Welcome to “Cover Stories”, where we allow a Figment player to describe an album cover he/she designed in their own words.  From the original idea to the finished product, we’ll hear the story behind the cover.

In this installment, we hear from Figment player frizbee who gives us the story behind the cover for his band Eccentric Arcade’s latest album “It Never Stops Being Now.”

When the concept of “It Never Stops Being Now” first hit me, I knew it was going to be a challenge.  Much like the cover for “EPIC!” I had a basic outline of what I wanted to achieve, but I knew that getting there was going to be a rough journey.  To be perfectly honest, I very rarely have an exact vision in mind when I begin designing any of the covers I’ve made.  Sometimes I’ll have an immediate stroke of inspiration and know precisely how I want the final cover to look, but it’s incredibly rare to ever hit the nail directly on the head.  Many covers in the past have had to be redrafted, adjusted, and sometimes just plain scrapped.  Though, more often than not, I stumble upon the final design somewhere along the creative process of mapping out the album.

For the “INSBN” cover, I had a very rough idea of what I wanted.  I knew that if I wanted to capture the essence of an album from the ‘90s I needed one thing: children.  For some reason, using children on your album cover was practically a staple of ‘90s bands.  Think about it.  Nirvana’s “Nevermind”, Smashing Pumpkins’ “Siamese Dream”, Blind Melon’s self-titled debut, KoRn’s first three albums (before they broke the cycle with “Issues”), all feature children on their respective covers.  But finding the right image of just any random kid is not as easy as it sounds.  I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, but I knew I would know when I found it.  “INSBN” is one of very few covers that I’ve ever created multiple variations for.  In fact, the cover went through many changes, almost right up to the release of the album, before I finally settled on a final design.

The first cover I created was very simplistic.  I had found a stock image of a young girl, and the color scheme of the image really appealed to me.  The image itself wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but I knew it was a step in the right direction.  The color scheme and the contrast of the image is what interested me more than anything.  I’m a big fan of using textures in my design work, and sometimes even a subtle texture can really make a design pop, which is exactly what I went for with the first cover.  I even decided to experiment and flip the image, which actually wound up making the overall image much more visually interesting.  Then came the tricky part: typography.  Typography can really make or break any design, in my opinion, so the style and placement of the text is equally as important as the rest of the design.  I have lots and lots of fonts, and I do have some favorites that you may notice, so font selection is always a long process.  I will often create mock-ups of the band and album name in different fonts and placements, and then narrow them down until I find the right combination.  The font I chose for the first draft of the “INSBN” cover is called Impact Label.  I don’t know what it was about this particular font, but something about it just really fit with the design at the time.  I also really like the sort of haphazard placement of the text in general.  The font looks like it was printed out with a label maker, so I wanted it to appear as though the text was quickly stuck onto the cover.

Truth be told, I went back to this cover time and time again while deciding on the final cover, and it was always a very, VERY close second.  In the end, a single mistake is the only thing that kept me from using it as the final design.  It’s something that would probably go vastly unnoticed by most people, but as the designer it would haunt me forever.  You may notice in the image that some of the squares that make up the name of the album appear a bit jagged on the edges.  That is because I made the rookie mistake of not making the text a Smart Object before adjusting the angles of the text, which would have prevented the edges from becoming pixelated.  I could go into further detail explaining exactly how that works and why it’s important, but that’s neither here nor there.  It’s a petty thing to get so hung up on, but it’s a big deal for me from a design standpoint.  And I know what some of you are probably thinking, “Why didn’t you just go back and fix the text?” Believe me, I would have if I could.  Unfortunately, shortly after the creation of this cover I suffered a massive computer crash that wiped everything on my hard drive.  Just before it completely bit the dust I managed to grab a few things, which is why I have the jpeg of this cover, but sadly not the original Photoshop file.  If I really wanted to, I could take the image and use the Clone Stamp to erase the text and then fix the pixelated edges, but without the layers of the original file it wouldn’t turn out the same.

