ALESANA at Rescue Rooms, Nottingham: shot for Rock Sound magazine
Took me a while to blog this but it’s worth putting up as it was one of the strangest gigs I’ve seen in a while. I didn’t know this band before that night, but they brought out a scarily devoted following. Some girls on the front row were screaming at the guitarist/vocalist (the main guy with the mic in the photo): “Will you have sex with meeeeee?”. Well I presume they meant him, not me. I still don’t really know who the band are, to be honest, but the gig was a heck of a lot of fun to shoot - chaotic, unrelenting and unexpectedly homoerotic in places.
DRY THE RIVER at Rescue Rooms, Nottingham: shot for the band.
I had a great time last night hanging out with Dry The River at the Rescue Rooms. There was champagne. And beer. And Quality Street (sort of). There was a LOT of Michael Jackson (on an iPod, not in person, obviously). There was the promise of Genesis, Rush and Whitesnake in a DJ set (which I had to bloody well miss because of work commitments this morning). On top of all this, there was a great gig - Dry The River have just arrived back from a huge US support tour and their live show is amazing - a much grungier take on the alt-folk sound of the last few years. They have impressive vocal harmonies but they’re not afraid to hit the gas too - as you can probably tell from the photo. Intrigued? Go check them out. I’m going to try and catch them again in London on May 2.
BEHIND THE SCENES: Every Time I Die - three shoots in 40 minutes
Every Time I Die are one of my favourite bands. I don’t listen to as much heavy stuff as I did in my Kerrang! days but they’ve stuck with me - it’s amazing, intelligent hardcore rock that completely transcends its genre. So, when Rock Sound asked me to do some portraits of them for a 2012 preview and a future feature, and possibly even a third feature, I was bang up for that.
Of course, the band aren’t in the UK all that often, so these three shots were to be done in one go, and needed to each look a little different. This being only my second major feature shoot for Rock Sound, it needed a big deep breath and some careful planning. It also needed a good assistant, so I roped in Carla Mundy to help (she also took the behind the scenes photos on this post).
The shoot was to happen after the band had soundchecked at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms on the Rock Sound Riot tour in December (2011). We decided to do an outdoor shoot on a roof terrace overlooking the Nottingham skyline by the venue, then an indoor shoot somewhere inside, then I needed an individual shot of singer Keith Buckley.
We set the outdoor shoot up first, on a roof terrace owned by Carla’s friend Rob. The band were supposed to arrive at 5, so we got our lights set up. At 5.20 we found out they were still soundchecking - running really late. Knowing we had to be done by 6.15-ish, we had to abandon our rooftop. We dismantled the gear, thanked Rob for letting us spend half an hour on his roof terrace doing not much at all, and decamped to the Stealth nightclub, part of the same complex as the Rescue Rooms. New plan: three shots in the same venue with different lighting/clothes.
So the next challenge was to do something with a different look. We had about another 20 minutes. I’d spotted a big bass bin in a different bit of the club that sort of looked like a rooftop air vent, so we quickly moved the light stands upstairs and I set up a straightforward main and fill with two shoot through umbrellas - no time for cleverness. I asked the band to put their outdoor jackets/hoodies on to complete the look, and kept much of the background dark. Apart from the giveaway flooring, it could sort of be on a rooftop (a sepia-ish tone was added for the Rock Sound feature which further distanced it from the look of the first shot). Here’s the set-up shot (sorry about the display of my underwear):
It was pretty much 6.15 and our time was up but I still needed a shot of Keith. I turned the lights round to the wall behind us and threw together an ultra-fast classic portrait set-up with a plain wall and one shoot-through brolly. One test shot suggested it needed an accent light and a bit more light falloff, so I put another light in to camera left, zooming the speedlight head to give it some edge and brought the main light in closer, on a lower power. It looked good, I fired off maybe seven or eight frames and we were done. Keith departed… about 40 mins in total for all three shoots. The individual shot, done in three minutes, is actually my favourite of the lot. Here’s the set-up shot: