I recently caught up with Marcel Leliënhof, the photographer of Earth vs’ iconic cover, for a Q&A.
It’s been over 20 years since Earth vs The Wildhearts, what have you been busy with since?
I have moved back to my native Norway and now reside in Oslo. I have just finished a 5 year book project on The Norwegian Hells Angels motorcycle club. Apart from this i work in advertising and editorial photography as well as heaps of Norwegian Music.
How did the commission come about?
I got The commission either from the Record company East West or from the designers at Blue Source, I cannot remember exactly.
Do you have any favourite album covers?
I love the Velvet Underground Andy Warhol cover and Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan cover. I also really love the Black Flag cover art. Nevermind the Bollocks by the Sex Pistols is great as well. Anton Corbijn is one of the photographers who I really admire when it comes to music photography.
Whose idea was the concept? Were there any alternative ideas in case it didn’t go to plan?
This was the only idea as far as I remember, but considering the work I wish we had an alternative.
Lugging a massive cast iron bathtub up 5 floors of stairs, filling it with oil and dyed water. Then doing the reverse and trying to clean It in a studio with only cold water and a small sink. The bugs, poor Ginger and the mess We made. It could have been done so much easier today!
Did you listen to the album before the shoot? What are your memories of the album?
I listened to the album and I really liked it. I am an old punk rocker so this really appealed to the rebel in me. The album has a great energy and drive to it and i love Ginger’s voice.
What are your memories of working with Ginger/The Wildhearts?
I do not think we went about it in an easy way. We dragged a bathtub to the 4th floor my studio in Old Street, filled it with oily black water and after a bottle of JD had Ginger lie down in it. We put gaffa tape over his eyes and barbed wire around his head. Then we started working with the insects (scorpions and milipides). We used the samen people that worked on the Indiana Jones film with all the insects. Ginger was not really happy about the creepy crawlies, but he did his job with only minor complaints. He did not hear much with his ears under water so I remember havung to scream loudly at him to change positions. I stood on a piece of wood laid across the bathtub and we had people hold the flashheads so they would not fall in the tub and kill Ginger.
How long did the shoot take?
It took a whole day.
Any alternative shots or behind the scenes pictures?
There are but I have no idea where at this moment. We also shot a behind the scenes video.
Any final comments?
Say “Hi” to the band and that I would love to shoot them again. All the best.