Mount Schtick-More by Drew Friedman.
Lords of the New Church front man, label mate, and friend Stiv Bators tells me the following:
"If IRS Records ever suggests you guys do a live record, your days are numbered. They'll say a live album will spark some interest. Don't trust them. It's just a way for them to squeeze a few bucks off your name before they ax you. It's what they did to us."
My second album with Wall of Voodoo, Happy Planet, was failing to chart . Our tours were sold out and the shows were good but there was little airplay and thus low sales. So it goes.
A few weeks before we left for a tour of Australia, the CEO of our label called us in for a meeting. " Boys! " he crowed merrily, "We wanna do a live record! "
We said no. We said fuck no. Stupid idea. Recording live, in the middle of the Happy Planet Tour meant that 80% of the live record would be Happy Planet songs. No one wanted Happy Planet. Why, we reasoned, re-record a rejected record ?
The CEO said a live record would 'spark some interest.'
The live recording crew were booked and would be there waiting for us in Melbourne, like it or not. ***
LATER: DREW VOODOO CALLS DREW FRIEDMAN
With a heavy heart, I saw the writing on the wall: We were an LA band now teetering on the edge of oblivion. Just as Stiv had forewarned, our rinky-dink label was grabbing a few pennies before flushing us down the shit hole.
I knew there was only one person who could capture this pathetic state of affairs: Drew Friedman. I had spent many hours transfixed by his gritty-yet-hilarious-yet-heartbreaking drawings. If you live in Hollywood long enough, life begins to looks like Drew is the art director.
I contacted him and, after discussing ideas , commissioned him to do the album cover: a Mount Rushmore of sleazy, schamltz-y, Los Vegas-y entertainers: Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis, Fat Elvis, and Bob Hope. The Ugly Americans.
In two weeks Drew's Mount Schtick-More arrived.
I laughed my fucking head off!
I showed it to Wall of Voodoo.
They laughed their fucking heads off!
I showed it to the execs at IRS Records.
They wet their slacks.
"Why!?" I asked. "Why not?"
"We'd get sued!" they said.
"Jerry Lewis for one"
"Wall of Voodoo vs The Nutty Professor!?" I said. "That would be so fucking cool! "
" ...And sued by Sammy Davis!" they continued " And by Bob Hope! And the estate of Elvis fucking Presley!"
I said a lawsuit like that would certainly "spark some interest."
IN THE END
The Drew Friedman's Mount Schtick-More was rejected .There wasn't even a mock-up made. Begrudgingly, it was used as a header for the WoV press release.It was also used inside the cd booklet. They felt the images falsely inferred Elvis,Bob, Sammy, and Jerry were touring with Wall of Voodoo-( If they were, I doubt even they could have sold any more Happy Planet records than we had.)**
IRS also made a few shoddy T-shirts,hoping to make their money back . My buddy in the IRS art department slipped me Drew's work when they were done with it. I have kept it safe since.
A few years ago, Drew invited me and my beloved Merrill to a swanky party full of swanky Hollywood writers who were celebrating the release of Drew's latest book at that time: Heroes of the Comics. I showed up like a pathetic 60 year old fan boy, carrying my Wall of Voodoo album art under my arm. He graciously signed it.
Framed, it now dwells on the wall of my studio.
(**Thanks to Todd Longwell for reminding me of the booklet.)
***There was a loophole in the contract that allowed IRS to do this after record #2.
Geir Age Lia of Norway points out that Drew's work was used as the cover of a WoV giveaway promotion.