Gather round, gather round, let me tell you a story. Are you sitting comfortably? Good, then I’ll begin.
It was back in March and there I was, just browsing through Facebook when I happened across this post that caught my eye. Well, this lead to a couple of emails back and forth and then I had an appointment for the next day at 4pm at the Marble Factory to meet Tom, the tour manager of Monster Truck.
Fast forward to the next day and at the scheduled time we meet up and that coveted AAA pass was in my grubby hand. My brief is music to my ears – just go where I like and shoot what I want but candids of the band during and after soundcheck were required. With the usual gig photography restricted to the first three songs only, having this amount of time and freedom was a bit strange so I spent the first ten minutes just wandering around the venue getting ideas. Having previously been one of the house photographers at The Marble Factory, I’m pretty familiar with the actual building but the backstage area was new to me and it was good to be able to check out all the corridors and new angles I could find.
As I came back into the main room, support band The Picturebooks had arrived and are bringing in their kit. Here's a couple of pictures of Steve (drummer for Monster Truck) telling them a story about having a selfie with a fan. So she's forgotten the timer countdown is on and we're standing there while it goes 10...9....8... .....we were there for ages!!
A little while later I was chatting with Jer (Truck guitarist) explaining about my presence there and said what a great band The Picturebooks are, having seen them previously. “We like to have a band we like with us and someone who adds to the total package of the gig”, was his reply - makes sense to me!
So now it was time for the band to soundcheck and run through a couple of songs, tweak settings and generally get things "just right" for later.
Does this go up to 11?
Then I was very privileged to witness the band play a song for the very first time - it was a cover that was going to be used on something special the following week. I haven't heard anything more about it, unfortunately, so won't mention which song it was in case it's used at a later date. I certainly hope so as it was excellent but that's all I'm saying! It was fascinating to see sections being worked on and discussed and here's a couple of shots of the process.
Play it a bit more like this! And then you guys come in at this part.
With soundcheck finished there was an hour or so to hang around backstage and try to keep out of the way and get a few candids. I was also very generously offered food and drink from the bands rider but politely decline – can you imagine anything politer than an Englishman and Canadian who've just met? Instead I go outside to catch up on emails and text home while there’s a bit of time and see some daylight and as it turns out, chat to Jon (Truck's Bassist and Singer) for a short time before he's whisked away for an interview.
The PictureBooks are once again very good – they're a great live band and it always proves to be an intense musical experience seeing them in concert.
After their set is finished I pop backstage and try not to get in the way – all bands are different in their pre-gig states and the last thing I want to do is upset their balance before the performance (although it must be said they are a very chilled out bunch!).
Bottom line – the Truck are fantastic live, one of the best bands I've seen this year in fact. Everyone has a great time and due to my AAA pass I get to shoot the whole show including a couple from behind the drums where I managed to sneak on briefly (as arranged pre-gig).
Towards the end of the show I went to the back of the crowd and tried to get a few shots over the heads of the crowd and fortune smiled on me as the lights worked perfectly at that moment to light everybody. Sometimes it all just falls into place and a couple of minutes later I was back at the front again.
Other times though, things don’t work out quite as favourably and even though I was in the right place at the right time, the lights were just in between flashes as Jer did his biggest jump and the shot came out too dark to use. Bugger!
As the guys came offstage I just had time to rush backstage to grab a couple of shots of them, happy and sweating before getting out of their hair and leaving them in piece to enjoy the rest of their evening.
It was a great experience which resulted in some of my favourite shots and something I hope to do again in the future.
Monster Truck are one of the best live acts around and are well worth seeing if you have a chance. Their next gig here is scheduled to be headlining the Friday (1st December) of Planet Rockstock and their new album will be out early next year, I believe, so hopefully a full UK tour won’t be too far away.
Huge thanks to Monster Truck, Tom (tour manager), Ben (guitar tech) and The Picturebooks for allowing me to get in the way, ask stupid questions and generally be a nuisance. Also, big thanks to Mascot Records (one of the best out there in my opinion) for getting the band's music out there without which there would be no tour in the first place.
Thanks for reading (if you got this far!), I hope you enjoyed it.
The full live gallery can be seen here - Monster Truck Live