Monday, January 5, 2009

The story behind the Mouthpiece - "What Was Said" cover

Mouthpiece - "What Was Said" LP cover

Probably the most questioned and most mysterious of the Mouthpiece record covers, the Mouthpiece - "What Was Said" LP cover always seems to leave everyone scratching their head. With that being said, I will attempt to explain how we ended up with this cover. -Tim DCXX

To start this off I have to go back to the original cover concept. In fact, "What Was Said" was not the first title that I had in mind. My first thought was to title the album, "What Remains". Problem was, after we wrote the song "What Remains" and started playing it out live, Strife came out with a similar song called "What Will Remain", which ended up being released on a Victory Records "Only The Strong" LP compilation. If I remember correctly, the Victory comp was set to be released before our LP, so I decided to sacrifice the album title "What Remains" and come up with something different so that our bands didn't seem to be copying off of one another. Truth of the matter was that we wrote the song "What Remains" before we ever heard Strife's "What Will Remain", but being friends with them and realizing that their track would be getting out there before ours, we just did what we felt was right.

Original Mouthpiece LP cover concept, Photo: Tim McMahon

Only problem with switching album titles from "What Remains" to what we later decided as "What Was Said", was that I had already figured out an album cover photo that went along with the "What Remains" title. There was a burned out building that I would pass on my way to college every morning and I would always notice this one particular wall and smashed out window that were still standing. Something about this cracked up, stained, dilapidated, concrete wall and broken window spoke to me. I guess the fact that it was the only part of the entire building that remained after the fire, it had me thinking of the lyrics to "What Remains". One day I pulled up to the shell of this building, grabbed my camera and snapped off a handful of shots. I wasn't much of photographer, so I don't think I ever got the exact photo that I had envisioned, but I felt that I could work with what I had. Instead, because of the Strife song and ultimate change in album title, this original cover concept fell to the wayside and ultimately collected dust.

Once we realized that we weren't going to title the LP "What Remains", I started looking over other song titles that I felt seemed fitting for an album title. For some reason or another, "What Was Said" was the title that jumped out at me. Although it didn't seem to carry that anthem-like vibe that "What Remains" did, "What Was Said" still worked. Truth of the matter is, I had gotten the idea to title the song "What Was Said" from seeing a video of the project band that Alex and Chris from Chain Of Strength were doing with Mike Down from Amenity called "What She Said". Turned out they got the name from a Smiths song and a Doors lyrics, but at the time I hadn't realized that. That "What She Said" video was just incredible, sound wise it was similar to Statue, but their stage presence was pure insanity. The concept of that band and that name stuck in my head and I felt like I had to incorporate a piece of it into something I was doing. The result was a song called "What Was Said" and lyrics that had absolutely nothing to do with the the band "What She Said".

The Hellraiser comic book that the artwork was borrowed from

Now that I had determined I wanted to title the album "What Was Said", the search was on for an album cover. At the time, in 1993, I was really into the movie Hellraiser. I was buying all kinds of Hellraiser model kits and comic books and of course watching the movies regularly. This one particular Hellraiser comic book had a section of images that appeared to be art mixed with real photography. My favorite example of one of these images was of what appeared to be a person ripping their chest open and showing their insides. Some pieces of the image were of bones, some of muscles, some of flesh and some were of the insides. I didn't exactly think the image looked scary, but it definitely looked dark and strange. This was the image that I chose to cut out of the comic book and somehow use for the "What Was Said" album cover.

As I had mentioned earlier, at the time I was putting this record together, I was going to school for graphic design. Again, this was going back to 1993, so computers were used minimally and more of what I was being taught was being done by hand. Because of this, I had a lot of art boards lying around my room as well as tons of paint. At some point I had this vision of taking the image strip that I had lifted from the Hellraiser comic book and laying it on a background of splattered paint. I ended up grabbing one of these artboards I had lying around my room, spilling some purple and blue paint on it, smearing it around, splattering some yellow paint around and simply pushing the image strip into the paint, towards the left side. At some point I had created the Mouthpiece "What Was Said" logo with the stretched out Mouthpiece logo and splattery type writter font, enlarged it to fit across the album cover and placed that at the bottom of the piece. Bang... there was our cover.

The full artwork from the Hellraiser comic book

I remember bringing the finished art board to a Mouthpiece practice and showing the band and everyone seemed to like it. Of course I got a lot of, "What is it?", but after my explanantion everyone was like, "Oh, ok, cool", and that was that. Considering I was the main guy behind all of our art (stickers, logos, records, shirts, etc.), everyone just seemd to accept what I threw at them.

Over the years a lot of people have asked me what the deal was with this cover. I guess considering we were known as a pretty straight forward, standard cut, straight edge hardcore band, this album cover never seemed fitting for our image and sound. In the end I think it was just a product of what I was into at the time (Hellraiser) and going to school for graphic design. As much as I agree that this record cover seemed out of place for us, I still like it, still think it works and have no regrets.


Anonymous said...

wow! great entry...i knew hardly any of that....very very cool! considering so many HC bands fell victim to terrible graphics of the early 90s and Mouthpiece always had amazing imagery, it's great to get the full scoop on this, and it again proves mouthpiece to have been a band that put a ton of thought and integrity into everything they created. NJSE.

Ahron said...

As a big Mckean/Sandman/hellraiser/horror/comic book fan.. this is by far my favorite cover of any of the other records. Original and mysterious as HELL. ;)

Anonymous said...

wow. I like it even better now. back then I also thought like "what´s that supposed to be?". but it was suprisingly different and cool. a live shot or something like that would now be boring and less remarkable. I NEVER thought that a guy in the band did it! respect.

Andrew said...

I cant believe you tired to blame that record on us! Haha...

chad said...

i need a copy of that What She Said video!!

Anonymous said...

I bought the CD version of this record in the late 90's for my brother as a birthday present (him and I were getting into hardcore around the same time and basically shared our records, CD's and tapes). I basically bought it because of the front cover. It was interesting and different. Once I saw the front cover i became intrigued and looked into the booklet to check out the lyircs, thanks list, year of production etc. to get a better idea of what I was looking it. I ended up listening to What Was Said more than my brother and traded him for something a while after his birthday. Great release, with artwork that was mind boggling and intriguing. I am stoked that the story behind it is here for all to read.

Anonymous said...

one of my favourite record covers ever!!