About the Art
Dave Eggers' first book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and he has written multiple New York Times bestsellers. He founded the McSweeney's publishing house, composed the screenplay for Where The Wild Things Are, and co-founded 826 National. He does other stuff, too.
Paul Banks and his friend Allen Rogers approached Eggers at a reading in Austin after Eggers mentioned he had recently taken up the practice of drawing pictures of mammals with epic slogans:
"I've never done an elephant. What's the album called?"
"Secrets and lies."
"Secrets and mice?" Eggers seemed intrigued.
"No. Secrets and lies."
"Yeah, we were thinking because, it's called 'Secrets and Lies' and elephants never forget and, you know--"
"And elephants lie a lot."
"Right. Exactly. So, would you like to sketch an elephant real quick?" Eggers looked up, blearily, going on 3 1/2 hours at this event. Banks and Rogers were 4th from last in the book-signing line.
Banks and Rogers laughed to themselves, thinking they would surely be chastised somewhere in his forthcoming writings.
"But, if you contact me through McSweeney's - you know how to do that, right? It's easy enough - I'll draw you an elephant and send it to you."
After an album title change, a mailed copy of the music for Eggers to check out, and a bevy of emails between Rogers and Meagan Day at McSweeney's, Eggers was true to his word, providing pitch-perfect drawings that both complemented and spoke to the nature of Banks' music: pure and nuanced. The elephant hiding secrets and lies was long gone; the pyrrhic sphynx was yelling at the sun.
Banks chose a couple of drawings that he loved with slogans Eggers had penned that fit the themes of the record. He also chose a few more of Eggers' beautiful mammal drawings without slogans. Banks enlisted his Austin designer-friends Greg Leppert and Matt Genitempo to put Eggers' drawings together in a perfect gatefold LP design, and Rogers sent it off to Eggers for a final sign-off on the ultimate use of his work. The response was resounding approval with no request for payment of any kind.
That's when Banks employed the idea of donating a portion of every vinyl sale to Dave Eggers' educational non-profit, 826 National, which is focused on inflaming a passion for writing in students who often have far too little opportunity for creating things. Banks has experience working with underprivileged students as a tutor and mentor, and he sees Yelling at the Sun and Dave Eggers' involvement as an exciting opportunity to spread the word and support 826 National, which is doing the kind of work that kids need. A child who is behind on reading and writing skills in school is hardly encouraged by egging from adults about grammar, but a child who is behind and is encouraged to tell his or her story in creative ways that can be heard by others is learning the core reason that writing and reading is so important to begin with, and that's why 826 National is unique and remarkable.
You can watch Dave Eggers' TED Talk about education and 826 National (originally titled 826 Valencia) here: