It’s inevitable: you’re out at a holiday party having a good time, vibing with the tunes and libations, and helping yourself to some snacks. You’re feeling great and looking spiffy in your Joy Division shirt. They are your favourite band, after all. You look up. Oh – damn. Here comes that jerk. He’s always trying to prove to people that he’s an expert on all things goth and post-punk – and watch out! He’s making a beeline straight towards you.
“Nice shirt,” he says mockingly. “But Are you a real fan of Joy Division?
“I’m a real fan,” you retort.
“Oh, REALLY. Well, prove it! Name three songs from Joy Division!”
These moments drive you nuts…that dreadful feeling of being put on the spot for simply wearing a garment supporting a musical act you enjoy. What’s the big deal, anyway? Why all the posturing? In the grand scheme of this bleak existence on the mortal plane, why is this even something we worry about?
Well, at this moment, it doesn’t matter because now you are trapped by a gatekeeper, and you gotta bite back hard.
“I can do one better,” you snap.
It’s true! Now you can, with Post-Punk.com’s handy primer to popular goth t-shirts. We have all the hits: Bauhaus, Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy – a plethora of information so well-researched that it will arm you against any know-it-all and their gang of snobby bullies, so they will never bother you again. You’ll unleash a fierce Sherlock Holmes torrent of information at them, complete with clouds of mathematical equations floating over your head.
“Jeez, it’s just a t-shirt,” they’ll say, cowering in fear, eyes glazed over in awe and slight boredom, wondering if they can lord their knowledge over the less-intense, trippin’ synth-pop or Italo-disco crowd. Good. That’s what you want—peace on earth in a cool shirt.
So which one are you wearing?
The band Bauhaus, formed in 1978, was initially named Bauhaus 1919, referencing the German art school Bauhaus’s first year. They later shortened their name to simply Bauhaus. The emblem and typeface used by the band for promotion, including posters and record sleeves, were inspired by the art school’s design elements, notably the face designed by Oskar Schlemmer in 1922.
The band’s iconic single, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” is a tongue-in-cheek song that can be jokingly considered “Freebird”, or “Stairway to Heaven” for Goths, whose lengthy playtime is often used by many a Goth club DJ as an excuse for a bathroom break during a long set.
The sleeve and t-shirt’s design details include the Bauhaus band name in lowercase font, with “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” scrawled below in script. The cover art was taken from the 1926 film The Sorrows of Satan, directed by D. W. Griffith. And on the back, and another variant of the t-shirt, is Conrad Veidt as Cesare in a still from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari stands as a monumental relic of silent cinema. This 1920 German film, a veritable smorgasbord of German Expressionism, was directed with a flair for the dramatic by Robert Wiene. Penned by the literary duo Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer, it’s a story that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Kafkaesque nightmare or a Freudian case study.
The plot is deliciously straightforward, yet deviously complex. An insane hypnotist, portrayed with a zeal that suggests Werner Krauss may have missed his calling as a cult leader, manipulates a somnambulist to do his nefarious bidding. This sleepwalker, a role inhabited by Conrad Veidt, moves through the film like a puppet dangling on the strings of madness, his actions as unpredictable as a game of Russian roulette in a hurricane. The set designers threw geometry and physics out of the window, only to invite in their more interesting cousins: twisted lines, wonky angles, and shadows that seem to have a life of their own. It’s like Picasso and Dalí decided to collaborate on a home renovation show.
Three Bauhaus songs:
- Terror Couple Kill Colonel
- Lagartija Nick
- The Passion of Lovers
In the cryptic art gracing the album cover of Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures,” we’re privy to the traces left by the pulsar named CP1919+21— the very first of its kind to be noted. A pulsar comes about through the rather dramatic exit of a star considerably heftier than our modest sun. These grand stars, rather than fading gently into that good night, erupt in what they term a “supernova explosion.” This leaves behind a nearly flawless sphere with a diameter of about 10 km known as a neutron star. With their swift rotations and a magnetic allure a trillion-fold mightier than Earth’s, the cosmic dance of these celestial wonders beam with the persistence of a beacon. After a rather extensive voyage through the cosmos, CP1919+21’s radiant bursts make their presence known here, punctually every 1.34 seconds, although until that was made evident, for some time, scholars jokingly mused that it be from an alien civilization and called it LGM1 – for “Little Green Men.”
