Articles Tagged with: Punk Rock
Bucharest | Sir Richard Bishop
Sir Richard Bishop, Bucharest, Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Sir Richard Bishop, Bucharest, Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Apologies, as this is a bit out of order, being placed in the middle of the Bangkok series, but I have just returned from a trip to Bucharest, Romania where I had the great fortune to see Sir Richard Bishop perform at a club, thirty-one years after I had seen him for the first time at a hardcore show in DC.

I’ve posted the introduction to his interview below, but if you should read the article in it’s entirety here, at The Attic. A very nice piece of synchronicity.

Sir Richard Bishop, Bucharest, Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Sir Richard Bishop, Bucharest, Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

It was 1984 in Washington, DC, at the height of that city’s legendary hardcore punk scene. We were young, aggressive and frustrated, and though not dumb, the amount of things we didn’t know were huge. We had no idea how important that punk scene was in DC. We had no idea that we were in the last year of hardcore punk, that the next year, the scene would just collapse into fragments. We had no idea we would survive and grow old and sit in chairs at desks for decades to come. And we had no idea that the visceral, instinctive and emotional wave of hardcore punk that surprised us and filled us with ideas and growling intensity was a feeling we would never feel again.

One of the great surprises was at a JFA show in DC in 1984 at the 930 Club. The small club was packed as usual for a well-known out of town band, a band whose logo was easily drawn on jackets, skateboards and walls. None of us knew the opening band, but back then, we had no information except for paper magazines and we were hungry for most any music. The opening band came out and the guitarist with his head wrapped in an Arab keffiyeh head scarf, started to sing in a high falsetto, like a feminine muezzin, chirping out a call to prayer. This went on for minutes. No accompaniment. This was at a time where hardcore punk fans would abandon their favorite bands for daring to play a song less than faster than the speed of light.

People started to leave. A few here, more there. Than a constant stream of people headed for the door. Hardcore punkrock took in and embraced many different musical flavors (The Pogues and The Butthole Surfers for God’s sake) almost because there was no place else to go. But a challenging avant-garde, experimental trio? Sometimes, people just wanted to thrash. For the few of us that stayed, and it was a fair amount, we were enthralled for next hour. All I remember thinking was, Who the fuck are these guys? And where the fuck are they taking me?

During one sequence, the drummer was standing, sticks just barely brushing the cymbals, in a trance, the band letting the tension build. When the break finally came, the drummer descended on his kit and I saw a drumstick shatter but did not see where the top half went until the guy in front of me turned around, blood streaming from his face. We filled in the gap he left and closed ranks to get closer to this crazy band. Who were they, I asked someone after the show. Sun City Girls. I bought their album that week and drove my friends nuts with it for months. I don’t even remember JFA playing.

Thirty-one years later, I was in Bucharest for a week, there to photograph the people and the streets. This musician I had met that night before took me to Club Control to watch a free, improvisational duet of violin and percussion as she was friends with the violinist. This show was an unexpected choice and I was enjoying the performance and oddly proud of the size of the crowd in attendance for such an experimental performance. Then some guy named Sir Richard Bishop came on. I had assumed it was going to be a DJ since it was a club. I had no idea. Bishop brought out a gorgeous small body 19th century guitar and started off with a song, heavy in the Phrygian mode, playing fully off of the North African mode. Unexpected again. I heard his voice in between songs. Definitely American. At times, percussive and at times, trancelike, I sat on the floor beneath the bar and let myself get taken along for the ride.

It was afterwards, outside in the terrace that I found out that it was Richard Bishop from the Sun City Girls. Well, look at that. We had both survived.


Gavin Watson | Skins and Punks
Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I was never a documentary photographer. I was just photographing my mates, it wasn’t deliberate, other people give me that label.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I had no understanding of what I had done when I was taking those pictures at 15,16 and 17 years old. From 1979 onwards, the bulk of the historical Skins & Punks era was from the 1979 to 1981period.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I’m not inspired by anyone else. I’m inspired by what’s in front of me. I have old cameras that I’ve bought for a few pounds, old Olympus 10s. When I do large campaigns I’ll work with a great post production editor; I’m just interested in taking the photos, not anything else. It’s all about the story, the subjects. I rarely use flash, I hate using flash actually. I will still use film because I know it will be safe, it’s a back up because you can lose 5 years of work using digital, in an instant.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins and Punks was not a subject that I intentionally set out to photograph, it was my life. The images I created were down to me being a fast worker, I kept things very simple using the one camera and film, this is very much the way I still work today.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

It was Christmas ’78–79 I went down to Woolies with mum for my present. In a glass cabinet there was a pair of binoculars and a camera – a Hanimax 110. I was sure I wanted binoculars, but standing there I thought, fuck it, I’ll have the camera. I don’t know why. I loaded a roll of 110 film and took pictures of my family and friends. My whole life was family, my life was very contained…

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I sent the film away for developing and printing. When it came back and I saw my very first pictures, something just went BANG. I’d managed to pick a camera with a glass lens. It was basic, but better than the plastic lens cameras everyone else bought, such as the terrible Kodak Instamat. Because the Hanimax had a glass lens, when I got my prints back I saw they were much better than any other people’s home photos. That did it for me, I got that initial spurt and became into photography on the spot.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

