Instrumental Project - Long Eaton
I realised the other day that I never blogged anything about this shoot, even though it was one of my favourites of last year. The band was an unnamed instrumental project that sadly hasn’t really seen the light of day (yet) featuring Stuart Vallans and Jamie Mitchell (both now part of the reformed Death Of Thieves) and Dave Ridgers (who plays in Without Maps).
An hour or so before this shoot, before I’d set off for the location (a lake near Long Eaton), the weather was miserable. I nearly postponed the shoot because I thought it would be a waste of everyone’s time. Stu persuaded me that it would clear up, and he was totally right. Turned out to be spot on.
Welly-wearing assistant on this shoot was Carla Mundy. That lampshade is now in her flat.
Biffy Clyro @ Leeds Festival 2013
In 2001, I was one of a small number of rock journalists who fell in love with this oddball Scottish band as they made their first forays on the national music scene (many others wrote them off for having a stupid name). I wrote the press biography which accompanied their debut album. The interview with Simon Neil for that piece went on about five times as long as it should have as we discovered a common musical path - from grunge and older indie rock like Red House Painters, through Fugazi and the post-hardcore scene to the ‘classic’ emo sounds of Sunny Day Real Estate, Mineral and more. “You guys could do a great cover of Man Overboard by Far,” I remember saying. “We actually play that song at rehearsals,” he replied.
12 years later, I found myself at Leeds Festival with cameras in hand, shooting for Rock Sound, in the rain, and witnessing a band who have truly made it the hard way - through constant touring, growing as songwriters, taking the odd opportunity as it has come their way, and sticking out the leaner early years to earn their place as true headliners. In some ways, the scale of what they now do is unrecognisable from their early outings (extra musicians, pyro… etc). But at the heart of it, the core trio actually hasn’t changed all that much. It’s good to see.
This was my favourite photo from that amazing set. It’s barely what Zack Arias would call ‘blog sharp’ (even worse the way tumblr is currently rendering it) but it has a cool vibe.
Zac Brown Band - backstage at Hard Rock Calling 2013, Olympic Park, London
Zac Brown Band are a HUGE deal in the US. Nine consecutive number ones on the country music chart. A three-night stand at Red Rocks. They are among the biggest superstars in America’s favourite musical genre. I got the call to shoot a couple of days’ tour photography for them while they were in the UK (for only the second time) and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.
As it turned out, from the moment I met them, backstage at Hard Rock Calling in Olympic Park, they were a dream to be around. “We’re used to having cameras around,” they told me, “…you can go wherever you want.”
And that ‘all-access’ permission was the key to a brilliant couple of days. Within 20 minutes of meeting them I was sitting in, taking a few photos as they played together backstage, warming up their amazing vocal harmonies with a Ryan Adams cover. I love Ryan Adams. I was happy already.
I was able to go anywhere on their stage (implicitly, they trusted me not to get between them and their audience). When Zac was invited by Bruce Springsteen to guest on Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, I got to witness/photograph Zac rehearsing the chords and harmonies in his dressing room (the song lyrics pulled up on an iPad) and later I photographed Zac and Bruce chatting when Bruce came offstage.
At their headline show at Shepherd’s Bush the next night I was able to shadow them from their arrival amid a scrum of overjoyed fans, through soundcheck and gig to post-gig drinks with friends, guests and members of Bruce Springsteen’s band. It was a real privilege to see such an immensely talented and professional band going about their work up close. Not once was I made to feel like I was being obtrusive.
Regardless of musical genre, so many bands could learn so much from the way ZBB conduct themselves. They treated me well, trusted me to do my work, and I gave them photos I’m very proud of in return.
Some of my shots are in this gallery on the ZBB website (mixed in with their personal shots).
John Newman @ V Festival 2013, Weston Park
I’m at V Festival this weekend. Just backing up my photos from day one, and thought I’d share this one of pop-soul star John Newman - the voice of Rudimental’s number one hit ‘Feel The Love’. He recently had a number one of his own with ‘Love Me Again’.
Rudimental @ NCS concert, Gorilla, Manchester
My favourite shot of current drum and bass chart-hoggers Rudimental from today’s NCS (National Citizen Service) gig in Manchester. The other acts were The 1975, Clean Bandit and Goldierocks.
NCS provides a unique opportunity for teenagers around England. Visit NCSYes.co.uk for more info.
The Script @ Capital FM Arena, Nottingham
The Voice UK is back on telly tonight. Here’s a shot of judge/mentor Danny O’Donaghue doing his day job at the Capital FM Arena a couple of weeks back. Shortly after this he came down to sing to the front rows and at one point put his glittering, stardust-flecked hand on my humble, tired shoulder. I will never wash that jacket again. I’ve never washed it before, to be fair.
Kagoule - shot for LeftLion magazine in Nottingham
I’ve passed this derelict clothing place every time I’ve gone into Nottingham on the bus and always wanted to shoot a band in front of it. When LeftLion gave me a band whose name is an item of clothing and who didn’t want to be posed (just wanted to hang out somewhere kind of grimy), I realised this was my chance. Only problem was - it’s a busy road and people were just leaving town after the Christmas lights switch-on. I had to shoot from the other side of the road, with intrepid assistant Dave Parry keeping an eye on the cars/buses and jumping out with lighting gear every time we got a break in traffic. It was also very, very cold - but that’s par for the course.
Big thanks to Dave for the help with this one. Go see his own photography at www.davidparryimaging.com