Brian Griffin - Echo & The Bunnymen photographer

13th June 2017
I was always an admirer of the artwork on Echo & the Bunnymen's record sleeves as a kid, even though I had no idea about the designer or the photographer.

Last year, I took a notion that I would create a series of images on the imaginary premise that The Bunnymen had been conducting a photoshoot in Skye, and specifically, their 1981 single, a promise had loads of alternative covers taken there.

With that in mind, I set about tracking down the photographer responsible for the Bunnymen album and single covers. I was surprised and delighted to find that Brian Griffin had shot covers for Depeche Mode, Kate Bush, Brian Eno, The Clash, Devo and on and on.............

Shows how little I know really! So, I contacted him about the project to ask if I could use his image of 'The Promise' as part of the proposed exhibition, and he agreed - no problem. I also asked him a few questions to go along with an exhibition statement, and I have finally got round to reproducing them here. Needless to say, I never got further with journalism than some home-grown fanzines, and I wouldn't say his answers are massively insightful either! Here they are anyway. The project remains inside my head.......

The Bunnymen’s music was seen by some at the time as ‘gloomy raincoat’ music, but I always thought that there was a euphoric build in their songs? Did you build that thought process into your images?
Not really. I just tried to make the images relevant and strong within the concept.

On the cover of the 7” of ‘A promise’, there appears to be a sense of movement - forward momentum of the seabirds rushing towards the light. I’m guessing that was intentional, but were you aware of the songs that they were working at the time in shaping your own creative processes?
It was not an easy photograph to get, never is with birds or animals. So the songs were the last thing on my mind.

The images are colour, but quite muted. How deliberate was that?
It was not deliberate.

The cover of the 12” is quite different in style and content, but it looks like movement was still on your mind. What were you trying to convey with this image?
It was not purposeful at all, we were just playing with letting off maritime flares.

Why South Wales as a location?
It was near Rockfield where they were recording.

Why were Korova so difficult about the album cover (and I’m guessing also the single sleeves?). Did they oppose your creative ideas?
They were happy with the creative idea but unhappy about the band being so small and in silhouette.

My concept for my installation is alternative covers for ‘A Promise’, if they had been taken on the Isle of Skye. I think there is something inherently ‘Bunnymen-ish’ about the place plus I grew up there! Have you ever shot there?
I have indeed worked on the Isle Of Skye.