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Meet the group that degraded Hollywood Sign with cow paints




Like many Angeleno, the city’s famous Hollywood brand has undergone its fair share of cosmetic makeovers. In 1976 and 2017, cannabis advocates changed the sign to read Hollyweed and as recently as February, a group led by model Julia Rose renamed the sign Hollyboob to promote breast cancer awareness.

On the afternoon of Friday, April 2, a new group of pranksters returned to accessorize the sign, this time draping a painting of a cow over the first O, which is 45 feet tall by 33 feet wide. After police chased the perpetrators by helicopter and then on foot, three suspects were apprehended: plastic artist Danny Cole, photographer Landon Yost and Greg Aram, singer-songwriter of the alternative rock group LA Junior Varsity. .

The whole thing only lasted eight minutes, Aram, 25, told The Times on Wednesday. The group walked along a designated footpath, jumped over a fence, then attached themselves to the letter with climbing gear and tied the painted leaf. I’m afraid of heights, says Aram, so I don’t think I could have done it without this equipment.

Aram rolled his ankle while fleeing from the police. By the time we started to descend, there was already a helicopter above.

Aram and his friends have each been charged with a trespassing offense, usually liable to a fine not exceeding $ 100; he has a court date set for August. I was in jail for seven hours with a broken ankle, said Aram, who was bailed out by Stefan Max, an A&R executive at Warner Records. It was in the Hollywood neighborhood, so you can imagine there were characters in there.

The holy cow blow was neither an animal rights act nor an Adbusters-style cultural jam against capitalist consumerism. Aram explained that he recruited Cole to paint the cow, then decided he would represent the group. We played with [putting the band logo] on the Hollywood sign, but that idea didn’t sound interesting, it was like an advertisement. There are deeper meanings in the cow for us personally, but we want to keep it open.

Three men lie down and paint a large sheet with a picture of a cow.

Zach Michel, Danny Cole and Greg Varteresian at work on the cow painting which was later placed on the Hollywood sign.

(Adam Kargenian)

Aram co-founded Junior Varsity with multi-instrumentalist Zach Michel, 25, in 2019; since then, the group has amassed over 15,000 Instagram followers and struck a deal with Warner, all without releasing any music. On the same day as the blow of cow, the group released their first single, Cold Blood.

A wacky stroll through the sounds of early alternative rock and hip-hop, Cold Blood is a dark comedy work, colored by Arams, an ironic unease as it details the moment he was assigned by a cop while hanging out with friends. The video follows the group passing a burning man and wandering aimlessly around a farm flanked by cows.

We were already moving forward with cow images in the music video and a single piece of art when the idea of ​​doing something with the Hollywood sign emerged as a possibility, Aram said. The cow is king.

Aram, from New Jersey, and Michel, from the Bay Area, met as students in New York. In 2019, the two moved from New York to Los Angeles and developed a fan base exclusively through their live shows, boisterous three-night events featured as A Fing Weekend, where they shared lineups with burgeoning alternative artists like Jean Dawson and Quiet Luke.

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

Junior Varsity hosted the weekend concerts in New York and Los Angeles, during which representatives from various record companies began to surface with offers. We realized that having support [from Warner] was going to benefit us, rather than releasing music on our own, says Aram.

Junior Varsity has spent most of his senior year writing and recording songs, some of which will appear on their upcoming EP. I was looking to quit sometime before summer, Michel said. But before signing, he takes great care to point out, on the file, that he was not involved in the cow stuffing.

I played no part in the stunt, he said. I was literally miles away. I have receipts!

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