A Storm of Light’s Josh Graham Picks the Five Most Important Designers and Album Covers to Him
Not only is Josh Graham the frontman of acclaimed NYC post-metal outfit A Storm of Light–who just released their new album, Nations to Flames–but he’s also an in-demand graphic designer perhaps best known in metal circles for his work with Neurosis. With that in mind, we asked to select and discuss some of the designers and album covers that have been influential to him.
“For some reason, as a graphic designer, I thought this was going to be a piece of cake,” Graham says. “Turns out, it was more like pulling teeth–hours and hours of searching through my collection resulted in no choices. Zero. I guess designing record covers for a living makes this more difficult…or maybe impossible. It was unexpected to say the least. There are albums that have shaped my life, but the covers don’t really impress. On the other hand, there are covers I love, but the band does nothing for me. So leaving behind the idea of an all-encompassing selection of ‘iconic’ record covers, here’s a selection of designers and work that is important to me.”
1. Raymond Pettibon: Black Flag: Everything
“When I was 12, a friend of my dad’s lent me every single Black Flag LP for a couple of years. The images were mind-blowing, especially at that age. I think that was my first real introduction to how political and poignant art can be. From the power of those damned shears on the cover of Everything Went Black, to the nun on Slip It In. I was changed.”
2. Storm Thorgerson: Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here, Animals. Led Zeppelin: Houses of the Holy, etc.
“Thorgerson’s work is a big influence on me, not just one image, but virtually his entire portfolio. His work has inspired me to move into using human beings in my imagery. While being almost completely photographic, his work retains a very focused and graphic feel to it. Inspiring.”
3. Peter Saville: Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures, Still
“Saville’s work is also currently influencing me. His minimalistic approach is something I have always had a hard time with, but I feel like I am slowly learning to simplify and focus, while still retaining my own aesthetic. I love the story behind the Unknown Pleasures cover. The central image was borrowed from a text book, and is in fact ‘a computer-generated signal from the first pulsar ever discovered.’ That basic idea of appropriating something, that is seemingly mundane, and turning it into something so iconic is very powerful. It makes you understand how important individual perception can be, and what the right execution can accomplish.”
4. Tom Hingston Studio: Nick Cave: Push the Sky Away Box Set. Massive Attack: Collected, Mezzanine.
“These guys are creating some amazing work right now. They delve far beyond the cover and make the entire package worthy of collecting. Beyond the intricate details in the their Massive Attack work, the Nick Cave box set is truly amazing. They’ve recreated Cave’s notebook by hand in excruciating detail, ‘reproduced every hand glued note, typewritten insertion and rubber stamp from Nick’s original note books.’ Each book was carefully deconstructed, each separate element scanned, cleaned and then the whole thing re-assembled by hand (yes, every edition). The final result is a beautiful piece of print brimming with fascination and intrigue.”
“I celebrate their entire catalog. Seriously. Goddammit. Houdini. Eggnog. Nude with Boots… It goes on and on. Almost 30 years of innovative and selfless covers, they have created their own unique aesthetic, a cohesive body of artwork to be reckoned with. I love the sense of humor it brings into the world of metal, something few metal musicians (including myself) know how to do–or have the balls to do. Thank you, gentlemen.”