I had also created a cover that featured a young boy chained at the ankle to a large pocket watch, which featured a similar muted color scheme and some vague texturing, as well as some rather intricate typography that made the band name appear as though it was an old, wrinkled bumper sticker.  Sadly, that cover was also lost in the horrible computer crash that claimed the original Photoshop file of the “upside down girl” cover, as well as may other designs including a rather intensive piece of work for the cover of what was intended to be the first single from “INSBN”, “Disaster Girl”.  The loss of that one hurt the most.

The next design I attempted featured an image that I really liked, and I honestly thought might be “The One.”  I had found a stock image of a young girl in a field, and I loved everything about the image.

The difficult part was that the image was in black and white, so I had to colorize the image myself.

I added a texture layer, and was initially happy with the way the way the image turned out, but I never had much luck when it came time to choose the fonts and the placement of the text.  The font I used for the band name is called Buteco, and the album title is Jellyka Saint-Andrew’s Queen.

I ended up deciding against this design for the final cover because of two main reasons.  Firstly, I never cared for the font selections I chose, which sadly were the fonts that worked the best.  Secondly, I hated the way the field in the background of the image turned out.  The longer I worked on the cover the more I realized that the grass took on this strange smudged, out of focus appearance.  It almost looks like some sort of optical illusion, which I thought greatly distracted from the rest of the cover.

From there we move on to the next cover attempt, which features a girl on a swing set in mid-swing.  At this point I was really reaching the bottom of my creative well.  I had been working for several months on just this one cover, and I was getting nowhere.  I stopped trying to be creative and sort of started flying blind.  Free form design, if you will.  I hoped that maybe by approaching the design with a clear mind that something might, by accident, come out of it.

Unfortunately, that approach did not pay off.  I don’t like anything about this design.  I don’t like the image I used, I don’t like the color scheme, and I don’t like the texturing.  The only part of it that I like is the text.  You may recognize the font choice for the band name as the same font I used for the final cover design (as well as the “Ropeburn” single), which is called Lemonheads.  The font I used for the album title is called Men In Black Credits, about which you hear more about in the future.

Finally, after about three or four months of working on the same cover, I started to make some progress.  I happened upon a stock image of a little boy in a frog costume.  Immediately I was drawn to the image.

What I loved most about the image was the quirkiness of the frog costume combined with the look on the boy’s face.  It’s this sort of confused, wearied, complying look as though he’s already come to grips with what life is and he’s begrudgingly accepted it.  The original image was very bright and almost washed out, and this bright green was the most dominant color.  To tone down the vibrancy of the colors I layered a couple of black and white copies of the image on top of the original, adjusted some of the color levels and the blend modes and ended up with a much less intense contrast.

The greens were softer, the shadows were more prominent, but it was still a bit too light and airy for my tastes.  I added a layer filled with grey and changed the blend mode to Color Burn, which made the greens a much more dark, rich color and brought out more of the shadows in the image, as well as some more color in the boy’s face.

It was getting there!  I wasn’t happy with the amount of white still in the image, though, so I added a layer of beige with a blend mode of Multiply.  This got rid of all the bright whites of the image and gave it more of an appearance of an old photograph that had started to turn sepia with age.  I still wanted some texture in the image, so I added a layer with a rusty texture and set the blend mode to Overlay.

I had taken the original image from bright and cute to dark and grungy.  I was pleased as punch.  I toyed around with some font variants, but I decided to go with my original font choice from my original design and chose Impact Label.  The plain black text didn’t work with the rest of the color scheme in the design, so I used the same rusty texture from before and created a Clipping Mask to add the color and texture to the text.  Also, I added a drop shadow to the text to make it stand out a bit from the rest of the image.  I experimented with text placement for a while before I decided on a disjointed placement reminiscent of my original “upside down girl” design.  I had finally created a design that I was happy with, and I was set to make it the official cover for “It Never Stops Being Now”.

