GUTE LUFT IS ON HIATUS – CONTACT US HERE
Whether or not you own one of his designs you will instantly recognise Malcolm Garrett’s work. From Buzzcocks to Duran Duran, for over a decade he produced iconic record sleeves that broke new ground in design. Under the pseudonym Assorted iMaGes, Garrett’s Pop Art/Constructivist style helped define the graphic language of the punk and new romantic movements, and later pop music in general. Yet, while his contribution to twentieth century design is huge, unlike his contemporaries Peter Saville and Neville Brody, Malcolm’s work is still largely unrecognised. Gute Luft met with Garrett to discuss the roots of his record designs and his time working at Assorted iMaGes.
So, where are you from?
I was born in a town called Northwich, which, is right in the middle of Cheshire.
How would you describe yourself as a youngster?
I have thought about it a lot, as people do, and I think the term that describes me best is “leading from the back”. If you ask me to volunteer to be the leader of a group or contribute from the start, I may well have no ideas but as soon as you start to do something, I have a tendency to take over. I always think there is a better way of doing something or, if you like, once a course of action has been set, then I think I can improve on it, which is probably why I became a designer. It is not like being an artist where you develop your own ideas it is much more like: “do you know that thing you wanted to do, let me do it for you.”
I think I have always been like that. In the classroom, I used to sit at the back but I was not an unruly or disruptive child. I just saw myself as more left field. I always thought of myself as more of an individual than a group sort of person. I was also quite a smart kid. I was always in the top two or three, whether that was English or Maths, so academically I was pretty good.
From a very early age, I realized I was going to be an artist of some kind, or at least I knew my career was going to be creative. Up until the age of about 13 or 14 I even wanted to be an architect as I fancied the idea of building buildings. That seemed quite appealing. It was not until I got a bit older and was scared off by the amount of academic input required.
That was actually going to be my next question; did you always want to be a graphic designer?
Interestingly enough I did not know what a graphic designer was until I was 16. I had never heard the term. I think it is much more prevalent today. We are talking the beginning of the 1970s when the term commercial artist was still in use. In fact, when I left college I called myself a commercial artist rather than a graphic designer. I thought Graphic designer sounded a little bit pretentious.
Were you always interested in the construction of image or did that come later in life?
I have always been a very visual person. In my spare time I was always drawing, I was always the kid in class who drew, and I was always collecting visual things. I collected bubble gum cards when I was a kid, and I was a real completist, I had to collect the whole set.
Continuing on this theme, who or what were your influences?
Science fiction! In fact, I have just donated quite a largish collection of books to the special collection at Manchester Metropolitan University Library, which was the Polytechnic I attended. I say science fiction but really, it was more TV-orientated science fiction, so the Gerry Anderson type of thing. Supercar, Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Joe-90, I watched them all.
So quite a Pop oriented science fiction?
Yes! James Bond, Danger Man, The Avengers. All the TV and film stuff, so it was all about alternative hi-techy futures. You are right. I have never really thought of it in Pop terms but yes, very much a pop aesthetic to the future.
Well I think looking back at a lot of the cultural references from the early 1980s, most notably in magazines such as the The Face, there are tons of references to TV shows such as The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Absolutely! I was a huge The Man from U.N.C.L.E. fan. In fact, I can remember being eight or nine with my sister and friends and we formed a The Man from U.N.C.L.E. fan club and met in the garden shed. The kind of stuff that kids do. That said I was also really, interested in contemporary culture. I grew up with The Beatles. The first film I went to see was A Hard Days Night. The first records I bought were ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, and ‘A Hard Days Night’. ‘Help!’ is probably the only song I can sing all the lyrics to, from start to finish. In some ways, it was the normal stuff.
Do you think it was more that you were taking in the mainstream pop culture but looking at it analytically?
I guess so, in retrospect I would like to say, yes, I was but at that age you do not have those powers of self analysis you just do what you do. Like I was saying previously I would stay up late to watch The Outer Limits, Forbidden Planet, or The Twilight Zone. Anything that I could persuade my mum and dad to let me stay up and watch on TV. I also read a lot of horror books. I remember there was an American magazine called Famous Monsters of Filmland that I used to buy, which was all about Bela Lugosi as Dracula, and Herman Munster; I loved The Munsters and The Addams Family too. I was totally a TV kid but I like to think I was a more outward looking and intelligent TV kid. That is what I like to tell myself.
When did the more “serious” Arts based influences start to come in?
