NO JIMMY! …
Yes I appreciate your version of ‘SEEK AND DESTROY‘ is brilliant but it’s the Wrong Album. Wrong Blog. I know you’re excited about appearing but I DID say BLOG 43
‘THE BIG 4‘s next up … OK? … We’re doing this one now …
If I had to explain why the subtitle to ‘B*B G€LD*F Stole My Sunglasses‘ is ‘A Guide To Graphic Design As An Extreme Sport‘ I’d probably cite METALLICA as a major contributor to making that decision – a band always creating serious design challenges but ones well worth the Ride.
After completing ‘Load‘ and ‘ReLoad‘ – in 1998 I began the ambitious ‘Garage Inc‘ project. The title combines the ‘The 5.98 EP:Garage Days Re-Revisited‘ and the song ‘Damage, Inc.’ The album features artists that have influenced METALLICA (a hugely diverse group), includes recorded cover songs, all of their B-side covers released before 1998 and the entire ‘The 5.98 E.P.:Garage Days Re-Revisited’ – which had gone out of print since its original release in 1987. From the beginning it was clear it would be a monster graphic challenge as – no surprises! – METALLICA wanted a detailed account of the contents of the project in the packaging.
Everything about the project was a record company and production nightmare, stretching the limits to contain as much information for fans as possible. My first port of call was San Francisco to spend a few days collating the information with Lars. I mentioned my extensive archives in the last blog but the Lars Ulrich archives, put mine to shame. Rooms full of it – meticulously catalogued – not only stuff directly related to METALLICA but masses of articles, artworks, sleeves and memorabilia related to the many influences to be showcased in the project. Lars had found most of what I needed before I got there but spending time with him and going through his collection was an education and inspiration I wouldn’t have missed for the world. A brilliant experience.
Even the cover caused problems. It’s unconventional obviously to place the album title at the top of a sleeve design and the band name at the bottom – but it WAS the design solution that worked best and it WAS Metallica. ‘Racking’ was the ‘marketing problem’ apparently … ‘You can’t see the band name when you flick through albums and CD’s. Band name at the top, title less prominent – that’s how we want it.’ Hey – with a band like METALLICA maybe it’s just possible that something different is what’s expected from the fans? Just a thought.
VINYL – ‘Gatefold with full-colour Inner Bags’
METALLICA always insist on a vinyl release wherever possible. For fans (and designers) it’s a fantastic format, and on ‘Garage Inc.’ the LP, CD and cassette had to contain a massive amount of photos, imagery, copy and credits. METALLICA had the vinyl solution worked out. It was simple really (not) – ‘a gatefold album with full colour inner bags for the vinyl discs‘ – loads of room there for visuals.
‘Impossible,’ said the record company. ‘Out of the question,’ they insisted. ‘There’s not a manufacturing company in the world who could produce it. ‘I understand,’ I said, ‘but it is METALLICA we’re talking about here.’ ‘Not possible,’ they repeated. ‘No listen,’ I said, ‘METALLICA want …‘ Deaf Ears. Deadlock. I often find myself trapped between musicians demands and record companies but loyalty remains unquestionably with the musicians – especially with METALLICA as their intention is to provide fans with the best possible value for their money. Fortunately there is another section of the music industry which constantly fights for what bands and artists want and, if I have real problems, they have considerably more clout than I do – the Management. Metallica management is heavyweight. I called Marc. ‘It’s very simple,’ he said. ‘We have contractual agreements with the record company. Here’s what you do …‘
‘I’ve spoken to Marc,’ I said. ‘He asked me to quote him …’Gatefold vinyl with full colour inner bags or no fucking record deal.” End of.
The CD – A monster booklet.
There was so much information to be crammed into the CD Booklet that serious research had to be done to find out the maximum number of pages that would fit into a commercial CD case. The problem … if the pages were too thin the print would come through and be visible on the reverse side of the paper. We ended up with a remarkable 32 PAGES. Now tell me how many times have you had better value than that in a CD? Here are just a few (!) of them …
It was one of the most difficult but ultimately most rewarding projects I have ever worked on. Stylistically it was sophisticated and random, complicated and clearly defined, tightly conceived and sometimes roughly executed – to me the perfect combination to make work exciting and interesting for dedicated fans. One of my favourite parts of the whole job was creating the artwork for the back sleeve actually on the front cover sleeve for ‘The 5.98 E.P.:Garage Days Re-Revisited’. Tape, torn photos and tracing paper were the mediums and I loved how it looked …
The CASSETTE … remember those?
This was the last format I had to complete and I was dreading it. It was difficult enough to arrange all the elements and design the vinyl and the CD booklet but the cassette was the most nightmarish. There were two cassettes in the packaging and each cassette case needed to hold a 12-panel double-sided ‘roll-out’ inner sheet containing ALL the info. There was no option to compromise on the volume – this is METALLICA remember! – it just had to be done. I got so pissed off and frustrated with it at one stage I created a 3-foot artwork which I faxed (yes – faxed) to Lars. I’d love to have seen his face as it just kept on coming out of his fax machine on one piece of paper … ‘I have a solution for the cassette‘ I’d scrawled hastily on the fax cover sheet. ‘Here it is.’ …
I’m exhausted now just thinking of working on ‘Garage‘. There could well be a couple of additional stories before the next major blog so keep an eye out … Take care … &ie