Some things about the cover of "Improvised My Ass"

(read this while the pictures load!)

1. The title. M. got this stuck in his head and insisted it be the title of the album- he also had cover art in mind to go with it, etc. We all thought it was funny and went along. The title comes from an incident at a gig. After we'd finished playing, a guy came up to M. and started asking about the music- how long it took to rehearse, etc. He'd really enjoyed the show. But when M. told him that all of those fancy changes hadn't been worked out in advance, and that we'd improvised the whole thing, the guy became very offended. He spat out the future title of our fourth album in reply and walked away muttering and shaking his head angrily. Obviously he thought we were lying- we rehearsed it all for hours and then went out and pretended like we just made it up that night so we could impress people. This stuck in M.'s head as one of the funniest reactions we'd gotten. The band compiled a list of similar negative audience reactions and intended to put it on the cover somewhere, or maybe do it as an insert. This never happened but if I can locate the list I'm going to post it here, some of them are priceless. (My personal favorite, shouted from the audience at an afternoon show: "Why don't you guys quit fuckin' off and learn some songs?" This despite the fact that M. made announcements a few times a set saying "Our music is improvised. We hope you understand." [Kenny picked this up and said it at least once a show as well.] Obviously somebody didn't understand.)

2. The cover. As mentioned above, M. got a cover idea along with the title. This involved what he hoped would be a good promotion for the band as well. The idea was to get the rights to use some Yoko Ono art, "Bottoms", featuring lots of ass pictures. M. got as far as contacting Elliot Mintz, Yoko's lliason, but it was no go. So the idea for taking pictures of our own and our friend's asses came up. None of us were particularly shy and as it turns out neither were our friends. On 10/8/88, after all the recording and mixdown was finished, we had an "ass party" where the hallway over at the band house was turned into a photo studio and everyone mooned for the camera. We even had a cake made to serve everyone after the shoot, with "Improvised My Ass" and a pair of cartoon style butt-cheeks decorated onto it.

As for the back cover, it was actually a few months before we got around to that. Chris Gruenwedel, my girlfriend at the time, had been taking lots of pictures of the band and I felt she deserved a crack at it. (!) At this point, I'd been smashing acoustic guitars on stage for a while (click here for an article about that) and thought that might make a nice visual. M. agreed but didn't want an action shot- he wanted something impersonal, and so we were instructed to be sure to get a few shots of the debris after. So we did. I found a suitable instrument and on 2/25/89, Chris and I went out to Sepulveda Dam. She shot a whole sequence. M. then took a shot of the debris and turned it into an op-art expression.




3. The cassette cover. The artwork wouldn't reduce properly to J-card size, so the cassette cover is significantly different- and not just in the art. M. decided to use a few select asses- particularly that belonging to a friend of mine, Cheryl. She'd insisted that the only way she was going to do the shot was if she could have the band's name written one of her cheeks. She's the only one that didn't actually moon- she's wearing a very skimpy thong instead- but considering that she's advertising for us, that was OK! M. went over the lettering actually in the photograph in red for the cover, so it looks like it was just put on afterwards. Nope- the red's just tracing what was actually written on her rear. And of course beneath it are tiny pictures of the 4 band members bowing before the camera. Small but certainly visible! Also as a special feature, M. wrote a short piece for the inside cover. Kenny had already left the band by the time this was done- he'd actually left before we'd even shot the back cover- and the feeling was in the air that we were coming to the end of our road together. It may not have been intended as a comment on that at all, but for me it makes this already effective short piece even more moving. It serves, ultimately, as a good epitaph for the band.



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