Following in the footsteps of my previous entries where I broke down the covers of each Mouthpiece record, we finally find ourselves at the Mouthpiece - "Face Tomorrow" 7" cover. Coincidentally this entry coincides with the actual release date of the Mouthpiece - "Can't Kill What's Inside" discography, which is officially released today January 20th 2009 on Revelation Records. Originally I had planned on ending this collection of Mouthpiece record cover entries here with this one, but thought I might as well include the "Can't Kill What's Inside" discography cover in this collection as well. I'll probably wrap that cover up next week or the following. For now, here's the story behind the "Face Tomorrow" cover. -Tim DCXX
Released late summer 1995 on New Age Records, the "Face Tomorrow" 7" was the last record that we released as an active band. At this point in the hardcore scene, I can clearly recall just how much metal had infiltrated hardcore music. Not that metal hadn't left it's mark on the scene much earlier on, but at this point specifically, every straight edge band popping up was playing slow, grinding, stomp metal disguised as hardcore. Personally, I felt like this was our time to stand out from the crowd. Not that I had any particular problems with any certain bands playing that metal style of hardcore, but I certainly knew that Mouthpiece never had and never would bring metal into our sound. We were always partial to the traditional straight edge hardcore style and at this time, it was clear that we were of the minority. Because of this, we sort of went out of our way to make "Face Tomorrow" look like a more traditional looking, early Revelation style hardcore record. Although our past record covers definitely had more of an abstract, artistic style, that was not the direction we were to ultimately go with this release. But I can't say that was always the plan 100 percent.
Before we had decided the direction we wanted to go with the "Face Tomorrow" 7" cover, we had dabbled with the idea of having a local artist design the cover. The artists name was Dave and he was friends with our bass player Sean McGrath. Dave did a lot of wood cut etching type of work along the lines of what you would find on the cover of some of those early 90's San Diego hardcore bands records like Amenity and Forced Down. I kinda liked that style and liked those bands, so I felt some sort of connection with that design.
What I had in mind graphically was something involving a person that was completely surrounded by garbage and destruction, almost like he was the last person left alive after a nuclear explosion. The concept came from the lyrics to the song "Cinder", which appeared on the "Face Tomorrow" 7". Lyrically "Cinder" dealt with the theme of how people destroy and waste everything and how at some point it was going to catch up with us.
When Sean told Dave about this concept, Dave immediately said that he thought he had the perfect piece that fit that idea. So before we knew it, Sean and I were off to Philadelphia where this guy Dave was currently living. I remember his apartment was right on Broad Street. We parked in front of his place, walked up the steps, rung the door bell and Dave came to the door. Dave was a skateboarder, very quite, artsy type of guy. He took us into his kitchen where he had various pieces of his art scattered on his kitchen table. Nothing really jumped out at me, not that anything was bad, it was definitely well done, I just didn't see anything that exactly fit what I had in mind. Then Dave grabbed the one piece that he thought was what we wanted. It was a dude standing on top of a pile of trash... buck naked, wang hanging, the whole deal. Sean and I were clearly a bit uncomfortable, but since this guy was a friend of Sean's, I sort of stepped back and let Sean do what he felt was right. Just to be nice, Sean bought the nude garbage man for $25 and that was the last we ever spoke of that artwork and that concept.
Photo that we gave Jeff from Game Face to paint "Screaming For Change" style, Photo: Traci McMahon
Since we weren't interested in a piece of artwork with a dudes wiener hanging out, we were on to our next idea. Somehow or another it came up that this guy Jeff who sang for the band Game Face was an artist. Game Face were on the record label Network Sound, which was a sort of a combo label between Mike from New Age and Dennis from Conversion, so we had that connection with him. This was all going down during the time that our friend Ed McKirdy was living in Southern California and working at New Age. Ed was the guy that coordinated this idea of having Jeff Game Face attempt to do our cover.
The idea was to take this photo that we had of the band walking up these steps at the West Trenton train station. In the photo I was wearing my Straight Edge varsity jacket and Jason was wearing his Mouthpiece Straight Edge jacket, this is the photo that ended up on the lyric sheet of the final release of the 7", only in high contrast. The plan was to have Jeff paint the photo in the style of the Uniform Choice - "Screaming For Change" LP cover. Jeff took a couple tries at this concept and Ed sent me the samples. For some reason or another, although they looked pretty cool, none of Jeff's samples looked exactly how I had envisioned it. Possibly I was expecting too much because of the classic "Screaming For Change" cover that I was comparing it to, but either way we decided to ditch that concept.
What I will say that's pretty interesting, is that many years later I heard a rumor that Jeff Game Face dated Gwen Stefani from No Doubt. Word on the street is that the very popular No Doubt song, "Spiderwebs" was written by Gwen about Jeff. Of course every time I hear that song, I think of that dude drawing the cover for our 7" and us rejecting it. If someone talks to Jeff or Gwen and is able to confirm or deny this rumor, please feel free to leave a comment.
Mouthpiece in Chatham, NJ, same show "Face Tomorrow" 7" cover photo was taken, Photo: Traci McMahon
Finally after these failed attempts at a cover, I decided that what I really wanted was a live photo. Again, given the hardcore climate of the time, a live action photo on the cover was a contrast to what you would have normally seen. We had recently played this incredible show in Chatham, New Jersey with Snapcase, Ignite (first east coast show) and Texas Is The Reason (first show) and Traci (then girl friend, now wife) had taken some great photos from our set. There were about 3 or 4 photos taken during the same song, of this huge pile on / sing along that ended up on the stage. The photos really seemed to capture the insanity perfectly. So we picked the one that seemed right.
We sent the photo to Hartsfield, with the rest of the mocked up 7" layouts. Pretty much just told Mike what we wanted and how we wanted it and left the rest in his hands. Looking back at the final release, I definitely wish we had spent more time figuring out exactly how we wanted the typography to look on the cover. I never ended up feeling totally satisfied with how the text was laid out. Really the only person I could blame was myself, so it was never anything I complained about. Mike simply interpreted what we had explained and the result was fine, but not perfect.
Unfortunately, although I still love the photo and think it could have worked better with a few minor tweaks, this 7" cover is my least favorite of all our records. Like I said, it was my fault for leaving too much up for interpretation... photo full bleed, logo up here, title here... that's about all I said. The rest of the layout I remember being more particular about and doing actual mock ups for, but the cover I took for granted. In the grand scheme of things, I don't think many other people felt the way that I did about this cover and I don't think it detracted from the overall record. Thankfully I got one more swing at a final Mouthpiece cover when we did the discography, but I'll get into that for the next entry.
Alternate "Face Tomorrow" 7" cover shot
Monday, January 19, 2009
Posted by DOUBLE CROSS at 9:08 PM