Student Jocelyn Bell Burnell stumbled upon this pulsar in 1967 amidst the ivy walls of Cambridge University. Much like a beacon in the vastness of night, it sends forth electromagnetic whispers that our radio telescopes eagerly snatch up. Each streak you discern represents a singular pulse. These pulses waver ever so slightly, given they’ve traipsed vast cosmic distances, occasionally hindered by the universe’s meddling interruptions.
The iconic album cover for Unknown Pleasures was designed by Peter Saville, using an image from The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy, which showed radio waves from pulsar CP 1919, the first radio pulsar ever discovered. This image was originally created by astronomer Harold Craft at the Arecibo Observatory for his PhD thesis in 1970. There is no mention of Saville using the graphic without permission from the copyright holder in the provided sources.
A scholarly fellow by the name of Harold D. Craft Jr., upon the submission of his 1970 dissertation titled “Radio Observations of the Pulse Profiles and Dispersion Measures of Twelve Pulsars,” happened to be engrossed in his work at the Arecibo Radio Observatory nestled in Puerto Rico. Craft sketched the radio oscillations of CP 1919 and sent them to an illustrator friend at Cornell University.
The image made its appearance in The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy in 1977. A young graphic arts student named Bernard Sumner happened to be in the library on his usual lunch break, thumbing through their science and art collections, and chanced upon the image. It deeply resonated with his synth tinkering, love of Kraftwerk, and for 2001: A Space Odyssey. Two years later, as his band Joy Division prepared to unveil their inaugural album, they sought the expertise of the Factory Records graphic artist Peter Saville to implement the image on the cover.
Imagine the surprise Harold Craft felt when he wandered into a record shop and happened upon his own illustration! He immediately purchased the album plus a matching poster. Decades later, millions of CP 1919 shirts, albums, totes, tats, memes, parodies, and even embroidered tributes bear those waves- an image conceived by a student, representing a deep-space radio…transmission.
Three Joy Division songs:
- 24 Hours
Joy Division wasn’t the only band dipping into scientific illustration. Andrew Eldritch’s ‘star man’ logo for The Sisters of Mercy was inspired by Dr Henry Vandyke Carter’s illustration of the human cranium (occipito frontalis) from Gray’s Anatomy, perhaps keeping with the medical theme of naming their drum machine Doktor Avalanche? Through the Anatomy Act of 1832, which allowed dissection of unclaimed bodies from workhouse and hospital mortuaries, Henry Gray and Henry Vandyke devoted 18 months to research and work that laid the foundation for their groundbreaking book. This monumental work, eventually published in 1858, served as a “bible” for the medical profession until the advent of photography, and has never been out of print.
The band’s newer logo is a variation of the idea born from the Gray’s Anatomy one that made its debut in the liner notes of their debut single “Damage Done.”
Three Sisters of Mercy songs:
- Poison Door
- This Corrosion
- Walk Away
Cribbing her signature look from silent screen vamps of the 1910s (like Theda Bara and Pola Negri); the tousled art student chic of the 1920s Bauhaus era, and Elizabeth Taylor’s striking eye makeup for the 1963 film Cleopatra, Siouxsie Sioux carved the template for trad-goth girls around the planet. Siouxsie’s eyes, in fact, became her trademark – her most popular shirts feature them alone.
Three Siouxsie and The Banshees songs:
- Cities in Dust
The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry” T-shirt features a silhouette taken from their 1986 music video for the band’s iconic single. This video, promoting the “New Voice New Mix” re-recording, includes children miming the song with band members’ shadows, including Robert Smith, appearing behind a curtain. The video’s creative approach contributed to the song’s and the band’s iconic status in the music world. including voice actor Mark Heatley, miming the song. The band members, including Robert Smith, Lol Tolhurst, and Michael Dempsey, appear as the children’s shadows with red eyes in the video.
Three Cure songs:
- Just One Kiss
- All Cats Are Grey
- Dressing Up
Find more shirts at vintagemerch.com
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