Interview with designer David Turner regarding his album cover work for Lulu, a 2011 release on the Warner Bros./Vertigo labels, based on a collaboration between musical artists Lou Reed and Metallica (and winner of a “Gold Award for CD/DVD Packaging” in the 2013 Graphis Annual).
by Mike Goldstein, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com
During a press interview about their collaboration on Lulu, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich recalled the late Lou Reed’s challenge to the band, asking them “are you game for a little adventure – do you want to go on a ride with me?” They well-understood what working with Reed would entail, having performed together in 2009 at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th Anniversary concert and being witnessing first-hand, in rehearsals, why he had a well-deserved reputation as a perfectionist (during which, via sheer force of will, they earned his respect and an invitation to work together again under the right set of circumstances).
Those circumstances arose a couple of years later when Reed asked the band to work with him to set music to lyrics he’d created based on German playright Frank Wedekind’s “Lulu” series of plays written at the turn of the 19th & 20th centuries (and later re-interpreted in the great silent film Pandora’s Box by GW Pabst). Wedekind, also well-known for his play Spring Awakening, created stories (quite scandalous at the time) in which the main character, Lulu, dances her way through German high society in tales involving sex, lies and murder in degrees never before depicted in the theater. The poems/lyrics that Reed created to retell these stories needed music with the weight and energy that a band like Metallica produced naturally so, again, Lou tasked the group to work with him in methods outside their normal “comfort zone” – in other words, impulsively, without the thought, analysis and studio precision that they were used to in a recording session.
Having successfully lived up to the challenge of creating new music with a man considered one of the ultimate music industry “outsiders” (perceiving themselves as always having been outside the musical mainstream as well), the band turned to designer David Turner of the international design firm Turner Duckworth, who had worked with them on the highly-lauded, Grammy Award-winning packaging for 2008’s Death Magnetic, to come up with designs for the record that would best-reflect the unique nature of the music inside. The resulting packages – including a limited-edition deluxe, 12″ square bound hard-cover version with an illustrated lyric book and a book of photos of the musicians shot in Sweden by 2013 ACHOF inductee Anton Corbijn – were honored with a “Gold Award for CD/DVD Packaging” in the 2013 Graphis Annual. I was eager to learn more about the process and inspiration behind these stunning products and, with the help of David Turner and his team, I’m happy to provide you, my readers, with the details …