I recently got a call from Steve Charny
at Rolling Stone
to do a portrait of John Mellencamp
for the Record Review. His new album, titled No Better Than This
, digs in deep to his roots in Southern music and traditional American songwriting, and was recorded in three locations: Sun Studio in Memphis; the First African Baptist Church in Savannah; and room 414 in the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, where Robert Johnson recorded some of his greatest works. The perfect project for me!
I wanted to capture the working class tough guy presence Mellencamp evokes—as well as that wild hairstyle!—while contrasting it with the Southern spirituality in this album. I did a quick sketch for Steve incorporating the First African Baptist Church in the background, which I felt best conveyed both the unique locations for the recordings and the bad guy/good guy vibe Mellencamp strikes. Working in the strong vertical format was fun, too—it lent itself nicely to the elements in the composition.