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Peripheral Vision 012: Dave Allen on moving from punk rock to digital advertising

Peripheral Vision 012 Dave Allen

“I’m pretty well known as one of the co-founders of the British post-punk band, Gang of Four,” Dave Allen begins. “And then, after a while, I got the web itch.” It’s a study in contrasts, perhaps, from the bass player of one of the late-70s most seminal political punk bands, to a title like “director, interactive strategy,” but Allen is nothing if not eclectic. Over the decades, his passions have taken him from the angular post-punk of Gang of Four to the new wave of Shriekback, through stints with Intel and E-music. And now we’re here in 2013, inside North, a Portland brand agency that has imparted on him the aforementioned title.

To Allen, however, it’s not all that strange, the transition from punk rock to advertising. And at the very least, it adheres to tenets he’s held dear all along. “When Gang of Four signed to EMI and Warner Bros. back in the day,” he explains, “everyone was trying to say we sold out, but they kind of knew we didn’t. We wanted to get our message across to the most people, so where’s the best place to go? The big labels. They own distribution, manufacturing and marketing. They own the radio stations. For me, to work in the advertising world, whilst being critical of it – why would you do it outside the walls? Why not try to foment discussion within the very industry that we’re all working in?”

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Check out all of our Peripheral Vision Episodes:

  • Eric Staller on building his “deepest subconscious impulses”
  • Marc Maron on the catharsis of podcasting
  • Professor John Slough on how nuclear power could get us to Mars in 30 days
  • Reggie Watts on using technology to make art, pterodactyls
  • Adam Lisagor on how an expensive video could hurt your Kickstarter campaign
  • Shawn Campbell on starting a radio station with a computer and microphone
  • Tyler DeAngelo – ‘wasting time is an important piece of innovation’
  • Seth Lind on why radio won’t die
  • Jesse Thorn on using the internet to create something meaningful
  • RJD2 on the power of uncertainty
  • Ayah Bdeir on the importance of knowing how your electronics work



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