Horror movie imagery has long played a part in many band’s esthetic.  Whether it’s bands like Alice Cooper, The Misfits, The Cramps, Gwar, Cradle of Filth, Slipknot, Twizted or even Rob Zombie, the allure of monsters, the undead and the occult is a vein that runs deep in rock n’ roll.

Add to that list another band, Werewolf Concerto, whose brand of thrash metal is heavily influenced by gory horror movies.  We recently sat down with the WC’s lead singer Jacob Wolfman and its drummer Kyle Davidson backstage in Washington, DC before their first show on The Aphelion Tour to talk with them about their influences and some of the pluses and minuses of being a band on the rise.

Figment News:  Where are you guys from and how did the band get started?

Jacob Wolfman:  We are from a small Massachusetts town named Wilbraham. It’s a quiet little place, although a really interesting thing is one of my favorite authors, H.P. Lovecraft modeled his fictional town, Dunwich after Wilbraham.

Kyle Davidson:  It all sort of started because me and Jacob enrolled in the same music school and got placed in a jazz ensemble together. After we played, we just started hanging out and jamming a lot, and we found we had a mutual love of metal and horror flicks. I knew Jim from school and we auditioned him for rhythm guitarist actually, but then our bass player-this kid named Mike- quit to join another band and Jim took up his role as bass player and we never got another rhythm guitarist.

FN:  You guys create quite a powerful sound for a power trio.  What’s your secret?

Jacob: Honestly I have no idea. After our original bassist, Mike, quit and then Jim took over bass we jammed out “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” by Black Sabbath, and it sounded tight. So, we just decided to never get a rhythm player after that.

Kyle: I also think that when a trio jams, they realize they have more responsibility on them, so they put in 110 % of effort. For example, Jacob had more pressure on him when we first jammed as a trio, so he put even more effort into it.

FN:  Wow, it’s been a quick and wild ride to the top for you guys?  You’ve released 2 full length albums and an EP this year and both albums have gone to #1 and the EP charted.  What’s that like?

Jacob:  It’s really crazy, dude. However, it is awesome! We never would have expected that our stuff would have been successful, but we are really thankful for it.

FN:  Has anyone’s ego gotten out of hand in the band?

Kyle:  Well, not until recently.

FN:  Speaking of band member’s ego’s, Blood-Thirsty Jim, your bass player, recently quit the band amid rumors of in-fighting.  Any plans for him to return?

Jacob: What happened with that was, his ego got really bloated, and he was fighting a lot with Kyle, almost to the point where it came to blows. I didn’t like seeing my two best friends fight like that, so I stepped in, but it only made things worse.

Kyle: Then, yesterday, the day before the first date of the biggest tour we have ever done, he calls us and says he has another project coming up and he quit. So, we don’t think he is gonna come back, however we had great times with him and he’ll always be our brother, so the door is still open.

FN:  Fabian Hallberg of Eternal Carnage has replaced Jim on a temporary basis.  Any idea who will be the permanent replacement?

Jacob: Not yet, but we may or may not hold auditions. It all depends on what happens. Fabian is a great bass player and a really nice dude, but he is really committed to Eternal Carnage and he doesn’t want to leave.  Which I don’t blame him for,  I wouldn’t want to leave Eternal Carnage either. (laughs)

FN:  Your band is clearly inspired by horror films.  Any personal faves that have served as inspirations?

Kyle: Well my favorites are the really gory ones, like any of the “Feast” movies or any of Romero’s zombie flicks.

Jacob: I like those ones too, but my favorites are the really old, vintage black and white classics. I love “Nosferatu” and the original “Carnival Of Souls”. However some newer series have been catching my eye like the “Hatchet” series and a couple years back a vampire flick came out called “30 Days Of Night” and I loved that.

Kyle: We are vampire purists. None of that Twilight garbage! (laughs)

FN:  What’s your songwriting process like?

Jacob: Well, usually I’ll come up with a riff and I’ll take it to Kyle, and we’ll just jam it out with different tempos and beats. Once we have the music portion of the song written, we’ll usually demo it, and then I’ll listen to it at home and write lyrics. I always write lyrics with a horror movie on though, for inspiration.

