Though its painfully obvious that every band has a finite life time, even if a lot of them aren’t willing to accept that, it hadn’t ever really occurred to me that I’d be at the final Funeral for a Friend shows. They were technically the first “big” band I ever saw live (when they opened for Iron Maiden back in the day to the typical open minded response associated with metal fans: i.e. not open minded) and I’m genuinely sad to see them go.

I don’t have anything as trite or cliche to offer as “this band changed my life” or “this band saved me” or “I got their logo tattooed on my left ass check cause they really speak to me bro” but…I listened to this band, and particularly the two albums they chose to showcase at these farewell shows, a whole lot. Presumably hours logged counts for something. (See what I did there?) 

Tour is a strong word for 4 days away I grant you, but if I don’t use strong words to try and look cool then I’m out the game. Not a chance my natural good looks, wit and charm are going to cast that particular illusion.

Anyway, self-deprecation and procrastination aside, I went on what we’ll call a tour for the first time in November with who I feel I can legitimately call my bros in Swallows. The fine gentleman in the band were kind enough to invite me along to take photos and video of the tour. I guess they were just used to playing with my lens in their faces by this point and it’d throw them off if that wasn’t the case. So naturally I took up the offer with a tremendously enthusiastic, “Sure, why not?”

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this set. Rolo Tomassi are amazing, this gig was amazing, getting to photograph it was amazing.

It was hard to shoot, the privileged safety of a photo pit wasn’t an option and the crowd were exactly the way you’re always told the best rock crowds should be. I’ll happily take the bruises and aches to be at shows like this.

DIY is cool. I’ll always be cool. Not cool like hair cuts are cool, DIY ethics are resistant to trends, but malleable to the changing times. If you do DIY right it can be a hugely rewarding thing, and potentially even be successful, while sticking it to the man.

Which was well all know is the ultimate victory of rock ‘n’ roll. Or was. It’s currently vying for pole position with a real sweet haircut.

I’m forever writing nonsense like “music and art should challenge you” like some sort of desperately earnest teenager. And I do believe it should, but I wasn’t prepared for just how challenging “For The Consideration of Amateur Jockeys” would be.

Civil Elegies music is….probably best described as a reaction. Nothing here feels composed or structured. It feels like a the rawest of nerves being slammed repeatedly against each other with only the briefest rest bites which are positively pregnant with menace. You know when people describe Seal as easy listening? This is the opposite of that.

This is how punk rock is supposed to sound: ferocious and unforgiving and with raw intensity. That sort of approach seems to have been lost amongst a sea of stylish hair cuts for a lot of bands. Thankfully, bands like Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes provide a much needed violent head shave to that kind of music.

Thrice came back this year. Which if you’re a blubing Thrice fan-boy, or lady, like myself is among the best of the best news. I love that band. I love the odd born again Christian undertones of the latter-day material a lot less, but the tunes are bangin’ right? So I can just pretend they’re deep and personal esoteric metaphors instead.

But Thrice went onto hiatus in the first place because they felt creatively spent and full-time touring is exhausting, debilitating and expensive.  Now they’re back and obviously getting offered lovely wads of cash for exclusive festival appearances, like Hevy, and short tours. Does that dilute their legacy of being a fiercely creative band with punk rock roots?

Probably. But I can’t say I care.

This is the really rewarding aspect of what I do.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love taking photographs of shows. It’s a privilege and so much fun. But getting invited in to help document the creative process and getting an insight that process…that’s the kind of photography that I find really compelling.

Swallows were kind enough to invite me along to the studio for a couple of days while they worked on the six tracks for their new EP: “Haunted”. Here’s a lot of photos and some thoughts about the time I spent with the band.