These last few months I've been thinking much more about expanding my photographic horizons. Don't get me wrong, shooting gigs is awesome, but sometimes it would be good to photograph something that's not you're usual "first three, no flash". As it happens, such musings coincided with the announcement that PABH were to play a special in-store set at HMV Leeds for the release of their third album, 'Blood'. Whilst it wouldn't be that far removed from what I was used to, it was a step in a different direction.
I arrived at the store just prior to the guys going on stage. It was instantly clear that this show was going to be a little different and somewhat of a rarity - To say "unplugged" would be a bit of a cliché, but it was acoustic, stripped back and slowed down (or "redneck style", as Tom eloquently put it). It's not something they normally do, or have maybe ever done.
The guys rattled through a short set of old and new material that had been adapted for the more intimate setting. 'Hot Squash' - the first single from the new album - was a particular highlight, with a delightful bluesy edge to it. Stooges cover 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' when down a treat, before the set was drawn to a close with a terrific rendition of the classic 'High Five. Swan Dive. Nose Dive'. This whole redneck thing kinda works, me thinks.
After the show, the crowds gathered to have their albums and other paraphernalia signed, which presented itself as a decent opportunity to grab some nice reportage stuff using my two prime lines.
Was good to catch the guys again, and having documented the album recording for an NME feature at the start of the year it felt somewhat poetic to document said album's official release. As I'm writing this, James has just stuck something on facebook about the album making the top 40, too. High five!
Just want to say a quick thanks to the guys and Ali for letting me take pictures, and to the folks at HMV Leeds for being cool with me getting in the way.
A few weeks back I headed down to London for the day. After enjoying awesome food and coffee down Carnaby Street, I headed down to the South bank for a short meeting. I had a few hours to kill before my train back north, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to do some exploring with my x20. As it happened, I was only a few minutes away from Borough Market - one of London's oldest food markets, that is currently enjoying the foodie renaissance that's sweeping the UK.
I'd not really attempted this type of observational photography for a while. The last time that springs to mine was about 5 years ago at the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria in Barcelona, which was awesome. I was keen to recapture some of that early photographic enthusiasm, whilst at the same time pushing myself out of my comfort zone a bit, not having my SLR to hand. I shaln't lie - it felt great.
Headed up onto the beautiful Yorkshire Moors for a photo shoot with the awesome New Delta. and a Chesterfield sofa.
Although New Delta is very much a new venture, I've known the guys in the band for years. Their previous bands (Fifteen Stories and Operator Six) feature very heavily in the early days of my portfolio. It's safe to say, the bulk of the time I was working out how to use a camera, it was pointing at these guys.
I'd been talking to these guys about a shoot for quite a while and they had a pretty clear idea of what they were after - a sofa on the moors. This was far easier to sort than it sounds, given that we live on the edge of some of the most spectacular scenery this country has to offer (I'm not gonna lie. It's ace). Getting a sofa onto said moor was equally rather simple, as one of the guys owned a rather nice leather Chesterfield 3 seater, and they had access to a van. Bosh.
Given the rather surreal nature of the shoot, I was keen for the guys to look as natural as possible. I thought this would be quite a nice contrast - three dudes, chillin' on a sofa, on the moors. Perfectly normal. To try and achieve a natural look, I kept guidance and posing to a minimum. In hindsight I probably should have engaged with the guys a bit more, but overall I'm happy with the shots.
We tried two set ups either side of a country road to try and get a bit of variety, but the Yorkshire summer weather soon put pay to that idea.
Big thanks to the boys for sitting in the rain, as well as Gaz and Becca for ably assisting, and Eddie for sniffing people inappropriately. Awkward.
Given that we were shooting next to a road in pretty crap weather, I had to keep my setup to a minimum: Two flashguns on roughly 1/8 through white brollies camera left and right, fairly low (to stop them blowing away) at roughly 45º.
I spent a few hours at Greenmount Studios with Leeds best jumpy screamy band whilst they put the finishing touches on their third album, Blood.
