three with the Monomen and the Woggles), recorded the show and asked them if I could release the show. They loved the recording so much they released it themselves, and threw me a bone by giving me the Pill Popper 7". Then it was off to the races.
Stuff that's out now or any day now: an Australian powerhouse called Cuntz did a live record for me, Ohio scuzz rockers Obnox have an EP coming out, The Rock*A*Teens did a live double LP, just uncovered a Don Caballero record that came out this past month. In the future: an unreleased Speaking Canaries LP from '90, a 7" by Bowl Etheral with thee David Yow on vocals, an EP with the mighty Survival Knife out of Olympia, an EP (or something) with Toronto's Metz, a Man or Astro-Man? soundtrack….who the hell knows what else? I'm stunned I've been able to keep this hobby going for 20+ years.
ZW: Atlanta is a famous food and wine city for us winemakers. We know all the famous places. Tell us a couple spots to eat and drink at that we don’t know about?
HO: Oh jeez, in my pre-kid days, I was much more of an authority, but here's a few.
Ann's Snack Bar: Home of the Ghetto Burger -- an artery clogging masterpiece of a hamburger located mere blocks from my house in the Kirkwood neighborhood. Ann's been there for eons and is the closest thing to The Soup Nazi that Atlanta has ever had. A must visit to anybody coming to town.
Community BBQ: Without a doubt the most consistent (key word there) southern BBQ inside the city limits. Although Texas gets all the credit for brisket, this joint absolutely KILLS it with their beef. And their sausage (from Patak, another local establishment). And their pulled pork. And let's not forget the crack-like qualities of their mac and cheese or their delightful slaw and hash.
Kimball House: A joint over in Decatur that my pal Jesse Smith (from Gentleman Jesse and His Men) and Bryan (from Douchemaster Records) opened. More of a foodie vibe, but just……just great. Worth the wait and, if you're nice, Jesse will bring you old-fashioned's of your liking.
Other places (high and low): Spotted Trotter (charcuterie), Holeman & Finch (restaurant, bakery and liquor store!), Taqueria del Sol, Palookaville (corn dogs, not my thing, but I hear it's great), Ria's Bluebird, and, of course, anything with an international flair can be found out on Buford Hwy.
ZW: What is a typical workday like for you?
HO: Awakened at anytime between 6 and 8 by my 3-year old. Get her fed. Feed the dogs. Make coffee. Bring it to my wife in bed. Get both of them out the door. Then I sit in front of my computer for eight hours doing design work while loud music (or Howard Stern) blares out of my office. Might duck out for a heated game of racket ball (I play 3-5 times a week), or lunch with a friend. Around six, I hop on my bike and pick up my daughter at school and then we come home. Wife shows up anywhere between 7 and 8 and the kid goes down at 8:20-30. Then dinner with wife. Maybe a teensy pinch of TV or a movie. Hop on the bike and go to 529 or the EARL (the only venues worth mentioning in town) for a rock and/or roll show. Come home by 12:30-1. Hit the hay. Repeat.
ZW: We are both fathers to young daughters. In what ways did becoming a parent blow your mind? What is your number one parenting “pro-tip?”
HO: To be honest, I'm not a terribly precious parent. I don't look at the "miracle" of children the way a lot of parents do nowadays. To paraphrase Bill Hicks, there's not six billion miracles walking on the planet. However, I do love it all the same. I can see why people have kids. The tips that most parents gave me before having a kid (mostly revolving around sleep), were total hogwash.
The number one tip I try and offer is that as long as you're participating, everything will be fine. As somebody that had a pretty crappy father, I'm just making my own script as I go along. I tune out most criticism that other parents (or just people) offer up. There's no real right or wrong (unless you're talking hand grenades, which for the record are WRONG, duh).
Just enjoy it. Life is for the living. Try not to constrain yourself with too many rules. Have fun.
ZW: Who are all-time the top 5 bands from Georgia?
HO: There's just too goddamned many, but how about the top five bands that I think of when I think of Georgia? The BBQ Killers, Harvey Milk, The Rock*A*Teens, The Olivia Tremor Control and The Glands. The landscape here is filled with SO MANY GOOD goddamned local bands: Macha, Deerhunter, The Carbonas, Black Lips, The Purkinje Shift, Liverhearts, Hawks, Powder Room, Motherfucker, Elf Power, I mean, the list is endless. And, of course, the old guard: Georgia Satellites, DrivinNCryin, REM, Pylon, The B-52s, Limbo District, Method Actors, Dirt…..Seriously, how could I stop at just that? I am honored to be part of the local landscape. Shit rules here.
ZW: How much space does your record collection take up?
HO: I'm proud to say that my 'main collection' is directly to my left on a series of shelves that I had built by a local carpenter. It holds about 2k records. I probably have another 3k singles and 1k LPs in storage. NO CDs (except ones I designed). A ton of digital music (4TB worth). But honestly, I'm always trying to pare shit down to the essentials.
ZW: Name five overrated things about Atlanta.
HO: The goddamned Varsity. The Vortex. Coca Cola. Adult Swim and the Turner cult-mentality. The heat (it's really not that bad).
ZW: What is underrated in Atlanta?
HO: The people. The food. The creative scene. Me.