One of the things that was really great and natural in speaking to Thom was his obvious love and passion for music above all else. I think that having that in common allowed for an interesting and humble look at a great artist who is bringing to life a great brewery from Ohio. As I speak more with each artist I see that each of them play a unique and important role in the brewery and its vibe and that could not be any more reality than with Thom and Hoof. His love for the people there, who are his family and brothers comes through in his admiration for their hard work and dedication.
He also knows his shit when it comes to music. And not in a snooty way, but just as someone who loves a diverse catalog of music and appreciates all styles differently from punk to pop to electronica and many styles in between. He brings some of the love to life in his art and the work he does with Hoof. I hope this interview will help you get the joke and listen to a few tracks from Thom's band and go down the rabbit hole of a random play list and music recommendation. It's fun.
AJ: We have with us Thom Lessner here at the 16oz Canvas, he's an artist out of my hometown of Philadelphia. He does artwork for Hoof Hearted Brewing Company. If you haven't had a chance to check them out make sure you look at the links, we’ll have it all posted up on the site and thanks for making the time today Thom.
Thom: Nice to hear from you, thanks for reaching out.
AJ: Excellent like I said, you're from you're from Philly and that's where you work, right?
Thom: I’ll always say I’m from Columbus Ohio. I lived around all over, but I’ve been in Philly since 1999 so I guess I'm from Philly now.
AJ: Okay, yeah, I do the reverse. I say I’m from Philly but I’ve been in Connecticut since about the same time.
Thom: Yeah, exactly yeah.
AJ: Because they say, “Where are you from?” “Well, I'm from Philly but I lived in Connecticut more than half my life you can't gonna get over you know.
Thom: Yeah I do the same that’s what I’m saying, I guess I should say I’m from Philly by now because I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else I’ve ever lived but I feel like wherever you want to -- wherever you went through puberty is where you're from.
AJ: Right yeah that’s a good call.
Thom: I guess maybe I’m still going through puberty, I’m not sure yeah but yeah.
AJ: What part of Philly are you in?
Thom: In South Philly just right by the Cheese Steak places the two main ones.
Thom: So I got a little row home here it's quite nice.
AJ: Yeah it’s a Philly way to say it, yeah row home everybody is like “What's that?” And I’m like, “The houses next to each other.” Yeah I grew up North-East and yeah my dad in Port Richmond which is kind of close to you and yeah my siblings are in Roxboro so Manayunk, all Philly areas have a clue cool way of saying where they are never get the sub name.
Thom: Yeah for sure. I had a studio forever in Port Richmond.
AJ: Oh nice.
Thom: I know the area well yeah.
AJ: It's a good spot so yes so if you go to Thom’s website ThomLessner.com, your portfolio is pretty robust it's not just to limit it to talking about Hoof will be unfair. How would you describe your background as an artist I mean where did you get started and yeah.
Thom: I think I just always made stuff growing up mostly music but it was always drawing and I never really learned, I just learned from friends and I didn’t go to school or anything but uh I was always making stuff and I think in like the retro high school in the 90s, I went Francisco for a little while and like just started seeing people making things art work and I got excited about it and just started drawing stuff. I never really had a focus but then I went back to Columbus Ohio and met more people and started seeing more stuff I like-like skateboard aesthetics things like that I grew up with, handmade stuff and moved to Philadelphia cause there's a cool scene that kind of things like to yourself stuff and artists I really like.
So I came to Philly 1999 and just figured out what I really liked and started making it and so yeah I came to look a studio club based on 26 that's still here and it's just a great like our collective type just workspace that I got a studio for years and it really taught me I was like my art school where I learned to screen-print and just was around great people that inspired me and like yeah just started making stuff and it's just really -- it just fell into place like I just think Philadelphia is a great place where it's there's jobs and there's a lot of good people around especially like when I was coming up in early 2000s or something, I think there's a good scene for me -- for what I was doing and it just let me to lots of connections or whatever because I'm not super eager or throw myself with people but I think what I was making, drawings of people like pretty easy, it was pretty palatable and like marketable and stuff so it worked to my advantage of getting lots of different clients from all over so that helped.
AJ: Right yeah, that's pretty -- it's pretty great so it's an area in Philly where other kind of artist just learned to help each other out, that's pretty awesome.
Thom: Yeah it was a good time coming up, I didn't -- I had no idea, I'd never really had an art show or anything and I just -- I saw gallery that a friend of mine had a show at and I was blown away and I just went in there and was like, “Hey, this is what I do.” Which is like photo album and the lady liked it and she like help me out for like many years and then I just had other friends show me the way. So, it didn't seem like it was really, it really just worked out, it was like the right place, the right time type of thing, doing the right thing. Yeah so it -- I don't know it's been good to me.
AJ: Yeah and I think that we said before with music a lot of it is you allow yourself as music icons and just your riffs off a song lyrics or that the culture it’s yeah I see it resonates with people because it's unique -- it's okay I know that is then you can take you to different spot and your play off it.
Thom: Yeah I think yeah I definitely I would -- in my perfect world I would be like ripping a stage playing like hot guitar solos in a band over making drawings but I think more inspired by music, but I'm probably better at making artwork. I love drawing and stuff but I think I get more inspired from music, so it's neat to mix the two together, so that's probably what hopefully comes out somehow I’m just this dude that really likes music or just doing it.
AJ: Right, do you play at all?
Thom: Yeah I still play in other bands, just little things I'm in a band now call Fabergege that is just a fun pop band that it's going really slow but it's really fun, just like really fun people making like pop rock songs and yeah I don't know what there is to say about that but it's a fun thing.