Six months later, long after I had made up my mind that my last attempt at the “INSBN” cover was the LAST attempt, I started to get a nagging feeling.  I knew it wasn’t finished.  I knew there was still something missing.  I began going back over all of my previous designs and comparing them, trying to pinpoint what I liked and disliked the most about each one.  I finally realized that the final cover design was far too dark.  I wanted it to have a rough, grungy feel to it, but I didn’t want it to look too grungy.  I had also grown to dislike my initial font choice.  I realized that it worked for my first design, but that it just didn’t compliment this particular design.  I had to lighten up the image somehow and change the text.  Not an easy task.  It’s tricky enough to build something from the ground up, but to rip out the middle section and rebuild it entirely is a whole other ballgame.  I experimented for a while to find what I could still use from the original “frog baby” design and what needed to be changed.  I kept the basic foundation, but I only layered one black and white copy of the original stock image instead of two.  I also kept the grey and beige layers.

I then added a new layer of medium blue with a blend mode of Soft Light, which balanced out the yellowed look in the greens of the image caused by the beige layer.

Next, I knew I wanted to keep the texture from the rusty texture image, but I didn’t want such a harsh rust color.  So, I applied a Photo Filter to the texture using the Underwater filter with the density set to 100%, giving the texture a nice earthy green color.

Now the image has texture and the contrast in the greens and the shadows has been bumped up a little, too.  The image was still a bit too dark, though, so I added yet another texture layer.

 

By adding a layer of parchment paper texture set to Overlay, it knocks out the harsher texture from the now greenish rust texture in the lighter areas of the design.  Now the lighter areas have been brightened up a bit and have a subtle texture to them, while the darker areas maintain the rougher texture and contrast from the rust texture layer.  Then I just had to find the right fonts for the band name and album title.  I had already decided that I would use the Lemonheads font from the abandoned “swing girl” design, which I always felt just really fit the ‘90s vibe I was going for.  I added an orange stroke to the text and set the stroke’s blend mode to Color Burn, which gives it that funky gradient look when it mixes with the background layers.  Finally, for the album title I used a font called Don Quixote to which I added a Layer Mask and dabbed at with a soft spatter brush to give it that worn and faded look.

Finally, and I mean it this time, I had achieved what I set out to create all those months ago.  This album cover gave me the most grief out of all of the covers I have ever created, but I am truly happy with the end results.  Thank you for taking the time to actually read this, and if you only skimmed it, I don’t blame you.  My apologies if it seemed like more of a Photoshop lesson in some parts than a recounting of how I created the “It Never Stops Being Now” cover, but it wouldn’t be Cover Stories if I didn’t go into detail, right?  Lastly, many thanks to Eric and the gang at Figment for approaching me to take part in Cover Stories.  I am deeply honored and hope I did it justice.  Thanks again, everyone!

 

 

When we issued Figment Challenge #3 we had no idea who would accept the challenge or what kind band bio entries we would receive.  If you remember, we asked you to create a band bio for the fake band called Other Industrial Minerals.  We supplied the name, we were looking for you to supply everything else about them.  The challenge was to write a bio that really gave us an essence of the band and made us want to become a fan.  In the end, we didn’t get that many entries, but maybe that was a blessing, because it was a hard challenge, not only to accept but to judge as well!  The Top 3 picks were all different, but we decided in the end that the winner had that little something special that made us want to see where this player could take Other Industrial Minerals, and that was a clear indication that we were fans.  But enough about our thought process for now, we’ll provide you with more detail on our decision at the end, in the meantime please enjoy reading the winning bio and the 2 runners up because they’re all good:

Winning Bio:

It was a dark and stormy night.  And by dark and stormy, I mean sunny and two in the afternoon, but I digress.

