Let’s Get Physical is a weekly column that celebrates the beauty of music in all its tangible forms.
Since punkadelic pioneers Wartoad dropped last year’s album ‘I Get High’, the transatlantic troop been wreaking havoc left, right and centre. Their arsenal of socio-political behemoths have taken aim at everyone from Donald Trump and Leonardo Di Caprio, and most recently the BBC. With all that considered, we’re reluctant to ‘get physical’ with Wartoad, but we can most certainly have a civilized e-chat with how their album design came to be…
Honestly, it took almost as long to design the cover of WARTOAD’s first album as it did to record the record. The original plan (keep it ‘punk simple,’ stupid) ended up being replaced by layers of story-telling and what the tossers, sad wankers, and millennials (and tosser sad wanker millennials) call “narrative.”
The first and most basic idea with the album design is that when you pick it up it should feel heavy (like the music haha). So we splashed a little extra on the vinyl weight and used quality materials for the cover and aye wallah, as Johnny Frenchman would say, that mother’ has got to weigh at least one of your yankee imperialist pounds (comrade).
The front cover
“The plan was to pay someone to come up with a ripped-off-Banksy-style-piece of graffiti art.”
Now, the outside cover was originally going to be in the style of the Great Mysterio himself, Banksy. The plan was to pay someone (someone cheap, obv, but with a bit of talent) to come up with a ripped-off-Banksy-style-piece of graffiti art and either spray it on a real wall or just create it, as if by magic, through “the power of digital design.”
But then we actually listened to the album and realized that we needed something with just a little bit more gravitas – yet, at the same time, super simple…Or “legit,” as Butch Dante says, often (sigh). So, it was decided: one color, then. Not plain vanilla “colour field,” exactly; There was general agreement that there could be some patina (after we looked up what “patina” meant).
And if you are in a punk band, called WARTOAD, and it’s your first album, and it’s called What Rough Beasts, and the music is, if you will (or, indeed, if you won’t) punk, but melodic, with prog ramblings, well what colour do you think you should choose? Primrose? Taupe? Of course not.
You fucking make it BLACK don’t you, you fucking slag?!?
“Butch meets his mate in the pub and they come up with what looks like the wall in the bogs of a really scummy punk pub in London, in 1979.”
And this is where it gets what passes for clever in our band. Because we decided to have a gatefold. And, further, it was mooted by the non-existent design committee that said gatefold should be both eye-popping and detailed and with tons of message and story and tone and all that stuff the marketing cunts like to bang on and on about. So, like, a contrast with the outside, yeah?
Soooooo, long story shorter, Butch meets his mate Mike Strick in the pub. And because they’re in the rubadub, and it’s a bit of a shithole, really, they have a, what-do-you-call-it, epiphacles? (Not sure this is right? Ed.) Whatever! They come up with the idea to gen up what looks like the wall in the bogs of a really scummy punk pub in London, in 1979, with the graffiti and the stickers and all that. (It would be “resonant,” Mike said; and was ignored). And the idea is that the longer you look at the artwork, the more you can see in it – like, there’s an image to represent each track, yeah? And, there are references to our big musical influences (The Stranglers, for instance), and there are even some teaser photos of the band, and our mates, and obscure lyrics and all that. Oh, and a picture of Leonardo Di Caprio, with a cock drawn on his face. (Because, cunt).
It all adds up to a bit of a mélange of images but if you like the type of music that we play, and listen to it in the type of venues where we play it, then it all. Makes. Perfect. Sense.
The medium, as the marketing cunts say, is the message.
“Being a resourceful and thieving little bastard, Butch thought: why not use the architect’s design drawing from my new gaff in Sussex?”
So we send it all off to the production company and then shit got real, because they came back and go, ‘don’t you want to do a design for the inner sleeve as well?’ Did we ever?! But we didn’t really have any more ideas. Or money. But being a resourceful and thieving little bastard, Butch thought “why not use the architect’s design drawing from my new gaff in Sussex, with the stone circle.” Because, it looked cool, and, you know, he’d already paid for it, yeah? And it added a spot of paganism to the project, which is honestly never a bad thing. So that’s what we did.
And that is the story of how the album design came to be. Now off to bed with you. Slags.
Buy Wartoad – ‘I Get High’ on vinyl or CD here.
Can’t get enough of Wartoad? Check out their photo story of 24 hours in Texas here.
If you’d like your CD/Vinyl/Tape/Flexidisc to be featured in our column, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Better yet, send us your physical treasures: 48a, Mill Way, Grantchester, Cambridge CB3 9NB.