You Can Be in Our Music Video!

You Can Be in Our Music Video!

The idea is simple: we all have more to offer than what's on the surface. Our song Layers is a tribute to how that plays out in relationships, and how when we take the time to learn what's beneath the exteriors of one another, we can grow closer together. 

So with this in mind, let's make a music video! 

Here's how it works: 

1. Film yourself (on any device, even a cell phone camera will work) shedding a superficial layer, but revealing a message about an emotional layer (read: unzip a hoodie to show a t-shirt with a message on it as on example).

It could be a secret you haven't told anyone, a hidden talent, or a guilty pleasure. Anything you're comfortable sharing! 

2. E-mail this video clip to maceballard[at] 

From there, we'll edit all of the clips together set to the song. 

Due date: Feb 25 (you have two weeks!)

What should you do after you submit a video clip? Order a record or a shirt of course. Or just re-listen to the album

A-F Records Catalog + ACLU

A-F Records Catalog + ACLU

From A-F Records: "The entire A-F Records bandcamp is PAY WHAT YOU WANT for the weekend, and we are donating 100% of the sales to the ACLU! bandcamp is donating their share of the profits too! give what you can and let's do some good together!"

So, before the weekend is through. You can pick up our record, Lanterns, the new live Anti-Flag album, Endless Mike & the Beagle Club, The Homeless Gospel Choir, Remainders, Swiss Army, A Lovely Crisis, and much more. That's a bunch of music with purpose in one place. We encourage you to be a part of it and to support a cause bigger than all of us: standing up to injustice. 


Which new music will you try? 

Designing Lanterns

Designing Lanterns

By Doug Dean

One day I scrolled through my Instagram feed and stopped to take in one of the most beautiful photos I have seen. Open sky. Sculpted land underneath. Lighting and textures turning the landscape into a painting. Photographed black and white.

The photo was part of a Death Valley series by photographer Rob Larson. He was posting photos from a recent trip. I knew I wanted to use those photos in some way.

I’ve known Rob for a few years. We first met during a week long job in Nicaragua. I was art directing an advertising campaign that involved a team of video producers and photographers. During the trip Rob was jovial and friendly, even as we traveled in a hot van through various sketchy barrios. I found out he designed Anti-Flag’s "The Bright Lights of America" album and I was blown away. Our shared interests kept us in touch after the ad campaign wrapped up.

I always had the idea of a guitar amp with the visual twist of a starry sky serving as the texture of the speaker. I stored it in my back pocket for the right job. During a lunch hang with Chris 2 of Anti-Flag we talked about the new Mace Ballard record he was producing. The title would be “Lanterns” and 2 wanted me to do the art. Right away I thought of the starry amp concept. With Rob’s Death Valley series fresh in my mind, I wanted to include his photography to give the concept a surrealist feel. I hit Rob up and he was stoked to collaborate.

I alway insist on reading the lyrics to the album I’m designing. I need to know the songs inside and out so the art and music play off each other. An album cover is the first impression the audience gets when an album is announced. It sets the tone and expectations. The rest of the packing then guides the audience as they listen to the music. The art at that point serves to compliment the music.

Reading the lyric’s to “Lanterns” influenced the handmade type approach, similar to a personal journal entry. I took a ball point pen and quickly scribbled “Mace Ballard Lanterns” a few times. I scanned my favorite, set it over the amp/sky visual, and sent the cover art to the band. Shortly after sending I noticed “Laterns” was written instead of “Lanterns”. Oops. I sent another message saying to ignore the typo, if the band was happy with the art I’d fix it right away.

Mace Ballard loved it as is. Well, as is except for the typo.

The next step was to extend the concept. We needed a back cover. Lyric book. Supporting graphics for tour posters. Merch. A good album cover is one thing, a smart integrated campaign defining the album’s visual legacy is another.

We decided a custom shoot was necessary for the additional elements. The back cover would become the back of the amp, exposing the interior workings with glowing tubes mimicking lanterns. The amp texture idea had legs. A glistening ocean and city lights served as additional textures, and thematically tied to the songs. We scheduled a photoshoot with Rob. Chris Stowe from AF-Records provided the amps and I provided the beer. We spent the evening at the studio above the Roberto Clemente Museum in Pittsburgh working and hanging out at the same time.

Lastly, I felt a logo mark would be a nice addition to the integrated design. The band name in writing looked good on the cover, but didn’t hold up on its own without context. Inspired by the themes in the songs, a seal was created with nautical elements and radiating lights. The logo was a mix of digital compositions and hand illustrated type, finally scanned together with a copier.

The “Lanterns” album art was a result of collaboration, open mindedness, and friendships. I’m listening it as I write this. While the art served a good purpose, the hero is the music within the package.



Thanks for reading! To see the artwork in all of its glory, order a copy of the Lanterns EP. 


About Calibrations

From the EP Lanterns, out now on AF Records. Order music at:

This song is all nostalgia all the time. Years are stacking up, and social media can sometimes instigate the need to document everything so nothing is forgotten. This song is a tribute to those people and memories that have escaped us, but are part of a cumulative build of our character. There's comfort in that. 

Word for word we may never remember
Don't be alarmed, I know how we felt
And we know who we are

Calibrating to the pace of the change
It seems gradual until it grabs a hold and all that remains
Are questions about these conversations
A central accusation: are we picking up or are we dropping off?