Greenmount is an awesome, awesome place. I'd never heard of it before, but having done my research before the shoot, I soon found out how awesome it was. "How Awesome?" Mega awesome. The studio was set up by three guys from other awesome Leeds bands - Jamie (Mi Mye), Lee (Middleman) and Rob (The Spills) - and houses some obscenely cool and quirky analogue recording gear, without being pretentious and boutique-y. It feels homely, almost humble, and looking around the walls of the place it became clear Pulled Apart By Horses were in good hands - The Cribs, iForwardRussia!, The Vaccines and Post War Glamour Girls are just a few recognisable names on their expansive client list. A lot of bands are craving that raw tapey goodness, and at Greenmount it would appear the guys have got it just right.
I met with Jamie and Lee at the studio in advance of the band arriving to do some exploring. As it happens the place wasn't too big, so exploring was promptly superseded by coffee and chats. I gotta say, too, the coffee! I dunno where those guys their beans, but DAYUM! Don't get me wrong, this is in no way a poor reflection on the conversation (which was very intriguing and insightful) just the coffee was that good.
One by one the guys arrived, and various topics of conversations flowed - recording, writing, touring, playing Leeds Arena, the sad passing of The Fly (I first met the guys a few years back when I was assisting on a cover shoot for that mag. RIP.) and how unbe-f*cking-lievably good the coffee was. We set up a few basic shoots in the studio. Firstly in the recording room, where Tom kindly agreed to scream at me for a few shots. We then headed into the control room, before getting some shots around an old tape machine that had been used in production of the album. The shoot was finished off with a quick group portrait in the hall upstairs.
Awesome day, and good to get my first non-gig shoot for the NME done. Great banter, great hangs, and (of course) great coffee.
Thanks too to Lee and Jamie down at Greenmount - super hospitable dudes. PABH are touring again soon, so if you get chance to see them I strongly advise you head down and get your face duly torn off.
You can check out the first single from Blood below - the teeth-bending Hot Squash:
I caught up with The Dunwells for the grand finale of their "Light Up The Skies" Tour at Leeds Town Hall.
The grandeur of the location for the conclusion was in stark contrast to the rest of the dates - this promised to be a very special homecoming show. The guys had played to large crowds before, but not that much on this side of the pond, and certainly not in Leeds. That said, the guys seemed ridiculously calm with the situation - likely after months of touring in massive venues stateside. The only Dunwell displaying any kind of nerves was the other brother, Matt, who had booked the gig and was responsible for getting bums on seats.
It was a good opportunity for me to catch up with the guys as I'd not seen them for a few months, and quite a bit had changed - The band was now a four-piece, and Johnny was now a very proud Dad. I got down to the venue nice and early to catch the guys getting the venue ready - wheeling in amps and cabs, tweaking lighting rigs, tuning snare drums - it was great camera fodder for me.
I mingled in amongst the band and the techs to get some nice reportage stuff, as well as being my typical guitar-geek self, chatting to Dave about his collection of interesting Seymour-Duncan-modded Schecter guitars. It was also good to finally meet the bands manager, Kevin, who had flown over from the US for the gig.
I was pleased to see my buddies Man Can't Fly down as main support for the evening, as the guys had put a lot of work in over the past few months - I was gutted to miss their EP launch at the Cockpit last year. This was the first time I'd seen them perform with vocalist A Girl Called Ruth, who I had a good natter to about cameras - she'd recently acquired a Fuji X100s (of which I am very jealous) and I gave her a quick crash course in how to use it. Now I want one. Damn.
The gig itself was really tough to shoot, as it was totally seated (much like the Daughter gig I covered there last year). I was mindful that I'm not the easiest person to look around so I had to be as unobtrusive as possible to the crowd, shooting mainly from the aisles and empty seats.Having seen these guys grow over the past year or so, it was great to see them get such a response in an ambitious large venue, although to many it was probably never in doubt. Hectic US schedules have blessed the guys with a meticulous natural performance, and by the close of the set the crowd was on their feet singing along to the beautiful harmonies. I don't think the guys could have asked for it to go any better.
As is the norm, I scarpered before the encore to ensure I didn't obstruct the climax of the evening for any of the punters, after quickly saying my farewells to Johnny, Rob and Dave in the interval. It was a fantastic night, and I'm proud to have been there to document it.