Before Nolen Strals and Bruce Willen started their Baltimore art and design studio, Post Typography (whose clients have included The New York Times, John Legend, Time Magazine and Random House), the duo had a post-punk, post-hard-core band with a cult following.
Singing songs about graphic design – hated fonts, beloved Pantone colors – Double Dagger was a kind of band that has probably not existed before or been imitated since, “graphic-design-core.”
That’s how it’s described in a recently-released documentary by Gabe DeLoach and Zack Kiefer, “If We Shout Loud Enough,” and in a Fast Company spread last week about Strals, Willen and Double Dagger, pegged to the release of the Folk Hero Films production.)
The documentary chronicles the last tour of the band, which was was founded in 2007 and broke up in 2011.
“Double Dagger was composed of Strals, a designer/singer with a chronic stutter that disappeared whenever he picked up a microphone; Willen, a designer/bassist so powerful the band didn’t need a guitar; and Denny Bowen, a ferocious, clock-like drummer,” as Fast Company’s Carey Dunne describes the band.
Quark? Tekno? Oh, the Humanity!
The film explores the connections between Double Dagger’s raw and rapid-fire music and the hand-scrawled, Scotch-taped, DIY roots of the founders’ approach to the graphic arts. (You’ll also learn about the raunchy body-fluid themed concert poster that kindled Strals and Willen’s simultaneous foray into decibels and design.)
Art “decoupled from corporate ambitions,” is how the Maryland Film Festival’s Jed Dietz described them in the text for a screening of the film at the festival last year.
“If We Shout Loud Enough,” narrated by a tweedy
mock- extremely-erudite “Baltimore music historian,” explains how their music had everything that drove them nuts about their day jobs – the indignities visited upon them by idiotic clients, the fonts they hated like Comic Sans and Tekno, the obnoxious page layout software they love to bash.
“I Don’t Know Which I Hate More, You or Quark,” was one song. “Clare (undone),” is another.
There’s also a CMYK song, inspired by Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black), the colors used in printing.
Anyway, fans of the band, of Old Goucher-based Post Typography and of Nolen and Strals (Maryland Institute College of Art graduates who now teach there) will find interesting tidbits here.
Reading about it led me to the revelation that “dagger” and “double dagger” are typographical symbols. Someday, I’m thinking, this knowledge will come in handy.
The film is set to be shown at the Fargo (N.D.) Film Festival in March.