As Hoboken’s Drum Den celebrates its tenth year in business, I reached out to my old friend Pete to talk about the business and life behind the drums. http://www.jerseybeat.com/petemartinez.html
I fondly remember listening to records while hanging out at my friend Tim’s House. Along with our love for our mutual love for the Descendants, All and others, we both reveled in the joy that was ‘Album Type Thing’ by California’s Big Drill Car. Along with the Doughboys, Big Drill Car was perhaps the two bands I listened at the time. Though I was immediately hooked on songs such as ’16 Lines’, “No Need,’ ‘In Green Fields,’ ‘Diamond Earrings’, and their cover of Cheap Trick’s ‘Surrender.’ In retrospect, I think it took me a while to remember the name Big Drill Car. For reasons unknown to me now, the name just seemed odd and even outlandish. Still, I was so psyched when they came out east and played Maxwells. Though I can’t recall who they played with. I remember the room being packed and the energy from both the band and the crowd being paramount. ‘Til this day, I still listen to the bands’ recorded output and have both compact disc and vinyl versions of everything the band released. Below is a link to Discogs to view all their releases.
One of the earlier shots taken during my photographic journey. One I look back on with a sense of pride. This one of Jon Procopio playing guitar with Dahlia Seed at what I believe to be Maxwells. Jon, also known as Dapper Jon to some, played guitar with both Dahlia Seed and Dune Buggy. Two bands I loved and still love. Jon is, without a doubt, one of the nicer people I’ve met along the way. Long after the band’s breakup, I’d look forward to seeing him friends BBQ’s, parties and social gatherings. Being that Dahlia Seed were and still are a very special band to me, this will be only one of many posts featuring the band. For now though, I just wanted to give Jon and this image their propers.
My wife has put it in my head that I should get to work on publishing a book. After numerous conversations and shared ideas. We decided it to play it safe by starting with what I know and do best, that being music photography. Noting my special gift in lacking focus and working on numerous projects at the same time. She gave me the simplified task of choosing twenty images from the last four years of shooting live music and occasionally having them in the studio. Simple enough right? Well, in the two weeks that have followed I’ve set two images aside. Slow? Yes, very. However, I’m going on a number of factors when deciding. One factor being the subjects reaction and appreciation of the image.
The image below was taken of The Brixton Riot’s Jerry Lardieri at Maxwell’s during a particularly rewarding benefit show. Since that show I’ve become a big fan of the band as well as a friend of Jerry’s. I hope to finish this “Twenty Bands” project before long. As I continue picking the next nineteen. I hope to share my choices as well as the stories behind them. Feel free to share your feelings on my choices as well as the bands and artists featured. Here we go.
After years of not printing much of anything. I’ve taken on the task of printing some of my favorite music related images shot throughout that time frame. Each week I’ve picked four images to printed at my favorite lab Duggal Visual in Chelsea. For this weeks trip in I’ve focused on some of my favorites featuring bass players. From as far back as I can remember. The bass has always been an instrument for inspiration. Below are the four images I picked. Any feedback would be appreciated. Feel free to share your favorite Bass slayers.
In my ten plus years as a Hoboken Resident I’ve driven or walked past the Neumann Leathers building countless times. And though I had taken many pictures around and outside of the sizable landmark. I had never once ventured inside the building. That was until today. In recent weeks I’ve had the pleasure of running into Pete Martinez. Best known to me as the drummer for New Jersey Power Pop kings Stuyvesant. I consider him, like many of the musicians and bands I rub elbows with to be more of an acquaintance than anything. Yet during the last couple of times we’ve talked at shows, he’s extended a hearty invitation to come pound on the drums at “The Drum Den”. Which, by the way, is located just inside Neumann Leathers. So today, with a few hours on my hands and a lot of aggression to work on. I took Pete up on his invitation.
Following a hearty welcome and a healthy tour of the facilities, (The place is a lot larger and organized than I ever envisioned.) we got down to business and started laying the foundations of learning to play the drums. Though I went in there to just basically make some noise and take out some pent up aggression. I found myself listening and wanting to learn more. Though I lacked any sense rhythm, I listened and learned about the kick, the snare, the toms and the symbols. I learned how to position myself, hold the sticks and hit the snares properly. Honestly, I got a lot more than I came for and Pete? I just can’t say enough about the guy. He put up with my lack of timing and rhythm and was a true teacher. So much so that I’ve convinced myself to go back and take some lessons.