The band’s story begins on September 7th, 1987, with the birth of brothers Michael and Aaron Koltz, but no one cares about this. Fast forward to 2006, and the brothers are living in a studio apartment on the outskirts of London. It’s a simple means of existence, ‘cause neither of the boys are really good at anything, even dropping out of university, but they do know a thing or two about music…and cheeto’s. Anyway, about the music; Michael got a job as a waiter to pay for some mics and other equipment to teach himself to sing like his heroes, Greg Lake and Geoff Tate. Aaron took a simpler path, stealing a bass, because, well the guitars were too well guarded. Making the best out of the situation, he taught himself how to play it. One day they were jamming in their apartment, doing nothing in particular but making noise, (“No officer, I can’t think of why anyone would file a noise complaint against us.”), when out of nowhere came a loud, metallic bang. Thinking nothing of it, the boys continued to smash away, however, the banging intensified. Michael said to Aaron, “That’s kind of catchy.” Aaron’s reply was, “I don’t care, it’s a nuisance, I’m not causing it, I’m shutting this guy up.” So, Aaron kicks down the door, (Did I mention Aaron has anger management issues?), and storms toward the source of the banging, which is coming from a neighboring apartment. Aaron is about to Chuck Norris the door off its hinges, when he notices, by means of kicking it, that it’s a 3 inch thick steel door, that appears to be stolen from a military cache, and that it’s the source of the banging. The door suddenly opens, gull wing style, nearly knocking Aaron over the balcony, (They’re on the second floor), and there stands a short guy, twirling drumsticks in his hands. Aaron, regaining his composure, and Michael, once he’s finished laughing his ass off, both ask the same question, “And you would be?” The short man replies, “I am Dane Wiley, drummer of the Dave Wiley Extravaganza and Milkshake Emporium Experience, and you guys are the Industrial Dicks who were interrupting my daytime tele.” To which Aaron angrily responds, “Well, you’re a Mineral!” Both Michael and Dave shout, “What does that even mean?” Being unable to explain himself, Aaron gives up and starts sulking. Michael meanwhile was intrigued by the 5 foot 2 inch man infront of him, who has just managed to shut his brother up, something he has failed at for the last 19 years. “So you’re a drummer, eh?” “Yeah.” “And that’s why you were banging out that sweet stuff on your door?” “You thought it sounded good?” “Yeah, tell you what, come over and jam with us, let’s see if we can make something happen.” That was the beginning. Dave and the brothers jammed together over the next two years, until in 2008, they decided to expand. So, they posted a video of one of their jam sessions, (aptly titled, jam to find some person to jam with us), and added a disclaimer which asked for interested responders to add their music over the video to see if it fit. They got a grand total of 3 responses: Austin Alexson, a Boston-based keyboard teacher and self described Pink Floyd Historian; Devin Zając, a blind Polish Canadian guitar whiz (how he found the youtube video has still never been fully explained); and Darryl Styx, a singer from London. They managed to all fly to London (except Darryl, who just walked), and the band was formed. As for the name, Aaron and Dave thought back to that faithful first encounter, and decided on Industrial Minerals. Devin, however, thought that Other Industrial Minerals had a better ring to it, and the name stuck. So with two singers, a keyboardist, a perpetually angry bassist, a very short drummer, and a blind guitarist, the band took off for the sure fire success that they had been told would be granted to them by a Magic 8-Ball, and two horoscopes.

Bio by:  algoreyou

1st Runner Up:

Other Industrial Minerals
Genre – Rock…(obviously)
Tag Line – Girls love Diamonds, Artists love Marble, we are…

The origins of Other Industrial Minerals can be traced back to the summer of 2007 when frontman Pete Moss formed Slag Aggregate, a noise-pop band in Grand Forks, North Dakota. By December they had become a favorite at college bars and frat parties on the UND campus, but as May approached, egos and musical differences caused a fissure in the band. They split up and Moss, along with drummer Al Unite, headed south east to the musical Valhalla of the Twin Cities where they played, both together and separately, in numerous bands over the next few years.

