Tara McPherson

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Tara McPherson has been named the “crown princess of poster art” by Elle Magazine for her work with rock bands such as Beck, Modest Mouse, and Melvins. She offers up an inspiring track from a feminist punk group, one of her favorite driving songs and the song she considers a “gateway drug to metal.” Tara created a limited edition poster for KCRW’s SXSW Showcase and you can see all of her recent artwork online.

For More: www.taramcpherson.com


1. The Melvins - Night Goat
2. The New Detectives - Nightmares
3. Led Zepplin - What Is and What Should Never Be
4. Jane's Addiction - Summertime Rolls
5. Bikini Kill - Rebel Girl


Mario Cotto: Hi, this is Mario Cotto from KCRW and I'm here with poster artist and toy designer, Tara McPherson. She's created numerous gig posters for bands including Beck, Modest Mouse and The Melvins and she's here today to share some samples of the music that has inspired her over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. So, Tara, how're you doing?

Tara McPherson: I'm doing really good.

MC: First one on the list, The Melvins here, so awesome. Tell us a little bit about "Night Goat."

Song:  "Night Goat," by The Melvins

melvins.jpgTM: I picked this song because when I first started going to shows, there's this venue called Jabber Jaw that was in LA and it was all ages and that's where I really discovered a lot of bands and saw my first poster art there.  It was such a part of my youth and Melvins used to play there all the time, it was one of the first bands that I saw there and it really got me really loving heavy, heavy music and metal and so Melvins was my gateway drug to metal *laughs*  It's just a great song, you know, it's just so heavy and intense and you really feel it like, that one stood out to me. That was the first record I got from them, that was always my favorite song on that album.  

MC: We just heard some "Night Goat," by The Melvins

Song:  "Nightmares," by The New Detectives

MC: We've got here The New Detectives, "Nightmares."

TM: Yeah!  This is my first band and I put this in there because it's such an important part of my life and so this was my favorite song that we recorded and being in this band really got me into making posters for a living because I was always into rock posters and owned some after I graduated college.  I was really focused on painting when I graduated college but I finally had time to be in a band.  I've played bass since I was 15 years old and finally had time to play music and so of course when time came to make the fliers for the shows, everyone's saying, "You're the artist, come on, do something cool!" And, so you know, it started out with a little black and white flier and then I thought, "Well hey, I have some time on my hands," not getting too many jobs right after college and so I started making them in color and we started getting better shows and I put bigger bands on there and that's the whole beginning of how I started doing rock posters.  Very important for me and my life

MC: Did you find that your style sort of developed alongside the kind of music you were into at the time?

TM: Yeah, I mean, how can it not be? You know, we're all products of our environments and you know, definitely now as an artist looking back, you can see how much the past really shapes the future

MC: I'm Mario Cotto and this is music by Tara McPherson's band, The New Detectives. The track is "Nightmares," on KCRW's Guest DJ Project

Song: "What is & What Should Never Be" by Led Zeppelin  

MC: Now here we got a classic dropped in here, this is Led Zeppelin, "What is & What Should Never Be." What is it about the Zepp?

led_zeppelin.jpgTM: Well, my dad is like, the classic rock dude and that definitely is like such a big part of who I am and you know, that song, that's my favorite Led Zeppelin song.  My dad used to have a tape of it and we used to drive to Mexico a lot, down into Baja, and that song would come on, it just reminds me of this, like, it's a really calm song but it's really intense and it's just so classic for me and definitely got me into Rock 'n' Roll  

MC: So it's that element of A) it's like, super rad and amazing and additionally it's got this sort of nostalgic quality for you, huh?

TM: Yeah, it has such a good feeling, just takes me back to that like perfect memory and perfect place, you know?

MC: That was Led Zeppelin with "What is & What Should Never Be."  Tara, next up you have Jane's Addiction with "Summertime Rolls." What's the story behind this choice?

janes_addiction.jpgTM: Well, I grew up in Los Angeles and with Jane's Addiction being kind of a local band there, it was such like I don't know, a big part of the L.A. culture and at the time they were one of my favorite bands when I was a teenager and I love this song because it's so calming and it's so peaceful and no one's teenage years are ever quite that easy no matter what your situation. I just remember that song being really calming for me, just almost meditative  

Song: "Summertime Rolls," by Jane's Addiction

MC: "Summertime Rolls," by Jane's Addiction.  

Song: "Bikini Kill," by Rebel Girl

MC: Tara, your last pick is a song by Bikini Kill called "Rebel Girl," - why this particular song?

bikini_kill.jpgTM: That song and that band for me also going back to when I was a teenager, they were very much involved with the Riot Grrl movement and so was I in Los Angeles and you know, that song really encompasses the whole spirit of really finding your true self as a woman and to not let anything stand in your way.  I think that, for me, was really poignant and it made me very proud to be a woman doing certain things and not afraid to do it.  Playing music, deciding to become an artist in a lot of male dominated fields which there are so many of still to this day and it just gave me,  that independence to do whatever I wanted and to just be myself

MC: That's awesome, alright, so thank you so much Tara for coming out today and joining us on KCRW.com

TM: Yeah, thank you

MC: Alright so for a complete listing and to find these songs online, you can go toKCRW.com/GuestDJProject





Mario Cotto