FN:  You guys are currently on tour with The Forgotten Falling, DeathBreth, Fragile Agony and Coffin Lords, a side-project you’re involved in Jacob.  What’s it like touring with such a successful lineup of bands?

Kyle: Well, its awesome, cause everyone on the roster is really nice and I love all the other bands. Although, it makes us put even more effort into our performance. Its hard to live up to these great bands!

FN:  Speaking of Coffin Lords, how did that project come together Jacob and what’s the future of that supergroup?

Jacob: Well, our label head, Adam Kerski. is friends with X, head of Fallen Records, and they got to talking about Werewolf Concerto. Then Adam tells X that I’m really good friends with Deathbreth’s drummer, Dumlaut. They then hatched the idea for a supergroup, and Adam called me, and I called Dumlaut, and Dumlaut called Fang from Gravestompers and Fang called Mike Seven from Death Face. We all got together and really clicked. As for the future, Dumlaut and I have been trading ideas and have actually written two or three songs. However, we don’t know when another record will come out as I don’t know if Fang has any plans with Gravestompers or if Mike Seven has plans with Death Face. He’s not even touring with us, cause he is also in Stonefly 45, who is on tour right now. So, Angelica Duon from Dying Unholy took his place for the tour.

FN:  How do the other members of the band feel about you being involved in another band, especially one that’s playing alongside them on a bill every night?  Is that one of the reasons Jim left the band?

Kyle: I know I’m cool with it. I enjoyed the record they put out.

Jacob: Jim never said anything about Coffin Lords. His problem was just what direction he wanted to go in musically and when someone didn’t see eye to eye with him, he got very aggressive.

FN:  Getting back to The Aphelion Tour, I noticed that not only are some of the bands on the tour playing Merchants of Metal IV, but you’re also going to be playing Halloween-Fest in Worcester, MA on Halloween night.  Aren’t you in Germany the night before?  And according your itinerary you’re supposed to be in Amsterdam on Nov. 1st.  How are you going to make all these gigs?

Jacob: Its gonna be tough, but Halloween-Fest was planned before The Aphelion Tour and I couldn’t not play it. It was my idea, one that I had since my childhood, and I just could not bring myself to miss the first annual one. So, I talked to The Aphelion Tour’s organizers and we planned it out. It’ll work, we’ll just have a lot of planes to catch.

FN:  Is your booking agent a sadist?

(Jacob and Kyle start laughing)

FN:  What’s next for Werewolf Concerto?

Kyle: Well, we brought out a mobile recording studio on tour with us, sort of like what Anton from Old Republic did with his solo record, and we have been writing some new tunes.

Jacob: I finished the lyrics to a song called “Vampirella” last night. We have like four songs written, so be patient. A new record will arrive in the coming months.

The concept album is a mainstay of popular music.  Whether it’s Frank Sinatra’s “In The Wee Small Hours of the Night” or Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, the concept is the same, it’s an album whose songs all contribute to a single overall theme or unified story.

Last year Lords of Winter won our first Concept Album Contest with their album “The Saga of Carus:  I.  Journey to Roh’Orn”.  It was a great concept album and the fact that it was just the first album in a musical triptych only made it that much better, but the real take away was how well metal as a musical genre lent itself to the concept album format.

So when it came time to think about our 2nd Annual Concept Album Contest, we decided that rather than go broad we’d limit it to just one genre – Metal!  Now the challenge is even greater because to stand out in the crowd you’ll really need to ramp up your game.  In short, we want to test your metal mettle.

Now that we’ve thrown down the gauntlet, we also want you to that not just anyone is going to pick this year’s winner.  While all of us at Figment are metal fans, and are more than capable of paring down the entries to a Top 10, we felt we needed someone with direct experience in the metal world and bona fides to match.  Needless to say, Ed Repka is that person!  If you’re not familiar with Ed, you probably are familiar with his work.  Here’s a little info on him:

A connoisseur of the grotesque and proponent of supernatural realism, Ed Repka is known worldwide for his illustrations of Vic Rattlehead, Megadeth’s skeletal mascot, which over two decades have adorned CD covers, posters, t-shirts, and hordes of other metal merchandise.

