Glenn Routledge interview 18/06/2015

Here we have a exclusive interview with THE HIGH sleeve designer Glenn Routledge!

Hi Glenn, Can you tell us abit about your upbringing?

I was brought up in North Manchester and had the usual sort of northern upbringing, nothing special, except that I had great parents and tons of friends too!

What was the first music you seriously got into?

First music, if I have to be honest was David Bowie and Roxy Music, but that was many moons ago and my taste in music varied over time, eventually being into most Factory Bands and later enjoying almost everything coming out of ‘Madchester’ … including Inspiral Carpets, Northside and Happy Mondays of course …

Artwork by Glen Routlidge

Your artwork for THE HIGH’s singles and debut album Somewhere Soon are highly regarded as some of the best indie artwork ever produced. How did you get into design?

After leaving school, I went to study Visual Communications/Graphic Design at an Independent Art College. After five long years of diverse experiences, fun and study, I got my first job in a Manchester Advertising Agency within two weeks of leaving Art College. My career in design just blossomed from there and I worked on many ‘cutting edge’ projects, including exhibitions, package design and point-of-sale work.

Had you done any other artwork for any other bands prior to THE HIGH?

Yes, I did the artwork for the Stone Roses sleeve, ‘So Young/Tell Me’  (Thin-Line), Quando-Quango, Loopzilla, Hypnotone and others, along with some other work for Factory too, but I simply cannot remember everything nowadays!

Were you employed by London Records?

Contracted to produce sleeve design.

Had you heard of THE HIGH before doing the artwork? What were/are your fav tracks by THE HIGH?

Yes I had, on the grapevine so’s to say. My favourite tracks were/are Box Set Go, Take your time, Up and Down, Somewhere soon.

How were you asked to do the artwork for THE HIGH?

I think it was by their first manager, when I went along to a video shoot to see them perfoming.

What was you inspiration behind each piece of work you did for THE HIGH?

For each individual piece of work I cannot remember, but ‘Somewhere Soon’ was inspired by the sleeve for ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ on the recommendation of the band (or their manager!). The collage idea was something that I had developed over the years and I enjoyed the rough but documentative feel about them.

Your artwork on THE HIGH’s work had tinges of a Mod/Pop Art theme. Was that deliberate?

Yes it was deliberate and that was done in stark contrast to rock themes …

Box Set Go detail

I just remembered something that was amazing regarding Box Set Go and this is probably something that people will be interested in.

‘When I produced the artwork for Box Set Go, I wanted something minimalist and totally striking. So with the help of my partner Brendon we came up with the idea of three simple ‘traffic light’ dots in contemporary colours, but within a box, which was so simple but effective and not done before.

Returning from London, I stepped out of Manchester Piccadilly train station to see the hoardings covered in extra large posters for Box Set Go – a whole line of those striking images, definitely noticeable and certainly unavoidable. In fact they were in the best positions all over Manchester City Centre at the time!’

Good huh?

How was each design for THE HIGH’s work put together? Was everything made by hand or were computer design functions around at that time?

At that time, everything was assembled by skilful hand, with the additional of photography and reprographic techniques. Computer design was around but not fully developed and you can see an early computer aided effect where the photographic image of the band is superimposed onto the manual design.

Did the THE HIGH as a band have much say in the design of the sleeve? Did you meet up with them to discuss this?

Yes I think the band did have some say in the design and I did meet now and again, but to some extent this was controlled by their manager and London Records.

Did you see THE HIGH live at any point? If so where?

Yes I saw them perform at an initial video shoot, but also live in Manchester in 1990.

Do you still own any of the sleeve designs you produced for THE HIGH?

Here is a technical question; I have a small collection of the published items, but I guess I still have ‘ownership’ or ‘joint ownership’ of the actual copyright.

Did you design any other artwork for any other bands after THE HIGH?

Yes, I did, but cannot remember them all, sorry!

What have you done since those days? Are you still working in design?

I continued in Design, Media and Publishing for many years working on major accounts. But later made a change of direction and became a Lawyer (with excellent design skills!).

When did you first hear of THE HIGH reforming?

To my surprise I read about it in January this year.

Are you looking to see the band live since they’re reformation?

Yes, I’d like to go to Manchester Academy to watch them play in May this year.

Thanks for your time!


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