BandLogo
JukeBox is a blog for lovers of design and music in equal measure. All posts are written by experts who've been there and got the (band) t-shirt.

I1 — Inspiral Carpets

I1 — Inspiral Carpets

When band members take it upon themselves to design their own logos, nine times out of ten it’s a graphic disaster. But just once in a while, a home-grown doodle hits the spot — perfectly. Take a bow, Inspiral Carpets.

 

The band’s trademark cow logo was sketched by Farfisa organist Clint Boon who, according to his less-than-discreet band mates, had something of a fetish for these farmyard favourites.

How now: ‘She Comes In The Fall’, an Inspiral Carpets single from 1990, featured a photograph of real-life cow on its cover.

How now: ‘She Comes In The Fall’, an Inspiral Carpets single from 1990, featured a photograph of real-life cow on its cover.

Part of the floppy haired, baggy trousered, 1980s ‘Madchester’ scene, the Inspirals formed an unholy trinity with the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. Perhaps less commercially successful than their counterparts, they had arguably the most distinctive sound, an infectious take on 1960s pop psychedelia, driven by Boon’s swirling organ playing. They were perennial John Peel favourites, troubling the Top 20 with several singles, including ‘This Is How It Feels’ (1990) and ‘Saturn 5’ (1994).

At their height, Inspiral Carpets certainly became associated with all things bovine. They used projections of cows during their live shows, and their die-hard fans literally used to ‘moo’ them on stage every night. “I assure you it was mooing and not booing,” said bassist Martyn Walsh in a 2003 interview for ‘Drowned in Sound’*.

Lotta bottle: the 2003 'Greatest Hits’ CD used a slightly watered down version of the infamous Inspirals’ T-shirt slogan.

Lotta bottle: the 2003 'Greatest Hits’ CD used a slightly watered down version of the infamous Inspirals’ T-shirt slogan.

“[The cow association] comes from the fact some of the guys came from oop in t’hills getting on towards Oldham, and it wasn’t exactly rare to see cows in the fucking field. I think people maybe looked way too deep into it. The slides of cows showed up more than anything because it’s not really what you expect to see in a band playing music.”

More than just a logo, the cow proved a financial lifeline for the band, who sold truckloads of T-shirts, featuring a cig-smoking, sunglasses-wearing cow, along with the candid slogan ‘cool as fuck’. Every so often some poor, unfortunate student would get arrested for contravening the British obscenity laws, and low and behold, Inspiral Carpets would be in the local news once again.

Big Ts: canny merchandising, mild outrage, and a lucky cow kept Inspiral Carpets afloat financially.

Big Ts: canny merchandising, mild outrage, and a lucky cow kept Inspiral Carpets afloat financially.

The band used their T-shirt money to pay for studio time and even set up their own record label called, suitably enough, Cow Records. Apocryphally, one of their exasperated managers noted that the band made more money from T-shirt sales than record sales.

Moove over: The Inspirals’ cow grazing on the musical walk of fame on Manchester’s Oldham Street. 

Moove over: The Inspirals’ cow grazing on the musical walk of fame on Manchester’s Oldham Street. 

Another widely circulated fact about Inspiral Carpets was that a certain Noel Gallagher was, at one time, their roadie. “Well he wasn’t really a roadie,” says Walsh. “He was just one of those people who hangs around with you at gigs and tries to drink any beer that you’ve got. He auditioned yeah but, he failed because he couldn’t sing!”

*You can read the full ‘Drowned in Sound’ interview here.

We were shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic and untimely death of Inspiral Carpets’ drummer Craig Gill.

Living the Dream

Living the Dream

H1 — The Heavy

H1 — The Heavy