We’re big fans of the band Deer Tick, and were so excited to see them make this pair of custom booklets to coincide with their latest double album release, Deer Tick Vol. 1 & Deer Tick Vol. 2. We reached out to Donovan Brien, an art director at Partisan Records, to learn more about how the band is using these booklets.
Why a pair of booklets? Why Scout Books?
Since the band decided to release the two albums simultaneously (Deer Tick Vol. 1 & Deer Tick Vol. 2) rather than a double album, it made sense to make two separate lyric booklets as well.
We chose Scout Books because of the overall quality, not only in the materials but also in the printing process. Before discovering Scout Books, we requested quotes / samples from a few printers, but were unsatisfied with the methods. Most wanted to print both the cover and pages digitally, which we knew uses toner-based ink. This gives the ink a metallic sheen and makes it sit atop the page rather than sink into it, not to mention the more muted colors that most digital printers suffer from.
We were pleased to discover Scout Books did not print digitally, but instead used offset printing for the covers and interior pages. On top of that, you use a rich black and not standard K for the monochrome printing on the interior pages. To put it simply: every question I asked about the printing process, I got the perfect answer in response.
How are you using the booklets?
We included the booklets as part of the Deer Tick’s Pledge campaign before the album came out, and plan on selling some of the books in our store as well. Basically they exist as a premium item that Deer Tick’s die hard fans can buy as an accompanying piece for the album. Due to production limitations, the album’s packaging did not allow for lyrics to be included, so this was a great way to make them a special add on.
These feel like very personal. Where are the lyrics and photographs that fill the book from?
I think it has an intimate feel because of how present the band was in the process, as well as their signature personality and sense of humor. They had a clear vision of what they wanted the entire campaign to look and feel like, and really cared about the details. Creatively, I took more of a back seat in this regard and basically just tried to help the band make things happen.
All the photographs were taken during the recording sessions by the photographer Laura Partain plus some by the band. The photography was a great asset to have while making the book as it captures some great, genuine moments between the band members. The band also hand wrote the lyrics to be included in this, so each song is written by the band member who penned it. Like I said – they really cared about the details and I think they were really trying to give fans something they would care about.
Was there anything special or unique designing for this format?
One thing I had to think about a lot was the 32-page fixed length and the book’s pacing and space. At first it seemed like a barrier, but it made me really consider my decisions and spacing. It turned out to be the perfect length.
It seems like with the decline of CD sales, having good merch is becoming more important to sustain artists. Do you have any thoughts on where that is going for musicians/artists, and what it takes to make something people actually want?
Being an art director, I am not as involved in the sales and financial aspect so I will come at this from an artistic reference point . I think that with music in general, it is not just about buying a product – it is a transformative process. Great music / art / film moves you, shifts your perspective, and forces you to reflect on your own experiences and beliefs. Even though merchandise is a helpful revenue stream for artists and labels and therefore holds a financial value, it holds an inherent sentimental value as well. It is part of a bigger story – both for the artists and the fans.
So when we make something like a vinyl package, lyric booklet, or t-shirt, it always comes from that point of view. It can’t just be about selling another product. It’s about translating the authenticity and vision of our artists’ music into a different form. It’s about putting as much care into an item as the artist puts into writing their music. I think those are the types of items people want to surround themselves with.
Do you have a favorite track off the new albums?
That’s a tough one… I’d probably say Sea of Clouds from Vol. 1 and Jumpstarting from Vol. 2. But I really like both albums overall.
Huge thanks to Donovan Brien and Partisan records for taking the time to speak with us, and to Deer Tick for creating these booklets! You can find information about their latest album release via their website.