(The) Melvins, embarking on a 30th-anniversary tour (in both standard and Melvins Lite variations, depending on date) on July 12 alongside Honky, is releasing a covers record April 30. Entitled Everybody Loves Sausages, the album showcases the band’s many talents by covering artists as diverse as David Bowie, Queen, The Jam, and Venom. It also features myriad guest stars, including JG Thirlwell, Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Jello Biafra, and more.
In addition to laying down guitar riffs and vocals, Turner is an accomplished visual artist, responsible for cover art, layout, and package design for numerous bands. This unique knack for the aural and visual aspects of music inspired us to ask Turner about his favorite fellow double threats.
My Favorite Musicians/Artists/Designers
by Aaron Turner
Album art is and always has been an extremely crucial component of the experience of an album for me. Though there certainly have been records I’ve loved that have had terrible cover art, most of those that have left an indelible footprint in my mind have been those with a visual presentation of power equal to that of the music.
When I think back on the records that have shaped my ideas about what it means to make music, I usually have a tangible feeling that comes with that recollection, a sense of the atmosphere that the record created for me and how that atmosphere was accentuated or more clearly defined by the accompanying sleeve art. As that has been true in the past for me, so it is now; when checking out new records, I’m consistently drawn to those with compelling covers that draw me in and make me what to know what’s going on inside.
In the last 10 years or so, I’ve become particularly interested in musicians who are also active participants in designing or creating artwork for the albums that they make. It seems logical to me that those people would have the best understanding of what the music is about and the clearest idea of how to communicate that visually. Some of my favorite album covers now are those that have been made wholly or in part by the musicians who also have created the music itself.
Below is a list of people who reside in that category of musician/designer/artist and who have excelled at both aspects of making memorable albums.
1. Fangs Anal Satan (Boris)
Boris has made some tremendous albums over the years, and the music has always been matched by the equally excellent illustration and design. Like the band, which has mutated through a series of different incarnations (in sound rather than personnel), so too have the visuals, without ever dropping in consistency of quality.
From album to album, numerous tactics have been employed: rigid restraint bordering on minimalism, unorthodox packaging materials (colored foam, die-cut cardboard, hand-painted boxes containing dried flowers, etc.), psychedelic fantasy scenes paying homage to ’70s album artist Roger Dean, parodies of classic metal logos (Venom), extensive and beautifully arranged LP-sized photo books. Each release is a special artifact in its own right and as such warrants even further focus towards the music and the packaging from the listener/viewer.
Tom Gabriel Warrior has produced extreme metal since the early 1980s, first with seminal groups Hellhammer and Celtic Frost and now with Triptykon. In this question-and-answer session, columnist Todd Nief chats with the frontman about authenticity in music, beer cans in thrash metal, and the effect of happiness on extreme-metal composition.
Triptykon: “I am the Twilight”
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[Triptykon’s] Shatter EP and Eparistera Daimones LP are part of the same body of creative work. Can you comment on what you’re trying to accomplish with this, be it an emotional agenda, a political agenda, or any or all of the above?
Probably all of the above, but on this first album, it’s predominantly emotional. Of course, the sessions from the first album reflect some of the turmoil that existed when I left Celtic Frost. There’s no way around it. There’s some social commentary in songs such as “Goetia,” but, by and large, it’s my own feelings about leaving Celtic Frost, leaving my own band, leaving the summary of my life behind in a forced manner.
Nobody’s forced to read the lyrics; nobody’s forced to read the liner notes. We provide very detailed information, but by no means are you required to read all that. Music is music at the end of the day, and with music, you should create your own images in your head. I think it’s perfectly possible to listen to Triptykon without dealing with the lyrics or the liner notes. The music is intense and dark enough.
When I was a teenage fan, I didn’t speak English so well, so I just listened and the music created its own images in my head, and that’s the way it should be. It’s probably better that way.