In the summer of 2010, Unite was drumming in a bizarre ethereal blues collective Fuller’s Earth when he met up with Moss again at the Jundland Club. At the time the various members of Fuller’s Earth were becoming more and more tied to other bands and Unite wanted out. They started jamming and writing and as Fuller’s Earth was disintegrating, Moss and Unite’s goals solidified.

Initially, they worked as a combo  – guitar and drums, but eventually they wanted to flesh out their sound a bit and recruited bassist Kay Olin from Gypsum, a funk jazz project that was wowing crowds every Thursday night at the Cabooz. Newly christened Other Industrial Minerals, the three recorded an EP/demo “Diatomite!” with Olin’s boyfriend Mica Feldspar on keyboards and assorted percussion.

By this time they had caught the attention of a certain nameless Twin Cities music icon and their fate was sealed. They started playing small clubs like the Entry and the 400 Bar, but as the crowds grew, the need for larger venues grew with it. After placing 4th in the 2011 City Pages Picked to Click list of best new bands in the Twin Cities, their show at the Turf Club had reveler’s crowding the sidewalk outside the club trying to catch a glimpse through the front window, if just to say “I was there when…”.

Their sound, (at it’s core 70’s guitar rock, but with decidedly spacy, jazzy undertones) was just what the Twin Cities music scene was looking for. They continued to play to packed houses and eventually graduated to the Main Room (First Ave.) and ultimately the Jundland Club. In January they will enter the Bassment to record their debut full length with plans for an extensive road trip to bring their show to the rest of the country.

Line up:
Pete Moss = Guitar, Vox
Kay Olin = Bass, Vox
Al Unite = Drums
Mica Feldspar = Keys, Congas, Shakers and other noise makers

Bio by:  theHoseman

2nd Runner Up:

Some people are born to be stars. Other people study stars and hope to see one be born. Such is the case with Mark Lovedale, PHD.

Before becoming the lead guitarist and driving force behind Austin’s own, OTHER INDUSTRIAL MINERALS, Lovedale was the youngest person ever accepted into NASA’s space program at just 19 years old. Then again, Lovedale graduated with a PHD in Astrophysics from the University of Arizona by the time he was 18 years old.

Think Doogie Howser in space. But with a hard-on for Jimmy Page and Randy Rhodes.

That’s right, not only is Lovedale a gifted scientist, but a cracker-jack guitarist with balls the size of Uranus.

After dropping out of the space program (what?!!) at the age of 21, Lovedale formed OTHER INDUSTRIAL MINERALS with college buddy and bassist, Ryan Winthrop. It was only a matter of time before they found their band’s voice in auto-mechanic turned lead vocalist, Trevor Prout. Drummer, “Grand” Stan Babbitt lived upstairs from Prout and went from keeping him up at nights to keeping him up at nights with a crowd of screaming fans.

OTHER INDUSTRIAL MINERALS quickly skyrocketed to fame on the Austin music scene and all but reinvented the hard rock genre with their use of double-kick-drum ferocity and harmonizing guitar sounds.

This band is shooting straight for the stars. The only question that remains is: can their audience hold on tight enough to follow them through the Heavens?

OTHER INDUSTRIAL MINERALS are:

Trevor Prout – Vocalist

Ryan Winthrop – Bassist

Stan Babbitt – Drummer

Mark Lovedale – Guitarist

Bio by:  Raybo

So now that you’ve read all three, let us explain our decision.  We chose algoreyou’s bio because it grabbed our interest, and ultimately because it was, for lack of a better word, cheeky.  While theHoseman and Raybo provided us with more conventional bio’s, algoreyou went for a back story approach that was more story than background and in doing so made the band more personal and yet elusive at the same time.  While it may have been a little more scattershot in format than the other two finalists’ entries, it made us want to find out more, to wonder what the band’s first album would be called or imagine what their cover art would look like.  That’s what a good bio should do, it should make you want to seek out a band, and algoreyou’s did.  Plus you gotta love the line “So with two singers, a keyboardist, a perpetually angry bassist, a very short drummer, and a blind guitarist, the band took off for the sure fire success that they had been told would be granted to them by a Magic 8-Ball, and two horoscopes.”