AJ: Yeah I know I think that you're the king of puns you’re very -- I think you’re a word smith as well I which enjoy.
Thom: I will give myself some credit but also will give -- if we want to get into Hoof Hearted, I'll give the main guy Hoof Hearted, Trevor Williams a lot of credit like he’s a part of a lot of the titles or the concepts and then I bring them to life.
AJ: Yeah because for a while I was just like, “Oh Hoof Hearted, yeah they’re from Ohio.” it was like I took a while and then some people I say it to and they get on the first take and they just start rolling, I’m like, “Oh okay.” I’m a little slow to the party.
Thom: Nice. It's more impactful I think when it gets slow you know you're like, “Oh damn it hit me.” or whatever.
AJ: Yeah, alright then it’s like I have to go back and I'm like, “What did I miss with the scanner, what's going on here?” It's like oh. Yeah so that was fun, the exploratory part of it.
Thom: Right, right.
AJ: Yeah and I think that's what's been really great talking to folks, a lot of folks have that love for music whether it’s making show posters or being in a band and trying to promote themselves and when you're an up and coming anything, it's kind of as many things you can do yourself and it goes a long way so some it’s by design other by necessity so it's been that's really been interesting to learn about.
Thom: I think what I'm saying is I like to collaborate in a sense of I do what I do with other people like I'm not so much of a good collaborator when it's out of my element or like okay I'm a good collaborator in a Hoof Hearted sense where I'm connecting with their brand and branding it and taking their amazing beer and their amazing ideas, adding my ideas like illustrating it, representing it that way and I think maybe working in the band is that when you're playing with other folks like working out songs and stuff, it’s collaborating, it’s your idea, you melt it together and I'm not, I think I'm -- I do it but as far as like I used to have a lot of solo shows and just make my own artwork and I really like that but I think the older I get the more I’m realizing like I really like to like power in numbers type of thing. Make a video for a band, connect with their song, it’s my artwork or whatever.
Which is it’s still like completely my thing sort of but it's also like just better because it's somebody else thing too, so it's it feels -- yeah it feels, something about that really is working for me, the older I get, the more I do this crap, so yeah.
AJ: Yeah did you think when you came to Philly you be where you’d be at right now? Like I said before, if you go to Thom’s website your portfolio is pretty great and you've done some really unique stuff it's not just there are some you Narragansett which is a well-known institutional beer, you don't work with Snickers, Microsoft, yeah it's impressive so congrats on that man.
Thom: That's kind. Yeah, I think all that stuff I'll make an excuse why it's not that important or that like I'm yeah -- we probably have our own little demons of like insecurities or whatever but I'm always like, “I could have done better or this could have been bigger.” But it is nice sometimes just realized like, “You're in a good place, you’ve done some good work kid.” So thanks for saying that yeah.
AJ: Yeah I mean I think you look at it it's like the book and the first chapter or the beginning that movie might not be the best part of the movie but you can't have all that it's like your character development right that’s how you’ve got to look at it.
Thom: Okay yeah right on.
AJ: Yeah good. So, how would you describe -- that's one thing I mean I recognize what I like and not and I find it interesting but I'm not always the best describer of the aesthetic of an artist, so how would you describe your aesthetic?
Thom: Well, I guess going back to music based on what I find like I think what's neat about music is it's just like it’s not anything but I think I just like music so much that it's a fun art form to just really like have such eclectic tastes and I think that like I think nobody wants to hear about like how eclectic somebody else's taste is but it’s so personal that like we all care about our own you know what I mean like when somebody is like, “I'm so random.” That's the corniest thing to say but it's also like kind of dramatic of music that it that I mean there's lots of people that are just like, “I just like metal, I just like reggae.” Whatever and that's fine too, and that's cool that they're passionate about that but I think it's like I think it's awesome that there can be such subtleties in music where like you love early Metallica but you hate early Anthrax and for whatever reason you have is your reason and your right and that's cool and that's like so personal and most you'll be like it's the same shit or it's so similar or it's like you’ve got to like them both or whatever and there’s no rules and just like the same thing is said that you can love Napalm Death and Whitney Houston the same way, the same love for them or whatever and that's okay and that's like fun and that's like to me just really exciting and I think maybe aesthetic I have bringing that to the art world like in a sense of like just trying to marinate two different flavors or whatever that I mean we don't need like Rap and roll like we don't need like a Limp Bizkit type of thing, maybe we do that's like cool too but I'm not trying to say I'm trying to like connect two different flavors.
AJ: A mash-up yeah.
Thom: That's fine too but I'm just -- I do like the idea of the personal the personal aesthetic of it like for an example we just did the beer it's called key bump that Trevor title Trevor's the half -- half the brains of Hoof Hearted. He was like, “Let's do a beer called key bump.” And I'm like, “Cocaine beer okay, neat.” I've never done cocaine but I don’t think he has either but that's funny, it doesn't have cocaine in it but you have reasons why that's an amazing name and let's go. And so the thought process was like, “Okay well I'm immediately going to better off dead the movie.” Because I had this really cool drug reference of a snowy mountain and like an iconic character Charles Demar and that goes back to like our wheelhouse of being friends forever and watching the school movies and then and then what else about cocaine is funny? Miami, Miami, boom. So, we went to this riff and off mash up.
AJ: Yeah riff and off it.
