From The Desk Of Camper Van Beethoven’s Jonathan Segel: Michael Wertz

CamperVanBeethovenLogoLa Costa Perdida (429) kicks off Camper Van Beethoven’s 30th-anniversary year amidst an orchestrated (if deserving) surge in recognition for the group—everything from Paul Rudd donning a vintage Camper concert tee in the film This Is 40 to glowing quotes from members of R.E.M. and the Meat Puppets. The LP is CVB’s first album since 2004’s New Roman Times and was mostly recorded at multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Segel’s Oakland home studio a year prior to his move to Sweden. “The process was similar, perhaps, to the recording of Camper’s third album, in that we could experiment and had time to work on things,” says Segel. “The first two CVB albums were recorded in a weekend.” Segel will be guest editing all week. Read our brand new feature on the band.


Segel: Michael Wertz is an Oakland-based artist who does many different kinds of illustration, but has made great strides in the world of rock art in his layered silk-screen posters and CD covers in the past few years. Camper Van Beethoven has found our image!

Our association with Michael began when I made my 2008 CD, Honey, named after the guitar I lost (it was the start of some heavy guitar-based albums for me), and I managed to get a box of cardboard CD covers that were empty and unused, though they had been printed on a bit already. I met Michael through playing with Big City Orchestra people, and at a show that I was playing with them where we were Daevid Allen’s back-up band, I told Michael about the box of CD covers. We decided to screen print 400 of them, white first, then yellow and blue, and where it overlapped would be green. It was a very successful CD cover, if not a successful CD. ( I think I still have a bunch of copies out of the 400. Hey man, they’re hand printed and numbered! Go for it!) Anyway, then we asked Michael to make posters for the Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker shows that we had been doing between Christmas and New Years.

Now, I can’t count the number of posters he’s done for us. Tons! And CD covers. He did the Camper Van Beethoven Popular Songs Of Great Enduring Strength And Beauty greatest-hits package, he did my recent double-CD set, All Attractions And Apricot Jam, and he not only did the cover for the new CVB album, La Costa Perdida, but did illustrations for each song that appear in the booklet, and is making a calendar out of these illustrations! Man! The guy’s a gem.

He’s also been doing posters and stuff for other bands, and made a couple of children’s books, and now he’s even a professer at the California College of the Arts.

Check him out!

Video after the jump.

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