It's Gross Anatomy time again, brothers and sisters! You already know how excited I get when foreboding numerology collides with the weekend but this Friday the 13th is particularly special because it marks the grand re-opening of Mississippi Records in its new and permanent location. This seems like a fitting day to pull the proverbial curtain back and give you a glimpse at some new drawings I did for DEAD MOON since this official posthumous 7" is also the first release in the newly christened Mississippi/Change records catalog! If you're reading this I assume you already understand that Fred and Toody Cole are TRUE rock 'n' roll royalty. But just in case you recently awoke from a deep coma, allow me to put things in perspective. Fred "Deep Soul" Cole is about three years younger than Lemmy so he too remembers the world before the invention of rock 'n' roll (though he'd probably rather forget that part) and he's been independently recording/performing with complete disregard for fame and fortune since 1964. He's partied with the Hell's Angels, polished off Southern Comfort with Janis Joplin, ate LSD when it was still legal, built his own ghost town and cut his own records with a fucking lathe. He met his wife Toody in 1967 after his car ran out of gas in Portland, Oregon and they've been together longer than many of us have been alive. Their various bands have shared the stage with the Misfits (Danzig era, of course), Black Flag, D.O.A., The Bags, The Wipers and Poison Idea to name merely a few. They're also grandparents and still tour the world with their newest band Pierced Arrows (who, as fate would have it, are performing in Portland TONIGHT). To say I was honored by the request for my humble little scribblings is an understatement. And the process turned out to be a well worthy challenge. Ready for an unknown passage?
First, here's a photo of Fred and Toody we snapped just a few weeks ago when they treated a small local audience to a very intimate acoustic set that covered the spectrum of their entire back catalog. This is how music should grow old. With dignity and a little bit of whiskey.
For this project I was charged with the task of developing a simple border to frame two previously unpublished band photos for the front and back covers. Dead Moon had a very specific aesthetic that didn't deviate much throughout their nearly two decade run. Some call it "punk" or "D.I.Y". My kids call it..."janky." Which is probably why it made sense to get a janky artist who draws with ballpoint pens for the job. The real challenge with this one was keeping it raw and unpolished but still classy enough to hold its own.
Dead Moon lexicon is characterized by superstition and symbolism so there was no shortage of powerful imagery to explore. After listening to the four beautiful songs on this record (two previously unreleased and two rare tracks only released on an obscure European compilation), I immediately knew the direction I wanted to take and banged this out in one sitting under the watchful eye of the dagger moon.
It had to have the authentic look so I cut the generic lettering from their first single and glued it down right over the original art. Dead Moon never had a definitive band logo, aside from their iconic skull moon symbol (tattooed on Fred's face like a sideburn), so their typography tended to change from release to release.
Next I banged out the word 'MONO' on my daughter's old typewriter and glued it into place. VOILÀ! Border done. Right? Wrong. Turns out Fred and Toody are more superstitious than I imagined and owls ain't their spirit animal. When they stopped by Mississippi Records to view the art they made a request that I change it to a blackbird. Who am I to disagree with rock 'n' roll? Later that night we got a message from Toody who said Fred also had the great idea to have the bird perched on a tombstone with a Dead Moon epitaph. I got busy and cranked out this inky little crow which was then dropped in over the owl with Photoshop (I just wasn't ready to bury the owl in glue). Next came the band photo- nice and janky like- placed with little regard for pleasing composition...
Second verse, same as the first.
The best part is when we get to blast the test pressing and approve the final product, which will be available in May from Mississippi Records. If you live in the Northwest, be sure to visit them at their beautiful new location which opens...TODAY! I'll soon be rolling out another little treat for M.R. so keep your eyes peeled.
5202 NE Albina Street
Until next time...54/40 or FIGHT!