Make no “Bones” about it, Paper Jackets are branching out with their latest single. The band released “Bones” last month, the new track from their upcoming record, Souvenirs Part Two. The song is a little darker than what you’ve come to expect from the group, with themes including overcoming fear and finding faith in oneself. When it comes to releasing new music, Paper Jackets have been on fire, with “Bones” the follow up to recent singles “Drugs & Honey,” “i’m depressed,” “Bad Company,” “White Noise,” and most recently, “Rumors.” Souvenirs Part Two will be the follow-up to Souvenirs Part One, released in July 2020, a collection of alternative rock songs with a nostalgic theme that stretched its way throughout the record.
Celebrating their fifth anniversary this year, Paper Jackets formed when each member was rotating through a number of Sunset Strip jam nights. Their initial interactions were quite random, but those passing interactions led to some productive conversations that helped to begin to lay the foundation for the group. By 2018, they had released their EP Don’t Lose Your Head, and were soon opening for Bishop Briggs and the X Ambassadors. Ever since then, the band has been comfortably rolling along, with an audience growing exponentially with each successive release.
Not just a great tune, “Bones” also features some pretty snazzy cover artwork. For our latest UnCovered interview, we spoke with frontman James Mason about the single cover art, how it was created, and that one album James bought just because of the album cover.
What was the inspiration for the “Bones” cover artwork?
James Mason: “The lyrics and energy of the song served as the inspiration behind the cover artwork. We thought the themes expressed in the music were symbolic of warning signs and dangers visible in the real world. Addictive substances being the obvious first thought but in fact physically reactive dangers as well: fire, explosives, chemical reactions etc… I think the biggest challenge with any graphic design like this is creating a story but not overly ‘on the nose…’ The song indicates various possibilities for the art but we tried to give it a little more than just fire and crossbones. You know what I’m saying?”
Please elaborate on the medium(s) used when creating the art. We’d love to know how the artwork was created.
“This was all created in Photoshop using digitally sourced graphics. We develop the concept and overall philosophy behind the cover then start pulling images, overlays, etc.. then it’s all about the layout really. Layout is the next big feat.”
Have you ever purchased an album solely because of its album artwork? If yes, did the music live up to the artwork?
“Yes! Marilyn Manson made me do it! Don’t tell my mom. In the days of Tower Records, yes I would say 90 percent of the music I bought was because of the cover art. Two reasons, at that age, I really didn’t know much about music and it was something you could hold, unpack, and treasure. I’d buy posters for the same reason. It could have the Son of Sam on the cover and I’d have no idea. On some level listeners are just waiting to be informed of what they should like regardless of what it is… Once you become more aware it kind of takes the fun out of being a consumer. You then graduate to becoming a snob who tells people why their music sucks.”
With the increasing popularity of digital music, most fans view artwork as just pixels on a screen. Why did you feel the artwork was important?
“I don’t recommend listening or looking at things that were just pumped out in order to fit the next Friday release schedule. But that good art created with bold, brave, and honest intention always wins. It matters because it tells a real story, has detail, has purpose and is badass! The pixels matter, it’s all in how you use them. Art is a powerful human expression like love and shame. It matters to the viewer just like it matters to the creator and I think it’s obvious when the content falls flat.”
When people look at the single cover artwork, what do you want them to see/think?
“I want to pique their curiosity to listen further to the meaning of the song. I don’t think there’s a prescribed one size that fits all for the meaning of the cover. I would hope everyone who sees it takes from it what they will.”
Have any favourite music-related visual artists?
“Björk, Marilyn Manson, Pretty Lights, and Korn.”
What are your thoughts on digital art versus non-digital?
“I think they are both valuable and both equally capable of being criticized. I like taking photos and then altering them digitally then using overlays and various blending tools to create something that surprises me. In the end, it ends up digitized for print or online use so it’s pretty kosher. Not exactly sure if I would start digital and stay digital… Start with something in the real world, capture it and then adapt it.”
What do you think are some of the cover artworks that have translated best/worst onto t-shirts and other merch?
“I think anything that is printed well and on quality material is half the battle. The other half being the design or artwork. Beyond that I can’t comment.”
Do you prefer having the most creative control when working on the art, or do you prefer when the rest of the band gives you a lot of input?
“I prefer when the band and management team all weigh in.”