Meet the band that defaced Hollywood Sign with cow painting

Like many an Angeleno, the city’s famous Hollywood badge has seen its share of cosmetic makeovers. In both 1976 and 2017, cannabis advocates changed the sign to read “Hollyweed” – and it wasn’t until February that a group led by model Julia Rose renamed the sign “Hollyboob” to raise awareness about breast cancer.

On Friday afternoon, April 2, a new group of jokers returned to outfit the sign, this time by draping a painting of a cow over the first “O” which is 45 feet high and 33 feet wide. After police followed the perpetrators by helicopter, three suspects were arrested on foot: visual artist Danny Cole, photographer Landon Yost, and Greg Aram, the singer-songwriter for LA alt-rock band Junior Varsity.

“It only took eight minutes,” 25-year-old Aram told the Times on Wednesday. The group hiked on a designated pedestrian path, hopped over a fence, then strapped to the letter with climbing gear and attached the painted sheet. “I’m afraid of heights,” said Aram, “so I don’t think I could have made it without this equipment.”

Aram rolled his ankle as he ran away from the police. “When we started climbing, there was already a helicopter upstairs.”

Aram and his friends have each been charged with trespassing offenses, usually punishable by a fine of no more than $ 100. He has set a court date for August. “I was in jail for seven hours with a broken ankle,” said Aram, who was rescued by Stefan Max, an A&R manager at Warner Records. “It was in the Hollywood district so you can imagine some characters were there.”

The stunt “Holy Cow” was neither an act of advocacy for animal rights nor an adbusters-style culture congestion against capitalist consumerism. Aram explained that he had recruited Cole to paint the cow and then decided that she would represent the band. “We played with it [putting the band logo] on the Hollywood sign, but that idea didn’t feel interesting, it felt like an advertisement. The cow has deeper meanings for us personally, but we want to keep it open. “

Three men lie on it and paint a large sheet of paper with a picture of a cow.

Zach Michel, Danny Cole and Greg Varteresian are working on the cow painting that was later put on the Hollywood sign.

(Adam Kargenian)

Aram co-founded Junior Varsity with multi-instrumentalist Zach Michel (25) in 2019; Since then, the band has garnered over 15,000 followers on Instagram and signed a deal with Warner without releasing any music. On the same day as the Cow Stunt, the band released their debut single “Cold Blood”.

“Cold Blood” is a dark comedy tinted by Aram’s crooked malaise while describing the time he was being verbally abused by a police officer with friends. The video follows the band as they pass a burning man and wander aimlessly through a farm flanked by – you guessed it – cows.

“We were already working with cow images in the music video and individual artwork when the idea came up to do something with the Hollywood sign,” said Aram. “Cow is king.”

New Jersey native Aram and Bay Area native Michel met as students in New York City. In 2019, the two of them left New York for LA and built a fan base solely through their live shows, which were dubbed “AF-ing Weekend” for three nights, and where they met up with up-and-coming alto pop acts like Jean Dawson and Quiet shared Luke.

“We didn’t put it on as a show, we put it on as a party,” said Aram. “If 100 people showed up on the first night, they would go home and tell their friends to come back the next night. Then the next evening 200 people came, the next 400. “

Junior Varsity hosted the weekend concerts in New York and LA, where representatives of various record labels showed up with offers. “We realized that we have support [from Warner] That would benefit us instead of making music ourselves, ”explains Aram.

Junior Varsity spent most of his past year writing and recording songs, some of which will appear on the upcoming EP. “We want to fall sometime before summer,” said Michel. But before he signs off, he makes sure that he wasn’t involved in the cow prank.

“I didn’t play a role in the stunt,” he said. “I was literally miles away. I have receipts! “

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