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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 cancer awareness. breast.

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 high by 33 feet high. large. 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,” said 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 punishable by 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 “sacred cow” coup was neither an act of animal rights nor an Adbusters-type 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.

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 Aram’s ironic unease as it details the moment he was killed. subpoenaed by a cop while out with friends. The video follows the group passing a man on fire and wandering aimlessly through a farm flanked by cows – you guessed it.

“We were already moving forward with the cow imagery in the music video and the unique artwork 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 college students in New York. In 2019, the two moved from New York to Los Angeles and expanded their fan base exclusively through their live shows, boisterous three-night events billed as “AF-ing Weekend,” where they shared lineups of. expectation 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 came 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 producing 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. “We’re looking to quit sometime before the summer,” said Michel. But before signing, he takes great care to point out, on the file, that he was not involved in the farce of the cow.

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

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