Thom: Yeah that’s basically like the guy from better off dead Charles Demar on a mountain, with palm trees and flamingos and it says key bump and like I think I'm really proud of that in a sense if this doesn't make sense to anybody like if somebody gets it, if somebody can -- like there's nothing really to get, it's more just like it's a good image and it was formed out of my brain that I marinated on and sketched out a bunch of things and talked with my friends about and like came up with this and it feels I'm passionate about it or I'm like wow this disconnected this amazing movie I like, I love Miami, flamingos are cool like a keyboard is hilarious just the icon of beer there.
So, just I think I'm proud of what like when I work in those arenas or whatever ideas, areas, I'm proud of the way it comes together that way of just something outrageous and just really fun and so I guess my aesthetic will be just this inviting collage of things I like that I’ve had people look at what is it I did -- there’s a beer one I forget which it was but it was a close friend of mine and he was just like, “I don't get it.” And I'm like, “Are you supposed to, do you have to, does that mean better or worse?” And I think at first I was like defensive about it and I just like, “Well that's okay, like he wants to get it and he can't get it. That's not wrong, he's allowed to try to get it and I'm allowed to be like there's nothing to get more like why don't you get this is -- it's so clear to me.”
But I think at the end of the day, I think if I'm happy with it going out any artwork, I did my job if I can send it out and be like, “Cool, I’m proud of this.” It's not about if somebody gets it or not yeah and then there’s things I do that I’m just like, “This is shit, this is terrible I didn't make this.” And people might be really excited about it and I’ll just be like, “I have my own issues. You’re wrong.”
AJ: Right it’s like, “No, you can't like that, no it's not good.”
Thom: Yeah but that's not fair either because I have done that to people where I'm like, “This is what you hate about yourself and I love it.” And that makes them feel worse so I don’t know.
AJ: Yeah so the track of the album is like, “We wouldn’t have really put that out, the label made us do that one and oh that’s my favorite cut.” Oh Okay, cool.”
Thom: The Cheap Trick song on the plane, the Cheap Trick song is like shit 80’s ballad?
They’re supposedly on record for like really hatting that song, getting forced to do it and that became our number-one hit, that's a brilliant song I love that song and I'm sure that -- I don't know I guess sometimes it’s just because it feels like if they sang that with completely no passion and they were disgruntled about it like whatever happened it totally worked because it's a ripping song and I want to slow dance to it and good job cheap trick maybe this doesn't represent you but I love it, so I'm right. So, I think it's funny how things work.
AJ: Yeah I think that yeah the common thing is once the artist releases the art it's hard for them to control how it's going to make people feel or act.
Thom: It’s true, yeah and yeah I mean I think I've done so many things that I'm like really proud of or just feel complete about and nobody's cared about at all and I'm like, “Well I can't stop or I can't get that disgruntled or either they're right it's not good or just like it's not, whatever happened, happened just keep moving.” So I guess yeah, I try not to get stuck on anything too much just keep -- luckily Hoof Hearted has so many beers coming out all the time that I don't have time to worry about that shit because there's -- we just move to the next one.
AJ: Yeah that sounds like a very mature place you probably taken a while to come to right? You’ve probably worked on some things for days or nights or weeks and then it’s like, “No this one.” And like they see a sketch and yeah it's hard.
Thom: Yeah, sure.
AJ: That's one of the things about art which I always find amazing whether -- however you a quantify or qualify art or your music or whatever it's just, you have this project that people don't tell you worked on you whatever that time is and sometimes you're like some of the best song they’ll say, “We recorded them in studio that day and it just came to life.” And it's all this time leading up to it and you have to make yourself completely vulnerable to whoever it is to look at that and then and you can take it however that goes.
AJ: Our Zen moment right there Thom.
Thom: Yeah I get it.
AJ: So, you’re legit like mechanics of your work are you -- do you draw, analog or you draw on paper and then transferring it or are you a computer guy, how do you go about it?
Thom: That's a sensitive question because I think in this day and age I'm an illustrator as you would call it, I think I grew up skateboarding, playing rock and roll music and then I went to painting and I've been painting things and wood and I started getting into carpentry and whatever that is, just saws and fans and heavy stuff and having big studios and shit. And then lately, I sit in a room and draw on a table and then I put it in a computer and color with a computer, which always felt like was just like, “Come on man, get your hands dirty.” To have some -- but I'm saying, “No, this makes me happy, this is cool, this isI get to listen to records I get to -- this is just enjoyable and I don't have to loading van right now.”
So yeah this day and age I've been pretty much I moved out of my big studio and I have a room in my house where it's just the drawing table and a bunch of Records and a computer and the scanner and I usually work from there. So, I'll just do a bunch of drawings and then usually sometimes I’ll lay everything out and just do it one drawing, sometimes I’ll color it with paint or whatever but usually just draw a bunch of stuff and then lay it out on the computer. And I'm still getting used to the thing about a 16-ounce can is a real bummer and that it's like -- it's almost like to say it's like a book it's like you have a front cover and then two back covers on the side or whatever the way it there's about three phases you can get from a circular can. Which is still -- it’s tough, the surface of it I'll lay it out and everything looks great and I put in the can and doesn't look as good as you can’t see it all from one angle or whatever, which whatever that's a dumb thing to explain about that is like it's not as I think I've done so many screen print posters and things like that are just like escape or graphic or something that's just flat or a painting for my whole life but now I'm like oh wait this has to wrap around and like how do you best make use of that? Sometimes it's best just to have a simple image right in the middle and that's it. Sometimes cans look really good they wrap around and tell a story that -- so yeah I'm still like I guess I'm still figuring that out like how that -- how it really fits best and it's like image by image I guess like can for can, what works best but it's fine it's a cool challenge of, “Alright what -- how does this look best? Yeah.
