Hi, it’s the lead singer, JC Penny. How’s it going?
I made this album cover. It came to me years ago when I started writing the songs for our new record (drops Sep 21, 2013) and trying to put myself in the shoes of a mother of a fallen soldier.
I think it’s likely that every soldier’s mother in Canada has that standard military portrait of their son or daughter that is taken after they finish basic training. It sits beside a lamp or hangs on a wall.
I reasoned that this portrait becomes terrible and undeniable in the homes of the mothers of fallen soldiers. The album is dedicated to these devastated women and so the cover is a snapshot of the world from their eyes. They see their baby’s faces in that portrait, not young men and women.
The rest of the band says the cover is “creepy”. I see that. It’s weird to see a baby head on a full grown body. Plus, I think they feel like they’re gonna be robbed of that moment when they get to hand their new record to their friends and family. A record with this cover will not be seen by our ageing parents or preteen kids. I tried arguing from this point of view. I said that our music for this record isn’t happy anyway. It’s going to appeal to educated rockers with dark sensibilities. Maybe this is the record that skips our families. I didn’t get far with that one.
Most of the band didn’t outright reject it. They expressed their discomfort but let the primadonna (me) have the final say. On the other hand, it could be that they talked about it while I was in the bathroom and decided to get Raja “Lovely Louie” Khanna, lead guitar, to persuade me to drop it. He did over drinks one night. I could have pulled the artist visionary card and said “You guys don’t see the impact of this cover in the long term,” or the primadonna card “No. This conversation is over. The cover stays,” but I already pulled that card recently on something else so..
The next interesting thing that’s happened is that the venue for our CD release show at The Junction Music Fest rejected this poster on which I used the baby soldier cover image:
This venue bills itself as equal part art gallery and pub. Now, I’d expect this reaction if it was a picture of Jesus doggie-styling a child-prostitute with a needle in his arm. However there’s nothing purile about this image and an art gallery still rejected it. When I told the story about the venue to my friend who has been a lead singer for 20 years and has produced many albums he said “wow, you got a good album cover.”
I’m starting to think it’s not just that my cover is a bit icky to look at. I think I might have made an image that is too icky to talk about. And I did it without cocks or boobs or intravenous needles. Of course, If we were The Arcade Fire the cover would’ve been lauded as an edgy political piece, compelling and damning. Oh, Canada.
When Sasha Baron Cohen was interviewed last year by Strombolopoulos in his The Dictator character he was asked “So, Dictator, how do you like Canada?” to which he replied “I like it very much. Your people are like my people: quiet.” Unfortunately, I find it hard to argue with this silly man’s point.