I can remember fairly specifically it was when I got into the sixth form. I started to do A-Level Art and back then you were required to complete three out of four different parts: one was pictorial composition, i.e. drawing and painting, another was still-life, learning how to draw, and the other you could either choose History of Art or History of Architecture. At my school we did History of Architecture, and my teacher was a fantastic guy. Looking back, I was lucky to have had him as my teacher. Very sadly he died recently and I never got a chance to meet him and tell him how fantastically influential he was to me.
I was simultaneously interested in both Modern and Gothic architecture. It is probably due to the holidays to North Wales we went on when I was a youngster. I loved Medieval castles and I loved cathedrals but I also loved Victoriana. Northwich was a very Victorian town, and Manchester, obviously, is a very Victorian city. Also, I started to be taught about Modernist architecture: the Bauhuas, Walter Gropius and Mies Van Der Rohe. I did not know much about Art at all, as all through my time at school, even at O-Level, we studied Architecture and not Art. I remember the first piece of “art” I discovered, the first proper Art, was in the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. I stumbled upon a suite of ten serigraphs of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol, and these kind of stopped me dead in my tracks. Simultaneously I borrowed a book on Pop Art from a friend of mine, who had won the book as a prize at school. In it I discovered Peter Phillips, Richard Hamilton, Robert Indiana and a whole pile of new influential names. I guess that is when it started to become high-brow. Before that, I had been very, very pop and the music I was listening to was very science fiction oriented. I was totally into Hawkwind, and from there I got into, very early on, German electronic music. The first band in that genre I heard was Tangerine Dream when they only had two albums out. So even then the music I was listening to was science oriented.
Barney Bubbles sleeve for Hawkwind’s second LP ‘In Search of Space’, 1971
On the subject of Hawkwind, there is of course the Barney Bubbles connection.
And through that I discovered Barney Bubbles, absolutely. He was a huge influence. I even copied some of his work as part of my A-Level submission. I stole from Barney (laughs) but, I was seventeen and this stuff was really a revelation for me.
Moving on from sixth form you went to Reading University where I think you studied typography?
I did, and there was a very simple, practical reason for going to Reading University. I was at grammar school, quite a good grammar school, and grammar school directed you towards university. At that time, Universities and Polytechnics were like a two-tier system. Universities were ‘good’ and Polytechnics were for ‘ordinary people’. I scoured the University handbook for any course related to design in any way and the only course like this was Typography, at Reading. Obviously, that caught my attention. My alternative was to go and do a foundation course at an Art school. My understanding of the grants system at the time was that I would be required to do a foundation course at my local Art college, which was in Northwich. I was not very good at researching further education, it was a bit boring, so in my head I had two options: Northwich Art College or Reading University. So, I applied to Reading and I got in! Again, this was an absolute eye opener. Both on a personal level, first time away from home and realising “wow I am a real person, I am free”, plus I am learning something quite hardcore about stuff I was only or implicitly aware of. It was beginning to make me understand a bit more about the nature of what I could be doing.
Why did you move to Manchester Polytechnic?
Well the reason I went to Manchester Poly is because…you have not mentioned Peter Saville and I am sure you are about to. Peter and I were at the same grammar school though he was in the year above me. It was actually Peter that first said: “Malcolm there’s this thing called graphic design we can do!”, which was a new option for us. Peter had broken his leg in a motor bike accident, so he had a lot of time off school. As a result he was held back a year and we ended up being in the same Art class together. He lived closer to Manchester, so his option was to do a foundation at Manchester Poly, whereas mine was Northwich Art College. I chose to go to university and found myself having to write essays, and go to the library, and do all this academic stuff, and I thought when was I going to find time for drinking, taking drugs and meeting girls? Peter on the other hand appeared to being having a great time doing the foundation course at Manchester, and the type of work he was doing was way more free form too. I look back now and realise that actually what I learnt in that year probably stood me ultimately in greater stead than the foundation course. Anyway, I was thinking “oh no, my life at university is going to get more academic rather than less”, so, I transferred to Manchester Poly and there we were reunited.
How important do you think the move to Manchester was?
Phenomenally important. It put my feet on the ground in the right place at the right time. Weirdly the first year I had spent at university I had become more academic reading into the History of Art. Through this, I realised the only History of Art I was really interested in was Dada, and all those early twentieth century “isms”: Futurism, Vorticism, Cubism and Constructivism. I half heartedly, and as a way of kind of balancing more disciplined course work with more experimental work, and still trying to satisfy this idea of being a designer thought: I will restart Dada. So, with a couple of guys on my course, one who was an old university friend I roped in as an imaginary conspirator, and another guy on my course called Kevin Murphy, we used the idea of a new Dada movement as a way of experimenting with typography.
