Joseph Arthur Talks Mean "Chemical," Difficult Art

Singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur wrapped up his mini-residency tour in support of his new album, "Come To Where I'm From," following a show Monday night in Minneapolis, and the video for the first single, "Chemical," has just been added into rotation at MTV2.

The minimalist "Chemical" clip was directed by famed photographer Anton Corbijn, and although Arthur is known as a soft-spoken artist who is as willing to display his paintings as perform his songs, he told MTV News that he actually enjoys the track's malevolence.

"It's about addiction, I guess," Arthur said of the song, "or taking drugs... but I like the lyric 'Putting myself in jail/Hoping to see you fail.' I like saying 'hoping to see you fail,' because it's so mean-spirited. I rarely hear something that's so purely mean, and there's nothing redeeming about saying [that line]. That was my favorite part of the song,

and [the fact]

that it was in a pop tune." [RealAudio]

Last year, Arthur and artist pal Zachary Larner shared a Grammy nomination for Best Packaging for his "Vacancy" EP, and Arthur said coming up with the cover image for "Come To Where I'm From," which features a series of highly-stylized wraparound portraits, may have been the most difficult part of putting the album together.

"Oh, man," Arthur recalled. "I must have spent as much time on the artwork of the album as the album [itself], along with my friend Zach Larner, who contributed a lot of ideas and inspiration and love into that, too.

"Kind of like in a similar tip of [what producers] T-Bone [Burnett] and Rick [Will] did with the music, Zach was with the artwork. It wasn't all put together by me, and I didn't do it by myself, but

we spent a lot of hours

on it. I don't even know why it takes so long, but it just does." [RealAudio]

"Getting the cover is really hard, you know, wondering, 'What's going to be the cover?'" he added. "Then changing your mind. It's weird. A lot goes into making a record, and it's those kind of decisions [that] are brutal, more than going and recording some tunes or making a painting. Just making decisions is what's the most difficult part, I think." [RealAudio]

Arthur has lined up gigs in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Austin, Texas over the next few weeks, after which he will head over to the U.K. for an appearance at the Glastonbury Festival on June 24.

For a sample of some of Arthur's paintings, be sure to check out an officially sanctioned fan site (


that Arthur specifically sends digital copies of his artwork to while on the road.