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  • Karen Nielsen Licher

Daring Initiative and Revolutionary Passion: SAVAGE REPUBLIC's "Film Noir / O Andonis" single


In this episode of The Independent Podcast Review Jeffrey Brenneman and Greg Grunke speak with Bruce Licher and Robert Loveless of Savage Republic, and dig into the curious roots of the band's second release, the iconic Film Noir / O Andonis 7" single, (IP009).


 


The front cover of the Film Noir single offers the surprising image of a mysterious and altogether new flag that has arrived on the world stage...


...a flag that is held high into the wind of the California desert by conceptual artist and Savage Republic band member Bruce Licher. The original Savage Republic flag, an acrylic painting on canvas by Licher, was installed upon an East Mojave dry lake bed to coincide with the April 1983 performance by Savage Republic at the Desolation Center event Mojave Exodus.


Rising up from anonymity beyond the frame of the image on the front cover, we see the bony structure of a man's hands and upper arms as they establish the tenacious effort of holding forth an intention amidst the great powers of nature and humanity as they clash in the real world. Bruce Licher created this four color design in the vernacular of his iconic letterpress on chipboard. The crude nature of the printing and the materials themselves evoke a sense of daring, courageous initiative and revolutionary passion... perhaps even the shedding of blood.


Licher combined high-contrast photo-engraved printing plates with hand-carved linoleum blocks, and instinctively emphasizes the delicate importance of the image by surrounding the gestural drama of the raising of the flag with the delicate metallic silver ink imprint of hand-set metal borders. The encasement apexes with a goddess-like image that Licher selected from a collection of letterpress ornaments housed at the Women's Graphic Center in downtown Los Angeles where Licher first learned this hand-crafted style of design and printing. The image crudely yet gracefully references the familiar archetypal image of the feminine side of humanity, seen holding up a torch of light and freedom to share as a beacon of truth with others.



The back cover offers a collage of images combining blocks of hand-set type with other small intriguing graphic elements created by Licher from carved linoleum blocks and photo-engraved printing plates. The final touches to the cover were provided by an actual inked-up handprint from guitarist Jackson del Rey (Phillip Drucker) and a hand-affixed and cancelled Savage Republic stamp by Bruce Licher. The bloody red color of Rey's inked hand... again graphically speaking towards evidence of some kind of battle and a price paid for the taking of a stand. Around this time Bruce Licher created sheets of perforated stamps commemorating the First Anniversary of the Establishment of the Republic. Licher affixed one stamp to the back of each cover, "hand-cancelling" the stamp with a hand-carved rubber eraser, the imprint of stamp and cancellation mark further imbuing this objet d'art with hints of its own historical record in the actual Savage Republic - officially noticed and regulated within the manufactured economic structure of this fictional "society."



The Film Noir single sold well and before long further pressings were in order. Printing sleeves for the first pressing of one thousand copies had taken Licher several days. He recalls, “I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of doing the same thing all over again. However, having built the design on press, I discovered that I had the ability to move elements around, or reset the type if I decided I liked another typeface better than the ones I’d used the first time. Subtly redesigning the cover for the second edition kept things interesting not only for me as artist and pressman, but also, I later discovered, for the record collectors of the future. It didn’t take me long to fully embrace the idea of making each pressing unique, and every new edition or pressing of the band’s recordings have been redesigned in one way or another.”


 

Film Noir, a song brought to the group by guitarist Philip Drucker, was a new direction for Savage Republic, featuring Drucker and Licher's melodic guitar work and keyboards by new member Robert Loveless.


O Andonis was written by the Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis in the 1960's.

Savage Republic's interpretation of this revolutionary song from the soundtrack of the movie "Z"

helped to establish a strong following for the band in Greece.


 


Robert Loveless and Philip Drucker in performance with Savage Republic circa 1983.



 

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