The thing I liked about Dada, as well as the pointless exploits, was the manifestos and the typography of the manifestos. I was not able to write a manifesto but I was able to type set it, which was what I began to do towards the end of my first year. I put up a show of Dada style work coupled with my interest in Pop Art. I did a lot of screen prints in the Warhol style of Andre Breton who is one of the key Surrealists. Then what happened in the second year was the Sex Pistols burst out of nowhere and it just clicked. I was like “oh my god, the Dada movement I am trying to recreate but which is fifty years out of date is happening here on the streets of Manchester”.
Malcolm Garrett’s appropriation of a Linder Sterling collage for the cover of Buzzcocks single ‘Orgasm Addict’, 1977
Were you at the legendary Sex Pistols gig at the Manchester Free Trade Hall?
No, I was not. Very sadly I was not because, as I was a poor boy from a council estate I used my summer holidays to earn money to fund myself through college. So, I was working in the biscuit factory in Northwhich which meant I missed it. I missed the Sex Pistols to make biscuits (laughs).
Around that second year period did you start to see music as your means to “make it” in the design world or did you just fall into that role?
I fell into it as much as I was completely obsessed with music. From the age of about fourteen I was into heavy rock. I discovered Led Zeppelin II, Deep Purple’s In Rock, and Paranoid by Black Sabbath all in 1970. Then from there my taste moved sideways into more progressive stuff like King Crimson, Genesis, and Van Der Graaf Generator, then onto the space rock of Hawkwind through to Krautrock. Bands like Faust, Cluster, and Neu! I used to take the train to school and the ultimate destination of the train was Manchester, so sometimes I would stay on the train and skip school. I would go to this shop called Rare Records where they had listening booths and best of all, German imports. I would go and listen to these German imports and liked them immediately. I was the first person I knew who listened to this music.
The notion that you could combine an interest in graphic design with an interest in music was also really appealing. For me, it was much more than just designing record sleeves, or at least that was not the driving force. Admittedly, the record sleeves that you have done tend to be the markers of your work. They are the things you are remembered for, but I was much more interested in how all the components fit together. It was the Constructivist angle. I did not see a record sleeve as a twelve inch square to put a picture on, I saw it as a flat box that had a round thing in it, so I was playing with the front and the back and which way up it was. I mean, a round label does not have a way up. In my mind I was playing with those kinds of things initially and then extending that idea into how the advertising works, how the stage works. I was implicitly drawing from what Barney had done with Hawkwind. Creating an entire visual environment for this group of people that he was a part of. He was not in the band and he did not play an instrument but for those couple of years he worked with them, in my view he was indelibly a major feature of the band.
Do you think there is an idea of a cohesive image of a band, and do you think, within the world of Pop music, you helped pioneer that idea?
I am not sure I pioneered it because there is always a cohesive image. You have an identity whether you like it or not. The designer identifies the image then manipulates and modifies it. Just think of Elvis Presley, you have an image of him built of clips and images of him linked with his music (makes a gesture of a large quaffed haircut). That exists whether you define it or not. With a band like Kraftwerk, there is the desire to control what the public can see and what comes to mind when the word Kraftwerk is mentioned. That is the area designers operate in.
On a more basic level though, when looking at your work for bands every piece of the package fits together so fluently.
Well yeah, I liked continuity. Take New Sounds New Styles for example. (Picks up a magazine spread of Duran Duran from 1982 and points to a shape on the page) That very section of that photograph is also referenced on the Duran Duran ’Rio’ sleeve. It is the actual crop from the magazine used on the sleeve. That is how stupid we were getting.
The reason I am working with Kasper (de Graaf) is because he recognised this. Kasper was features editor at Smash Hits and he launched New Sounds New Styles as a one-off about this phenomenon (the New Romantics). He was living in Birmingham and he knew Duran Duran from the club scene there. He and I kind of collided as he had launched this magazine and he was looking for somebody who was more than just a designer of a magazine but was also somebody who was actually involved in and part of this scene he was writing about. He recognised the real design for this would have to come from within and could not be imposed upon it by any old magazine art director.
New Sounds New Styles, No. 13, July 1982
I was going to ask you about New Sounds New Styles. What strikes me is how little info there is out there about the magazine.
