The world is a weird place. And it only gets more strange on album covers. There's been some freaky shit decorating the zenith of musical acheivement on Earth. Just ask Boney M. In this month's Art Of Noise we get cosmic with Dog Is Dead and find out how hard it is to art direct a stella vortex.
This is quite a suburban image, but with a huge astral subtext. What is going on?
I guess we wanted to create a fairly, regular peaceful image going into a slightly surreal cosmos. I think that’s quite obvious in the picture.
And are these siblings or young lovers?
Yeah, I’d like to think they’re siblings, because – well – the guy’s quite substantially smaller than the girl and that doesn’t really happen a lot at school.
They’re so busy checking each other out they’re not really aware that they’re about to step into some ’70s astral vortex.
I’d like to think that they were going about their usual business and just being engrossed in their usual childhood stuff and then are kinda surprised by this thing.
Yeah, and they’re both carrying two rather large folders.
Isn’t one of them a book? It looks like a book and folder. I dunno, it looks like your regular school stuff, right?
Well yeah, although when I was that young I never had folders bursting with that much information.
Well, these are ’70s students and they definitely had huge folders. It’s like, ‘Come on, everyone knows that about the ’70s.’
Where did you get the kids from?
Well, when we first wanted to make the collage we were using childhood images of ourselves or our families and we could never get the right era so we kinda had some help from some people who we knew and that were working with us who had the right era of families and they sent it through. The girl and the guy are completely mismatched and we put them together and worked really nicely in the end.
And if they’re about to drop into this ’70s astral vortex are they going somewhere else in the ’70s?
Maybe they come out into the future, our time, I don’t know, who knows? I guess the whole point is that they’ve been to some crazy abyss, into the darker side of their own living. But I think the point is the whole mystery about it.
In the folders do you think it’s homework or radical plans for a future society?
If it was radical plans for a future society it might spoil the innocence of the image. I think it’s fairly simple stuff.
What I really love about the vortex is that it’s so ’70s. It’s completely 2D-like, it’s got no shadow and it’s just hovering there.
Yeah, that was the whole point I basically got into. I saw an artist called Valero Doval who had made collages of planes going into black holes. It just looks like a black hole stuck on and a plane going through it and looks completely unrealistic but in a ’70s textbook way.
I love the way there’s galaxies scattered across the pavement, that really floats my boat.
Yeah, it is if you’re into that.
Your designer is quite good with the shadows.
Everything looks quite effortless and the shadows don’t look too weird. I guess when you’re putting stuff together you gotta pay attention to the stuff that’s actually got to look real.
Your designers got actual tree shadows going into the black hole, which is a first.
Yeah, it’s funny; I don’t know how many ‘tree shadows going into a black hole’ he’s done but it looks good.
Well, this is Atlantic Records, you just get the best of the best.
Yeah, I imagine so.
How does this crazy collage relate to your album?
Well, I think the record was written over a period over four years and we’ve grown up writing it. We wanted to capture an all-encapsulating summary of what we were talking about, what lessons we’ve learned and the only way could display that is by having some sort of child-like image but going into something crazy. Sonically the album is sounding quite trippy in places, a bit psychedelic, and we wanted to display the weird aspect of it at same time being fairly youthful and picturesque at times.
Did you want to add anything else, any cosmic sign-offs or statements?
Not really, except buy our album, at the risk of sounding too threatening.
Words by Matthew Bennett