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Turning Monochrome with UK Rock Band Savages To see more…

By March 8, 2016 No Comments

Turning Monochrome with UK Rock Band Savages

To see more Savages, check out @savagesband on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

Savages (@savagesband) don’t pull any punches. But there’s more to the fist on the London-based quartet’s new album artwork than that. Adore Life, the cinematic post-punks’ second LP, is by turns inflammatory, menacing and tender. But if the cover suggests protest, empowerment and jubilation — and maybe holding something (a person?) tight — then their recent singles further explore the myriad expressions of the human hand. The sleeve for “T.I.W.Y.G” is almost a wave, or a letting-go. Meanwhile, “The Answer” sets forth a raised palm, like in a classroom.

“The idea for the artwork started in the back of the tour bus,” recalls Fay Milton (@faymilton), who plays drums in Savages alongside Jehnny Beth (vocals), Ayse Hassan (bass) and Gemma Thompson (guitar). “We realized we needed something very personal to the band, and something very human. We liked the idea of using the heart tattoo on Jehnny’s wrist. We wanted something which represented the message and the sound of the record,” she explains. “The fist is such a great icon of strength, positivity, resistance, confrontation and solidarity. The tattooed anatomical heart is the depiction of the pain and reality of love.”

Since they formed in London in 2011, Savages have invoked minimalist, dramatic rock that’s primal yet precision-tooled. It’s honed by a democratic creative process which, says Fay, involves “all of us bringing ideas, and working and reworking the songs until they don’t even resemble their starting point like a long four-way train of thought.”

Those alterations were first on display on Savages’ 2013 debut album, Silence Yourself, which was dispatched with a 36-line manifesto on its sleeve. While their second album cover text is minimal in comparison (reading simply, “SAVAGES” and “ADORE LIFE”), its image speaks volumes about its direction, suggesting a sense of breaking through, of pushing things to the limit. “We definitely wanted to take all of the elements from Silence Yourself and push them further and in different directions,” Fay says. “And the title, Adore Life, could be seen as a two-word manifesto for the record.”

Adore Life was recorded in London in April 2015, a few months after the group test-drove the material at a series of shows in New York. “The songs really take form in that environment,” offers Fay. “It’s the place where anything unnecessary is cut out, and everything becomes harder and faster. It breathes life into the songs.”

Savages thrives on that type of fan interaction, as their recent, chaotic, crowd-surfing video for “The Answer” attests. “That was an amazing day,” Fay recalls. “About 100 fans came to the shoot [in Lisbon, Portugal] and jumped and moshed for 10 hours straight. When we weren’t in shot, we went and joined them, so if you look really closely you can probably see us jumping around at the back. It was like one giant party.”

There’s a photo of those fans en route to make the video, and they look delirious. It’s one of many behind-the-scenes images that illustrates Savages’ relationship with their followers. “It’s a two way thing, so we need to reflect that in our videos and writing process,” says Fay. Many of the photos and visual work they share is in black and white. Is it designed as an extension of their stark music — of their impeccable study in the tension between dark and light (and in-between) — or is it an austere kick against our frantic, Technicolor media landscape? “It does reflect our minimalist tendencies,” Fay says. “But it was an intuitive decision, and it’s a look that’s been part of Savages from the start. We became monochrome and monochrome became us.”

— Nicola Meighan for Instagram @music