To celebrate the release of Car Seat Headrest's forthcoming new album Teens of Style (out October 30th via Matador), we asked Mr. Car Seat himself (Will Toledo) to talk about how the album cover came about. We even had input from the person that put it all together - the talented Max Wedner.

Max Wedner

I came across Will's work several years ago, and was always consistently blown away by his unique vision and sound. So it was quite validating to hear that Matador Records had finally signed Car Seat Headrest. One day, I decided to contact Will for the purpose of complimenting him on his recent works. After a few intermittent correspondences, he proposed the project to me and laid out his plan for the album art. Already a fan, I was immediately on board... but when he cited William Blake as inspiration - along with an impressive, clearly articulated concept, and a surprising knowledge of my own work/illustration style - it made the collaboration feel all the more harmonious.

Technically, the illustration was done on a patchwork of sketchbook pages, which expanded as I worked out the composition using my preferred .5 mechanical pencil. Once digitized with a large format scanner, I cleaned up and detailed the piece in Photoshop. Actually, whilst working on the detail, a family obligation required I take the work on the road to Mt Shasta - a mysterious place which no doubt imparted some unspecified qualities. The absence of internet prompted several excursions to small, historic mill towns like McCloud, so as to correspond with Mike Zimmerman (at Matador) who made significant contributions to color and layout. Ultimately, I think we came through with a lovely finished image. I'm just super grateful to have been a part of all this in some way.

Will Toledo (Car Seat Headrest)

It was actually a difficult process finding the right person to work with for the album art; by the time it occurred to me to ask Max, whose art I remember impressing me from years back, the recordings were done, and we only had a month left to deliver the artwork. Looking through his gallery of work is what made me think of William Blake and his "Grave" series, and gave me inspiration for the basic concept of the cover - a bedecked skeleton summoning a nondescript character from sleep.

Max executed the figures quite beautifully in his illustration, but I ended up feeling that the overall composition wouldn't translate perfectly into the small avatar that album covers end up being seen as nowadays. I wanted to emphasize the details and linework that Max put into it, so I decided to use a crop of the original drawing as the CD and digital cover, while preserving the full illustration on the vinyl. Mike Z went all-out in his role, delivering a hand-lettered back cover to match the style, as well as providing us with alternate color schemes to choose from. Now we have not one, but two beautiful album covers.

You can stream Teens of Style by heading here.