Making Album Art: Wilderness Tales EP

 

Wilderness Tales, The Long Hunt’s five track debut album- released February 17, 2017- has been out for nearly four months to the day. As such, this post is one of those “been meaning to for a while, but never got around to it” types. Reactions to the cover art, featuring the disembodied head of a three-eyed deer, have ranged from “cool” to “creepy”, “mysterious” to “unsettling”. Is there a story behind the artwork? How was it made, what does it mean? Answers to these questions can be found below.


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The deer head sculpture itself started its life as a ball of wadded-up newspaper, gifted to our house by the ever generous postman. It was probably the penny-saver coupon book, now that I think about it. Masking tape helped give the ball a little form, and a shortened paper-towel roll gave shape to the nose and the neck. After I had a very basic skull structure made from the paper and cardboard rolls, I started taping wads of newspaper to various points of the skull to flesh out the cheeks, neck, and head. The eyes were balls of newspaper surrounded by aluminum foil eyelids. The antlers a combination of aluminum foil, cardboard, and tape wrapped around wooden grill skewers. The ears were cut out of cardboard and the whole thing was covered in a layer of masking tape to hold it together and give it shape.


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Completed paper, aluminum, and cardboard head wrapped in masking tape.

Next I covered the entire sculpture with a layer of Papier-mâché (strips of newspaper coated in a flower/water/glue mixture that were stuck to the head). All said and done, I ended up with three separate layers that served to flesh out the head and smooth out the surface. After drying for a day, I painted some basic features on the sculpture, many of which would eventually be covered in hair and painted over again.


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painted Papier-mâché deer head

The hair used to cover much of the head was made by cutting small sections of a long strand of either jute or hemp rope. Cutting quarter-inch sections of rope at a time with a scissors quickly made a small pile of fibrous rope “hair” that I then stuck to the head using a watered down glue mixture. I stuck the hair on in layers, painting on the glue with a brush and patting on clumps of the hair. I finished the deer by painting fine details around the eyes, mouth and nose.


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finished deer head with jute/hemp rope “hair”

After drying for a day or two, it was now time to photograph the deer. I knew I wanted to do something with long exposure, where the camera takes anywhere from a few seconds, to a few minutes (or more) to take a picture. There are a lot of ways to go about this, but usually being in the dark helps (otherwise the image is extremely overexposed). I cleaned out a closet in order to make the darkest setting I could with minimal light leakage from the outside. I covered the walls with garbage bags, put the deer on a table with a black cloth, lit some candles, and set up a black light.


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I turned off all the other lights, zoomed in close on the deer, set the shutter for 30 seconds, and hit the button on the camera to start the process. After about maybe 5-10 seconds, I slowly zoomed out with one hand while my other hand waved around a small flashlight with a red filter on it. Once I was fully zoomed out, having maybe another 10-15 seconds left with the shutter open, I shined the red light on various points of the deer to get some lighting effects. The black light, candles, long exposure, red flashlight, reflective garbage bags, and zoom process resulted in what looks like a double image with interesting light trails and other artifacts. Everything was done “in camera” with no editing effects being employed in post (save slight color correction and some saturation adjustments).

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Front cover of Wilderess Tales EP

As far as the meaning behind this work, I’ll leave that up the the viewer and listener.  I know the “how” but not so much as the “why”. Art defines itself, I simply focus on the process. Hands interpreting thoughts that rise from the deep. As always, the end result was limited by time, materials, ability and circumstance. None the less, I think the image serves its purpose and fits the music well enough. Listen to the album on bandcamp for more insight and maybe it’ll all make more sense!

 

 

May Update

Here are a few quick updates for the band as we close out the first week of the month of May. Probably the most obvious one is that the site got a new look with the triple-eye banner and tree background. Our bandcamp site got a similarly themed facelift as well. No real reason for the change in appearance, I guess I just thought it was time for something new.

Another change to the site includes the addition of a dedicated video page. Currently we have four videos up, one of our live in-studio recording of the song “Ground of Being” and three recorded at last month’s show with The Skull, Horehound, and Monolith Wielder at Cattivo in Pittsburgh, PA. The three live gig videos were graciously done by the great Jeremy Schindorff and crew of Toledo, Ohio’s NWO Metal Militia and That Local metal Show. Definitely check these guys out, they do great work and are an asset to the local music community.

Here’s the four videos for convenience sake:





We also have some show announcements to share, with our first trip to Youngstown coming up on Friday, May 19 with Analog Faze, Sexy Pig Divas, and Knife Fighters. It is going to be an awesome blend of Stoner, drone, fuzz, doom, psych and garage rock, for sure! Here’s the flyer I designed for the event:

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Here’s a link to the Facebook event page for the show. If you live in the area, please consider coming out!

Its a little ways off, but we are scheduled to play at Pittsburgh’s annual Deutschtown Music Festival, happening the weekend of July 14 and 15th. We’ll be on the outdoor stage at 5:00 on Friday. Here’s Friday’s full schedule. In addition, Allison and Mark will be playing that Saturday with Emily Rodgers Band at the JAMES STREET GASTROPUB and SPEAKEASY. I’ll no doubt be helping to haul gear and will of course be taking pictures. Its going to be a lot of fun.

We have a handful of other shows in June and July that are not able to be announced yet, so be sure to check back!