AJ: Yeah I think especially with the social media explosion of the beer photo, yeah I think it's good, I think folks usually need a couple, at least two of them when it's that situation so you can try to…
AJ: Almost the MAD Magazine right we fold it together to get the cool picture in the back.
Thom: Yeah the cool thing is you're not going to get that in social media you’re going to have to hold it and just like be like, “Oh this is rad.” And you have to actually have it in real life which is neat, you're not going to get the same -- you're not going to get the idea just from a picture and I think like there's something cool in that and I think once we started making the canvas it was like, “This is really cool.” It needs to just to have the product, to have something that real, that's passed around that you and Connecticut can somehow get and sometimes, whatever , that makes me happy, that's cool, just like hanging around.
AJ: Yeah I hope they are sending some down your way, I hope you get a box of it.
Thom: Yeah well I go up there, I go there once in a while and come back with a lot.
AJ: Nice. Now how did you come to meet the guys at Hoof?
Thom: I met Trevor in second grade…
Thom: I went to him in school and he was like the guy that the teachers were like, “Hey Trevor, show Thom where the desk is.” And I usually remember him like, “Well this is a desk and we got this in here.” I don't know if he remembers that but, so we were like best buds pretty much always since then and then he -- I moved to North Carolina in 7th grade and Jared the other partner in Hoof Hearted, it’s Trevor, Jared and Jared’s brother this guy Braiden, some other dudes but they’re the key players. Jarrod’s brother Ryan but Jarrod moved in 7th grade, the year I moved, so he took my place like Trevor needed a new top dog, Jarrod moved in, Jarrod became his guy and then I came back to Columbus after North Carolina me for then in high school and then like we all lived together after high school so then I became really tight with Jarrod, he's a great dude and then I moved to Philadelphia like they were going to college and I was like, “Well I'm not doing shit, what am I doing?” I was working at pizza places and playing music and stuff, going nowhere. Well no, I was learning how to make art, it was a good time but it was it was time to move and I decided Philadelphia just because I had some connections here whatever.
And they reached out to me five years ago, we were really still -- we were always close like in contact but they -- Jarrod gave me this call that he was like, “Hey we’re starting a brewery.” I’m like, “That’s cool.” He was like, “No this shit is like actually really easy to do like we're good at it.” I’m like, “Okay cool I believe you -- you're good at -- Jared's always been really good at everything Trevor… Jarrod’s like a welding engineer just a big mechanical brain type of dude and Trevor's like a wine Somali and like up here, he was at the bureau for years and he's just -- he has a good palette for recipes and stuff so they're good duo of the mechanics and then Trevor the arty shit and then they called on me to design it and Jarrod was like, “We’re going to call it Hoof hearted.” And I'm like, “Are you sure? Okay.” and I laughed, I loved it but I was also like, “Okay well that's cute I’ll of course do anything.” And it was like slow starting but I vividly remember thinking this was hilarious when I was like-- I was -- I think Trevor told me this, he was like, “Yeah I told my wife we’re going call it Hoof Hearted.” And she's like, “You can't do that.” And he was like, “Yeah watch me.”
Just that conviction to a stupid joke makes me love it so much and just I think that in general is my selling point for the brand period of just whether you whether you like it or not I think it's really respectable for dudes being really committed to their own idea and in such a world of just -- I’m not going to say mediocrity but I think there is there's lots of craft breweries doing weird stuff and getting out there, but there's also just lots of really safe something named after a street, a building or something or just a pressed logo and like Pale Ale and that’s it and that's cool but that doesn't really describe much about the person brewing it or say much about it -- it doesn't leave anybody that vulnerable so it’s like, “Okay well you have this beer called whatever.” But I think I'm proud of those guys for taking a risk and being like, “Well we’re fucking idiots so let's prove it and we’re fun and this is why we're fun and if you don't agree with that's cool, but if you do, come along for the ride.”
And it wouldn't work if it was shit beer but I think it's really great what they're making so it totally works. So, I think I was really proud to come on and just seeing it grow has been awesome and just to represent it and draw what I get the draw it's been awesome.
AJ: Yeah I think that's one of the main reasons for the project is the idea to me, I have never met or any of the guys at the brewery, but to me there's a vibe that I was curious about, there's something that if you put -- maybe it's crazy but maybe it wouldn't taste as good if it didn't have the artwork on the can or that vibe to it, yeah the blend tasters, if it’s good beer, but then like yeah to me it's like obviously brewing beer is like science it's very and that’s part of time when they say work hard play hard right that's the time you to be super serious, if you're off by this by that you can ruin a whole batch of beer, but then what you do with that has a whole another to me so I think it's really been interesting and yeah I mean I think that it and if you follow Thom’s Instagram I think you enjoy life and you have fun, you don't take yourself too seriously, but your artwork, speaks for itself and that to me is your artwork it's an extension of the beer, I think it's another sense of the beer. Yeah.
Thom: Cool, yeah. Thanks, yeah. I hope so. I feel like I was saying to be able to collaborate well one, they're my family you know I mean it's like it's awesome how we connect where we all think the same and we have the same idea of what's fun or funny or good so that's a no-brainer or it’s just such a dream to be like whoa wait you get to make a living with your best friends doing a really fun project, I'm super grateful for that and I think that's what more than anything like resume wise or anything I've ever done more just like, “Oh well I like planted this, this is amazing.” And I'm so proud of them for one I mean they quit their day jobs for this shit to and really made it work which is so risky and their families and stuff.
