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The cult artist and musician, who largely defined the aesthetics of contemporary punk culture in New York over the last 15 years, talks Sour Diesel, cigar vapes, and “The Fifth Element.”
Alex Heir is an artist, musician, and clothing designer whose work — often under the name Death Traitors — largely defined the aesthetics of punk, noise, and industrial music throughout New York over the last decade and a half. As I wrote in a 2018 interview, “There was a time in the city when the gig posters for any stacked line-up at DIY venues like 285 Kent or 538 Johnson came straight from his hands.”
Heir’s work is immediately identifiable with its blend of pulp macabre linework and tattoo flash freak imagery — reapers, skulls, executioners, cops getting murked, and other tropes the whole family can enjoy.
In 2013, the label Sacred Bones Records compiled Heir’s cover art, flyers, illustrations, and more into Death Is Not the End, followed by another monograph titled WARRR2K∞/Work 2014-17. The books also featured his apparel and ephemera designs, as well as his posters for fabled bands like Martin Rev of Suicide, Destruction Unit, John Carpenter, Hank Wood and the Hammerheads, and his own project L.O.T.I.O.N.
Heir is a cult hero and noted toker, and he generously made some time to chat about what type of weed he likes, the novelty of cigar-shaped vaporizers, and the many bands he likes to zone out to when deep in the haze. Let’s get into it.
What’s your current favorite weed strain?
Alex Heir: As a New Yorker, I’m inclined to say Sour Diesel, but really I enjoy any strain (usually a Sativa-dominant) that gets my creativity going and stimulates my brain. I like to smoke when I’m making art or brainstorming — I don’t really use or need it to relax or destress. I also have to mention Night Terror and Purple Urkle for having the funniest names.
Do you have any favorite pot products right now?
I prefer traditional flowers in a joint, but I was a big fan of this cigar-shaped THC vaporizer I found while visiting LA. It looked pretty ridiculous, and I smoked it on stage a few times while performing with my band L.O.T.I.O.N. to great amusement.
What activity do you like to do after you’ve smoked?
I like to doodle and let my mind kind of wander. Usually when I’m drawing or making art, it’s for a particular goal or project, so when I’m stoned it’s nice to just experiment. I also like to just riff — be it brainstorming new projects, pitching bad ideas for Shark Tank, or just cracking jokes with my friends.
Can you recommend something to watch while stoned?
I don’t really care what the movie is, as long as I can pause it constantly to discuss it or an idea it’s given me. That being said, The Fifth Element is one of my favorite movies ever and a great one to watch stoned.
Can you recommend something to listen to after smoking?
All music sounds better stoned, in my opinion, especially when you’re watching it live. I especially enjoy listening to my friends’ bands when I’m high. Even if I’ve seen them perform dozens of times, smoking first often presents their music to me in a new light. Bands like Warthog, Hank Wood & The Hammerheads, Pobreza Mental, Dollhouse, Blu Anxxiety, Prision Postumo, and Savage Pleasure.
Can you recommend something to read while baked?
I actually don’t love to read stoned, I find my mind wanders too much. But I’d say Ram Dass’ Remember Be Here Now is a good one to take in, especially since a good chunk of it is illustrated poetry/mantras.
For more on Alex Heir, follow him on Instagram and visit the Death Traitor’s website here
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About Zach Sokol
Zach Sokol is a writer, editor, and the founder of www.cashonly.studio. He is also the co-editor of Sex Magazine. Previously, he was the editor of MERRY JANE, an editor at VICE, and has written extensively for publications like Playboy, Penthouse, i-D, Double Blind, and more. Visit his website www.zachsokol.com and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @zachsokol.
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