Posts Tagged ‘The Perils’

18. DEF LEPPARD – Part Five

January 11, 2010


Blogs have been somewhat erratic over the past couple of weeks due to various mishaps – see later!!

For those of you who haven’t visited the blog since DEF LEPPARD – Part Four, just start here. For those who have seen various intermediate blogs just scroll down to where you were in previous short posting on DEF LEPPARD – Part Five. 


The response to the fans competition has been brilliant. (For details go to DEF LEPPARD – Part Four.) Our illustrious experts on the judging panel have been pretty tied up (’smashed’ is another word I’d possibly use!) over the festive season, so we have decided to extend FAN STORIES competition until sobriety returns and critical faculties are back to normal.

NEW CLOSING date for Competion is JANUARY 20th … 

A poster edition of  your choice (16 x 20ins) and 5 cards
A mounted edition of your choice (image: 11 x 15.5ins) and 5 cards
A mounted edition of your choice (image: 8 x 11ins) and 5 cards

so get writing NOW if you want to win an edition from and don’t forget to tell me which Edition you’d like if you win one of the three prizes.


I’m certainly not a paranoid person, but sometimes I wonder what on Earth is going on in my life. It’s not just me is it? There are times when everything seems to happen at once and at the moment everything that happens conspires to send me off on unexpected tangents – ones that deflect me from what I should be doing. Ok, so before Christmas this alien attached itself to my neck – appearing like a tennis ball just under my skin. Got rid of it but the antibiotics attacking the beast created a nuclear war in my body that left me exhausted. Thank God that’s gone I said, as the volcano subsided and life returned to comparative normality. Back to the other stuff now. Get back on track, I said to myself.

Unfortunately, there was another alien waiting in the wings to knock me off balance – literally. This particular idiotic life-form was attached to a mobile phone and it was oblivious to the world around it. I reacted quickly –  when it stepped into the road directly in front of my bike –swerved towards the kerb hoping to ride up onto the pavement to avoid the inevitable collision but the kerb was the height of a small mountain. Hit the kerb. Bike stops but I continue on my travels through the air – over the handlebars, smashed onto pavement – broken arm. I lay there stunned for a while but, when I realised what had happened, my immediate reaction was to confront the fuck-wit alien. The bastard was nowhere to be seen – probably totally unaware that it had caused another species considerable pain and damage. Anyway – it’s a clean break, no surgery, no plastercast, so, as they say, things could have been worse. If I see the alien again I fear I will be extremely alienist and run the bastard over. !**@*!

It seems an age since Def Leppard – Part Four but we begin, after mishaps, with The Boyz again and one of the first computer-generated videos – remember this is 1992? 

The success of ‘Hysteria’ was phenomenal. The album, for those not aware of the scale of their success, charted seven singles in the US Hot 100. ‘Hysteria’ remained in the charts for three years and sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. The band sold more records than any rock band in the US during the 1980s. It was a hard album to follow. The pressure on the band was huge – pressure from record companies was one thing but the self-imposed pressure to produce a follow-up album was a terrifying mountain to climb that took its toll. Cracks began to appear which threatened the solidity of the band. Steve Clark had problems with alcohol and the person I met during the ‘leave of absence’ the band rightly and loyally insisted on, was increasingly plagued by self-doubt and was visibly even more fragile than usual. In early January 1991, the band lost him to an accidental mix of prescription drugs and alcohol. It’s 19 years this week since Steve’s tragic death. Although he died before the release of ‘Adrenalize’, his contribution to the album is awesome. Here’s the original Steve Clark version of  ‘Tear It Down.’ Genius.


The band decided to continue recording the album and ‘Adrenalize’ was finally released in the Spring of 1992. It was a difficult sleeve to create, despite it’s deceptive simplicity. The concept was unanimously approved at ‘first roughs’ stage. 


Developing the idea into the final image for the cover required inventing innovative techniques to match the clear picture I had in my head of what I wanted. Developing the idea into the final image for the cover required considerable experimentation. The ‘Exploding Eye’ image, clearly defined in my Mind’s Eye, proved extremely difficult to create with convincing authenticity. I called in the cavalry – a friend and colleague at the cutting-edge of image manipulation – a photographer and photo-retoucher called Rob Farrar. I’d worked with him on several occasions previously (he created the final composite for the ‘Hysteria ‘ sleeve) and many times since*. He was someone who instantly and intuitively ‘got it’ when I tried to explain what I was trying to illustrate – not just technically but emotionally. Not only was Rob a brilliant retoucher but he was also keen to develop photographic techniques which would add further dimensions to his image manipulation.

