Five years ago when the idea first came together to do the Mouthpiece discography, a major decision that needed to be made, was what to do for the cover. For me, being one of the main graphic designers on everything we'd ever done with Mouthpiece, this decision laid pretty heavily in my hands. Designing the cover is a crucial part of the process, how the cover looks, usually reflects upon the rest of the layout. For a project like this being a complete discography and the end all be all for Mouthpiece, the design of the packaging was extremely important.
For starters I naturally wanted something that meant something to us. Sifting through old photos would have been easy, but with Mouthpiece, we rarely went the easy and predictable route. My thoughts started focusing on the West Trenton Train Station, which was a local train station in Ewing, New Jersey, the town that Chris, Jason and myself from Mouthpiece all grew up in. The significance of this particular train station goes all the way back to the late 80's for us. Some of us in the band, as well as some of our friends, would hop on the train in West Trenton and ride it into Philadelphia to go skating, record and sneaker shopping and even occasionally for shows. Before we had our license, this train station really helped connect us to a place that at the time, seemed to be a center point for a lot of the great things that were happening.
Original cover concept from tunnel, Photo: Pete Russo
One of the other reasons that I decided upon the West Trenton Train Station as the setting for the cover of our discography, was the history that it actually had with the band through past photographs. For the Mouthpiece "Face Tomorrow" 7", we did a few different photo shoots at this train station. Particularly the promo photos that were used in connection with the "Face Tomorrow" 7" and of course the classic photo of us walking up the steps, wearing the varsity jackets, plus the small photo of us inset on the back cover. All of these photos, as well as more that would end up being used in the layouts for the discography, were all taken at the same local train station.
Now when it came to what the photo would actually be of that would end up on the discography cover, that had to be determined. My first idea was to have someone leaning against the wall of the tunnel that runs under the tracks and connects the north bound side to the south bound side. All the old photos that we had taken originally had numerous people in them, the idea that I had this time was to be one person, so we would have to do a new shoot. I knew how I wanted the person positioned and what I wanted them wearing, but I didn't know who I should or could get for the shot. I had two friends, Pete Russo and Chris Alpino that were out to take a stab at the photography, so I just decided that the easiest and most logical choice was for myself to be the person in the shot. As for what I would wear for the shoot, I didn't want it to look too over the top and forced. Sure, I still wear a lot of my old hardcore shirts on a regular basis, but like I said, I didn't want this to at all look unnatural and forced. I simply threw on a black Champion hooded sweatshirt, a pair of camo shorts and a pair of Nike running sneakers. Ironically, the Nike running sneakers were the same kind that I'm wearing on the back of our first New Age Records shirt, "My Conscience Knows The Truth". The original shirt photo can also be found in the layout of the booklet, last strip of photos, last photo.
The train is approching, Photo: Pete Russo
The train has stopped, Photo: Pete Russo
So we did a handful of shots in the tunnel as planned, then moved around to other locations at the station for a back up plan. I sat down on a riser beside the tracks and Pete thought the shot looked kinda cool. By this point in the day, the sun was starting to go down, so the sky had a pretty interesting look to it. We also had a train roaring in for a drop off, so of course Pete set up a shot including that. Our last stop was under a bridge along side the station. We shot a few photos off there and wrapped up the night. Next step was to sit down and go through all the photos and see what we ended up with, my fingers were crossed.
Once I got home and uploaded all the photos, the original concept shots that we did in the tunnel weren't working. I couldn't find one that grabbed me. I think part of the reason that they didn't work was because in many of those shots, my face was slightly visable and I definitely didn't want that. I didn't want an easily identifiable person on the cover of this record, it just seemed kind of goofy. One shot that did stand out to me was when I sat down on the riser by the tracks. There were a few of those shots that I thought came out pretty cool, but the one with the train rolling up was particularly interesting. Pete had set the shutter speed very slow, so as long as I stayed still, everything around me would be slightly blurred, but I would be in clear focus. Somehow or another we definitely got lucky and everything came together for this shot. For me, this shot was a no-brainer, it worked and in my mind, it was settled.
When it came time to put the cover together and bring the logo in with the album title, everything sort of just fell into place. Chris Alpino was actually the first to reccomend using the metallic gold for the logo. I picked the photo, which Pete Russo had shot and brought in the top of another photo to flip and put on top. Chris Daly from Ressurection, 108 and Texas Is The Reason did all the handwriting, he was also the same one to do all the handwriting on the first Mouthpiece 7". Then last but not least, Ed McKirdy and I put it all together as a finished cover. In the end, five people had a hand in what was to become this cover, so thanks to all of them. Hopefully now when you see this cover and all of the previous Mouthpiece covers, you'll realize there was meaning behind each and every one. -Tim DCXX
Under the bridge photo shoot, Photo: Pete Russo
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Posted by DOUBLE CROSS at 4:54 PM