The first thing you learn about Turbid North is that they are originally from Aalska and the second thing you learn is that they play great music that pulls in the sounds of doom, thrash and death metal. Their Ironclad debut is coming out complete with awesome artwork by band member Alex Rydlinski. MBA caught up with Alex on the eve of Turbid North’s Ironclad Recordings release “Orogeny” to talk about the ornate and mystical artwork that he created for the CD. (note: not all images from cd are here…you need to buy it to see the rest)
Ok…So what came first the music or the visual art?
Visual art. It’s my oldest passion. Kids draw before they learn how to dress themselves, it’s a wonder we’re not a society overflowing with artists.
Have you always worked in your current style and if not how did you work before?
I’ve always been a fan of many mediums. Until just these last couple years I never thought of myself as “making art” as much as just practicing technique and experimenting with mediums. I’ve enjoyed using charcoal, oil pastels, graphite, linoleum printmaking, scratch board and whatever else is available and encouraged in school. On the “Orogeny” project I tried to hone my pen and ink and watercolor skills. Lately I’ve been working with acrylic paints and colored pencils. In the future I’d like to experiment more with oil paints as well as tattooing. Right now I hate the idea of being locked into any one style and being expected to produce the same kind of shit for the rest of my life.
Who are your artistic influences?
Traditionally, Escher and Dali. I loved those guys when I was growing up because they had all the technique in the world and they used it so cleverly to distort reality. Weird, perplexing, challenging artwork. I also loved Gerald Scarfe’s animations in “The Wall” album and movie. I’ll always be inspired by old movies and music. (I just recently re-watched John Carpenter’s “The Thing” and can’t stop talking about it.) As I got into metal, Pushead, of course, and Derek Riggs. Repka (I could look at Death’s “Leprosy” cover all day), and I absolutely love Necrolord’s artwork for Emperor’s “In the Nightside Eclipse”. When I discovered John Baizley a few years ago his work inspired me to be more careful and patient with my own work and kind of birthed a new sense of seriousness in me about art. Lately I’ve been hugely inspired by Drew Struzan and working more in that style. I was pleased to see you featured his “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” cover art on your site. That’s got to be one of the best albums of all time with artwork to match. Also really digging Dan McPharlin’s atmospheric sci-fi art. You can get lost in those images!
What words best describe your artistic style?
Painstaking and by hand. There’re no shortcuts I can figure out that help move things along more quickly. It sucks!
How do you balance doing artwork with being in a band?
Well, there have been times when I’ll need to practice a particular guitar part I haven’t been nailing and I’ll get caught up trying to finish a drawing by a deadline. And there have been times I’ll have to suspend an art project because I need to practice or we need to go on tour or whatever. They’re both very important to me and when I’m not feeling very talented or inspired with one and I can always shift to the other and find some success. Ultimately, Turbid North is my first priority because it’s what I’ve wanted to do forever and it’s such a demanding thing being in a band. Being able to do artwork for my band and other bands just sweetens the deal, but it’s always organized around whatever Turbid is doing.
Tell us about the amazing work you did for your bands CD? What are the main concepts?
I do the actual artwork, but we make design decisions kind of like we write songs. It’s everybody’s album so I want everybody’s opinions and objections/suggestions. I’ll never just start creating our stuff without feedback from the guys. Somewhere along the way when writing “Orogeny” we decided to try to make it as visual as possible and that ended up meaning full illustrations for each page in the booklet. We hoped with the lyrics it would be an experience similar to a graphic novel. The main theme of the album is survival, embodied by the hunter on the front cover who gets caught out in a snow storm miles from civilization with a dead horse and homemade snowshoes. The art reflects the lyrics. It’s all very Alaskan, where we’re originally from and where the band was formed. We moved to Texas to try to make music full time in 2007. We were all living in a house together and after a couple years there was this unspoken tension, a “we can’t live like this much longer without seeing any progress” situation. So, survival and change. That’s how we felt at the time and we felt it was important to capture that vibe in the songs.
What do you hope people will think when they see it?
I hope they get sucked into it. There is a lot of detail to feast on so I hope people take their time with the drawings and check it out. And hopefully the artwork will encourage people to buy a physical copy of the album to help cover our gas prices in the van
What is Turbid North all about? Any tour plans?
Our album is being re-released on Ironclad Recordings June 21st. We do have summer tour plans in the works, some dates posted on our facebook and on ironcladrecordings.com, many more to come shortly. Hopefully down the line we’ll be able to release the album on vinyl. Which I think most people agree is music’s best format for artwork.
Who are your favorite bands of all time and what bands are you listening to right now?
I’ll never stop listening to Pink Floyd and the Beatles. And all my favorite bands growing up like Black Sabbath, Metallica, Pantera and Crowbar. These days I listen to stuff like Baroness, Behemoth, Intronaut, The Sword, Goatwhore, The Black Dahlia Murder, Opeth, EYEHATEGOD, Mastodon, and new shit whenever I can find it. When I make art I like to listen to super doomy shit like Weedeater or Dark Castle or trippy, atmospheric shit like Ozric Tentacles or The Orb. And Stravinsky!!!
Name one artist you would you like to see interviewed on Metal Band Art and why?
I would love to hear Ed Repka talk about his process. Also Daniel Shaw is a kickass artist in Houston you should get a hold of!