Back in the mid 90s I was knocking around with a band who were fortunate enough to get signed to the legendary 4AD. To sign the papers and talk strategy we were brought to London for a couple of weeks and generally wined and dined. After being introduced to everyone at 4AD and V23, the design arm of the enterprise run by the legendary Vaughan Oliver, the band were shuffled into a room to have serious discussions about contracts and such like. As I wasn’t directly involved in any of that I wandered around the building, blagging t-shirts and chatting to anyone who would chat with me for a while and it wasn’t long before I found myself back in the v23 basement.
‘What’s ya name?’ said Vaughan from across the room.
‘Daithi’ I said.
‘What he said? I canny say that. What footba team di ya support?’
‘Leeds’ I said.
‘I’ll call ya Leeds’.
And from then on he did.
‘Come here Leeds, look at that what do you think?’ He showed me a campaign for Converse he was working on.
‘Nice’ I said getting a bit excited, ‘do you get free runners too?’
‘Not a bit of it, Leeds, with the many thousands of dollars they’re paying me, I’ll be able to buy me own!’
Far from being the fey pale ex art student I had expected Vaughan was a charismatic, funny, intelligent and oh so loud Mackem, and at the time, huge physically. I liked him instantly.
‘If you see Vaughan lying around naked’ said one of the media pluggers to me earlier, ‘just tell him to put his fucking clothes back on, it’s getting boring’.
We chatted art and music, his passion shone through and I tried to soak up as much as I could from a man whose work had adorned my student walls and was often lauded with changing the face of British design. He was very generous with his creativing and showed me all the projects they were currently working on.
‘I like ya band Leeds. You’ve got the girl out front, she’s a looker, then you’ve got the big bastard on bass and he’s rocking the fuck out of it, so I’m thinking it’s like Beauty and the Beast. What I’m looking for is beautiful images of ugly things. What do you think of these photos?’
‘Wow they’re beautiful, what are they?’
‘Umm well yeh, wow’
And indeed they were the cover of the band’s first full single release on 4AD. Septic wounds adorned the album cover, intestinal worms also made an appearance along with rusted fusbal men. All beautifully photographed and laid out.
‘Do ya know the Pale Saints Leeds? They’re Leeds fans too’.
And he went on to tell me that for their debut album launch they’d asked if they could have an advert in a Leeds United matchday programme. 4AD had happily agreed and Vaughan had spent quite a time setting up the ad.
‘Here, here it is Leeds, do ya notice anything? Look, look, look closely, in the corners! 1,9,7,3.’
He’d put a small number in each corner 1,9,7, and 3.
‘Bob Stokoe, Leeds, Ian Porterfield!’
And he collapsed into fits of laughter.