Interview: Queens of the Stone Age's Like Clockwork cover artist Boneface

The artist tells us about hanging out in Josh Homme's studio and creating art drawn from 80s horror, game and comic culture.

For the cover of the highly anticipated new album from Queens of the Stone Age, …Like Clockwork (above), the band roped in British illustrator Boneface, best known for his brutal artworks of human depravity. The artwork isn't gore-splattered like much of Boneface's work, but a deep sense of menace still seeps through.

We sat down with the mysterious entity that is Boneface to find out how an underground artist from Liverpool ended up creating cover art for one of the world's biggest rock bands.

NB: So who's Boneface?

B: "Have you ever wondered what would happen if you mixed a canister of TGRI’s, and a blob of Ivan’s respective Oozes with Judge Doom’s Dip… and then poured it on a guy? Well imagine that, and then put a mask on it."

NB: What are your main influences and inspirations?

B: "My influences for each illustration piece could be considered in terms of being handed three knives and throwing them at a spinning wheel covered with comics, videogames, horror movies, junk food, and other illustrators.

"I’m inspired by relics of my childhood and enjoy finding ways to distort them to give them a new lease of life, kind of like discovering an old VHS tape and finding it’s warped when you come to watch it."

NB: How did you get the QOTSA gig?

B: "I actually just got an email totally outta the blue from QOTSA’s management, asking if Josh could get in touch with a proposition. A few days and a Skype date later, the proposition grew into a monumental opportunity to work on what has proved to be my biggest project to date.

"The rest, as they say, is history."

NB: What were given to work with by the band/management for this project?

B: "A whole heck of air miles and oddments of ideas to begin with. They actually flew me out to LA for a week or so when this whole thing started.

"The album recording process was very much in full swing at the time, so we hung out at the Pink Duck (Josh’s studio).  I claimed a lair within the studio to work in, which the guys braved in between bouts of recording, and we just zapped ideas between us.

"I had an opportunity to listen to some rough cuts of the tracks, and was given the title of the album (which I think was still tentative at the time)."

NB: Tell us the story behind the main cover artwork

B: "Well, the title of the album; …Like Clockwork is ironic, as the recording of the album went anything but, so the idea behind the artwork is an extension of this.

"The journey from beautiful blueprint to prodigious palpability is often (usually) littered with bad shit. You might stumble into some of it, but sheer blood, sweat, guts [and] balls can see you through to create something real special."

NB: The Q 'logomark' fits in really well with the artwork of the two figures, almost mirroring the composition of the two heads but with its brutal motion in contrast to the stillness of the rest of the piece. Was it conceived to be part of the artwork from the get go, or did you design one to mirror the other – or is it just happy coincidence?

B: "It’s awesome that you read it that way, but no, that wasn’t really planned as such. The logo is basically a representation of 'Fuck what you think you know about us, and fuck what you heard. Listen to this'. At least, that’s how I meant it.


What's the 'Queens of the Stone Age' logo (above) going to be used for?

B: "It’s being used as part of the album packaging.  I just stuck a piece of paper up on a wall, covered my fingers in paint and attacked, scrawled, and scratched the thing out.

"It's raw conception is matched by its uncomplicated representation. We thought it looked rad, so we used it."

NB: What were you tasked with creating alongside the album cover?

B: "I’ve also illustrated the packaging for the album/LP releases, including the lyrics booklet.  The accompanying illustrations (examples below) evolved from snippets and themes of each song; from an incisive lyric, to a wild chord progression. I worked what I saw into an image, which continued the theme of the album title.

"I also worked with illustrator and animator Liam Brazier to create a series of animations to accompany five songs from the album. [They] chronicle a solitary protagonist making their way through a city-beyond-saving.

"The tales rupture into one another to create a jarring narrative of violence and debauchery."

NB: What's next?

B: "Forging a villainous fighting force out of poly-plastic for the purpose of world domination."

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