They're really grinding so it's not -- it didn’t come easy even though it looks like they're just fucking off, we all are probably but it's like no they really like took a risk and like back to that so I think it's yeah I take great pride in being a part of it and yeah it's been -- it’s strip -- I think what they can't like and just like that attitude somebody's wife being like, “You can't do that.” And he’s like, “Watch me.” And she has a right to say that too she's like, “We’re a family.”
AJ: Yeah that’s the best part of it, yeah it’s like, “Hey, I'm going to quit my job, I'm going to make beer and then the beer might be good but I'm gonna go to the next level and give it a name that might have people thinking that I'm an idiot.” Alright honey.
Thom: Yeah and I think that they entrusted me to do that too, I think it started to click for me, they made the spear call mom Jeans and I was like, “Mum Jeans?” I mean it's fucking funny for a beer name but I think we've all heard that, seems like it's been set in a live bit like five years ago, it seems like it's past say and we did this probably like three years ago or something but I remember Trevor approaching me, he was like, “We're going to do this mom Jeans double milk stout.” I’m like, “Well one, that's fucking stupid but it's also hilarious, as a beer it is really a great name whatever but it's also…” I was like, “Is this too dumb, are we above this or whatever?” And then I started riffing on a drawing and I came up with this Sarah Connor terminator idea of this like really funny looking woman, but she's also really fierce and really tough and she's carrying this dying baby that could become the Terminator and she's like a ray gun.
And I don't really expect that many people to get that, but in my intention it was like, “No this is empowering this is like go ahead mom you're goingto save the universe and maybe nobody will get that, maybe people will be like oh that's a funny name and look at her she's got a greater belt.” Whatever it is, I guess I think when we did that I started to realize like this is clicking like this is cool I can take their concepts and put my concept on it and whatever spin we get, we get and it doesn't have to be spelled out and maybe it never spelled right but I like how it’s spelt I guess.
AJ: Yeah I think it's a good example because I looked at that one, I thought it was funny in itself but to think yeah I just pulled out that the Sarah Connor and that whole -- that's the beauty of it. I interviewed Craig Gilbert he did the Gandhi Bot one which was famous depending on what year you're talking about and he was just like, “We're doing Indian Pale Ale and who's the most badass Indian -- Gandhi" then he's like what makes what makes what makes anything better when it's like a robot version of that, he's like so that's what we came up with the name and so -- that's been one of my favorite things.
Thom: That's great, cool man yeah.
AJ: Awesome so what is the process I mean you said you're all I think in the last probably year you put the new or more beers coming out regularly so how is that process from a creative standpoint? Did they send you a bunch of names or?
Thom: Yeah Trevor is the don, Trevor is the boss, I lost -- he’s so entitled, he’s good at it, so if anybody suggest something he’s so quick to be just like, “Shut the fuck up, this is how we’re doing it. It’s going to be called like does anybody knock anymore or like something like particularly and you’re like, “Oh wait, that is funny, it's going to be called zipper ripper and we’re just like, “What? Where are these coming from and there’s like millions and before I mean Trevor used to be in bands all the times so it was like -- I always said he should write jingles because he would come up with like just such epic songs that were just like it would sound like a deodorant commercial or something or it was like whatever he was talking about it was usually like something funny sexual or just partying, would have such a weird hook that works so well that we felt like you’d hear it once and remember all day long and just be singing it and be so stupid but so good.
So the idea that he's naming these beers left and right like it's perfect and so the process is usually he’ll come up with the name, I’m sure he’s got a big batch of them stored away, but also be just like they'll come with in a second and text me like, “Alright we’re doing this and keeping working on it.” So usually will come up with the name and we will reform it how-- or sometimes like the Mom Jeans when I just went for it but sometimes I'll be stuck and be like, “Well, what the fuck does this even mean? What is this, what's the reference or is this weird? So sometimes I'll get some back-and-forth with him sometimes I'll just do a blind like I'll just take what he says and make my impression of it, sometimes he's like, “Hey I think it should be this way.” So it's always a little different but it's usually and sometimes there's been a few names that I’ve come up with but usually it’s all him. But yes so it's essentially he comes up with the name, has a beer in mind and then I illustrate whatever I think that name sounds like or whatever.
AJ: Alright. So, which ones are -- which names are you claiming?
Thom: I think I was responsible for Musk of the Minotaur which is the flagship which is the most important the best.
AJ: Yeah right you just quit my there like, “Oh this is our flagship.”
Thom: Yeah, so I pretty much won, they got the Hoof Hearted name name but I got that - I did that which I'm proud of - Musk of the Minotaur has a good ring to it and it’s -- I coined Dancin' in the Ruins which is a Blue Oyster Cult song which I think they were gonna call it something else and I was like I really think it should be Dancin' in the Ruins which just sounds good.
I think we might argue about this but I think I coined Roller Blabe which is the one with the girl on top of the roller blades.
AJ: We’ll do a follow up I’ll just have you guys left live debate that one we’ll get this…
Thom: Yeah have them come back and be like, “You don't know what the fuck he’s talking about.” But…
AJ: Everybody wants some, is that you?
Thom: No that’s Van Halen song and that's really him but…
AJ: But the art work right?
Thom: Actually I drew those -- I mean those burgers are clearly like an amazing piece art from Better Off Dead that I reformatted a little bit into a little bit more van Halen but I think I had that burger drawing and he said, “We're going to call it everybody wants some.” And then I was like, “What about this?” And it worked great and then he did a collaboration with I think it's called Against the Grain.
