If you’re in a band a brand is what your band is going to want to brand all over the land so that the land will know your band by its brand. Try saying that ten times fast. All joking aside, a great band logo can transcend a band itself. The Rolling Stones haven’t made a decent record in my lifetime, but even I own things that have the red-lips logo on them. It’s still cool. Well, some of our local acts have some pretty sweet logos as well, and today we’re a-rankin’ ‘em.
10. The Abyss
Of course you’d expect a good logo when your lead singer is a tattoo artist. Sean Ozz’s hand/eye combo has the perfect mix of street art and goth to sum up one of the city’s few remaining goth acts. It’s a shame, though, because their name still makes me think of that Swedish black-metal act of the same name.
9. Skeleton Dick
Skeleton Dick is never going to accused of subtlety, but that’s punk rock for you. They go through a rotation of different logos to use, but it always comes back to the original skeleton dick drawn by Patrick Merryman. Bunny Dast added the wings, because what’s the point of having a morbid phallus if you aren’t going to have batwings?
8. The Hates
This list would be meaningless without the iconic Kool-Aid Man logo used by The Hates, who have reigned over punk in Houston for decades. I asked singer Christian Kidd about it, and because it’s Christian I of course got a story…
The logo was designed by the late, great Dale Brooks in the early 2000s. He was working at Channel 13 at the time and would often make graphics and stickers in the course of his duties. He knew that he wanted to design a sticker for us, but it took him filming a few of our shows to give him the concept. The man was so dedicated to the idea once he had it nailed down that he actually hand cut the chalkboard letters of the logo from a back-to-school ad.
At the time, The Hates were enjoying playing a lot of shows around town, and one of the most commonly requested songs was "People's Temple," which is one of the first songs I ever wrote, and recounts the Jonestown Massacre. With lyrics like, "Come on and be a Kool-Aid kid," and an ending of the old commercial jingle "Kool-Aid, Kool-Aid, tastes great! Wish I had some, I can't wait!" it was an easy jump to imagine a menacing Kool-Aid Man. Not to mention, my bass player at the time, David Dittemore, would love to get Kool-Aid pitchers full of the grape stuff and invite audience members to drink or even wear it. So it just kind of became something to remember us by- and it stuck. Like those Kool-Aid mustaches we all had when we were kids.
Simple and classy, YouGenious’s logo was always one of my favorites. However, it looks like it may actually be on the way out. When we asked him about it he said…
Robert Bjorn and I designed it. I wanted something that defined me at the time...Ladies and Liquor. Although...Now it seems to represent things that make people shitty. Alcoholism and the oversexualization of women. Perhaps it’s time to re-brand.
6. Greg Cote
I’m a big fan of the minimalist approach, and it doesn’t get much more minimalist than Greg Cote’s self-portrait doodle. Cote says it fits his songwriting style. “I write a lot of extremely autobiographical songs so it's about me being open and honest,” he says. “The face is me. The songs are me. Also, it just makes people giggle.”
Thelastplaceyoulook is known for two things; good tunes and goddamn magnificent beardage. Every member sports facial hair worthy of Norse mythology and it’s reflected in their logo. Jaron Hall of Floorbound designed it based on the band’s suggestions, and cut outs of it are handed out at shows so that the band can see bearded visages staring back at them as they play.
4. Dead Horse
I don’t think any non-rap act in Houston has the populist energy that Dead Horse has. Broken up, reunited, active or on hiatus, it’s a band that you will always see peeking out at you from black T-shirts all over the city no matter what their current status is. There’s just something about Dead Horse that keeps them alive, and good art certainly doesn’t hurt.
3. Linus Pauling Quartet
LP4 has probably my personal favorite Houston band logo. It may be simple, but it manages to be both whimsical and sad at the same time in a way that reminds me a lot of Bauhaus, Joy Division and other dark acts. For sure, it sums up their music perfectly.
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2. Morgue City
As far as I’m concerned the best-conceived logo in the city belongs to Morgue City. Symbol logos are always dicey since you risk someone seeing it not knowing that the symbol belongs to a band, but that doesn’t diminish the basic symmetrical beauty of the design. Of all the logos Houston bands have used, Morgue City’s is the only one I can imagine getting a tattoo of.
1. Only Beast
Why does Only Beast net the top spot? Because this is art by the legendary Mike Mignola of Hellboy fame. Danielle Renee became friends with the artist after meeting him at Comicpalooza 2014 and he ended up gifting her band the use of the image. It’s not the fanciest logo in the city, but it sure has the greatest pedigree. That’s worth No. 1