‘I Don’t Owe The World A Thing’ – behind the artwork.

I went into some detail about how I put our album cover together last year and for some reason you guys were interested to hear about it, so it seemed only right to give you a bit of background information on how we settled on the artwork for our brand new EP.

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For us, this EP was an exercise in jumping into the unknown. During the writing process we made a conscious effort to not look sideways at whatever else was out there or what other bands were doing that was considered ‘cool’. We just wanted the songs to be organic, like they should be. We needed to write this way; we had spent a fair while pushing and pulling in various directions as we found our feet when it came to writing our album, but since then we’ve figured out where we want to be and that predominantly involved not giving a shit whether a song might get radio play or be ‘marketable’. Our EP is exactly what we wanted to write, it’s our collective influences and individual musical histories stirred up together and I think you can hear that. When I listen to it I hear ‘Clarity’, I hear ‘Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place’, I hear ‘Something To Write Home About’, and that’s because we all grew up with those records and those influences shine through.

Anyway, when we’d finished we felt suitably defiant. We were proud of this uncompromising effort and we needed something that represented it. As usual, that fell to me as the resident graphic designer, and I was pretty daunted by the task of coming up with a visual representation of this defiant sound. We went through numerous concepts, some were alright and some were downright dog-shit, and I started to fret a little as the deadline, one set by the at-the-time unannounced Bowling For Soup tour support, drew closer.
A couple of weeks before deadline day I stumbled across an image (which I initially thought was a photo) of a boy atop an impossibly steep hill on a skateboard. I immediately knew this was the one, and I sent it straight to our WhatsApp group to see if the boys felt the same. This is important: in the 5 and a bit years we have been a band we have NEVER agreed creatively on ANYTHING at the first attempt. Our album artwork went through around 20 drafts before we were all happy, our Outlaws EP changed even past the release date (the iTunes and physical copies are totally different). We gel brilliantly musically, but when it comes to design and art we all have glaringly conflicting tastes, so it’s safe to say that when I sent that skateboarding kid into the WhatsApp group I wasn’t holding my breath.
About a minute passed and the replies came in. Graz: ‘That’s the one! That’s got to be the one!’, Josh: ‘I LOVE it! How do we get it?!!’ Pete: ‘Yes’ (always the straight talking one). After 5 years we finally agreed on something first time around.

Now all I needed to do was hunt it down. After a hair-pulling weekend of searching the entire internet for this tiny, low resolution image, I traced it back to an incredible Australian fine-artist named Ron Francis. It was at that point that I realised what we had fallen in love with wasn’t a photo, it was an insanely detailed painting; a testament to the skill of the artist. I approached Ron hat in hand and explained from the off what we wanted to do, and why, and was also quick to mention that we had never agreed on artwork until now. I explained that this image was a perfect representation of our record. Here is a kid at the top of a hill, about to do something he loves – something clearly reckless, for no other reason than to do it because he loves doing it and wants to experience it. He doesn’t care about the consequences; he’s going to do this for better or worse. It was these parallels that we all immediately drew from our own individual experiences with writing and recording this EP; the not pandering to trends; not caring about who it was for beyond the four of us – us just doing it for the love of making music we like.

Ron is a brilliant, generous, genius of a man. Humble given his gift, a gift which, as a fellow ‘artist’ (term used loosely in my case) really makes me feel terrible about my limited abilities by comparison. He was completely into what we were trying to achieve and why the painting meant so much to us, and he was immediately on board and even had the original professionally photographed for the first time since it was painted back in 2005. I assured him i’d be treating the painting with the greatest respect when it came to adding our name and title, because it’s the image – the work of actual art – that is important here… i’d have been happy with no logo whatsoever! In the end, I came up with a logo concept that was as understated and mature as it could be whilst not detracting away from the artwork. I’ll be honest, finding and agreeing on this masterpiece painting was kind of a relief for me.. it meant I got a rare pass from designing literally everything this band puts out. Not that that’s why I liked the painting..

We’ve been told the cover is dark, that our EP is melancholic and paired with the cover it adds another layer of heartache or contrition or melancholy in whatever form you choose to interpret it. And that’s great, because it’s confirmation that our choice of cover is an extension of what we wrote, and also – we’re a serious fucking rock band now, you know?

I hope you all like the EP. As modest a band as we are, we think we’re on to something with it. Please all spread the word and elevate us to an arena sized band so I can afford to buy the original painting by the genius that is Ron Francis.

Dave x

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