Archive for July, 2008

“You Better Start Shooting, Kid!” – Glenn Danzig

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Danzig
Dressing Room
The Palace : Hollywood, CA
July 7, 1989

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(This photo and many others now available for sale.  Email: IamKevin@fairwarning.com)

As a way to make up for my near death experience at The Celebrity Theatre show in Anaheim (read my post “Twist Of Kevin”), Glenn and their publicist extended an invitation for me to do a quick shoot with the band at their next L.A. area show for Creem Magazine’s upcoming Metal Special. I had only met Glenn briefly before this night – in the lobby of The Wiltern Theatre at the Andrew Dice Clay show a few months prior.

I hooked up with Danzig’s tour manager at their tour bus just after the band arrived at the venue. As I walked into the club and headed towards the dressing rooms, I noticed that there were a couple of guys trailing us…their hands were full with weight lifting material – weight bench, weights, curling bars, etc. The tour manager and I stopped just outside the Danzig dressing room so he could fill me in on what to expect and to make sure that we made this shoot as quick as possible. As he was giving me the run-down, I saw the two guys turning the dressing room into a gym. I knew this was going to be good.

By the time I walked into the dressing room, I only had about 5 or 10 minutes left to shoot the photos. I introduced myself to each of the four guys in the band and told them that we should start with some quick solo shots. As I started getting my camera together, Glenn and John Christ both started lifting a bunch of weights and got their arms really pumped. Then, if that was not enough, they both did a load of push-ups. Eerie just kind of hung back and watched it all. Chuck Biscuits just sat on the sofa and drank beer. Glenn got a bit bothered that Chuck was looking so lazy and just boozing it up, but that’s Biscuits for you.

I saw that John was done working out, so I asked if I could start with his solo shots. Out of nowhere, John dunked his head in a tub of water and had his hair dripping all over himself as he walked in front of my camera. Then Eerie walked up and just kinda stood there…very evil-like…it was perfect. Biscuits was next. He had this fantastic bad-ass/punk attitude about the whole thing…like he could care less. He walked up with a beer in hand and just looked like he wanted to go home…I loved it. Glenn shot him a look. Biscuits then asked Glenn if he could keep the beer in the photos. Glenn just shrugged his shoulders and kept doing push-ups.

By the time Glenn walked in front of me to do his solo shots, he was completely pumped and ripped. His arms were still throbbing. As he stood in front of me, he started putting on his infamous Karate gloves that he used to wear all the time. I lowered my camera and waited for him to finish tieing his gloves and start posing for me. Glenn must have taken it the wrong way or something when I lowered my camera because, without looking at me, I heard him say, “You better start shooting kid! Time is running out.” I realized that Glenn was not joking about 5 minutes to do this shoot. So I started snapping. Suddenly, Glenn Danzig came to life. His facial expressions became very serious; his body tightened up…he was focused. What a pro!

As soon as I was done shooting Glenn’s solo shots, I grabbed the other guys and threw them next to Glenn for some quick group shots. Glenn was very impressed how fast I shot and how serious I took the shoot. This photo was the last frame that I shot in this session. Just then, their tour manager popped in and told us that it was time to get on stage. The band was taking this show very seriously as it was being broadcast live on KNAC, the local metal station at the time. I followed the band up to the stage and jumped in the photo pit and snapped away.

My relationship with Glenn grew from that day and I have worked closely with Glenn many times since over the years. It is an honor to know that he continues to think highly of my photos and appreciates the way I work. Glenn Danzig is the real deal.

Photographed with my trusty Canon AE1 Program, a cheap, no name 28mm-70mm lens and a Sunpak 100 flash. Shot on Kodak Ektachrome film.

MegaLate

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Megadeth
Pacific Amphitheatre
Costa Mesa, CA
May 25, 1991

Megadeth is one of the few true Metal bands that pushed the envelope and helped heavy metal music expand – they did what very few bands could. Because of this, Megadeth is part of an elite few that will go down in Metal History. So why did I not really get into the band when they emerged out of the early Thrash scene in the mid-eighties? Why was I so late to discover how amazing Megadeth’s debut album is? I’ll tell you why.

I was a teen when Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good! was released in 1985. It wasn’t a matter of just being able to pick up the LP and throw it in with the rest of your metal albums at home. This was a very unique situation. We, as metal fans, had to make a choice. You had to choose sides and stick with your decision. It was Megadeth or Metallica. Once that choice was made, there was no going back…this was serious. I chose Metallica.