TLH on Ep. 124 of Start the Beat podcast

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The Long Hunt sat down with the super talented Brian Howe (AKA Sikes) for episode 124 of his awesome long-format music podcast Start the Beat. It was such a cool experience to talk with someone who is so committed to the Pittsburgh music scene and who is also a talented producer, singer, rapper, graphic artist, videographer, and 2,526 other things! Check out the entire 90 minute episode by clicking the link below:

http://startthebeat.libsyn.com/start-the-beat-124-the-long-hunt?tdest_id=295814

Make sure to check out and support Brian’s other endeavors with the following links:

https://greywalker.bandcamp.com/

https://sikes.bandcamp.com/

https://trashbagmusic.bandcamp.com/

The Making of “Valley of the Sun”

Here is a story about the making of the song “Valley of the Sun”. The inspiration in many ways came from a road trip Allison and I took to Utah and Colorado in the spring of 2016. The band had just started writing its first songs about a month or two prior, so I decided to take my acoustic guitar along with us to hopefully develop those ideas and maybe even come up with some new ones out on the road.

It took two and a half days to drive from Pittsburgh to Western Colorado and it more or less rained the entire time. I say more or less because we also had some light snow and hail around the Toledo, Ohio area.

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Day 1: Rain in Ohio

On the second day, the drive across the seemingly never-ending state of Nebraska was met with unrelenting and oftentimes torrential rain. After ten or eleven hours out on the road, we stopped for the night about seventy miles outside of Denver. The local news reported that there had been tornadoes in the area earlier, and that the path through the mountains, which was where we were heading the next day, had received upwards of twelve inches of snow at some elevations.

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Day 2: Rain in Nebraska
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Day 2: Rain in Eastern Colorado

The next morning we woke up to more rain, which steadily turned to light snow once we passed  through Denver and into the mountains. Luckily the snow had been successfully cleared from most of the roadways overnight, which made the three to four hour drive through the Rockies a little more manageable. Of course, as soon as we got out of the mountains, the rain returned, following us as we made our way to our first stop- the Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction.

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Day 3: Rain in Denver
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Day 3: Rain turned to snow in the Rocky Mountains

We paid the fee at the park gate and drove up into the cliffs that overlooked the valley. We were basically at the same level as the cloud layer, the same clouds which felt like they had been haunting us for over sixteen-hundred miles across the country. We thought the rest of the day would be ruined. Out of nowhere, the clouds parted and we saw the first sign of sun in nearly three days. Everything dried up unbelievably fast, and in less than hour it was like it hadn’t rained at all. We were able to do some light hiking, took some pictures and even had time to pick out our camping spot before it got dark.

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Rain clouds exiting the scene
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Allison and I happy to see blue sky for the first time in nearly three days

The next morning we woke up just before dawn and took a walk through the nearby juniper forest leading to an overlook of the town below. We sat there a while, watching the rays of sun inch their way across the valley floor, and then heading back to the campsite to eat a cold breakfast of granola bars and instant coffee. It was turning out to be a clear and sunny day and the remaining clouds rapidly disappeared as the sun rose higher in the sky.

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Forest at dawn on the way to the overlook

It was in that morning calm that I decided to pick up the acoustic guitar and work through some of those early Long Hunt songs. Elements of “Valley of the Sun” did exist in a very primordial form at that point (though mostly just a collection of successive riffs), but didn’t have any sort of name, and was far from being a completed song by any stretch of the imagination. Mark had mentioned that the tune reminded him of the band Sun City Girls, so the song’s final title is in some ways a nod to that as well.

Anyhow, something about the environment really fit the mood of that song and really helped actively shape its final form. The first sunny day, mixed with the vast openness of the valley and the sky, made its influence known and worked its way into the music. Suddenly space and silence was just as important as the notes themselves. Everything just spread out and each note felt like a buzzard floating on a column of hot air over that desert-like vista between the mountains and the canyon wall.

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Rays of sun just after dawn
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View from Colorado National Monument

In those ways and more, Valley of the Sun helped define the direction that the band took for the remaining songs on Wilderness Tails and also solidified a songwriting style that took my toying with minimalism -and the use of empty space as a sort of fourth member in the band- to a level it had not been at before . The song to me summarizes the quintessential sound of The Long Hunt, especially in those early stages of writing, and sets a narrative for future compositions to build upon.

A free download of the song “Valley of the Sun” is now being offered for a limited time by following the link below:

http://www.pghcitypaper.com/FFW/archives/2017/02/13/mp3-monday-the-long-hunt

Pittsburgh City Paper Article

http://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/the-long-hunt-channel-nature-for-its-moody-minimalist-debut-wilderness-tales/Content?oid=1984066

Above is a link to a fantastic write-up for Wilderness Tales by Alex Gordon of the Pittsburgh City Paper. It was a really great experience and we are thankful for the kind words. The article is also in the print edition, so make sure you pick up a copy if you are in the distribution area.

As a reminder, the album comes out Friday, February 17, with three songs available on our bandcamp page. You’ll be able to download from other sites, including Amazon, itunes, and google. More on that later. The song “Valley of the Sun” is available for a limited time as a free download on the city paper website, linked below.

http://www.pghcitypaper.com/FFW/archives/2017/02/13/mp3-monday-the-long-hunt

Download “Valley of the Sun” for free, plus Hugh Shows first/last

For a limited time, one can get a free download of the song “Valley of the Sun” from the Pittsburgh City Paper website. Special thanks to Alex Gordon for the kind words. Here’s a link:

http://www.pghcitypaper.com/FFW/archives/2017/02/13/mp3-monday-the-long-hunt

We also recently participated in Hugh Shows First/Last, where we answer a few questions about some of the music we listen to. Its a cool format. Here’s a link:

http://hughshowsredux.blogspot.com/2017/02/firstlast-long-hunt.html

Lastly, for those who didn’t already notice, we have a video of us playing a new song called “Ground of Being”. Check it out below.

Physical CD’s available at shows

The band is excited to announce that we will now have physical copies of Wilderness Tales available on CD at shows. The album is scheduled for release on February 17, with three songs currently available on bandcamp for streaming and download. In addition, we will also be revealing some early spring 2017 show dates, once all the details get confirmed.