 The problem with ‘Adrenalize’ was a question of scale – to create the effect of a mind-blowing explosion in what was essentially a very small object – an eye. To get from …
to …
 … required some serious thinking. Photographing an eye was difficult in itself. Highly specialised cameras were needed and they were impossible to get hold of – most resided in medical research centres. We did try but the results weren’t good enough. The original rough sketches were created as artwork – allowing the detail of the eye to clearly defined …

… so Rob and I decided on a different tack. The orignal Eye used on the ‘Let’s Get Rocked’ sleeve was created as a combination of illustration and photography. How to make it explode convincingly? ‘Let’s do it, and photograph it,’ said Rob. ‘What?’ I said. ‘Explode the image and photograph it,’ he said. ‘And how do you suggest we do that Rob?’ … The image was photographed on a 10×16 transparency – I literally cut the Eye up into sections – we placed them on a light-box exactly how we thought the sections would be displaced by an explosion – and after a series (dozens) of experiments blasting different levels of light through the transparency glued to the lightbox, we finally had a brillant result where the lightbursts were convincingly real.

However, as much computers have advanced since then – they can’t provide me with the use of two hands when I’ve a broken arm. Try it – it’s a nightmare … progress is slow but I’ll be back with more in a couple of days …

Before our next episode, I’ll leave you, in this special anniversary week, with a poignant tribute video showcasing a rare and amazing talent … sadly missed.


November 15, 2009

As we’ve now firmly pressed the rock’n’roll button it’s time for you to meet …

This live headline performance in Brighton recently showcases one of my favourite songs from the band I’m currently working with ….. love the drumming with bass solo at the end. BRILLIANT!

Give it a year. They’ll be bigger than us.’ – Mick Jones (The Clash/Carbon Silicon)


September 25, 2009

This week ‘Graphic Design as an Extreme Sport’ takes a literal turn as I found myself watching THE PERILS headlining Brighton’s WHITEAIR Extreme Sports Festival. So we move briefly from the past to the present …. and maybe include a couple of designs!!

I mentioned THE PERILS in the Intro as my current music obsession. They have all the essential ingredients to be hugely successful – talented, great songs and attitude, exhuberant, sexy and consumately professional. The music industry has, as we will see, changed dramatically but it’s good to know there are still musicians out there who are inspirational and exciting.

Ten years ago bands and artists performed to sell their music. Now as the download phenomena gains pace and online companies like SPOTIFY stream music for free, bands rely on merchandising sales for income. With two colleagues we recently foundedunemployables2

with the idea to provide great merchandising so bands can survive by selling items at gigs and online – to keep them afloat before a record deal is offered. As in any business you have to be ahead of the game – complacency is guaranteed to stifle creativity. Jo said ‘Let’s do condoms for THE PERILS’, so we did in matchbook style packaging …

matchbook condom

My blog was interrupted again (funny how telling stories seems to breed more of them). I sat outside a bar in Brighton writing, a glass of red wine for each hand on the table, and bought a BIG ISSUE off a young fragile-looking guy who was clearly nervous and embarrassed. He moved to the next table and one of a group of middle-aged tourists said ‘Fuck off you fucking waster’. I should have kept out of it but sometimes you just can’t. ‘Excuse me’ I said, ‘that’s incredibly out of order. You can’t speak to people like that.’ The guy stood up and lurched drunkenly towards me, threatening to spread my face across the pavement and suggesting I have sex with myself. I ignored him but a constant barrage of expletives was by now being screamed into my ear. I looked up at him. His face was crimson, his eyeballs seemed to bob up and down like those joke ones on springs and his fists were punching the air with lunatic abandon. ‘Sorry, did you say something?’ I said. ‘I wasn’t listening.’ Probably not the best thing to say but he was really pissing me off by then. I didn’t consider him dangerous – he was too drunk. I reckoned I could easily move out of his way if he did try to punch me ­– or just leg it if necessary. Anyway – help was at hand. In a genius move, an Australian guy I’d spoken to briefly a little earlier stood up and stuck his mobile phone in front of the drunk’s face. ‘See what it says on the phone,’ he said. ‘999. Do you want to call the police or should I? Why don’t you just go away.’ Confused by this brilliant self-defence tactic the guy backed down, collected his tribe together and they loped off down the street.

I guess sometimes you can’t just sit back and ignore injustice. Whether it’s somebody being bullied or whether it’s working with Sir Bob on LIVE AID and LIVE8, injustice is injustice.

So … what have we learnt about ‘Graphic Design As An Extreme Sport’? Much more than you think I’d suggest. You have already learnt (or at least acknowledged) a few pertinent observations from the colourful cast of characters who have inhabited the stories so far …


1. Enjoy your life, and whatever it is that provides opportunity to be creative.

2. Make friends with your enemies.

3. No matter how potentially successful a venture might be, we always need talented people around us to ‘oil the machine’.

4. ‘If you really want to do something, there are always people out there who know more than you and are willing to help.’

5. Always imagine what could go wrong. It usually does – so prepare for that eventuality.

6. ‘ No Matter How Hard You Hit It, A Banana Will Never Sound Like A Drum.’

7. Be ahead of the game.

Not bad for a start. Mastering a craft is one thing but it needs the heartbeat of experience to give it depth.

Next? Back to that club in Covent Garden. Anyone remember BIDDIE and EVE?
Was anyone there when BOY GEORGE was the cloakroom attendant? Did anyone see MICK JAGGER refused admission? Anyone know the club?