But I always wanted the best, I would browse through catalogues just to write lists of the most expensive things in there. I dreamt of the best equipment, a Canon A1, out of reach in working class family. I saved up for my first 35mm camera, a Zenith, base Russian SLR built like a tank. I didn’t like it, it wasn’t good enough for me. One day I came home from school, my dad is in the kitchen and he says “I have something for you, son”. He had bought me an Olympus OM1. It was any other Wednesday, not my birthday, for no reason he whips out this expensive camera. I could feel my brothers’ eyes of envy on the my back of my neck. I still shoot with that camera.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I had no professional photographic goals, I was more interested in being in a skinhead gang with a bit of photography on the side. I was a nervous photographer, and I still am. I’ve never gone up to a stranger and asked to take their photograph. I just couldn’t photograph other people, so it was all about my friends. My life was based around my friends, we all were all skinheads together, we all were teenagers together. If I hadn’t actually been a skinhead and set out to photograph them, the result would be very different. They’d all be V signing and shouting “fuck off, mate!”. It’s why I haven’t got the atypical pictures of what society think skinheads are, or even what skinheads think skinheads are.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I’m not a different photographer from the one I was at 15, I’m a natural, I have a raw organic way of taking pictures. My methods have not changed.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I don’t actually think I have a particular style, well I haven’t consciously set out to have one anyway, although I do know other people think I do, they can look at my work and know it’s a Gavin Watson. For me its more about looking through the lens and if it looks good I take it, I’m generally just happy when they are in focus (laughs), but to be honest, sometimes it’s OK with me if they are a not, they don’t always have to be perfect, maybe that’s part of my style. As I said I like to keep things very simple, I work with one camera at a time and still use film. I don’t like using a zoom lens, I prefer to move around a lot instead, this is the way i worked when i was 15 and i still do now. I do think my pictures have a certain energy within them, they actually look like real people rather that just figures.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson


Misha Erwitt | Redondo Beach & CBGBs
Cosmo, Redondo Beach, California, 2004 © Misha Erwitt

Cosmo, Redondo Beach, California, 2004 © Misha Erwitt

Well I’ve done a lot of street photography in New York City so let me say something about that. New York is a constant parade of humanity. It’s a very familiar place, but it’s always changing. If you look around there are a lot of amusing juxtapositions, so yes, humor does play a definite part in my work and it’s an element in many of my Leica Gallery pictures that were shot in New York. By contrast, trying to take street pictures in L.A. is challenging. L.A. isn’t a walking city — I considered shooting drive-by pictures and I’m always taking pictures out of my car window, but then you have nowhere to park it. Let’s just say that L.A. isn’t as conducive to street photography.

– Misha Erwitt

Jimmy Gestapo and Murphy's Law, CBGBs, 1985 © Misha Erwitt

Jimmy Gestapo and Murphy's Law, CBGBs, 1985 © Misha Erwitt


Ed Colver | Bad Religion

I had the pleasure of hanging out with Ed Colver at a party in The Brewery in Los Angeles a few years ago. He is a cool old timer with tons of stories. At the time, he was driving a great hearse with a Dodge 400 in it and his business cards were blank bereavement cards for funeral homes.

I asked him about this iconic photo which has always been one of the great hardcore album covers and posters. He said he took this shot handheld at night outside of a show in LA, using only the light from a hot dog vendor cart. He never uses a light meter, has never used one and has such a refined eye that he can judge the light and get the exposure right every time. Even in the studio.

Check out his work and buy his book.

Bad_Religion_'80-'85 © Ed Colver

Bad_Religion_'80-'85 © Ed Colver


Tompkins Square Park

There was a punk rock show in Tompkins Square Park last weekend, an anniversary of a big riot there in ’86 when the park was full of punk squatters and dealers. That was back when going to a hardcore punk show many times had a strong element of danger and fear; fear of getting stomped, sometimes fear of the police, or just in general, fear of getting hurt.

So seeing reunion shows or bands that are still performing 20 years later is always a dicey proposition. I remember at the tail end of the summer in DC in ’84, everyone was agreeing that hardcore was dead and you could feel the energy of the scene move elsewhere. I kept going to shows but they were not the same. Sometimes these shows are depressing. We’re all old and slow and fat and should know more than three chords by now. Other times, you remember the energy and the reason why you went to every show. Plus seeing the East Village Whole Foods crowd with their little doggies watching the show was funny.

This was a good show. Mongrel Bitch, Urban Waste, Hammerbrain, Nihilistics and Reagan Youth.

When I moved to New York in January, I met Laura of Mongrel Bitch while looking at apartments. She gave me the heads up on the show so thanks, Laura.

L. Brownia, Mongrel Bitch

L. Brownia, Mongrel Bitch

Laura Sativa, Mongrel Bitch

Laura Sativa, Mongrel Bitch

Charlottica, Mongrel Bitch

Charlottica, Mongrel Bitch

Mongrel Bitch

Mongrel Bitch

Ron Rancid, Nihilistics

Ron Rancid, Nihilistics

Nihilistics

Nihilistics

The only time I saw Reagan Youth was in 1985 or ’86 at the Rock Against Reagan show on national mall in DC. That was a long time ago, with a massive outdoor crowd, cops driving their cars through the crowd periodically, helicopters overheard. Dave Rubinstein has long since passed.

Pat McGowan, Reagan Youth

Pat McGowan, Reagan Youth

What would a hardcore punk show be without David Peel. He still looks exactly the fucking same.

David Peel

David Peel

loser
dad
skin
kids

kids2

And to cap it off, I got my feet puked on and I was only wearing flip flops.

this fucker. don't know what he ate but it looked like mabo tofu when it came out

this fucker. don't know what he ate but it looked like mabo tofu when it came out