Regarded as the undisputed king of “Thrash” metal art of the ’80’s, Ed specializes in menacing reminders of impending apocalypse, and grim visions of the irradiated aftermath.  His vibrant use of color and shadow combined with darkly satirical characterizations form his distinctive style which has garnered commissions from clients such as Atlantic Records, Brockum, Capital Records, Earache, Metal Blade, Relativity, Roadrunner, Ryko, Screamin’, Topps and many others for use on CDs covers, video covers, posters, trading cards, t-shirts, toys, comics, and magazines.

In 2002, he became the Art Director of the National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA), where he designs, sculpts, paints and directs the successful action figure lines, Headknocker bobble-head figures and other pop culture collectibles the Association produces.

To say Ed is qualified judge this contest is an understatement, and we’re honored to have him on-board.

So let’s get to the nitty gritty!  The contest begins today, Wednesday, September 22nd and entries may be submitted until midnight on Friday, October 22nd.  During that time we’ll be asking you to create a metal concept album based around a central theme.  It can be for any genre or subgenre of metal music, but it has to be metal album.  We’re also asking that you only submit newer albums, so only entries created on or after September 6, 2010 will be eligible.

When the deadline for entries (October 22nd at midnight) passes, our crack Figment editorial staff will narrow the submissions to ten (10) finalists.  These ten (10) finalists will be sent to Ed Repka who will select a winner and two (2) runners up.

So what do you get if you win?  Well, we thought it was only appropriate that we put together a prize package that lived up to the subject matter, so we’ve put together a truly metal prize package for our winner!  The winner will receive:

A ZT Lunchbox guitar amplifier courtesy of ZT Amplifiers.  Since it’s introduction in early 2009, the ZT Lunchbox guitar amplifier has changed the way many musicians think about amps.  Never before has an ultra-compact amplifier reached gig-level output, let alone sounded good enough to be used not only live but in the recording studio as well (three Lunchboxes were in studio for MGMTs latest album “Congratulations”, and they are beginning to appear on several other recordings.)  Lunchboxes have found homes with pros such as Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Nels Cline and Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), and Hunter Perrin (John Fogerty Band) among many, many others.  This goes to show that the Lunchbox is useful even for players who can have any gear they wish.

A copy of the new metal concept album “Warp Riders” from Austin, TX based metal band The Sword courtesy of Brooklyn’s own Kemado Records.  We’re all HUGE fans of the band here at Figment and think “Warp Riders” will rightfully grace many a year-end Top 10 list this year.  This album should serve as suitable inspiration for the winner!

A copy of ex-Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler’s new book “My Appetite for Destruction” courtesy of Harper Collins.  After 40 years, twenty-eight ODs, three botched suicides, two heart attacks, a couple of jail stints, and a debilitating stroke, Steven Adler, the most self-destructive rock star ever, sets the record straight on his year’s in Guns N’ Roses, his subsequent descent into addiction, and his ultimate recovery.  It’s a harrowing, but honest look at the highs and lows of being a rock star and a must-read for metal fans.

500 pieces of Lucre to put towards your own “sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll” lifestyle here on Figment.

The runners up will receive the following:

2nd Runner up will receive a copy of Steven Adler’s book “My Appetite for Destruction” courtesy of Harper Collins and 350 pieces of Lucre.

3rd Runner Up will receive a copy of Steven Adler’s book “My Appetite for Destruction” courtesy of Harper Collins and 200 pieces of Lucre.

To enter please follow these basic rules:

1. You must be a registered Figment user to participate.  If you don’t currently have a Figment account please click here to create one.  This contest is open to Figment users worldwide.

