Behind The Artworks: Better Than Never – Head Under Water (2016)

Head Under Water, the second EP from Oxford Pop Punk Sextet Better Than Never, saw release on 2nd December via Fox Records. Recorded with Ian Sadler at Emeline Studios, the resultant record is one jam-packed with hard-hitting layers: the dual vocalists are used to maximal effect, triple stacked guitars cleverly interplay and the lyrical content delivers a punch to the feels. Head Under Water also sees the band voyaging into new waters, with unexpected moments of aggression, meaning they appeal equally to fans of Blink 182 and Sum 41, as they do to the likes of Stick To Your Guns and A Day To Remember. Vocalist James Harris says: “This release is hugely important to us, it’s was great fun recording our previous EP release, but one of our favourite things we took from that was the reaction we got from our fans. We want to give back to those who have supported us and spread the music as far and wide as we can. We really hope people see and feel the hard work we put into this release.” Now Harris opens up about the creation of the accompanying artwork…

With our artwork we really wanted to keep the theme we had going from the previous EP, on which the cover featured a homemade hero. We wanted the artwork to show him progressing on his journey, and we felt this also helped represent how we felt with this new EP, exploring new territories and incorporating new inspirations.

We had quite lengthy discussions about how we wanted to play the EP artwork. As we had planned to put the single "Learning To Swim" on the EP, we felt an aquatic theme would work quite well given the context. Originally we worked on a few mock-ups on our own including the original one we picked - which spawned the idea for our current cartoon one - showed a woman drowning in the middle of a dark sea. We liked the concept of someone trying to swim, but the version Jim came up with on photoshop just looked a bit too dark to suit the sound we were going for with this EP.

From this, we had a look into illustrators who would suit the style we wanted, one that had caught our eye earlier on in the year was Mark Bell. He's worked with a huge range of bands, and he is a really talented designer. With that in mind, we gave him an awful sketch, which he somehow managed to interpret really well. He first sent us back his own sketch, and then followed it up with the full design.

As you can see from some of the images, it's amazing to see how much it all comes together, it starts off as a pencil sketch, then followed by an outline, colouring and finally all the editing to make it really come together.
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