French synthwave icon Carpenter Brut is back with the brand-new album Leather Terror, out today via Universal.
Leather Terror is the second in Carpenter Brut’s Leather album trilogy, the next chapter following his widely acclaimed 2018 album Leather Teeth.
Together, the albums form the soundtrack of an imagined movie from 1987!
Leather Teeth introduced the story of Bret Halford, an introverted science student. He liked a girl who didn’t like him and much preferred the team’s star quarterback. Bret got mad and tried to create a concoction that would allow him to control them all, but ends up disfigured and decides instead to become a rock star. This is how he will seduce the girl, and all other girls: By becoming Leather Teeth, singer of Leather Patrol.
Now, Leather Terror finds Bret Halford as a true rock star and a ruthless avenger. Leather Teeth inflicts vengeance on those who stand between him and what he desires. While the album Leather Teeth was in parts a celebratory take on ‘80s glam rock, in his new opus, Carpenter Brut – across the space of twelve tracks – gets more malevolent, documenting the rise of his protagonist as a serial killer who wants to take revenge on all those who mistreated him when he was younger.
Leather Terror features a significant number of guests:
In addition to the aforementioned Greg Puciato on new single “Imaginary Fire,” Alex Westaway of Gunship gives voices on the pummelling synth pop of “The Widow Maker” (“a rather particular hybrid timbre”), and Ben Koller of Converge and Jonka of Tribulation appear on the sinister title track, which closes the story. The Norwegian band Ulver and Kathrine Shepard from the band Sylvaine are also on board as well as Persha – a Parisian singer – who directly contacted Carpenter Brut to initiate a collaboration.
The art by Førtifem is what brings the entire concept together. The duo discuss their relationship, the development of the “Leather” trilogy concept, and also share some of the really cool 80s-themed art that’s being slapped on the new merch.
Statement by FøRTIFEM :
“At first, Carpenter Brut introduced himself to us as a guy making electro music, being not cool, and not from Paris, asking us for a logo. April, the 10th of this year will mark the exact day of delivery of the Brutagram files, ten years ago, and we would never have expected such a ride, as if this weird pentagonal vortex had swallowed us when we summoned it.
“In this decade, we gave Giorgio Moroder a trepanation, drew three times the same altering and rotting Trilogy cover, had too much cocktails, built a church, became experts in drawing dobermans, made American Football merch, founded a University, dived in the worst motels and dark alleys, made band t-shirts for an hair metal band, slasher movies posters, and even witnessed a hair metal musician turning into a slasher.
“With Carpenter Brut, we’re not making music artworks altogether, we’re building a cinematic universe, one merch piece, one cover, one still image at a time.
“Five years ago, he introduced us to Bret Halford, and we helped give him the scarred face he has now, on the Leather Teeth cover. Carpenter Brut and No Quarter Prod told us the story of this weird and edgy singer going into a whole revenge scheme, awakened from the glittery ashes of his past school bullying, struggling to get over his young sophomore heartbreak.
“We had to imagine a nerdy kid planning to confess his love to the lead Midwich High Cheerleader despite the harassing jocks, and ending as a survivor of chemical burns from a love-potion-making accident, and which turned him into the radiant and glittery monster also known as the Leather Patrol frontman.
“For Leather Teeth, the first opus of the Leather Trilogy, we focused on Bret’s face, and had to dive into the hair metal aesthetics. It wasn’t planned, but we became quite familiar with Bret Michaels, Sebastian Bach and all these glam artists. Now, we instinctively know which bandana you can tie over snake boots, how many chains a leather belt can support, and how to enhance the sexiness of a Poison shirt by cutting out the sleeves and neck. We also had to create young Bret’s teenager bedroom, inspired by ours when we were kids, and all those we visited in early 90’s movies, packed with lame posters, fake bands, bootleg toys, videotapes, tissues, which was a genuinely fun moment.
“Then, the dark times arrived, with Leather Terror. Bret became violent, and things went down, literally.
“Carpenter Brut suggested we could stack the covers of this trilogy, this one focusing 12 inches below, right on Bret’s shiny chest and knife, with a glitter blood bonanza, and a whole grittier vibe and glittier rendering. Inside the album, things went dark too, as agreed with Carpenter Brut, we had to imagine and unveil, Bret’s lair, a trashed motel room, with as always a picture of Kendra, the original high school crush, reigning over all the other girls in the magazines covering the room’s floor.
“Since the album, we’ve made more than a dozen of fake photoshoots, or paparazzi stills of Bret Halford posing, singing or killing, and we fear we still have a lot more of images to create for the world to witness how glamourous and hideous the Leather Patrol frontman can be, and what a high school heartbreak can do. When will this terrible spiral will end? How far can Bret go before someone stops him?
“To be continued… in a few years!”
“I was introduced to the work of the illustrator duo Førtifem, in 2011 when I was looking for artists to design my logo. I thought it was important to have an impactful logo since in a way it’s the first thing people see, even before they hear a single note, and it’s also what represents the project the most. For the logo, I had given them two words: Sex and Satan. In exchange, I received this beautiful stylized rose in the shape of a pentagon in the style of an “impossible object”. The contract was fulfilled. Since then, they have done all the official Carpenter Brut visuals, from album covers to t-shirt designs and promotional drawings. I wanted to keep this visual consistency, like Iron Maiden with Derek Riggs. I think it’s more interesting and more fun to stay in a visual coherence than to change it every time. And since we’ve known each other for ten years now, Førtifem and I have no trouble understanding each other, everything is very fluid. I know their work and they know how to anticipate what I like. We are a kind of old couple who have no secrets for each other. That’s also the advantage of working on the long term, it avoids starting from scratch each time. So when I started the “Leather” trilogy, we imagined that the three album covers could represent Bret Halford in his entirety, once the trilogy was finished. So that’s why Bret Halford’s torso is featured on the second cover. As the second part of the “Leather” trilogy was going to be darker and more violent in terms of atmosphere and sound than the previous album, I had the idea of the knife on the cover because I had in mind the poster of “Maniac” by William Lustig where you can see- among others- a hand with a knife. I asked them that the artwork be in red and black tones, very dark and aggressive, and that the interior artwork be a dirty and gloomy hotel room. Indeed, Bret Halford having become a glam rock star, adulated by his fans, nothing is more cliché than a messy hotel room. In this second part, Bret is blinded and thirsty for revenge, caught between his rock star reality and his fantasy to retaliate at those who humiliated him in high school, it was necessary to add gore elements, in “serial killer” mode. After all the “Leather” trilogy are fake soundtracks of fake slasher movies!
“In order to bring a fun spirit and by taking the gore imagery in opposite direction, I asked Førtifem to add glitter and sparkles in the blood on the knife of the cover, to keep this festive and disco side that I like. That’s also why in the clip “the widow maker” we replaced the blood with glitter, bubbles and confetti. It’s also a way to remind that all this is only art, an ode -in my way- to horror movies, and that it’s useless to take all this seriously.
“I usually give as much importance to the visuals as to the music in Carpenter Brut. In Carpenter Brut, Førtifem’s art is omnipresent: in merchandising, in record bins, on concert posters, etc.. They are my visual ambassadors in a way, so you can’t go wrong. I know I made the right choice with them, haha.”
LEATHER TERROR TRACKLISTING:
- Opening Title
- Straight Outta Hell
- The Widow Maker
- Imaginary Fire
- … Good Night, Goodbye
- Day Stalker
- Night Prowler
- Lipstick Masquerade
- Color Me Blood
- Stabat Mater
- Paradisi Gloria
- Leather Terror