It has been largely forgotten. Somehow, The Face managed to rewrite history. That is not Neville Brody’s fault, but certainly the editor of The Face had no time for us. We would write about The Face and Neville’s work in NSNS but even later when I had an exhibition of my work at The Design Museum, The Face refused to even mention it. I was told that, regarding my work, Nick Logan (editor of The Face) had said “the readers would not be interested in it”. He saw Neville and I as rivals as he saw the magazines we worked for as rivals, which we just did not understand. We never saw each other as rivals, as we were both concerned with the same kind of issues.
Do not get me wrong, Neville and The Face were both great. They were more single-minded and they lasted longer than NSNS. If you stop and look at the first year of The Face, baring in mind we at NSNS barely even lasted a year, there is almost none of Neville’s work in it at all. That is what history does. History compresses itself. In people’s minds The Face appears to be Neville’s version of it from day one. But that is how history is. I know and understand the way it works, as I am in that business, so there is no point getting upset about it.
Was it quite a leap to design the magazine after doing record sleeves and promotional material?
No, no, no. I treated each page like a record sleeve. You see, I did not know much about designing magazines. I know a lot more about it now. The reason magazines look the same every month is because they are too much work to change every month. We changed everything every month (laughs). Every single page was new. The only thing we kept was the logo. We just did it the hard way. We would set a couple of themes and then we would try to lay the things out according to that theme.
It sounds as though you were very heavily involved in the creation of the magazine.
It was a personal relationship between Kasper and me. We were introduced to each other by a mutual friend who was writing for Kasper at the time and happened to be the girlfriend of Howard Devoto, lead singer of Magazine (and formerly Buzzcocks). Then we just jelled as he is a writer but he understood the immense importance of what the words looked like on the page, and I was one of those rare things, a designer who read the text. I wanted to put the meaning of information before the design or the titles. That was the basic premise. As a partnership, we worked really well together. We figured out quickly that Kasper is a writer who can design and I am a designer who can write. Although admittedly we did let ourselves go a bit on New Sounds New Styles.
So, Kasper was heavily involved in Assorted iMaGes?
Well NSNS finished when the publishers EMAP said it was “not growing as rapidly as they would of liked it to”, meaning it was going nowhere. So, Kasper and I stayed together and out of that, we came up with the design for Duran Duran’s ‘Their Story’ (a biography of the group). Then for a short while, Kasper edited another magazine to pay the rent. As we both knew Boy George, we decided to do a book about Culture Club. After we had done that together, we decided lets have a serious attempt at Assorted iMaGes, as up until that point Assorted iMaGes was just me and some freelance assistants. That was in 1983, and I had been running it since 1978, so we made it a limited company.
Focusing on Assorted iMaGes, why did you feel the need for the pseudonym?
That went back to ‘Orgasm Addict’ the very first record sleeve I produced (for Buzzcocks). When it came to putting a credit on a record sleeve there was a bit of me that felt it was somewhat arrogant to say “designed by” because it is just a piece of cardboard and it was the first one I had ever done. Yet, at the same time I wanted to leave my mark, and I liked word games, and I liked things to be cryptic. The idea that you can discover something hidden within the sleeve design, which came from delving deeper into things that had influenced me. I decided my mark for that sleeve would be ‘Arbitrary Images’ as it seemed to me that many of the things I was dealing with could be seen as arbitrary on one level. Then of course my desire to play games meant that the next time I designed a Buzzcocks sleeve I had to change the mark I would leave. So, I would come up with a different word for each one, always beginning with an A. After about two years of doing this the Buzzcocks manager (Richard Boon) had occasion to write to me and addressed the letter to ‘Malcolm Garrett (Assorted Images)’. He came up with the label and I clocked that for when it came time to provide a more permanent name for the company.
Garrett’s sleeve design for the Duran Duran album Rio, featuring Patrick Nagel’s infamous painting
As part of a show at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in the early 1980s, Assorted iMaGes submitted a manifesto. Was this playful or serious?
That manifesto was just six lines, or so. The show itself was not just about me. It was organised by the Blue Coat Gallery in Liverpool and also featured work from Alex McDowell of Rocking Russian, Bob Last of Fast Product, another big influence on me, who put out The Human League and Gang of Four, and some other people, including Peter Saville. The manifesto was just like a little leaflet and each person did a page. My manifesto was something about fast cars, eating at McDonalds, all just flippant stuff. I did not particularly eat at McDonalds that much, but that is not the point of a manifesto. The point of a manifesto is to make bold statements that people get angry about.
