Boneface, Queens of the Stone Age and an illustrated war of attrition

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Enigmatic Liverpool artist Boneface talks exclusively to Getintothis on how Josh Homme hand-picked him to design the artwork to the new Queens of the Stone Age record …Like Clockwork.

Liverpool artist Boneface specialises in graphic illustrative work tying together themes of comic books, video games, trash culture and B-movie horror.

He’s also the main man behind Queens of the Stone Age‘s new album artwork …Like Clockwork.

Hand-picked from cult obscurity, this 25-year-old ex-University of Central Lancashire student has detailed the record’s packaging, lyrics booklet, and alongside animator Liam Brazier created an extensive video of five tracks from …Like Clockwork to accompany the release.

Here, he talks exclusively to Getintothis about how a call from Josh Homme led to working with one of the world’s biggest rock bands.

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Getintothis: Hey Boneface, smart work on the Queens of the Stone Age job, tell us how it came about

Boneface: “Hey thanks, much appreciated.The job came about in the early hours of a morning in October. The band’s management emailed to tell me that Josh (Homme) had followed my work for some time and wanted to throw me a bone.

By that evening, Josh had called and explained just how this bone would fit into a humongous and formidable exoskeleton of an artistic project.

Getintothis: How much input did Josh have on shaping the artwork – where you given free reign?

Boneface: “All of the artwork evolved as an extension of the title of the record ‘…Like Clockwork’.
The title is ironic in the sense that the journey from album conception to creation was littered with hitches, spanners, and snares, yet it is exactly these obstacles that tend to give you the gnarliest scars and the best stories.

“My own particular journey began by visiting the band in Burbank CA during the recording process.
This time allowed me to hear not only rough cuts of the tracks, but the musings of the guys that had put their blood, sweat, and guts into creating them. I took every idea that I already had, mixed in the inspirations of the band, and turned everything ten shades darker.

“Rather than reining me in, I think the polar opposite happened; Josh and the rest of the band were curious to find out just how twisted illustration and instead fostered a backdrop of lawlessness for me to work around.”

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Getintothis: What or who inspires your artwork?

Boneface: “It’s difficult to pinpoint specific inspirations. Instead I like to think of my influences this way: when I look at a piece of paper, I’m essentially spinning a big wheel of fortune decked with comics, video games, horror movies, 90s television shows, and junk food, and just seeing where it stops before illustrating the selection.

I frequently find myself going back to keepsakes and curiosities of my childhood to try to distort them to give them a new lease of life.

Getintothis: Tell us a bit about the process for the Queens short film (full version below).

Boneface: “After hearing a rough cut of the album, Josh asked me to choose five songs that I might be able to construct an animated narrative around.

For some, just one untamed chord progression made a song stand out, for others it was a piercing sense of personality conjured by a lyric that I wanted to project visually.

From the get-go I knew that wanted to create a dystopian metropolis, so beyond-saving that Kurt Russell might have reservations about braving it.

Without giving too much away, this developed to become a chronicle of a series of events taking place within said city.

The process itself involved uncountable all-nighters, and buzzer-beating deadlines, an experience shared with friend and animator Liam Brazier, which none of this would’ve been possible without.

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Getintothis: Liverpool’s art and music scene is undergoing a renaissance at the moment with lots of independent artists getting great coverage on a national and international scale – why do you think this is and what interests you at present within the city?

Boneface: “I think that a lot of the unique events that happen around Liverpool tend to personify an unusual deviance from what is often perceived as established rules of art.

The scale of this refusal to conform goes a long way to establish the city as a much-loved hub of creativity and incomparable stage for the arts; it’s like Liverpool has sprung art from captivity, and doused it with gamma rays.
I’m excited to go outside because who knows what might be there; a cyborg painted on the side of a building, a giant mechanised spider clinging to Concourse House, 100 iron statues on Crosby beach, or an entire Sea Odyssey unfolding in the city centre.

Only this weekend I was chased by Titan the Robot at the waterfront, and this is something I fully support.

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Getintothis: What music have you been listening to lately?

Boneface: “Aside from the Queens of the Stone Age record obviously, I listen to all manner of punk. The Misfits and Black Flag both are in regular rotation, but I do take time to defend lighter, nerdier incarnations of the genre.
In the past couple of weeks I’ve enjoyed shows by Transit, and Man Overboard who came to Liverpool from the East Coast of the USA. I was also lucky enough to experience pop mastery at it’s finest at one of the final live performances of The Postal Service.

I would’ve enjoyed seeing the best bands at Sound City; Hawk Eyes, These Monsters and Blacklisters, but unfortunately late set times and midnight deadlines foiled my plans.

Getintothis: Fantasy dinner time – pick six guests (dead or alive, fact or fiction) to come round to yours and have tea.

Boneface: “I’m not the greatest cook in all of the world, so I’d opt for pizza, ordered in of course. Obviously I’d invite pie aficionados/everybody’s favourite heroes in a half shell; the teenage mutant ninja turtles over.

The Shredder and Krang to make up the six. We could broker a peace deal, and talk about the foot clan selection policy.

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Getintothis: If you were taking someone around Liverpool – where would Bonefaces‘ guided tour include?

Boneface: “They should come during Halloween.

We would firstly visit my lair/studio and fabricate some terrible masks; I’m talking like The Haunted Mask in Goosebumps levels of terrible. I’d leave a lot of the actual guiding to the theatrical folks at Shiverpool as we would definitely go on a Ghost Walk.

Maybe some Mexican food at Lucha Libre, get that ‘From Dusk ‘Til Dawn’ feel y’know? Cross over the road to FACT and see They Live, or some other definitive Horror/B-Movie.

Make our way to The Hold at The Shipping Forecast, or The Blade Factory at Camp and Furnace for a punk show of sorts, before wandering down to the waterfront to watch the ghost ships wail up and down the river.

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Getintothis: What’s next for Boneface?

Boneface: “The Queens of the Stone Age project keeps growing so I am still working on some other stuff that you should look out for.

I have a few things starting up in the next couple of months that are absolutely dream projects, and I will be privileged to work with even more individuals that I consider to be genuine inspirations to me.

The plot for world domination will come in the form of an illustrated war of attrition.

…Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age is out Monday June 3.

All images courtesy of Boneface.

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