2.  Create a fake band on Figment and release a Metal concept album with cover art.  You may also release a Metal concept album from an existing band that you have previously created.  To be considered an album must have been released on or after September 6, 2010, and be based around a central theme which is articulated and reflected in the album artwork, description and song titles. Once you have released the album or album(s) you want to submit as an entry please post the band and album name as a comment to this post, so that we and other users can check it out.  If you don’t post the band/album name as a comment to this post or your metal concept album entry won’t be considered.

3. Users may enter as many metal concept albums as they would like, but only albums that were created on or after September 6, 2010 will be considered eligible.

4.  Any artwork used in the creation of your album cover should either be original or at least one at which you have the permission of the copyright owner to use.  If you do use someone else’s work you need to make it your own by at the very least adding text or something that makes it your own.  Any album designs that are judged as being a copy of an existing work will be disqualified.  We will also disqualify any album cover that is offensive in nature – sexist, racist or hate-based.

5.  The contest will run from Wednesday, September 22nd until Friday, October 22, 2010.  All submissions must be posted by no later than 11:59 pm ET on Friday, October 22nd.

6.  All Figment players worldwide are eligible to enter.  Please note that prizes may not be compatible in all countries and that Figment nor it’s prize providers are responsible for make-goods in these situations.

7.  The Figment editiorial staff will select 10 finalists from all of the submissions and provide them to Ed Repka to judge by no later than Tuesday, October 26, 2010.

8.  On Friday, October 29, 2010 Figment will announce the Top 3 metal concept albums as selected by Ed Repka – a winner and two runners up.

You can view the full official rules at:  http://bit.ly/cvIhTm

We’re going to be judging the entries based on the creativity of the album’s central theme and how well that theme is conveyed throughout the album, from the artwork to the album description and the song titles.  So good luck and let the conceptualization begin!!!

Well it seems I’m not the only one who is a fan of internet ephemera, our own frizbee keeps track of it too!  In fact, he sent over 3 of the links I’m sharing with you today.  In return for his link “largesse” we thought it only fair that we dedicate this very special episode of Cleaning Out The Bookmarks to him!

In Vol 1. of this feature we introduced you to Pitchfork’s great “Take Cover” column.  The latest installment features Stanley Donwood who has designed all of Radiohead’s covers.  He has a new exhibit that is currently showing at San Franciso’s FIFTY24SF through October 27, 2010.

I stumbled across this treasure trove of Jazz album covers that were released on Columbia Records when I visited the Birka Jazz Archive.

And speaking of album covers, frizbee hipped me to AlbumArtExchange.com an online repository of high quality album artwork.

He also sent me this link to SoundofDesign’s minimalist take on 19 classic rock album covers.  It’s awesome.

And in keeping with his minimalist streak, frizbee sent me this link to some minimalist rock posters done by Federico Mancosu.

I ran across this trailer for a UK indie documentary about the last vinyl record shop in Teesside, England.  The film is called “Sound It Out” (after the name of the shop) and at the time of this post they’ve only raised $265 of the funding they need to for the film’s post-production, so scrape some nickels together and help out a struggling artist by donating what you can.  She’ll send you some great freebies depending on how much you donate.  I went for a simple $10 thank you!

Having a kick ass logo is nowhere more important than in the world of metal – here are a few I happened across on a Russian design site that should get your creative juices headbanging!  If you scroll down there’s some pretty good album cover designs as well.

And speaking of metal, Invisible Oranges asked a classically trained voice teacher to give her thoughts on 5 of metal’s most well known singers.

Ran across this great blog post about how someone’s fake band “Bible Party” got big by word-of-mouth.  Go figure.

Cover Arts is another great album cover design site to check out.

Rock stars love tattoos right?  The problem is that they don’t always make the best tattoos themselves do they?  Think Before You Ink proves it!

And while we’re on the subject of rock n’ roll anatomy why not check out Flavorwire’s 10 Most Iconic Bare Torsos in Music!

Everybody knows rock n’ roll is an incestuous business, but this woman actually mapped it out!

And last but not least, I love wildlife, so I was thrilled to see this photograph of the elusive Heavy Metal Tiger!

Another Reason To Be Cheerful!

