In this 2nd installment of The Story Behind The Album Cover, guitarist Mike Coates tells about his own creation for the US band Asia’s 1980 LP [the band’s 2nd] – Armed To The Teeth. This cover instantly reminded me of the Conan comic books, my dad was an avid comic collector and had a huge collection of Conan comics. My dad didn’t like any of the music I listened to, but he would’ve loved the artwork on this cover.
Concept of the cover and tie-in with the songs …
The cover was meant to portray the total concept nature of the entire album. I call the him the “Time Warrior.” The concept was the survival of the human spirit through history. The songs are about very different times so I used weapons from various eras. I tried to use real props to draw from, e.g. the sword, the bow and arrow, the six gun, and the rifle.
How it was drawn…
The guy’s body was drawn from several body builders, my own shinguards, a New York Giants football helmet, and those were my legs at the time. The tank was a Joe Kubert creation. That’s London burning in the background. Most of the body parts were mine.
I am an Eckist so the concept was very spiritual. Kind of a western culture version of Arjuna and the Gita. The original drawing was quite large and done with a mechanical pencil. An ad agency did the color overlays. The drawing took many weeks. The colors about two hours. They kept pulling up the graphite and so I wind up correcting the cover’s extensive detail at least four times. It will be fun seeing the enlarged picture again when the LP box set comes out shortly.
Comic and Conan influence…
Yes, I was really into comics. Joe Kubert was an early influence. But I was really a Marvel fan and John Buscema was my hero. Frank Frazetta was also a major influence. In fact, I did a huge painting of Conan (on two house doors) that we used on a large easel behind the band for years. I had hoped to do one for each person on stage, but that one painting took three months so that was never realized. Those doors are still in my bedroom. There are good images of it in the CD booklet.
I had hoped to do a drawing for the first cover (Conan breaking a bull’s neck) but again ran out of time putting the band together. I wrote all of our original material, so time was always an issue. Our engineer on “Armed to the Teeth” had just worked on the Bad Company “Run With the Pack” album, so that finished the front cover concept.
KJJ, 05 / ’21