“Are you coming to Leeds tonight? I’m shooting Boris and so are you. I’ll pick you up on the way”*
That’s Nick, the tallest of we three BrC members. It takes me all of four seconds to realise tonight is going to be awesome. Boris are a band I’d always wanted to put the time into but until now have neglected. Too caught up in Shellac records and discovering Nick Cave**. As if things needed to get cooler the band are on at Leeds’s fabled Brudenell Social Club.
As a photographer you often get a couple of minutes to shoot a band as they pass through town. The band’s experience of the thing is different to this: every night a new and often unwashed stranger presses a camera against you and expects you to look enthused and beautiful. Let’s not be that guy. The one thing I’d been told about Boris- and only days before tonight- is that as a Japanese band their grasp of English was not a tight one***. How long til Nick get’s here? Three hours? Three hours to learn a little Japanese doesn’t sound too hard.
We’ve arrived and there’s pizza. Right outside in the cold December forecourt there’s a pizza van. Nick’s talking about pizza and I’m trying to stay with the conversation but in my head I’ve got to remember the phrases. Hello. I’m Elmore, very pleased to meet you. Hello. Thankyou. Hello. We go through the usual photopass collection and greeting stuff. Right there in the corridor are the guitars: a crazy Rickenbacker-style double neck (bass AND guitar) and the coolest black Les Paul I’ve ever seen. Their tour manager John introduces us and asks them about photos. “Yes of course” says drummer Atsuo in remarkably good diction. “After make-up”. When it’s time they don’t disappoint: Boris look amazing, a unit. Each time they move to change position it’s as one. Nick finishes dancing and clicking and I’m up. The phrases have been churning in my head for hours now and obviously I’m going to fall on my face. I wind on my Hasselblad, breathe in and give what this article will biasedly report as perfectly formed Japanese for “very pleased to meet you”.
Everyone in the room is silent. Surprise? Atsuo, Wata and Takeshi all smile and respond in unison. “Hajime mashite” Oh thank the lord. “We like analogue” says Atsuo, pointing at my camera “But no photoshop is not so good for old people like us”.
We say our thankyous and leave. A wall of Orange amplifiers, smoke and sillhouettes. The riffs start and the drums pound. This band are just as loud as I’d hoped, perhaps even louder. I was right, tonight is awesome.
*This conversation is all but made up. In reality Nick rarely says or texts much more than a couple of syllables.
** HOW did I miss out on Nick Cave for so long?
***Read on: this turned out to be so wrong.