Audible Iconography


Order, rules, consistency, continuity, mystery and permanence aren’t usually associated with a post-punk-noise band.

But in true punk fashion, Holler House doesn’t exactly follow the status quo.

Comprised of Mike Novak (drums), Garth Blomberg (guitar and voice), Alan Erback (bass and voice) and Tony Spaiij (guitar), Holler House doesn’t just make music: they also design distinct icons for each show they perform, combining the visible with audible.

“When we started the band I made a logo for our first show,” said Novak. “At the time I was sort of thinking it would be a logo for the band, then I decided to do another for the next show, then the third. I realized that it might be fun to do a logo for every gig.”

Holler House’s icons are currently on display in Gallery A at the Memorial Union Gallery.

At first glance they seem almost random: some have symmetry, some circles, some escape their shapes and some remain in perfect order.

To the band, it’s all about connection: to music, to cities, to feelings.

“We tend to write about connections, inclusion/exclusion, choice vs. obligation, death, religion, secrecy, dreams, time, tension, getting lost or found … Hopefully the images (not only the logos) that accompany the music have a threat of consistency to them, and deepen the understanding or mystery of the whole thing.”

Since their inception, each logo Holler House creates is an individual representation of a particular show and location.

These begin to add up to more than just lines. They become memories.

“In other bands I’ve been in before you tend to forget who you played with and where you’ve been over time as the shows pile up,” Novak explains. “I wanted to not lose any of that information right from the start with Holler House. I made a document with all that information in it and that’s sort of how the logos were born…wanted to document the band and not forget things.”

Each icon represents a different Holler House performance, including venues in Fargo, Minneapolis, and other locations throughout the Midwest and country.

While they all live and work in Minneapolis, none of the band members hail from the Twin City west of the river.

Actually, none of them are from Minnesota.

“Minneapolis is just where we’ve all ended up at this point,” says Novak. “It drew us all in for similar reasons. The music coming out of the city has always been an inspiration for all of us, and we’ve wanted to be a part of it.”

Novak himself is from Fargo; vocalist and guitarist Blomberg is from Minot, bassist and vocalist Erback is from Chicago, Illinois and guitarist Spaiij is from Appleton, Wisconsin.

The icon for the Memorial Union show is an abstract map of all their hometowns converging into our fair Fargo, while also encompassing Minneapolis.

The Midwest shapes their artwork in other ways, too. They draw inspiration from the distinct Midwest behavior, often associated with our share of chilly winters.

“I think the seasons up here really effect people and how we behave and interact. There’s a lot of stoic stand-offishness here, and that has rubbed off on us in one way or another.”

“So, we’re aiming to create an inviting space for everyone. Invite people in, get inspired, make stuff and hopefully not be viewed as pretentious,” Novak explains. “We want to be welcoming and break the awkwardness. We want to start a conversation, connect, and who knows what’ll happen next.”

The conversation is central to their hopes for the show.

“I think we actually might want to confuse people really. We want them to wonder what it is, what it means and maybe mess with them a little bit,” Novak jokes. “What has meaning? What doesn’t? Why is that there? Why did they use Helvetica Nue 55? Why did we say ‘Shake Hands with the Golden Eye?’ We want people to engage with it, be drawn in by it and then basically we want to capture their souls.”

The band plans to continue making the icons forever and grow their significance.

“For the album LODGE release we assigned a number value to some of the symbols and created a code to plot locations of a scavenger hunt which is still in progress in Minneapolis,” Novak reveals. “In the future we’ll be able to communicate maybe only by our code and symbols. We intend to make a font out of these icons when the time is right. Who knows what else we’ll be able to use them for in the future!”

Holler House’s art will be shown through Sept. 30th with a reception at 5 p.m. on Sept. 16th.


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