After we finished I managed to stick around for a while, take some pictures and eventually meet Mitch Cady. We briefly spoke about the place and me wanting to take some shots. I gave him a couple of business cards. Both of which featured images taken at Maxwell’s. Turns out he used to do sound there. Well, small world. From there I creeped around the building getting some shots of the old factory. It’s become quite evident that there are fewer and fewer of these places around anymore. Places with a sense of history and character. I feel lucky to have had a chance to see it in it’s original form. I’m sure that my return will reward me with further corners and crevices to explore. Hopefully my rhythm and timing will be improved when I do. Thanks Pete. Thanks Mitch.
When asking local musician and all around cool chick Cindi Merklee to participate in my mission to get some studio time with my favorite local musicians, it wasn’t without some trepidation. Though I had seen her former band The 65’s a number of times, shared many mutual friends and had a few casual encounters at shows. We never really went past more than a few back and fourths on Facebook.
After meeting around the corner at L&J’s we headed upstairs to begin our session. Whatever shyness or nervous knots I might have had prior to meeting Cindi quickly dissipated as we began to talk. We talked and listened to The Replacement’s “Let it Be” while talking about our musical idols. In between the laughing and all out silliness, I managed to take some pictures. Though I had a blueprint for the shots I wanted and the look I wanted to convey. None of it really mattered in the end. I made the most of my time getting to know Cindi. Listening to her stories while sharing my own.
Cindi was a real pleasure to work with and above all, get to know. She re-enforced my belief that beauty has many layers and levels. Thanks for your time Cindi.
As a budding photographer in the mid to late 90’s I went through countless rolls of both negative and slide film accumulating boxes upon boxes of slides, negatives and prints. I had a neat linen closet in my one bedroom Hell’s Kitchen apartment filled with my photographed history. Everything in a separate, marked envelopes with negatives intact. I was really anal about it and why not. One of the first things I was taught was to keep your negatives with your prints and keep them in pristine condition.
However, at one point all of that changed. I got a job at a photo store on University Place and B&H opened it’s Super Store within walking distance of my apartment. My organizing obsession started and my simple, organized hobby went haywire. One day I had this genius idea to separate my negatives from their prints and put everything into binders. I spent lots of money and time making complete nonsense out of my once perfect system. A few years later my girlfriend moved in and that converted linen closet turned photo library became my girlfriends converted personal storage unit. Negatives and Pictures soon separated before legally becoming divorced and despite supervised visits, rarely saw one another.
Years later I’m happily married to the woman that took over my closet, living in another town in another state. I’ve begun the unenviable task of going through about sixteen years of newly digitalized negatives putting names to bands I may have only seen once or twice at CBGB’s, ABC No Rio, Maxwell’s or perhaps Connecticut’a Anthrax club. Most are immediately recognizable while others draw a complete blank. It seems I attended my share of crappy Thugcore shows at CBGB’s in the 90’s along with a few Jersey Metalcore shows. Add to that I’ve started the process of putting names to the bands I’ve shot since going digital. A task that has been a tad easier since I’ve labelled each folder with at least the nights headliner. One thing I have gone as far as doing is tracking down the names of the band members. There are so many bands I’ve enjoyed over the years. Many of which I never had the opportunity to get personal with. So I’ll continue digging, archiving and shooting. Putting names to the many faces whose music continues to add to my loss of hearing. Back to work…
Considering how much concert photography has dominated my life as of late. I thought I’d take a moment to post some recent images I shot at what has become my home away from homes, Maxwell’s. While I’m here I might as well plug the blog and website I’ve been spending so much free and not so free time working on.
In the last year or so I’ve seen a lot of evolution in regards to my concert photography. Part of that can be traced to my purchase of the Canon 15mm wide angle lens. The shots I’ve taken with it have been my best by far. Though it requires me to get a lot closer and in the grill of some of the musicians it has helped to really feel the music on an entirely different level. I no longer a bystander. I’m right in the cage with the lions. Whether or not I get eaten up is up for grabs. I do however feel I’ve carved out my corner there. I feel that I’m getting more and more positive feedback lately ad it feels good.
All the Concert Photography you could possibly stand. http://www.damionphoto.com/Music/About.html
I started United By Rocket Science with my friend Dave back in May and have enjoyed every minute of it. Both Dave and Me have seperate blogs/sites that, at the time, weren’t giving us a lot of inspiration to work on. Combining forces really gave us the kick in the ass we needed. Since we started we’ve been focused on doing reviews, interviews and covering local music to our best ability. It’s been a blast exploring the vastness of the music coming out of the basements and beer halls of the tri-state and beyond. Check us out and help spread the word.
One more Music Blog can save the world. http://unitedbyrocketscience.blogspot.com/