Another statement from that same manifesto is ‘Assorted iMaGes…avoids fashion; ignores trends; dismisses fads; deplores dogma’. In hindsight, do you think you were part of a wider trend in design?
It is inevitable, but I think it was more about the attitude. As with New Sounds New Styles, we would bring everything forward then throw it away the next issue. My attitude was always one of experimentation. If I had a dogma it was to be dogmatic about having no dogma. For example, when people are curious about typefaces and they ask you “what is your favorite typeface?” Well, I do not have one. I do not have a favourite anything. I only have my favourite thing for doing a something. So for one job ‘Futura’ is perfect, for another ‘Cooper Black’ is perfect. Another phrase I often repeat: There is no such thing as a bad type face only an inappropriate execution. A typeface is a completely blank thing until it is used to express somebody’s thoughts. So if your thoughts are “typography is horrible” then the “bad” typeface is the only one to use. You cannot predetermine what is good or bad. It is impossible. Until there is a requirement, a job to be done, something to be said, a specific message to be conveyed, you cannot possibly know what is the right way of doing something. I think that is what makes me a designer.
What was your approach to designing for musicians?
It was trying to imagine myself as a member of the group. Genuinely, I thought I do my job best if nobody knows I have done a job. I always cite the fact that Culture Club and Duran Duran were not the best of friends at the time but neither of them felt threatened by the fact that I was working for the other. Culture Club disliked the work I did for Duran Duran and vice versa. But the same person managed to design both, and I like to think I managed to represent them fairly accurately. People always ask “do you have to like the music?” You do not have to like it, but more importantly, you need to be able to understand it. You have to be able to put yourself in that space and understand what it is about, and what the band are trying to do and say, and empathise with their audience. So with Duran Duran we knew that the audience was mainly female and they liked pictures of the band. So what did we do? We made sure that we avoided putting any pictures of the band on the sleeve. We fought for that all of the time, sometimes with the band themselves. We did not mind putting pictures of the band on everything else, but with the record sleeves I liked to think these were the prime products. These are the things Duran themselves would buy. It is a brochure for a high performance car, or it is packaging for perfume. It is anything but what you see on the pages of Smash Hits. They could easily get into Smash Hits and that is where their pictures should be. Their own product should be slightly elevated above that. The answer is, it is all about empathy. Trying to be empathetic with what they are trying to say and who they are saying it to.
You have been quoted as saying that you wanted to work in ‘the best interests’ of the band. What do you mean by this and how did you go about doing it?
I am conscious that whatever you do there is an image, and we are working with that image, we are modifying and controlling it. Therefore, it is my duty to do that in their best interest, not my own. This is where I have differing views with some other designers. When you look at a piece of work and say, “that is by” instead of “that is an interesting sleeve by group x” I begin to question the effectiveness of the work. I am sure people can look at my sleeves and say “that is a Malcolm Garrett” but my personal desire was to erase Malcolm Garrett from the equation.
Moving on to a subject of a rather different nature, but something I know is quite close to your heart; where does your interest in American cars stem from?
It is odd, as I do not have a particular fascination for America or Americans. I had always liked American cars and remember my older brother had a brochure for Oldsmobile cars which I used to look through when I was about ten or eleven. Maybe it came from Batman and the Batmobile? Anyway, the first American car I bought, which was on impulse, was from an American airbase in Warrington. It was an ex-US Air Force Chevrolet Station Wagon and I paid six hundred pounds for it. Conventional wisdom said you should not have an American car as they were quite scarce and hard to maintain, but I thought “hang about, I know Americans, they are not all the smartest people, but there are two hundred and fifty million of them and they all drive, therefore, American cars must be pretty reliable”. So I bought this American car in 1979 and have owned them ever since. I still own my Plymouth Fury, which I bought 1980.
Does the interest in Americana and kitsch stretch further than cars?
To a degree, but there is something about a lot of Americana I really did not like. Something I did not mention and I should of done was I have always been way more interested in German engineering. It is completely un-PC to say, but the German war machine of the Second World War was enormously influential. Everybody built Air-Fix kits as a kid, and the ones I built were all German tanks. Also, the graphics of the Third Reich are brilliant. Of course you cannot say that because the implication is that you are a fan of the Third Reich. Well, of course I am not a fan of the Third Reich but Jeez! They knew how to make themselves look good, with a consistent and seamless strength of presence. I remember going to grammar school and asking to be taught German instead of French. I liked the sound of the language
As I mentioned earlier I love Kraftwerk and now I am a huge fan of the band Rammstein, who are, for me, a contemporary and much smarter Black Sabbath. I have a friend who translates Rammstein’s lyrics for me and points out all the hidden meanings. They are similar to Kraftwerk in that their wording is very simple, with hidden layers and complexity, which again relates back to my interest in word games.
