Behind The Artworks: LIFES - Treading Water (2019)


Dave Rudnik & Jorge Tapia Dave Rudnik: We spent a long time on this record. A seriously long time. Between writing and recording, we spent over five years on this album. In all that time, we never once talked about a title or artwork. When we finally finished recording in February 2019, we started combing the lyrics for decent album titles. After some debate, we agreed on “Treading Water” but then had to decide on what direction we wanted to go with the art. We knew we wanted something with color that didn’t necessarily look like a typical hardcore or powerviolence record. We scoured Instagram and the internet for inspiration and once we had some examples of what we were looking for, we reached out to artists we knew to see if they wanted to take a crack at it. That’s where Brandon came in. 

Brandon Bauer: I had worked on cover art projects with Zak when he was with People Again, so when he approached me about the cover for this LIFES 12" I was all for it. He sent me some images they were using as inspirations and told me the record would be titled “Treading Water”. They said they wanted something that gives a feeling of exhaustion & failure. They also said they were leaning towards blue as a primary color. I just happened to be working with images of ice sheets calving and crashing into the sea for an upcoming art exhibition and thought those images spoke to what they wanted - rising seas, humanity's failures to protect the planet and that many people in coastal areas are already "treading water". I worked up some images and we went back and forth a bit getting the color and tone just right. 

Dave: By nature, I’m not a “hands-off” person. I tend to meddle and micro-manage in most areas of my life, especially when it comes to band related stuff. I really liked Brandon’s art, but it didn’t feel it was quite there, so I had some other friends take a try. One friend, Jorge Tapia, sent his take and while I didn’t feel the cover was a perfect fit, Zak and I both loved the logo and the text. While trying to incorporate Jorge’s logo, I decided to chop up Brandon’s art to give it a different feel. The tears were intended to add additional depth or texture and I feel like the end effect mimicked waves, tying it all back to the water theme. 

In the end, the process was time-consuming, there were tons of revisions and the final product looks nothing like what we thought we wanted, but I love it and can’t thank Brandon & Jorge enough for their help. 


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