Film features the fonts and fury of Double Dagger

"If We Shout Loud Enough" documents the final days of the hardcore punk-rock band founded by two Baltimore graphic designers

double dagger more cover

Album cover for Double Dagger’s 2009 “More.”

Photo by: Bruce Willen, Nolen Strals

Before Nolen Strals and Bruce Willen started their Baltimore art and design studio, Post Typography (whose clients have included The New York Times, John Legend, Time Magazine and Random House), the duo had a post-punk, post-hard-core band with a cult following.

Singing songs about graphic design – hated fonts, beloved Pantone colors – Double Dagger was a kind of band that has probably not existed before or been imitated since, “graphic-design-core.”

That’s how it’s described in a recently-released documentary by Gabe DeLoach and Zack Kiefer, “If We Shout Loud Enough,” and in a Fast Company spread last week about Strals, Willen and Double Dagger, pegged to the release of the Folk Hero Films production.)

If We Shout Loud Enough – Credit Intro from Folk Hero Films on Vimeo.

The documentary chronicles the last tour of the band, which was was founded in 2007 and broke up in 2011.

“Double Dagger was composed of Strals, a designer/singer with a chronic stutter that disappeared whenever he picked up a microphone; Willen, a designer/bassist so powerful the band didn’t need a guitar; and Denny Bowen, a ferocious, clock-like drummer,” as Fast Company’s Carey Dunne describes the band.

Quark? Tekno? Oh, the Humanity!

The film explores the connections between Double Dagger’s raw and rapid-fire music and the hand-scrawled, Scotch-taped, DIY roots of the founders’ approach to the graphic arts. (You’ll also learn about the raunchy body-fluid themed concert poster that kindled Strals and Willen’s simultaneous foray into decibels and design.)

Art “decoupled from corporate ambitions,” is how the Maryland Film Festival’s Jed Dietz described them in the text for a screening of the film at the festival last year.

“If We Shout Loud Enough,” narrated by a tweedy mock- extremely-erudite “Baltimore music historian,” explains how their music had everything that drove them nuts about their day jobs – the indignities visited upon them by idiotic clients, the fonts they hated like Comic Sans and Tekno, the obnoxious page layout software they love to bash.

Double Dagger and a "D."

Double Dagger and a “D.” (Screen shot from ” If We Shout Loud Enough”)

“I Don’t Know Which I Hate More, You or Quark,” was one song. “Clare (undone),” is another.

There’s also a CMYK song, inspired by Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black), the colors used in printing.

Anyway, fans of the band, of Old Goucher-based Post Typography and of  Nolen and Strals (Maryland Institute College of Art graduates who now teach there) will find interesting tidbits here.

Reading about it led me to the revelation that “dagger” and “double dagger” are typographical symbols. Someday, I’m thinking, this knowledge will come in handy.

The film is set to be shown at the Fargo (N.D.) Film Festival in March.

If We Shout Loud Enough- CMYK from Folk Hero Films on Vimeo.


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  • ushanellore

    Why did they break up? Did they run out of songs to sing about graphic design or had they vented their spleen enough and were left with a splenectomy after so much venting? Love their graphic design. I guess I have to see the film which, for some reason, I can’t on my computer.

    Day Job–Night Job

    The day job is the one that feeds
    the belly,
    hence the night job
    needs the day job.

    The night job invented
    to mock and excoriate,
    to knock and eviscerate
    the day job,
    is the right job
    for the artist.

    The day job doesn’t know its role

    in the songs of–the night job
    is made into a documentary–
    showing the dissolution of a fantasy–

    Its jagged double dagger
    laid to rest on a shelf–
    its post punk, post hard core
    folk heroes with a cult following,
    broken up–

    the ecstasy of the night job

    is scattered to the agony of the day job–

    and enshrined in an encyclopedia of ephemera.

    The day job happily coupled to corporate ambitions,
    chews on the detritus of the night job,
    whose reflection shimmies– for those interested–
    a mirage in a desert of no jobs…

    Usha Nellore

  • Vish Hass

    If you bothered to do some back checking on him, the “mock-erudite Baltimore music Historian” Tim Kabara would have shown him to be anything but mock.

    It’s not that hard to ask the people you interviewed, nor is it hard to find one of the many segments showing his chops and depth of knowledge on WYPR’s Maryland Morning, but it is easy to make an assumption and give a backhanded Baltimore compliment.

    • baltimorebrew

      All good points, apologies to Tim, text corrected. Thanks! f.s.

    • ushanellore

      A smart man is one who doesn’t look smart but is actually very smart. He can also be humorous and self deprecating to project a mock image of himself for public consumption. Feigned mock erudition and actual erudition are not mutually exclusive. I am sure this music historian wouldn’t be offended because the more a guy knows the more he realizes the more there is to know he can never know.

      Can a guy be “tweedy, mock and extremely erudite”? He could, I guess, if he is laughing at himself, he could convince viewers he is a caricature and not the real McCoy.

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