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Tales From Noise (Part 2: Vicious Circle)

17 Jul

In our job as “creative consultants” at Noise Records we sometimes got detailed instructions for the record covers from the musicians themselves – usually when a mini-LP was planned. Here’s an example of the creative input from the band. This colourful drawing landed on our desk in September 1984:

It came with an “explanation”: “Lightning strikes into the devil’s horn. The devil glows. Lightning is diverted through the devil’s tail and discharges into an explosion. The band logo has to look metallic, like steel, you know…”

As we were too lazy to make a flashy airbrush painting (and Karl “you guys will be my ruin someday” the label boss wouldn’t pay for it) we proposed a comic-style drawing – it was the time of magazines like “Metal Hurlant” and “Heavy Metal”, after all. And we had a few entertaining days digging out some old Jack Kirby comic books.

So this is what hit the shops in fall that year – in a glorious, glossy 12-inch sleeve:

Tales From Noise (Part 1: Kreator)

15 Jul

In the mid-80s we were working for Modern Music, a record label in Berlin. Apart from designing the covers for their “Diadem” releases we did a lot of stuff for their heavy metal label, Noise Records. As the covers were mostly painted by a guy called Lawvere, we were only involved at the printing stage – we had to make sure that the bass player’s scribbles for the inner sleeve were printable, and sleeve notes (usually six sheets of bad handwriting) were submitted for typesetting with instructions about the correct size and font (usually something gothic or “germanic”).

In April 1985 Karl the label boss (“they all want 1500!”) sent us a sketch for a logo from a young band from Essen.

They weren’t sure about their new name at this point (they were still called “Tormentor”), but Karl suggested we design something “like Iron Maiden”. He also decided spelling the name with a “K”.

Several suggestions, more sketches from the drummer, and a couple of mock-ups followed, until a final decision was made:

Apart from producing a printer-friendly line drawing (done with our trusty Rotring pens on thick artboards from Scotland) our biggest contribution to the Kreator logo probably was that we could convince the Noise guys to forget about “steel finish”, dripping blood, and their usual 3-D and airbrush effects – it was supposed to be a classic “trademark” that could be used in any colour and appearance. Luckily the band was quite good and successful, and they’re still using the logo nowadays, three decades later.

The logo was first shown on their debut album, which of course came with a Lawvere cover. The album title was decided at the last minute (by Karl, naturally), and we had to produce a line drawing of the phrase “Endless Pain” while a bicycle courier on his way to the printers was waiting in our studio.

Here’s the original LP cover, and Phil Lawvere’s painting in full:

Kreator’s Noise albums have just been reissued on CD.

Extrabreit

2 Nov

Way back in 1982, at the time of NDW (Neue Deutsche Welle: German New Wave) we got our first (really) big job: to design an album cover for rising ‘wave/punk’ band Extrabreit. The title of the album, “Rückkehr der Fantastischen 5” (Return Of The Fantastic Five) led to a superhero comic-inspired design with dayglo camouflage patterns and ‘bullet holes’ – all designed by Ralf ‘Major’ Kröling – and added hand-drawn typography:

Extrabreit 5 Back Extrabreit 5 Front

 

Problem was, by the time the proofs had arrived at our office, the band was in the German charts, and the record company suddenly decided to spend a lot of money on the upcoming album. So the camouflage design was ditched, the sleeve printed in five different dayglo colours, and the bullet holes were die-cut into the sleeve. Result: number one!

Extrabreit Ad

 

Even the cassette was released in five versions (with a non-album extra track!). And there was a special edition with a ‘Superhero Poster’, too.

And the Malbuch guys, fresh from art school, suddenly were the go-to team for rising new wave artists. For a few weeks. (And then Ixi came along…)

Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts

24 Nov

…well, maybe.

Dylan Card 02 mini Dylan Card 01 mini

Image

Johnny Cash Feb. 26, 1932 – Sept. 12, 2003

13 Sep

Cash miniSketch 01 Cash miniSketch 29 Cash miniSketch 36 Cash miniSketch 54

From The Vaults

14 Sep

Here’s a picture of Howlin Wolf’s Chevrolet: