We caught up with the alternative illustrator and long-time music fan Godmachine to talk about some of his favourite album covers and which ones influenced him artistically. From Kyuss to Beck, it's a wide range.
Godmachine's Top Ten Album Covers
Godmachine's favourite artwork from the world of music
Depeche Mode – Violator
"I remember hearing these from my mate Nails when we were Suicidal Tendencies skate punk teens and hating them - they weren't angry enough for me. We had a party at Nails' house and he had one of those super posh tape players, so once the tape ended it would automatically switch itself over and play the other side! Modern technology! When we were all crashing, Nails put the tape on and we smoked until we fell asleep. Of course the tape played all night and when I woke up in the morning I complained about it, but one day I found myself humming a tune or two. Since then its a favourite of mine and the album cover was pretty weird for me compared to all the other stuff I was listening too at the time."
Black Flag – Six Pack
"I remember hearing these for the first time at 14 on the Streets Of Fire skate video – the best skate video ever – and rushed into the city to buy it. I bought it on record without owning a record player – I was a modern man with tapes! I used my brother's and listened with my mate Stu and it was the sludgiest shit I'd ever heard, not at all like what was on the video, but I'd spent all my money on it and I'll be fucked if I wouldn't like it so I convinced myself I liked this sludge noise shit. It wasn't until Stu noticed we were playing it at the wrong speed that I really became a huge fan. The artwork was just mind-blowingly raw for me and an introduction into a whole new way of thinking about what art was."
Faith No More – Angel Dust
"It would be hard to imagine metal today without this album – it changed what we thought metal was back then. But that cover was so gentle, serene and graceful, then you open it up and there were all these dead animals hanging from hooks. It was basically what Faith No More were all about – contradictions. This angelic, lovely voice crushing into this guttural wild wailing gnashing deepest gale of human agony. Later I read a piece where Mike [Patton, vocalist] mentioned the name Angel Dust is the same thing again: a beautiful name but such a hellish drug. Perfect."
Fugazi – 13 Songs
"I remember the day Stu brought this record round my house and just being blown away. How did this sound so good, so different, what was going on on that cover? Every record cover after that is just perfect – the Steady Diet Of Nothing cover reminds me of how I felt watching Taxi Driver and other films about gritty 70s/80s New York. One of the best bands in the world in my eyes and such beautiful record designs. I really cant say much else about it."
Pantera – Vulgar Display Of Power
"And it was. I was in a band at the time and when this came out people were tearing their hair out. It was like an album you play before you go to war, or fight some lions in just your pants, or kung fu down a seven-headed dragon. It was like someone shitting fighting powers into your ears. Club dancefloors would fill with combat trousered long-haired warriors swooshing their manes in honour of the only album Klingons would deem worthy. And that cover. What can I say? It's undeniably a winner."
Iron Maiden – Killers
"I never liked Iron Maiden, I couldn't get on with the spandex screechy sexy pirate side of metal – I was probably too young. But this album cover used to fascinate me. My brother was a big fan and I would stare at these album covers and redraw them all the time – they used to confuse, scare and amaze me. There was always so much going on, all these little symbols to be found and stuff going on in the background I wanted answers to. This album was definitely a reason I fell deeper in love with art."
C.W. Stoneking – Jungle Blues
"My friend Amy played me this YouTube clip of this weird young man with a raspy voice and an odd clothing sense covering Seven Nation Army and it was amazing. I found out later through Jools Holland's show it was C.W. Stoneking and I've seen him twice now – once was on a boat in Bristol and it was awesome. He's such an old school guy with an amazing voice, sense of humour and a way with words. The album cover reflects his whole style brilliantly."
Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine
"That bloody monk on fire. Don't tell me you didn't get an education from this album – it was full of knowledge and power. It was like nothing anyone had ever heard and it killed it. Zack's cries to arms made you want to fight against anything, even the unjust raising of Mars bars from 20p to 30p, anything to fight the power. But that monk on the front cover – genius. If there was ever a symbol of strength in a cause that was pure hell it was that, and their music reflected that."
Beck – One Foot In The Grave
"I still think it's his best album, it's so dark and beautiful. I was listening to this around the time I was young and learning that smoking weed and listening to music was one of the best things anyone could do. There was a tight gang of us that knew this and practiced it all the time – the best music education I ever had was in a shed smoking weed for about three years. I also lost my virginity around the same time so this really seeped into my head. The vicar's daughter threw a party and I remember drinking loads of gin and sleeping with this girl – in the vicar's house! The next morning I was confused so jumped out the window and ran home three miles. It may have also been some of the mushrooms still in my system though. Ah, being young and weird."
Kyuss – And The Circus Leaves Town
"A lot was happening in my life when this album was present. It was the first Kyuss album I'd heard and they fast became my favourite band ever. I had long hair and was in a band that was kinda half stoner, half Helmet. I had my first proper girlfriend and it was the first time I experienced depression – I just used to stay up all night listening to the album smoking. I remember going up to Liverpool to see this girl and had just bought Blues For the Red Sun and listened to it all the way up there. When I got there I got stoned with some friends and put the CD on a stereo that was on top of the grill – it was one of those old cookers with the grill above the stove and the stereo was on top of that. I melted the stereo. It was dripping off the cooker like a Dali painting, but the CD was fine. I also smacked my head hard on the corner of the cooker and for about a week couldn't pronounce the Tescos properly – I kept saying Teth-coooes. Like some weird pigeon with a lisp. It was so weird."
Lard – The Power Of Lard
"What the fuck is that?! I have nothing more to say."
Godmachine's new retrospective book, The Art Of Godmachine, is out 2 June. You can pre-order it here.