Over the course of Assorted iMaGes how do you think your style evolved?
That really is a question for you to answer as I think other people can look at it objectively. The one thing that did happen during this period was discovering and immersing myself in digital design. I bought my first Apple computer in 1983, before they were Macintosh. So I started to work with computer technologies of different brands from the mid eighties right up until 1990, when the studio went totally digital. I guess one of the things we did at Assorted iMaGes was have that forward looking view of where technology could take us and how that might change the whole communications landscape, and from there what opportunities that would present for a designer. We threw away all the drawing boards as soon as we could.
Neo-classicism meets a 1950s Cadillac in Garrett’s design for Magazine’s 1980 LP ‘The Correct Use of Soap’
When did you drop the label Assorted iMaGes?
I formally left Ai in 1994, but Kasper kept it going.
I know it is a tough question, but were there any groups/artists you particularly enjoyed designing for?
At the time, I loved working with Simple Minds. Jim Kerr (singer in the band) was always very thoughtful about stuff. A long standing person I still work with is Martyn Ware of Heaven 17, who gave me my first Macintosh to work with. They were great, as they were really receptive to ideas, and they always loved everything I did. (Laughs) Maybe they just did not push me enough. But I have enjoyed working with pretty much everybody. I loved working with Nick Rhodes and John Taylor from Duran Duran. Boy George was fantastic. He would come in with a pile of pictures to give you some ideas and a sense of where his image was at that moment, and then he would fuck off and let you get on with it.
Did you ever turn down any approaches from people asking you to design for them?
I seem to remember refusing to send my portfolio, or not bothering to send my portfolio, over to The Rolling Stones or David Bowie. I kind of recall that but cannot remember which one it was.
Do you regret that decision?
Well not really because they did not feel contemporary to me. I had previously argued this with Duran Duran, I said “look don’t try working with someone such as David Bailey as he made his name in the 1960s working with his contemporaries. You’re in a position to work with your contemporaries.” Despite everything I have said about being style-less we will be known for our style from a certain period and so I felt Duran had a duty not to dredge up names from the past but to promote names from their era.
Would you stick by that point now?
Yeah absolutely! Why do I not design record sleeves? Because, in the same way that I was the right person to produce New Sounds New Styles, as I was immersed in the culture then, I am not immersed in the music industry now. I stay in touch with it or at least I try but I know I am an outsider. I do still totally love music but I cannot possibly claim I am a part of the music industry in any meaningful way. The music industry is for people between fifteen and twenty-five year olds. Those are the peak years to work within the music industry. After twenty-five, you are designing for the record labels not for the bands.
Are you annoyed that your work is not as well know as some of your contemporaries?
If you ask for a few words to describe myself, I would say “willful and contrary”. There is a bit of the Dada in me. In some ways, I still carry the whole Dada Punk thing. Punk was about destroying things including yourself. The Sex Pistols could not continue to exist. Once you have made statements of that caliber, you cannot then carry on as you have negated your own position, and there is a bit of me in that idea. There is a bit of that same attitude. It was never a career choice, or a business decision for me to do whatever it was I did. If you look at any of the really radical bands from that Punk era they never really made it. They were never able to pursue fame and success, but they have retained some of their integrity, and they are still really interesting people. If I am being unkind, I think the people who were successful from that period are the ones who were a little bit more single-minded and business oriented. They knew the thing they did, and they did it, and did it, and did it over again. Whereas, I like to think I always tried to do something different. So I willfully, and in a contrary way, was seemingly determined never to try too hard to capitalise on anything, and I think that I am still like that. It is just in me to always question myself. That is why I was “successful” at the time and that is why punk was appropriate for me. It was the attitude that got me going, and the attitude that was prevalent at the time that accepted me.
Playful appropriation features heavily in Garrett’s design for Simple Minds single ‘Someone Somewhere (In Summertime)’
Images: Malcolm Garrett
Interview by Dale Marshall for www.guteluft.co.uk
First published in 2011.
JEAN MICHEL JARRE - ZOOLOOKOLOGIE