I first got into graphic design by making fan websites for bands when I was a teenager, since then I've been lucky enough to continue to design plenty of visual things to help people experience music throughout my design career.
In more recent years, playing in my own band has put me on both sides of this. Writing songs, recording them and then also creating the artwork and videos has been a huge part of what I’ve done for the last five years as a member of False Advertising. For the first few years the band existed as an entirely DIY entity, and developed an un-fussy chaotic visual style that reflected their self-recorded, loud, chaotic music. This was partially formed by necessity as an unsigned band working on a shoestring budget.
However as time went on, the songs we were writing became more expansive and ambitious. We went into a studio in 2018 to record for the first time with producer Luke Pickering, we were awarded PRS Momentum Funding for the release of the album, which presented us with many more options for it’s release than we ever could have previously dreamed of. We also found and began working with our manager Matt Hughes around that time too.
I decided early on in the process of making the album that to hold-true to our DIY roots the band should be responsible for the album’s visual side. My aim was that the concept, name and visual identity would come from us and closely link to the music. Once we had developed a solid visual direction, then we would look to collaborate with other people to help us extend and realise our vision.
The first task was to find a thematic hook that could be used to represent the album, which could inform both the name and the visual concept. The band has two lyric-writers and singers, so some work needed to be done to get to grips with how the two viewpoints are heard across the album.
After analysing the album lyrically, my interpretation was that each song is commenting in a different way about self-indulgence, be-it commenting on someone acting self-indulgently, or the narrator acting in that way towards someone or a situation.
‘Self indulgence’ wasn’t a name that we liked, but as a theme it did inspire several potential names and visual ideas.
I collected a bunch of visual references which I felt were in-line with the themes I had identified.
I then combined some of these visual ideas with potential names, sometimes randomly, sometimes with a bit more of an agenda.
Alongside the others in the band, we picked our favourite visual idea which was a dropped melting ice cream. We felt that this reflected the feeling of something that you’re looking forward being spoiled, and suggested the idea of self-indulgence in a more direct way by being sweet and gluttonous.
The ice cream idea also tied in to the ‘sweet’ theme of the artwork for our previous single ‘You Said’ which featured an exploding bottle rocket. This also then inspired the idea of creating a series of imagery depicting ‘sweet things being destroyed’ which would be used for the other artwork that we needed across the campaign. We came up with a number of ideas for this, including melting a lollipop with a blow-torch, setting marshmallows on fire and melting candy-floss with water.
This was then developed further with a bunch more experimentation with visual style, test photography, composition, type and layouts, to get a feel for how a final version would look and feel.
Deciding on a name for the album was really difficult. As the visual side was further developed we tried out all sorts of things ‘Expectation Vs Reality’, ‘Hello World’ and ‘Brainfreeze’ were all in the running for a long time.
We eventually sided with Brainfreeze, mainly on the basis that we thought it sounded the coolest! We also felt it sounded the least tongue-in-cheek alongside the band name ‘False Advertising’.
After reviewing the campaign moodboards and experiments, we decided to shoot each image for the artwork on a plain, coloured background.
Armed with a plan and mockups we began to work together to shoot the different images for both the album cover and artwork series.
Given that each image in the series depicts something being destroyed, I decided that we should shoot both still and video of each scenario. Given that having moving image would no-doubt be useful in campaign roll-out.
After a bunch of artworking, colour correcting and a fair bit of trial and error, we had our final series of images..
Somewhere along the way of us working on the visuals, we had made the decision to license the album for release to Alcopop! When it came to designing the various album packages Jack from the label was awesome in suggesting ways to take the ice cream theme to the next level. He even had a discussion with DMS vinyl about pressing the vinyl with hundreds and thousands inside it (which unfortunately wouldn’t have worked as the sugar would melt!).
With the sprinkle theme in mind, we did however decide on going with three-colour ‘ice cream splatter’ vinyl for the first run of the LP.
Given that we had already shot our campaign imagery and I had set out the design style, the design of the LP and CD packages was relatively straight-forward, with time being put in to type layouts, selecting stocks and proofing.
Illustrator, Tommings worked with us on a tour poster design featuring a number of melting ice creams, which we then used within t-shirts and stickers. Tommings' fun illustative style brings a sense of fun to the campaign, alongside being more suitable for riso and screen printing than the photographic style appearing everywhere else.
We continued to work with Jack at Alcopop! to put together awesome bundles which people were able to pre-order, such as the 'Knickerbocker Sundae' bundle, which included an embroidered apron, ice cream parlour hat, sticker sheet, lollipop, piece of rock, postcard and t-shirt.
We announced an album tour alongside the album, which used the campaign artwork in it’s design. Over time we have varied the visuals to support different stages of the campaign and shows across the entirety of the band's web presence.
We worked with Photographer Nat Wood, who understood the tone of voice of the campaign and shot a set of press photos that brought us into the world of Brainfreeze. During the course of the campaign, these photos have popped up in publications a-plenty including Kerrang, Total Guitar, Rock Sound and NME.
The album campaign featured two music videos, ‘Influenza’ which was filmed with Dave McCormick and Natasha Arciniega and edited by myself, incorporating the campaign videos alongside live performance. The second for ‘Wasted Days’ which was produced entirely by the band also featured an ice cream.