AJ: Yeah I was going to ask about that with Robbie Davis over there?
Thom: That I didn't do the art work for and I was and I think I never knew about it because I didn’t really need to and I don’t know how I've seen it so I asked him once and I was like, “What was it called anyway?” And he was like, “Clearly everybody wants some and I was like, “That’s fucking so smart.” Like clearly everybody wants them so yeah I didn’t do that one but…
AJ: Yeah I’ve reached out to the guy who does their art and yeah I definitely could see how that collaboration was they're definitely they don’t take themselves seems like too seriously with artwork they have one…
Thom: Yeah it seems like they’ve all partied together and I've heard good things of those dudes and they seem like they’re in their wheelhouse.
AJ: In your wheelhouse yeah they do have one which I have to the brown note it's -- everyone knows that from a music place it's not something you bring to the thanksgiving beer share at the house.
Thom: That is daring, yeah that's fucking cool, alright.
AJ: I’ll send you a link.
Thom: It’s funny, I think it’s a slippery slope getting to joke here too like ridiculous with anything with music with like fart jokes with this or that but I think like I what’s my point? I think if done carefully it can be very impactful and it's also like if it's really good and well done then just forget about like the outrageousness and you’re just “Oh wow, this is great.” I think that with anything, with music, with food, with artwork, with whatever I think the fear is being put in the box of like other this joke there and there’s joke guru or this joke like thing or it's like, “Drinking beer is really fun and you laugh a lot and you have a good time and you’re telling jokes and you’re slagging your friends or whatever like why would you be all uptight and like Samuel Adams like about it and I think that's cool too I of course love all kinds of beers but I think it's silly to think that like we're drinking beer in Mike nights costumes with a crest and it's a sacred honor or something, no that fucking me out.
AJ: The tight asses, yeah right, it’s like yeah Quinn time comes and I'm like trying to get my monkey suit and what’s on the door of the fridge? Yeah I hear you.
Thom: Yeah so I think that the idea that being funny about it is weird, it’s weird to me I’m like, “Why wouldn't analyze all this, why wouldn’t you run with the label and be amused?”
AJ: Yeah and some people are really shitty at it I think and they try to like, “Okay I get the joke.” The guy just goes on and it’s like, “Dude we got you like 20 minutes ago, let it go.” And it's like the same going that same wheelhouse over and over again. I love all the musicians, the recent one with whole notes and the sat for eleven that's definitely and all the others -- I think that to be funny it's not always like, “Hey this is a dick.” It's like you have to get to it and I think that’s the beauty of the English language and you can say the same thing and we all say it differently but if you can do in a way that’s like…
Thom: But let’s be honest, “Hey this is a dick.” Is a pretty good beer sign.
AJ: Nice Calabria, not subtle be a not-so-subtle dick joke, it’s like, “Here you go.”
Thom: Yeah you never want be too -- throw it out there, you want to hold a couple cards and you want to, you want to keep your vibe, you want to keep your -- you want to keep the things you love represented in I don't know I think we have the three of us four of us however that we are. We come from a lot of cool stuff, we have good interest, we have a lot of love, like it's credit all that, some sort of like, “Well this is just me letting that out.” Talking about the better off dead movie on a mountain and cocaine, it's all just funny stuff that it's already there that I'm just paladin the way I like it and if somebody else can enjoy that, that’s awesome. It's not really spelled out to anybody but it's -- you know, what there's a beer called a miracle toast that Trevor was really excited about the idea it was like Jesus being seen with the piece of the toast and I think-- right I was working on the day Prince died and I was going to draw Prince’s face in toast and then I was like, “I love this man too much for that, I feel it's almost too sacrilegious…
AJ: Exploitive, yeah.
Thom: Something exploitive, yeah I don’t know, it just didn't feel right like to draw him on it even though he is like Jesus but I was like well let’s flip it how about we put some goblin devil guy on the milk toast and instead of Jesus like a devil and then have a spaceship with a toaster and miracles and I think that was the one the guy didn't get and I was just like, “This is just cool shit man I get to look at rainbows and the devil on toast, for me that's just fun to look at if it's not for you, that's not for you.” And if you want, I would love for somebody to explain it for me, that's be my guest but yeah I think I want to put that out there.
AJ: Yeah I like what I get for it's not always like a linear like a black or white tape thing it's not sometimes you’re just like these colors look good or this picture look good together then occasionally it's got a story to it but yeah if you have you also you're not a writer, some of the point of art is to tell a story without having to write it out. But yeah that's the one thing about these breweries that I've come to like that I can't get access to and they have these like special releases and stuff, it's like, “That’d be good.” It’s like, “I'm not going to get that.” But yeah, I was actually I was in Maine this summer and this tiny ass town in Maine and I go into a local brew place and they had -- they had Hoff there, there are like two or three drinks and I was like, “What's going on…How is that possible?” I think yeah it was amazing, yeah I bought a couple back into the cabin I was psyched, everybody some, I’m not sure which I like about that too is that it's a recurring but it's a different hops which I think it -- I like something like.
Thom: Yeah I think that's fine that it’s not, I guess it's fun for them too where they're just like, “This is going to change, it’s not going to be the same batch every time but we’ll see what we do.” It’s almost like a record label, if you like Matador you'll probably like most of the bands on it just trust us.
