Musicians used to be able to make money selling music. These days though, they are expected to make a bit more of an effort: some even get out of bed before noon!
As a result, band merchandise has improved immeasurably from the days when it was enough to just print your band’s name on a crap t-shirt. Here are 9 bands who are making great merchandise to go along with their pleasurable musical offerings.
Death Grips were reliable purveyors of grinding, chaotic, noisy, hard-core hip-hop, managing that enviable feat of retaining the attention spans of legions of fans in a world with no shortage of new bands to follow and obsess over. Although they broke up earlier this year (which is perhaps not surprising given their prolific work-rate), this particular shirt remains a favourite of ours – and is definitely far easier to wear round your nan’s house than a shirt depicting the actual album artwork! (Definitely NSFW.)
This Canadian three-piece look surprisingly clean-cut and balanced, especially considering they’re one of the more brutal punk bands around. We love the compelling designs of their t shirts and sweaters.
Lese Majesty will definitely be on our list of favourite albums of 2014, and in general the band’s album cover artwork is almost as memorable as the music itself. Subversive, thought-provoking and multi-layered – all good things to combine in a t-shirt print design too.
Simian Mobile Disco
We were drawn to the simplicity of this offering from Simian Mobile Disco, designed by renowned UK graphic designer and illustrator Kate Moross. This right here is the intersection of great design and great music.
Future of the Left
The Orwellian overtones of this piece and the Charles Burns-style illustration won us over. It’s not a very happy shirt to be sure, but it’s certainly well executed. Hear Future of the Left here.
Bands sometimes forget to include designs for ladies, and they also often assume that the same colour schemes that worked on their album art will look good on their t-shirts. Com Truise addressed both these concerns with this neat t shirt, which uses a dark grey instead of the album’s distinctive red.
We think that great merch shows an ability to crossover from simply giving people another way to display their fandom to delivering good design. This shirt hints at the cover art for ‘This is All Yours’, but you won’t find the band’s name emblazoned on the front. Not bad – even non-fans of these Mercury Prize-winning mavericks would probably be happy to wear this.
Once you’ve been there and got the proverbial t-shirt, there’s no shortage of accessories to collect in the world of band merch. One of our favourites is this blood-spattered beach ball from Spoon, released with the new album ‘They Want My Soul’. It’s a deliciously and darkly mischievous addition to your beach apparel.
In the world of metal, nothing says ‘true fan’ like a vintage tour t-shirt. Metal fans are merch-hungry, and bands have obliged them by always having the best t shirt designs – at least in terms of sheer ambition. Mastodon have never shied away from the traditional metal tropes, and they certainly don’t go for minimalism. They even produced a skateboard print which took things up a notch, and is the perfect way to show off both your loyalty and your street cred – if you can bring yourself to scratch up the intricate design from new album Once More Round The Sun.
Has your favourite band lived up to expectations when it comes to creating great merch? Maybe they need a lesson when it comes to good t shirt printing and design…