Now that’s not to say that theHoseman or Raybo didn’t create good bio’s too, because they did.  We chose thehoseman as our second runner up because his bio had such great detail on how the band came together and because we all had to admit that we’d love to see Slag Aggregate get back together!  Great name.  But I digress…

Raybo’s bio was also good and quite funny, but we felt it read a bit too much like a press release and less like a bio per se.  I know splitting hairs, but hey that’s what you have to do when you’re judging these things…it’s not as easy as it looks you know.  We also LOVED the line  “Think Doogie Howser in space. But with a hard-on for Jimmy Page and Randy Rhodes.” Now that’s a tag line!  Raybo, stay tuned because a tag line Challenge is on it’s way!

So congratulations to algoreyou for accepting and winning Figment Challenge #3.  We will be crediting his account with 5,000 pieces of lucre and he has the right to create “Other Industrial Minerals” on Figment.  theHoseman will be receiving 3,000 pieces of Lucre for finishing 2nd, and Raybo will receive 1,500 pieces of Lucre for finishing 3rd.  Thanks to all who entered and stay tuned for the next Figment Challenge!

Sweden seems to crank out metal bands like the Chinese crank out, well, everything.  Hell, Wikipedia alone has a listing of 85 bands that hail from Sweden, a country that is roughly the size of California, and we know that’s just scratching the surface.  One Swedish metal band not listed on Wikipedia though is Törnekrona (or “Crown of Thorns” in English), whose members may be Swedish, but whose approach to metal is strikingly global.  Whether it’s thrash, death or doom metal these Swedes know how to bring it and it’s no coincidence that their album “The Sound of Malevolence” hit #1 on the Figment Hot Albums chart not long ago.  Their latest album “Q.C.I.C.”, a concept album about surveillance and technocratic oppression, also spent several weeks on the Figment charts and has the band contemplating a tour Down Under.  We caught up with them at a recording studio owned by their bassist Oskar Bergqvist in their hometown of Gothenburg to talk about just how they managed not to be “just another metal band from Sweden.”

Figment News:  How and where did Törnekrona get started?

Johan Kjellgren: We, I mean Oskar, Lars and me, met at Chalmers University, wannabe engineers.. For Odin sake didn’t happen. (laughs).

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: At that time I was.. probably working for my uncle in his farm in Sigtuna.

Oskar Bergqvist: And Hans is my second cousin, so he was always around when he could.

FN:  You guys are from Sweden.  A lot of great metal comes out of Sweden.  Bands like yours, Amon Amarth, Hammerfall, Sabaton, etc.  Is there something in the water?

Lars Laarsson: Probably in the snow.. or in the beer. (laughs)

Johan Kjellgren: When you grow up with all this bands around, you know, one of the guys was your neighbour or  studied in the same high school.. You just follow the tide.

FN:  Was it hard breaking out of such a competitive metal environment?

Johan Kjellgren: Not really.. We’re always looking for new bands to hear and you can find things like “Viking Metal band from Peru”.  Many people just ignore their sound. I believe this awful reality helped us, like, someone in Japan “Hey, new band from Gothenburg, must be awesome!”.

Oskar Bergqvist: In the beginning we are anxious to have an identity, to sound some sort of unique.. and this is not that difficult.  You just have to believe.

FN:  You describe your sound as Extreme Metal which is really an umbrella term for a number of metal subgenres that are less commercial and more abrasive.  You’ve tackled everything from death metal to thrash and now doom.  Why the subtle changes to your sound on every album?

Lars Laarson: I love many bands really attached to a genre like ‘Raw Black Metal’, ‘Symphonic Black Metal’, ‘Brutal Death Metal’ and so on.. Our sound is always heavy, and heavier than the so-called ‘Heavy Metal’. The changes follow our inspiration in each record.