Thom: Where it's like if you don't if you just want the same thing every time like a Sierra Nevada or whatever, but yeah there that's funny they have like a redistribution in Maine and nowhere else.
AJ: Yeah it didn't make any sense, I did some leg work and it’s like this guy but I was like, “Okay I'm literally in this town where if I go down this one Street I can't get Wi-Fi.” My phone doesn't work but I can get this brewery that I love, I'm like, “Alright.” It was a gas station/ nice food place/ brew pub, they have like 20 beers on tap but yeah it was like if you're looking at it from outside you're like, “Oh it's a gas station, I could buy some Palm Alls and be on my way.
Thom: Yeah, wow that’s great. It doesn’t make any sense.
AJ: Exactly the universe worked it out and made my vacation a lot better so I'm not going to complain.
Thom: That's great, cool.
AJ: Yeah so what’re you working on now? What’s on tap now, what are you working on now?
Thom: They started a brew pub about a year ago and right around now they opened it in Columbus, they've always had a brewery or they've had it for like three or four years of brewery, a little bit outside the city and they started a brewpub in Columbus or maybe that's what he said you tried to go to that’s not around?
AJ: Yeah I was trying to go to, yeah that’s what I was trying to check out.
Thom: Yeah they're closed on Mondays and Tuesdays but they’re -- we’re celebrating the first year anniversary, so we’re trying to do this ripping party for it so I've just been working on the promo for that and they're going drop that pair I was just talking about called Key Bump, triple IPA that I think will be pretty special because people seem to like that stuff.
AJ: Yeah, make sure there's an uber code with that one because man that's a rough part those beers they taste so good and you’re like, “That was 11 percent, it's a commitment I just made for the night."
Thom: Yeah I just shit my pants yeah it happened, it happens fast yeah. That's a good point there's some fucking uber code, I’m going to do it. Yes they are -- we’re doing that and I'm going to come down and put together like an art show for it of just I'm doing some screen prints women addition like screen prints of beer related stuff that I've done that I've never really sold before that will be fun in conjunction with the party and the DJ and I hopefully just have a ripping time and I’ll be good, so just working on the promotion for that I'm doing stuff in my band and what else I think that's going to be enough.
AJ: Yeah well if you record that playlist I don't know how you're on the DJ aspect but I’d love to get a copy that playlist, we could even feature that once we get the article up, yeah.
Thom: I should do that I've been working on -- I got a new receiver and I’m trying to figure out how to -- every time I record stuff it sounds terrible but I want to make a sound cloud where it is just like mixes that are on.
AJ: Yeah let me know I figured how to make my -- I'm using one of those USB mics and I figured how to do that so if I can help, if I can help anyway it's come up pretty good, I found some software that read-write into where I use skype and it’s been pretty solid. The face to face…
Thom: Yeah that’s probably I should just send it all, I use vinyl turntables and I'm going -- I think I’m just so old school that I just wanted to record it to a cassette tape or I just do, I don't think, I do. But it sounds like shit so maybe it's probably going to go on the computer anyway so maybe I should just get that all together and just go through it.
AJ: Do both, a lot of the bands does it too, like the matrix mix they’ll have the user audience mic and they’ll bleed it over with the multitrack to get the warmth of the room but still the clarity, so...
Thom: Yeah that's not a bad idea, if I can I’ll plug my -- my band is called Fabergege and that there's a band camp with my first record that just came out something else to listen to that. It’s called Fabergege fabergege.bandcamp.com it’s like our record so if anybody wants to check that out.
We want to be committed to this ridiculousness because it's awesome and it's going to turn a lot of people away and people are going to see it and be I want to read that but I'm just like you know what I don't want to be called the sit-ups or whatever you know like something that’s easy and agreeable like I'd rather like living with myself in an awesome way than make it planned in a different way, it's hard to do I don't know beginnings are tough but we decided on Fabergege, I like it.
AJ: No I like it before you even play a note now hopefully it's not shit I mean that would really bum me out but at least the part put a smile on my face that's always good starting point. But when you're in your studio I have a pretty good sense of your musical taste just from your art, but what do you -- what’s your creative go to when you’re drawing?
Thom: Well this morning I was on an affiliation kick where -- there's a band called OMD - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and I always think of them I’m like they didn't write a fucking bad song but like they have a couple like monster hits like "If You leave", "Secret" and "Enola Gay". Ramone’s are my favorite band entire world so leave it that. And guess I don't want my point is but I think I think of a band like OMD and I’m like, “They’re pretty good.” But then I listen to them and I’m like, “No they’re really good and they didn’t write a bad song". And I had the same feeling about Billy ocean this morning I was listening to the ocean record "Suddenly" and I'm like all these songs are like "Caribbean Queen" and "Going Gets Tough" are all hits and they're great but then like all the B-sides are just like great songs too and I guess I forget that and bands like The Ramones oh they're my favorite bands every song is amazing.” But, it's a fun thing to go back and be like, “Oh no Billy ocean like kills every song.” Like it's such a warm feeling thing that's not boring that is exactly what I want to hear. So, this morning I had a good Billy moment I'm just sharing that with you.
AJ: Well thank, that's why I like--because I used to -- when you see my face you’ll get it but I used to do radio and so that was the cool thing I think when I go my playlist my Spotify it's like yeah these ones you fall back to which are good but I love and you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone but you find a good mix you’re like, “Oh shit.” And just go down that crazy path which is always good. If my wife takes over the music, that usually is more eclectic and I always love that like a friend just shared a great yacht rock playlist and it’s awesome man, I’m like, “I don't if I would have put on half of these songs like searching for them.” But just put it, they have vibe to it, we wish it was warm out, it was great.
