this is going to be "ancient" news in about 38 minutes i guess, but here goes anyway:
It's unfortunate that Brooklyn Vegan chose to add nothing to the potential debate around the Bastard Noise/ MitB vs Akron Family's merch machine debate. Instead their piece looks vaguely like some kind of TMZ meets EXTREME MUSIC (bro') pop news item.
The Skull is famously not drawn by Eric Wood's own hand; he took it from a book in the library twenty years ago. And Akron Family aren't the first to use The Skull on a shirt, Capitalist Casualties did it, Robocop did it; i'm sure a shit ton more have used the image.
Really what this about is context and re-appropriation.
I consider Wood a good friend and i can imagine that if whichever dude in Akron Family it is that used to drink 40s in the parking lot of crust shows as a teenager in the 1990s had e mailed him and said "i love your work, i play in this band, i think it would be funny if we used The Skull on one of our shirts as a weird homage/ clandestine propaganda" Wood would have been completely stoked.
Instead he sees some band with absolutely no clear link to any of his values, principles or aesthetics using The Skull with no explanation and he's mad as hell and goes into his patented Eric Wood Meltdown Mode (no one is safe...).
Akron Family have not obviously paid their dues and it just looks like another depressingly typical context-less re-appropriation of a symbol that represents considerably more than Akron Family understand (see my awesome Akron Family tattoo below).
It would be like seeing Kit Kat do a commercial where their delicious product forms Black Flag bars and some central casting punk kids eat them. What's the connection (Besides Dez Cadena potentially really liking Kit Kats)?
This will all blow over. Akron Family's manager will figure out his charges aren't going to get sued, they'll eventually issue a public statement (or Israel Lawrence will just keep posting private communication from the band) about how they meant it all in the greatest respect.
And because seemingly no one can ever remember history, it'll happen again in a few years (remember the utter PR disaster of Nike's Major Threat tour a few years go?)
What's the lesson here? That if you don't have an obvious claim to a symbol, you need to put it the fuck down and find something else.
Hardcore punk (and metal and noise and every other contemporary youth culture for that matter) is infamous for its picking and choosing of external sources and symbols. Sometimes people pick up symbols they have absolutely no claim to. I remember about ten years ago a friends grindcore band, Tangaroa, got into a whole heap of internet bullshit with some people who were understandably miffed that they were using the name of a Maori god for their band name. As if the Maori's hadn't been almost colonised out of existence enough without some English kids rendering something of great importance meaningless.
There's several moments in my own body of work, including recently, where in hindsight i've felt i should have actually left someone else's imagery alone.
No one looks good here, Wood and his friends and supporters (like me) look petty ("it's just an image man, other people have done it before and he just took it out of a book anyway"), and Akron Family look like cynical plagiarists at worst and naive dilettantes at best.
OK, i'm off to reblog 8,000 pictures of alchemy on tumblr