The battle between Megadeth’s Mechanix and Metallica’s The Four Horsemen seems worth investigating. Why would each band allow the other to record nearly the exact same song with no lawsuit or legal action taken by either side? If this happened today, I assure you that it would be impossible for another band to mimic a single verse recorded by Metallica let alone an entire song.

Nowadays, it seems crazy to have to make a lifetime musical choice like that, but it happened more than you think. Van Halen or David Lee Roth, Ozzy or Dio, UFO or MSG. Today, people are a lot more open-minded when it comes to music. Fortunately, it was not too late for me to discover what a solid album Dave Mustaine created after being booted out of Metallica back in 1983.

Photographed with my Canon EOS1 and a Canon 80mm-200mm 5.6f lens. Shot on Kodak Negative film.

A Roll Of The Dice

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Andrew Dice Clay
Wiltern Theatre
Los Angeles, CA
April 13, 1989

I know Dice is not a rock and roll star, but at the time, he was just as big and as legendary as any of them. Dice had the number one comedy album in the nation and it was continuing to blow up – he was the hottest ticket in town. Just about every big name in the rock community came out for this show – Glenn Danzig, Guns N Roses (yup – Axl, Slash, Duff, Steven), Lemmy Kilmeister, Rick Rubin, David Lee Roth, Tom Petty, etc. It was THE show of all shows and I knew I had to be there, and for some reason, I had to shoot it.

At this point in my career, I was starting to legally photograph rock acts, but I still had not figured out how to secure a photo pass. I knew that the Wiltern Theatre was notorious for brutal security pat downs as you enter the venue, so there was no way I was going to be able to smuggle my camera in. I needed to devise a new plan.

A friend of mine at UCLA wrote a column for the campus paper, The Daily Bruin. He happened to get his hands on an unused Campus Police Press Pass. I had no idea if this thing carried any clout, but I had no other options. I typed my information onto the card and popped a few mug shots of myself in one of those old Polaroid photo booths. I stuck the photo in there and slapped on some lamination. It looked pretty official, official enough to get into a school debate, not a Dice show. But I was going to try anyway.

When I arrived at the venue, I walked immediately up to the Will Call window, acting like I had done it a million times. I flashed my Campus Police Press Pass and told the girl that I was here to photograph the show for The Daily Bruin. They searched and searched through a long list and told me that my name could not be found. I told them to check under the “A’s” , explaining that my name has been misspelled many times on lists like these – totally bluffing, them. They searched again and came up with nothing. So then I said, “Well, this is just great, what am I supposed to do with all this photo equipment? I know this is not your fault, but I think I need to talk to your supervisor.”

Just then a well-dressed man jumped in front of the glass window and took over asking what the problem was. As the girl began to explain the situation to him I started to get nervous. This guy was a seasoned pro, he has heard every story in the book…. you could just tell by looking at him, and he was not amused with my story. I heard him mumble to the girl, “I get it, don’t worry, I’ll take care of this.” I knew my plan was about to blow up in my face.

The man looks at me and says, “Here’s the deal – I am Dice’s publicist. Every press pass for this event goes through me, and I’ll tell you right now that I did not approve ANY photos for this show. And I can also tell you that your name has never come across my desk. Can I see this press pass she is talking about?” I nervously pulled out my hand made UCLA Campus Police Pass and showed it to him. He looks at the pass and his eyes just about popped out of his head. “Stay right there, I’m coming around. Don’t you move.” I began to really panic – should I run? This is bad. He is probably grabbing security and coming straight for me. I decided to run!

Just as I was about to make a run for it, he was standing directly in front of me. I had no choice but to try to play it cool again with him even though my legs could barely hold me up. He looks me square in the eye and says, “You’re a Bruin?” I thought, “What the hell is this guy talking about?” Again he said, “You’re a Bruin, UCLA right?” And I said, yea, UCLA, yes, I am a Bruin.” He pats me on the back and shakes my hand with a huge smile on his face. “I’m a Bruin too, class of ’78.” I couldn’t believe it, this guy was now my best friend just because I go to the same college that he did. He then takes me into the ticket office and grabs a pass and writes “Photo – UCLA” on the front of it in big, black letters.