Word for word we may never remember
Don't be alarmed, I know how we felt
And we know who we are

While I'm waiting for the next thing to learn
An accident, a stroke of luck, or fact just inferred
We're family, with blood as thick as bricks
That I'll send out with timestamps
So I know it's good before I know it's gone

Word for word we may never remember
Don't be alarmed, I know how we felt
And we know who we are, we know who we are
Turn for turn we may never remember
Directions lost
But we can still recall the flavor of it all
Tastes like we belong

I've got to give credit to where credit's due
To friends like you, that remind me of optimism and positives hidden in negatives
Eyeballing the levels and singing it by ear
Impossible to retrace the steps that got us here
Reciting this from heart might get too hard
But I'll never be that far from where I stand

About "Aurora"

We started writing this song when the movie theater mass shooting happened in Aurora, Colorado. It was tragic and saddening to read tweets from those inside the theater who didn't make it out, some thinking the initial shots were sound effects from Dark Knight, and to later learn about the missed warnings signs. After the loss of life and shaken community, another tragedy became evident: extreme gun lovers (NRA etc) on the right dug in extra hard and used this horrific event to advocate for gun rights. Things would get worse though. Not too long after Aurora, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occured. Children and teachers lost. Senseless violence. And an equally harrowing response from this same crowd. We wondered if we should update the song, or write a new one entirely, but then something became terrifyingly clear: gun violence in America is a repeating pattern. It will only stop if we apply pressure on all fronts. It starts with calling bullshit on the gun lobby and Second Amendment "experts," and anyone who sounds like they love their gun more than they love their neighbor. A conscious effort to not let ourselves become desensitized to these tragedies as business as usual. If that happens, nothing will change. That's what this song is about. Remembering. Changing. 

Aurora Lyrics

You don’t think like I do
I’m setting all the wrong traps
for you to walk through, my luck has gotta push back
one of these days i’ll get the courage to let go until then
I’m running you down, a race to the ground
It’s part of the show, frames explode


Just a night out, just a night owl            
A message trapped in time
that caught everybody blind
We can’t run, But you can’t hide


We’ve taken for granted
Everything that we’ve been handed
From the sky to our grandparents
Hesitation rules
Building tolerance
To a frame of reference, erected for what’s left behind

No one can stop me
If I cannot stop myself
From delivering on letters sealed on a shelf
One of these days I’ll get the courage to let go until then
I’m running you down

The lead of the show never gets old
We didn’t expect the screen to reflect
A violent side magnified
The fight to pad wallets with cards coated in lies

We’ve taken for granted
Everything that we’ve been handed
From the sky to our grandparents
Hesitation rules
Building tolerance
To a frame of reference, erected for what’s left behind

We’ve taken for granted

The knowledge that was planted
By headlines we can’t stand
But don’t rewrite
Building tolerance
self-inflicted confidence
to words written in different light

We’ve taken for granted
Everything that we’ve been handed
From the sky to our grandparents
Hesitation rules
Building tolerance

To a frame of reference, erected for what’s left behind

Stream the album version over at The Dying Scene. 


About "1701"

About "1701"


From the shore a tattered mast appears over the horizon, listing aimlessly, for how long nobody knows for sure.  A ship discovered adrift at sea with no sign of the captain or crew, not a single sign of life and nobody left to tell the tale.  With the tables set, no sign of a struggle, the galley stocked with all our worldly possessions, sheathed swords stowed under the bunks; we leave no indication of what could have transpired, no clues and no trace.  Maybe nobody will ever know the whole story.  Maybe that was the plan all along.  The only thing we leave behind - a mystery between a place and time. This nautical mystery, combined with the very true story of the True Cost of Coal from our friends at the Beehive Collective, are the muse for this song. But it's not just a history lesson reinterpreted. 

Sometimes we must decide to take matters into our own hands.  Cast away, set sail for the promise of a place where we can live our lives by their own rules.  In the face of ramped oppression, sometimes we must forge our own way; dive into the uncertainty.  There’s always a solution as long as we have the strength to keep the search alive. 

May this rendition of the Mary Celeste help show you the way to safe passage through bitter storms and thrashing seas. 

With 1701 reasons to leave it all behind, Lanterns guide our way on the open sea. 

Stream 1701 at For the Love of Punk. 


As we all stare out across the endless sea
It seems to me – at least for now - that we are stranded helplessly
Another day spent wasted sketching plans in the sand
Praying for an epiphany, or at least for a steady hand
Building the will and the courage to make a stand
Can we rise up, or will we fall before we reach dry land
I’ve been staring at documents not proud of this
But somehow, you’ve got to pay the rent
It's my blood on that red cent
But it's not enough to save
Like anchors we’ve been let down
And chained to this company town
When freedom is the outlaw, only outlaws can be free
I’ve been staring at callous eyes that like to roll the dice
Advancing in belt loop size
Profit is where their focus lies so they never truly see
Our captors claim no escape
But you can’t catch what you cannot taste
When the plank’s 8 shoulders deep
That’s the company you keep
We can’t be saved
By paper and a pen
When the firing range is loading up their guns
None of these walls can hold ideas

Interest is building homes, so I’ve been told
More than I-O-U notes
Pockets lined with gold, but it's not our kind of change
We’re rising as waters boil
To plant flags in enemy soil
If it's not our space to own, it will be our space to grow

We can’t be saved
By paper and a pen
The promise we made will take us to the end
None of these walls can hold ideas
When they flow like oxygen
None of these walls can hold ideas


Sometimes it takes a while to shed light on things in our lives. That's what our new album Lanterns is about. It's taken us a while to release this, but the process of getting here is one that we wouldn't trade for anything. From working with Chris 2 on melodies and song structure, to actually recording at A-F Studio in Glenshaw, to writing new lyrics to parts of songs we don't know existed, inviting friends to help with gang vocals, working with Justin Francis on inventive mixes of the tracks, and getting Doug Dean's insanely creative artwork design, there have been a lot of layers to the process. So we're letting you peel them off one by one. Releasing one song at a time until the full release on 7/15. Enjoy. And thank you for listening!