Villainy enlist legendary artist

MIKE ALEXANDER
Last updated 10:27 24/12/2012

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Auckland band Villainy have scored a coup with their debut album Mode Set Clear.

They are the first New Zealand band that legendary graphic artist Storm Thorgerson has worked with. 

Thorgerson, has won numerous awards for his album cover designs for Pink Floyd, including Dark Side Of The Moon, Led Zeppelin, Muse, the Cranberries, Alan Pasons and The Mars Volta.

"We spent a lot of time discussing the type of aesthetic we wanted to achieve. We always wanted something striking, something which couldn't be easily replicated and hadn't been done before," says Villainy's Neill Fraser.

"We looked at few options locally including producing something ourselves but it's really difficult to remain objective.

"We worked with Tom Larkin [Shihad] to do the record because he's at the top of his game and we really wanted to apply the same ethos to the packaging. Storm's name was thrown around when we were looking for ideas and we figured why not talk to the man himself. "

A few emails later and much to Villainy's surprise the ailing Thorgerson he was keen to take on the project.

"He was given a blank page. He asked for music, lyrics and a run down of the general themes of the record," Fraser says. "We sent all that off and about a month later he came back with six or so concepts, hand drawn, from which we picked the image that ended up being the cover.

"From choosing the concept to completion we were completely in the dark. It was a bit un-nerving waiting it out but we were all floored when we finally saw the finished image. It's also remarkable how similar it was to the original drawing (a snippet of which is inside the album booklet), he is very, very faithful to his concepts."

Along with one of his contemporaries Roger Deans, Thorgerson is one of the few artists to have had a book published of album covers he's designed and still commands a hefty fee.

So have many possessions did Villainy have to sell?

"None of us have much more than instruments and shitty cars - there's nothing to sell," Fraser says. "Given that the image was photographed and highly conceptual it was more expensive than going with a graphic or a piece of stock photography but we think it was worth it. Would you rather have the
imitator or the real thing? We went with the latter."

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