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: I remember one of our first jams before writing ‘Cinder’.. I’ve arrived humming  Sodom’s ‘Agent Orange’. Than Oskar started to play some Sodom basslines and we felt that their sound, their mood, is pretty close to the things we’re writing.

Oskar Bergqvist: Exactly.. in a way or another, this kind of thing happened with Krisiun just before ‘Tartarus’ and with Candlemass in ‘.Q.C.I.C.’. At some level is spontaneous and than we thought ‘It will be great to try some slower riffs this time’.

FN:  Despite the less commercial nature of your music you’ve enjoyed strong sales for almost all of your releases.  Are you concerned with sales or are you more focused on making music purely for the music’s sake?

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: When you are on the stage and you hear the crowd singing at the top of their lungs.. you can be sure that they feel the connection between the writer and the reader. Imagine that we want to direct a short movie, with characters, scenarios, cinematography.. but we just have our voices, instruments and lyrics to show this movie to our public. That’s the way I see our work.

Johan Kjellgren: That was profound, man.. (laughs)  But he said it all. When we are proud of our work the sales just happen.

FN:  What’s your artistic process like?  Do all the members of the band contribute to the music & lyrics or is there a primary songwriter for the band?

Oskar Bergqvist: I was the main lyricist before Hans joining us.. you know, it’s easier to sing what you wrote. But we always discussed the undertone, the focus. Now, it’s really a collective process.. the final lyrics are written by Hans and me, but Lars and Oskar always come up with something.

FN:  How do your song ideas originate?  Do you work on material alone and then bring it to the group?

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: We don’t have any agreement like ‘What happens in the studio stays in the studio’.. I’m always recording weird hummings in my cell phone.. I’m driving and I have a good riff idea, I pick up the phone and record that rakkatakka.. It’s funny, many good riffs came out like that.

Lars Laarson: Yeah, “many” (laughs)..

FN:  In your band bio you list a number of themes that your lyrics are based on – H.P. Lovecraft, Occultism, Misanthropy, the Human Condition, and Society.  Are these themes something you use purely for the imagery they evoke or are you interested in them personally?

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: Our music is always true to its inspiration. For example, we watch movies together to share impressions, to sintonize ideas, making the sum greater than its parts.. The imagery is pretty important, it help us to communicate different layers of emotions and empathy..

FN:  Hans you joined the band as lead vocalist a little over a year ago after Oskar ruptured his vocal cords.  What’s it like being the new guy in the band?  Do you feel settled in now?

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: You must have noticed the way they’re always trolling me in this very interview.. This is their way to make me feel part of the family.. Neil Peart said in ‘Beyond The Lighted Stage’ that after 30 years touring with Geddy and Alex, he continues to be the new guy, so..

Oskar Bergqvist: C’mon, you are a Swedish redneck.. (laughs)

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: See?

FN:  Your latest album “Q.C.I.C.” has sold well since its release last month.  Do you think it will hit #1 on the Figment Hot Albums chart like your last album “The Sound of Malevolence” did?

Lars Laarson: Well, a lightning bolt never strikes twice at the same place.. We’re always happy with our sales, considering the kind of music we create.

FN:  How did it feel to top the charts with your last album?

Johan Kjellgren: Well, first we thought ‘Someone just shut down the Internet and nobody is able to download it’ (laughs). But it was really awesome, because we know how unconventional our record is, so it was really surprising.

FN:  “Q.C.I.C” is a concept album of sorts.  Can you tell us a little about it and where the concept originated?

Oskar Bergqvist: Some months ago I saw this series pilot ‘3percent’ on YouTube.. and then I read about this building in Manhattan, the former Western Union headquarters, that is a giant physical node of the Web..

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: ..and I’m a big fan of Muse and Matthew Bellamy’s dystopian lyrics.. all this we’re a perfect match for our album. Like that 80’s role-playing game ‘Paranoia’.

