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Cover Stories: Hey Lover - Sinking Ships


On their third full-length release, Sinking Ships, Portland garage rock trio Hey Lover reached out to artist Pat Moriarity and commissioned him to design an original and interactive piece of album cover art. The final concept, inspired by the cut outs often seen at classic roadside attractions, came together over the course of three days in Astoria, Oregon, as Moriarity, his son Jack, and the band worked to create the giant life-sized painting that would eventually grace the cover of Sinking Ships.

Watch a time-lapse video of the making of the artwork for the album above (which includes the album’s title track), and read our recent conversation with Moriarity and Hey Lover’s drummer Terah Beth below.

Jerad Walker: Terah Beth, how did you meet up with Pat?

Terah Beth: Tim, our bassist and Hovercraft Records head, had already worked with Pat on other Hovercraft Records projects. Justin (my husband, guitarist/vocals) and I met Pat for the first time when we were on tour in the Puget Sound area. We were playing a show at Hi-Fi in Bremerton, WA and Pat was there. We had admired Pat’s art from projects we had previously seen. So, we were already fans before meeting him. We were lucky enough to visit his art studio the day after our show and in one way or another we let Pat know we would be honored and excited if he’d work with us on our next album cover. Then came collaboration and friendship.

JW: What was the inspiration for the cover?

Terah Beth: When we were touring, it seemed that we often passed those vacation cut-out signs that you could stick your head in to

One of the roadside attractions that inspired the album cover. Hey Lover posing at a cranberry farm on Long Beach Peninsula in Washington.

One of the roadside attractions that inspired the album cover. Hey Lover posing at a cranberry farm on Long Beach Peninsula in Washington.

snap a photo. We made a point to stop anytime we saw them.  So after we had talked to Pat about the cover, I had a little epiphany. We should take Pat’s artwork and make a huge 8-ft by 8-ft cut-out and take the photo for the album cover and the back could just be our back ends. No photoshop, all real photos. Not the easy way, but a very fun process.

In the meantime, Pat was tinkering away on the drawing without any direction from us. The next time we came through the area on tour, we stopped by his art studio once more and saw the very detailed, almost complete design. It was a trip!

We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to have Pat paint the cover. Lucky for us, Pat and his son Jack were able to drive from Port Orchard to Astoria to join us for a long weekend to actually paint the piece. After it was all painted, Justin cut the holes and music photographer Jason Quigley came to Astoria to shoot the front/back cover and inner gatefold photo.

The vinyl gatefold package includes 2 postcards (sticking to the ‘vacation’ cut-out theme) and a 5-in x 5-in sticker of Pat’s original drawing).

We couldn’t be happier with the final product.

Hey Lover in Astoria, Oregon with the finished piece of artwork.

Hey Lover in Astoria, Oregon with the finished piece of artwork.

Courtesy of the artist/Jason Quigley

JW: Pat, you started out working in the Minneapolis music scene doing gig art and still do a lot of work with music-related projects. Why do you like working in this world so much?

Pat Moriarity: I’ve always been a music fan and I kind of got my start in art, cartooning and illustration from doing punk flyers, music zine art and 45 sleeves. I grew up in Iowa and was attracted to the music scene of  1980’s Minneapolis. My love for working in this world certainly isn’t for the money. I like doing art for people to see, and more people see it if it’s mass produced. I get inspired by the music, so I often live by this creed- “listen to the demos or music as you doodle, and the resulting cover will smell like the music.” It has a relationship.

JW: Tell me about the process for this piece of cover art.

Pat: It was acrylic paint, and then when it was all painted, I went in with these giant sharpies, acrylic markers, and drew the lines in.

An early conceptual sketch by Pat Moriarity of the Sinking Ships album cover.

An early conceptual sketch by Pat Moriarity of the Sinking Ships album cover.

Pat Moriarity

I designed the sleeve after listening to the music and lyrics to their [new album]. They wanted a giant mural like the ones you pose with, with the holes for your head to poke out. I decided to have a giant sea monster strangle the band as their ship sank (playing off the lyrics from the title track, “Sinking Ships”). First I penciled it out, then actually made a pen and ink drawing to blow up. My son Jack and I projected the image and traced it on an 8 x 8 foot wood surface the band had built. We all painted in the flat colors (Jack, the band, and I) and then I went in and did the black ink lines. Next they cut holes out for their heads, and posed for the photo that became the record sleeve. The back of the record is a photo that shows their butts from behind.

I posted a slide show of the steps and opbmusic can use some of those photos if you want. I have brief captions for each photo.

The image that appears on the back cover of Hey Lover's Sinking Ships.

The image that appears on the back cover of Hey Lover’s Sinking Ships.

Courtesy of the artist/Jason Quigley

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