Growing up playing shows and recording music, most of my friends are in bands themselves. A lot of them have been very dear to me, but perhaps none more than Privateers.
On paper maybe they shouldn’t have been so good- Pumpkins fuzz choruses meet Prog “song” structure swallowed by Matt Bellamy pomp. Despite the fact that they lasted no more than two years, never left Nottingham and never once even considered having a bass player Privateers, to me, were world-beating. Three guitars, three vocals, the expected number of drums and an unreasonably high number of effects pedals- this band was a delicate eco-system of it’s own with each member fitting into his own soundspace. On guitar, Gareth Bidder- the meat and testicles of the band. On guitar, Martyn Wells- the one who played the actual song, and on guitar Josh Hasnip- more strings, more obscure pedals, more high pitched insect noises than any real human should have and make.
For a full third of their life they didn’t have a real drummer - the first of their two EP’s was recorded to 2” tape with a machine of a sessionist- Arek “The Laser” Kulesa. I once watched him record twelve flawless and humongous drum tracks, made up of songs he’d either heard once before or not at all, in a short afternoon. But by the time EP 2 came along Privateers had found their Ringo in Adam Pearson and suddenly everything aligned.
Though I doubt they’d describe me as their fitfth, sixth or even seventh Beatle, I did all I could to constantly muscle in on what they were making. From following them around with a camera to snatching production credits for their EPs to even winding pickups for their guitars, I enjoy to think I played a part in Privateers being what they were but in reality I merely documented them. The crown of their modest achievements is No Magic, recorded in September 2013 at JT Soar, Nottingham’s DIY punkrock hub. The majority of photographs here are my attempt to show the process of making that record, whilst keeping my producer’s hat on squarely. With no ego I can say this is my finest sword, from the blunt, thick drums to the vocals lilting around pitch to swathes of roomy guitars. Less than a year later Privateers were done. With the departure of one member it was obvious the whole would suffer- an exact sum of their parts.
The wider world never got to hear Privateers and this is something I want to remedy. You can listen to No Magic at privateers.bandcamp.com