September 9th, 2010

For those of you who competed in our 2009 Figment Album Cover Design Contest, you’ll remember that as one of the prizes we gave away a copy of the book Reasons To Be Cheerful:  The life and works of Barney Bubbles by Paul Gorman.  At the time, we spoke to Paul about his book and why Barney’s work was so influential, so if you haven’t read it I highly recommend you do.

Fast forward to September 2010 and “Reasons To Be Cheerful” has been named as Mojo magazine’s Book of the Year 2010, and a new revised version of the book will be released in October in the UK, and by DAP in the spring of 2011 in the U.S.

I spoke via email to Paul recently as he was preparing a new exhibition of Barney Bubbles’ work called “Process:  The Working Practices of Barney Bubbles” at London’s Chelsea space gallery.  Curated by Gorman, Process will contain many never-before-seen items drawn from private collections, including student notebooks, working sketches, original artwork, paintings, books and photography.  Bubbles used them as the raw materials for the videos, record sleeves, t-shirts and posters he created for such performers as Ian Dury, Hawkwind, Elvis Costello, The Damned and Billy Bragg.  You can check out Paul’s progress putting the show together on his blog.

Paul had this to say about the newly revised version of Reasons To Be Cheerful,

It is enhanced by around 50 new images, from his student days (including watercolours of Brain jones and George Harrison for a Mods & Rockers project) to his final years (including a sketch for Elvis Costello’s “Pills & Soap” – released without a sleeve in the guise of The Impostor).

There is a lot of fresh info derived from interviews with such people as his first girlfriend and quotes from such people as Simon Cowell’s brother “Record John” who roomed with Barney in 1969.

I have also discovered the identity of his first full-time employer and have quotes from a colleague about the rigorousness nature of employment there, which no doubt helped shape him.

He was also kind enough to share some of the new images from the book with us –

So if you’re in London, definitely pay “Process:  The Working Practices of Barney Bubbles” a visit at Chelsea space, and if you want to find out more about Barney Bubbles check out Paul Gorman’s incredible book “Reasons To Be Cheerful” or read his blog.

The Art of the LP Contest Winner

September 7th, 2010

If you missed our recent interview with author Johnny Morgan, you not only missed a great interview, but you also missed a great chance to win a copy of his new book.

“The Art of the LP:  Classic Covers 1955 – 1995” by Johnny Morgan and Ben Wardle (2010 Sterling Publishing) is a celebration of album artistry.  Whether it’s the smoldering pin-up girl on The Cars’ “Candy-O” or Andy Warhol’s controversial zippered pants on the Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers”, album cover images have long captivated our imaginations and added to the music experience contained within their packaging.  “The Art of the LP” organizes album cover artwork chosen from this 40 years span by visual theme, and then analyzes why some covers become iconic while others missed the mark entirely.

We really enjoyed the book here at Figment, so during our interview we asked Johnny –

‘FN:  Figment is a site devoted to fake bands and their visual identity.  Do you think someone could be fooled into believing a fake band was real if the album artwork for the band was strong enough?

JM:  Definitely. Hopefully Art of The LP can help someone to construct a good-looking album cover for a long forgotten but highly regarded American punk band called XXXX who toured once with the Replacements in 1986, before falling apart at a diner in Ames, Iowa amid a storm of ketchup, beer and amphetamines, just as their debut album ‘Pick Your Noise’ was being pressed on a limited run of 1000 copies.”

Thanks to the good people at Sterling Publishing, we were able to make Johnny’ s wish a reality by creating a quick contest to see who could design the best cover for the XXXX’s debut album.  Johnny judged the entries and selected this cover for the XXXX long lost debut album “Pick Your Noise.”

by scarletto

The two runners up are:

by thehoseman

by frizbee

So congratulations scarletto, we’ll be getting a copy of Johnny’s book out to you asap!  We’d also like to congratulate the two runners up, and all of the players who participated.

As for the rest of you, we highly recommend you check out “The Art of the LP”, it’s a great book and a treasure trove of info on what to do and what not to do when designing an album cover!