Exmortus on why, erm, screenprinting is as metal as it gets

A photograph of MARIO MORENO holding his screenprinted pictures

How does a heavy metal drummer get involved in screen printing?

MARIO MORENO, DRUMS: “My first job out of high school was working at [retail store] Target, and I quickly grew tired of working there, so I started looking for other stuff to do. Some of my friends did screen printing out of their house and one day I asked them to do some stuff for Exmortus. When I saw how fun the process looked – and it seemed pretty easy as well – I saved up some cash and I bought a little starter kit. Then I quit my job and the rest is history.”

Was the pay as good as Target?

“No, I just didn’t want to work at Target anymore. Ha ha! I was there for about a year and I think I got a nine cent raise – not even a 10 cent raise! – so I was like, ‘Screw this.’ The screen printing had grabbed my interest and I was playing music in a band and I knew this could help the band with our merch.”

What does a motherfucker need to do this at home?

“You need the press, of course. Mine came with all of the basics for a four-colour press, which meant I could do one shirt at a time with up to four colours. It came with a little heater to dry the shirts. It cost me $1,000 and it was perfect for doing small runs. To handle larger quantities and more frequent runs, I had to upgrade my heater because the ink you use won’t air dry – it has to be cured at a certain temperature, otherwise the ink will wash out and all your hard work will be gone! And you have to be careful you don’t use too much ink or it’ll feel like you’re wearing a bulletproof vest!”

What do you dig the most out of this?

“I love when bands send me really cool artwork because the finished product always looks awesome. I always print a couple for myself! I get so much pleasure when I’m transferring somebody’s art onto a t-shirt, knowing that somebody’s going to be rocking it with pride somewhere. I do a lot of random bands and I recently did a run for Act Of Defiance, which was pretty cool.”

If we brought you a Metal Hammer logo and asked for a shirt, how long before we’d be holding the new threads?

“First you’d send me the design and we’d print it out on a cel – like a transparency – and the image would be black. I’d coat the screen with a photo-sensitive chemical, and it’s sort of like exposing film, where we hit it with light and wash out whatever wasn’t exposed to get our stencil on the screen. Then we’d put the screen on the press, line it up, run the ink across the press, heat it and you’ve got your shirt. Like I said, it’s pretty fun and I think that anybody could pick it up with a little practice.”

Somebody’s going to read this and want to give it a shot. What do they need to know?

“When you’re getting started, it’s OK if you screw up like, hundreds of shirts, because it’s a lot of trial and error and a lot of practice. When you have questions, go to YouTube. That’s where I learned everything!”

On a scale of 1-10, just how metal is screen printing?

“I’d say it’s pretty metal! There’s a lot of heat going on, you can listen to metal while you do it and you’re making rad shirts to promote heavy metal.. So you know what, I’m going to say this is a 10!”

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