Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The story behind the Mouthpiece "Can't Kill What's Inside" discography cover

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


Ed Good Life said...

Great Cover, Awesome story, so once again :



-cja said...

good times doing that photo shoot.

andrés said...


Cargawar said...

"hardcore is more than fashion"
What happened to that statement??

It seems a lot of y'all cared way too much about how to dress than spreading some message and making a change...

Tim, even though I think you're doing a hell of a great job keeping this site up (it sure does bring back a lot of good memories), lately it's become the Tim Mc Mahon show.
Yes, it's YOUR site. Yes, you should be putting anything you want up on YOUR site and yes: you should be advertising this compilation of Mouthpiece.
But I hope this is about the last feather you're putting up your own ass.

I rather see some interesting interviews in the vein of the Jimmy Yu sessions than the everlasting saga of a band that didn't even matter that much to begin with, Mouthpiece. At least not in Europe.

Take care though!

Turd Ferguson said...

Yo Cargawar, ever heard the phrase "don't shit where you eat"? Didn't think so.

Fuck off.


Cargawar... I will agree with one thing you had to say.

You're absolutely right when you said this is my site. This is also my time that I'm putting into this and Mouthpiece was my band. I'm not just posting a bunch of Mouthpiece stories to "put a feather up my own ass". This was a string of purposeful entires that told the story behind each Mouthpiece record cover and was to lead up to the release of the discography.

Yes, now that I've told the story of each record cover and the discography is out, I intend to slow down on the Mouthpiece entires. That being said, me slowing down on these entires has absolutely nothing to do with your comment.

Quite frankly, if you don't like what you see or read here, go somewhere else or start your own blog. I don't aim to please, never have. I post about whatever I personally find interesting. I put a lot of time and effort into this page and I find it pretty damn amusing when I see people commenting about what they don't like and don't want to see here. Like I said, you don't like it, blow out.

You can't please everyone, nor do I care to. -Tim DCXX

Anonymous said...

Hey Tim! FYI Mouthpiece Sucks!


Hey "Anonymous", thanks for your comments, you're a class act!

Please tell me what I can post to make you happy because I do care so very much. -Tim DCXX

Jake Jacobs said...

Bad press is and always will be better than no press, Tim. Fuck the haters. Great entry.

Anonymous said...

look i dont mind mouthpiece and have been reading your blog for a quite some time now, but cargawar is on point, the MP stuff has felt excessive and every entry anymore seems to be about you more than anyone else. what happened to the interviews and talking with old heads? yer damn right its your blog, but if you are switching up the content then just be honest about it. if thats the case then maybe that banner should read "we'll have the blog entries about me and they can have the rest."

Anonymous said...

Wait a second here...

Tim is one of the people behind this blog.

He was also the singer of Mouthpiece.

They have a discography coming out soon and he wants to promote it on here.

Then, he gets flamed for it?

Ummmm......ok there buddy.

Fuck You! That's My Name! said...

Jake Jacobs, you consider a comment on a random blog about 80's style hardcore that probably 30 people read "press" ? You're a fucking idiot!

That being said it is Tim's blog, so he should put up whatever he wants. If he wants to do a month discussing the thought process that went into creating the artwork for some obscure Mouthpiece 7" that 3 people on the planet care about. it's his fucking right.

Go start your own blog if you don't like it, and take that FAG Jake Jacobs with you!

Jake Jacobs said...

Uh, Mr. or Mrs. Name!, "bad press is better than no press" is also a figure of speech, which is how I was using it.


tru said...

good read i enjoyed it, personally i rather have the photo of them with beetle juice as the cover but thats just me

Cargawar said...

Well, I sure didn't expect support on my comment at all, but it seems I wasn't 100% wrong after all...

Look, as far as sticking feathers up anyone's ass, here's one for you from this "hater": being a graphic designer myself I find the covers more than well done. You have done an excellent job designing. Nuff said.
And for the musical part: with album covers like this I'd be tempted to at least listen to the CD.

