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).