Thom: There's something about that too when you pick it -- I'll say this, it's almost like Jared that’s a part of Hoof Hearted when I lived with him he'd always like, we go get snacks.” And he'd always get the best candy bars or something and I’m like, “Man how did you think to get a pay day tonight?” Whatever if I was in the store, I wouldn’t know what to get, I would go to whatever my go tos -- and he would always have something different and I’d be like, “Man I want what you got.” And I think sometimes when somebody else's putting together a playlist or whatever you’re like I wouldn't think like you know I wouldn't think to put on that ELOsong or whatever but that seems so good right now, like that's cool and I think I've been going to more DJ Nights of just like
Hip-hop DJs and that's been really fun, where I'm like, “Oh man.” Like songs that have heard before but then you're in a club and -- I think it’s somewhere in a record store sometimes you hear a record store like, “This sounds really good.” And it will be a song that like a B-side DJ Jazzy Jeff Fresh Prince on it or something like I heard that in the club the other day and I was like, “This song kills like it’s so good.” And I’ve heard it before, I have this record but I wouldn't think that this is just, “Why not just put it on my cell so it doesn’t get separated.” Sometimes it's cool hearing somebody else must like you get their approval or you get their take on it and you're like wait this or seeing people react to it, I don’t know but that's fun and I think that that too about music is so exciting and just being like wow or seeing a band cover song you wouldn’t think to cover and you’re like, “I thought this is a shit song but now I’m seeing them do it and it’s really great.”
AJ: Or they make it their own so much that you think it’s their new original and you look up, do the research and you’re like, “Oh how did they get that out of that?” But yeah, that’s why I love that's why I love just have you seen there's a great Netflix show - The Get Down, have you seen that?
AJ: It's like it's a Netflix original show but goes back to the that period of time between the 70--the disco and then like the hip-hop it's supposedly Grandmaster Flash is one of the kind of like backstory characters, he’s not a forefront but it's just that merging of like the R&B and hip-hop, origin beats and with like taking disco records and yeah it's good too, it's really good and has yeah it's cool and so then that was cool because their folks would be around with that, you search get down on Spotify and people make their own get down playlist and you just all right, you get into that.
Yeah, that's what I love about a good set of Music where even if they take the 30 seconds of the one song in the way they transition into another, it's like a good hour long of a new song which is great. Technology is great in that way.
Thom: Fucking cool, yeah pace makers. Nice.
AJ: Hell yeah - now one cool thing when you with the beauty of the internet is I can you be nosey - dig into your life without you knowing about it but I also notice that your wife is also an artist is that correct?
Thom: Yeah she's a stand-up comedian and makes a lot of videos and as that has a bunch of things going on and she just had like a visual art show, so she makes fabric things and sculptures and stuff, she’s really great. Rose Luardo.
AJ: Excellent yeah I wanted to make sure we got a nice plug in there for that, I think that's pretty awesome…
Thom: Cool, yeah, yeah she was in a band with me forever called Sweatheart, that we did a lot of damage years ago and stopped doing the damage, it was a lot of fun, yeah we had a good ride.
AJ: Yeah and you can you see more about Sweatheart on Thom Lessner’s website. Yeah man I look forward to checking out what's coming up for the year anniversary and I’ll fill you in, I’ll make sure to reach out I really appreciate it, I think that what you're doing is unique, I think it's really great because just talking to you is -- I guess I had hoped you’d have a good sense of who you were and I really enjoyed that learning about you and your process and makes me appreciate your Hoff and just in general I think your story is really -- it's inspiring I think for people, I think it's not easy to take that leap to be an artist and that's one of the things I really have come to love doing this is just people who it's risky you know everyone has their moments or their opportunities where it could have gone a different way and you could still be in Columbus or not that you’d be at the brewery so that's a bad example but you still slinging pizza or something but it’s not…
Art is not an x you get y out of it and so I find that with the band at least you have a gig, you have a song but sometimes with your creative it doesn't always have equal and opposite reaction.
Thom: Yeah that's interesting, yeah I appreciate that then again what I think is so inspiring about those dudes is they just took the plunge and were, “Like this more important to put love into something we're doing like have these jobs that are secure but they're not very loving not loving me back. So, it’s working out.
AJ: Right, it’s that theological idea of what is actual fulfillment in happiness, it's nice but yeah one thing when I interviewed a Jess Graham from the Alchemist and I asked her about how her process was and she said to me that she's really just a catalyst or helping to bring the art of the beer to life and she's just a part of that and that's how I think of it, you have a very important role and I can say I probably may never have had the beer if it wasn't for your art and I think that's interesting, that's how…
Thom: Oh yeah.
AJ: Your Art's not liquid but it drew me in and I was like, “Let me get a couple of those and try this out.” And so thank you for that.
Thom: Sure I wonder how many people saw Sidepipin' and would be like, “I will not be drinking that" on the flip side but I appreciate that, thanks man. Yeah I think that the label really does matter, I think it’s the same thing with the skateboard graphic or anything I've ever done it's like if you're going to do it then make it make it really matter, make people happy, make yourself happy so…
AJ: Yeah there's a reason there's what like you get that big box of crayons that has 256 colors right? Just not black and white so if you can…
Thom: Yeah man. Well thanks A.J, nice talking to you.
AJ: Yeah, you have a great day and like I said thanks for what you’re putting out there.
Thom: Okay, appreciate it man, take it easy.