But, you and Gordo took off with this blog on an incredible level of quality. Lately, and I read this blog daily, it seemed you ran out of inspiration.
Also, because MP didn't have godhead status like YOT or Judge, why not write an article about the whole band and make it a masterpiece that would stand out between the other masterpieces you've written before? There's about a dozen articles on either Triple Threat or Mouthpiece on this blog but it's nothing more than fragments, which makes me lose interest in either one of them.

As far as I'm concerned you'll write more on MP in the future. Just try to keep focus on the band or the scene around the band and take the focus off of Tim Mouthpiece.

Enough about that I guess...
Just keep it up with this unique blog. You have gold in your hands.
All I can say is I'm hoping this latest poll you're running leads to the long awaited interview with Mike Judge!

Oh, btw: I know of some european people (besides myself) that offered help writing stuff for you, like you ask for on the front page. It would help if you'd answer you emails some time...

One last word to Mr. Name: it's not very polite nor pc to cuss and call Jake a fag.
Mr. T would crush you, you FOOL!

Cargawar's point of view said...

Turd Ferguson said...

Yo Cargawar, ever heard the phrase "shit where you eat"? Well, you're doing it and doing it BRILLIANTLY, I might add! Tim Mouthpiece took the dirt nap, yo!

Fuck off, Name!

February 5, 2009 12:26 PM

Anonymous said...

You guys are all retards. I've never seen more attention devoted to absolutely nothing as I do at Double Cross.

- Mouthpiece sucks

- Chain sucks

- Europe sucks

- Straight Edge sucks

- Ray Cappo sucks

- 80's Hardcore sucks

Did I miss anything?

AJ said...

I love the fact that Tim writes about himself & his bands in addition to the material. All the stories and interviews on this blog are about presenting a different side of people in hardcore - connecting a real human element to a record or a band. That's what gives this site personality. Fuck the haters.

Anonymous said...


derek dole said...

All of these negative comments are bumming me out. I thought these stories about the covers were awesome(esp. the 1st 7" cover). I was lucky enough to catch mouthpiece in buffalo once. They were awesome and were one of a few bands that were actually still playing "youth crew" type hardcore at the time. Keep the mouthpiece stories coming.

The Governor said...

Yo Tim!

Was never a big MP fan (nothing against you dudes, just not my style of HC), but I still really dug this and the other MP layout entries. As a guy who's been involved in putting out records for a long time, it's interesting to hear the process others have used.

Don't sweat the haters. Keep up the awesome work w/ the blog.

Anonymous said...

"if you dont have anything nice to say then dont say a fucking thing"

its a FREE blog...if you dont enjoy reading it then why bother visiting the site? not your cup of tea? then go find somewhere else to spend your time.

Tim and DCXX-
just wanna thank you for putting the time and effort into this site. i know, as a 32 year old with a responsible life, just how difficult the ins and outs of the real world can be. in fact-i visit this site as an escape from the redundant circle that is my 9-5 way of living.

i was never straight edge but was always into the scene, frequented city gardens growing up, been to plenty of mouthpiece shows and know alot of the same people you do. in my opinion nothing comes close to the days you refer to or write about in DCXX. brings back alot of great memories-memories the shaped me into what i have become today.

for every outspoken critic that feels the need to trash the effort you are putting into this-just know there are plenty of us who are appreciative and inspired by what you are doing.


Jake Jacobs said...

I pretty much hate most '90s hardcore (the exceptions being those bands that sound '80s) but Mouthpiece and this discography RULE. On a bit of a side note, Mouthpiece's cover of DYS's "Open Up" is leaps and bounds better than the original IMHO. And coming from someone who considers Brotherhood to be one of the 10 best hardcore albums of all time and just a great record from start to finish, that's saying a lot.

Anonymous said...

After seeing the ad on this blog staring me in the face, I'm glad I finally have a glimpse of the story behind it. I like the photo. It looks like the guy is brooding or reflecting on some thought. A place? A time? The future? The past? Fits the idea of a discography.

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