FN:  Any plans to tour on this album?

Johan Kjellgren: We’re talking with some other bands, trying to share some costs.. It’s not easy to tour outside Europe.. We never played in Australia and New Zealand, it’s something we’re really trying to do, bringing 3 or 4 other bands with us…

FN:  What’s next for Törnekrona?

Lars Laarson: Vacation…

Oskar Bergqvist: We’re considering a very awkward collaborative album with David Bowie called ‘Lily’ to ruin our career.. (laughs) Seriously, nothing planned yet.

FN:  Teach us a little Swedish.  How would you say “you guys rock”?

Johan Kjellgren: Nunstruck git und Slotermeyer?

Lars Laarson: Ja, oder gersput!

Whole band: Oder Gersput!

Editor’s Note:  They may be metal gods from Sweden, but that doesn’t mean the members of Törnekrona don’t have a sense of humor.  While transcribing our interview I realized that their answer to my final question was clearly not Swedish.  I contacted the band to clarify that this was the case, and was reminded that it’s origin was actually, of all things, English.

Let’s Help William Schaff!

December 12th, 2011

For those of you who participated in the 2nd annual Figment Album Cover Design Contest back in 2010, you’ll remember that we were privileged to have artist and designer William Schaff as our guest judge.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with William he has created album cover designs for artists like Okkervil River, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, etc. and I highly suggest you check out the interview we conducted with him.

William was great to work with as a judge and really helped us all out by providing some great feedback to our players.  Now we’d like to return the favor by helping him out with a project he has just posted on Kickstarter. For those of you who are not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a way for artists, filmmakers, musicians, designers, writers, illustrators, explorers, curators, performers, and others to bring their projects, events, and dreams to life by asking the public to help them fund it.  William is working with Ryan Graveface of Graveface Records to raise $15,000 to put out a high quality, fine art book that collects the artwork William Schaff has done for bands and musicians over the years.   60 to 80 pages, this 11″ x 11″ book collects artwork done by William over the years for such bands as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Okkervil River, Kid Dakota, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and more. It also contains introductions written by folks such as John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, Darren Jackson of Kid Dakota, and Will Sheff of Okkervil River. The book will also come with a 10″ of songs recorded by Jason Molina (Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co.) specifically for this book. Lastly, 10% of all proceeds if they make their goal (or exceed it) will go to helping Jason with his current medical bills.

The project is 57% funded already, but every dollar will help with manufacturing the book and you’ll get some great reward gifts in return. So give what you can and help William meet his goal!

Being able to write a band bio is a real skill – fake or real.   A good one grabs your attention and creates for the reader an image of the band, from it’s origins to it’s inspirations.  To create a true figment of a band, a player has to create a strong band bio since there is no music to clue a fan in to the band’s aesthetic.  Without a bio a fake band seems empty and well, fake.

We know we have a lot of great writers here on Figment.  so with our latest Figment Challenge we’re asking you to write the ultimate band bio!  We’ll provide the band name and you fill in the blanks!  So here we go…

The band’s name is Other Industrial Minerals.  You decide what kind of band they are, who their members are, what their back story is, and anything else you think will make them come alive.  The key is to make us a fan.  The only restrictions are that you may not use any real musicians, producers or record company names in your bio for Other Industrial Minerals.  You must also keep your bio’s length to no more than 10000 characters, just like on the site.

Submit your band bio for Other Industrial Minerals to customerservice at figment.cc by no later then Friday, December 17,2011 and we’ll judge them.  The Top 3 bios will be posted on the site on Dec. 21, 2011, and the winner will be allowed to actually create the band on Figment if they so choose.  The Top 3 will also receive lucre rewards of 5,000 pieces of lucre for first place, 3000 for second place and 1,500 for third.  Again, bio entries must be received by no later than Friday, December 17, 2011 to be eligible, so get writing!