He walks me down to the very front of the venue and sets me up. I am the only photographer in the whole place. As I am still trying to absorb what just happened, he tells me, “I usually go by that list, if your name is not on there, then that’s it. But us Bruins gotta’ take care of each other, right?” We shook hands and gives me his card, “Be sure to give me a call if you need anything for the Daily Bruin again.” “No problem, thanks!” The lights went out and I snapped off a couple of rolls of my favorite comedian – The Dice Man!


Photographed with my Canon AE1 Program and a cheap, no name 80mm-200mm 5.6f lens. Shot on Fuji Negative Film.

Beat On The Brat With A Photo Pass…Oh Yeah!

Posted in music, photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

The Ramones
Hollywood Palladium
June 2, 1989

This was a big night for me. It was a new beginning, bringing an end to duct tape and cameras stuck on my back as I entered a concert. This was the night that I had my first official/legit photo pass to shoot a huge, legendary band. I knew that night that I would never have to smuggle my camera into a show again.

I had received a number of photo passes previous to The Ramones, but none of those bands had the history or status that came with The Ramones. The closest I had come was Jane’s Addiction, but even that pass was not meant for me (that story coming soon). This was The Ramones, the band that arguably created the Punk Rock Movement. Saying that I was excited to shoot this show is a huge understatement.

I cherished every moment in that barricade that night at the Palladium. I felt like I was floating as I snapped away – it was completely euphoric. Marky had recently rejoined and the band was on fire again. Joey was going through a heavy Metallica stage at the time, he told me how he couldn’t stop listening to In Justice For All.

This night was also a turning point for me because I befriended the band backstage after the show. To my surprise, they asked me to shoot them again the following night at their show in Long Beach.

This is the first photo I shot that night. Look at Joey – he is focused and driven. And if you look closely, he is wearing a Metallica Justice shirt – killer!

Photographed with my formerly smuggled Canon AE1 Program and a cheap, no name 70mm-210mm f5.6 lens. Shot on Kodak Ektachrome film.

It Comes With The Job

Posted in Uncategorized on July 15, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Kevin Estrada
Hearing Test
March 17, 2008

Ever since I was a kid, I dreamt of becoming one of two things: 1) An Astronaut, or 2) A Rock Photographer. Once I found out that I needed to join the Air Force to become an Astronaut, I pretty much threw that idea out the window. I opted for job number two, although after college I almost went to Law School…man, what a mistake that would have been.

I started going to shows and shooting shows when I was an early teen. What could be better than making a living going to rock shows? Pretty much nothing. But, as life has taught us, with the good comes the bad. Over the last few years, I have discovered one of the “bads” that comes with my job.

I first noticed it when my wife and I went to dinner with some friends. The restaurant was crowded and noisy. I found it strange that my wife was throwing me some ugly faces as she sat next to me. As the evening went on, she started telling our friends things that I normally would have told them, almost answering for me. At one point, my wife asked me why I was ignoring one of our friends. I had no idea what she was talking about…I wasn’t ignoring anybody.

We continued with dinner and I became terrified. I could hardly hear a word from our friend who was seated right across from me. I could see his lips moving, but I could hardly hear a word. I could pick up a word hear and there. Sometimes the words I thought I was hearing were completely wrong.

As I became aware of my hearing problem, I noticed that certain tones, certain voices, certain sounds were lost to me. If a guys voice was Low, I could hear it. If it was High, I could hear it. But if it fell somewhere in between, forget it…I couldn’t hear it. My ears could pick up the sounds of silverware hitting and scraping the plates, but I could not hear the waiter asking me for my order.

It got progressively worse. My wife and I were watching the movie Shallow Hal. There is a scene where Hal first sees his love-to be and he tells his friend, “…She’s witty.” I asked my wife, “How does he know she’s witty, he has never even spoken to her. My wife gave me the bad news, “He didn’t say she is witty, he said she is pretty.” I knew I had a problem, and it was getting worse. My wife pointed out that I was saying “What?” or “What was that?” or “I didn’t hear that, sorry” etc, over and over again.

I finally decided that I needed to get my hearing checked. These are the results from that test. When the ear doctor approached me with the results, I could tell from the look on his face that it was not good news. He asked me, “What kind of work do you do for a living? Are you around loud sounds?” I explained to him that I am a rock photographer and that I am at concerts often – up in the front of the stage, sometimes on the stage. He then asked me, “Can you ask your boss if you could not be around those loud concerts anymore, or maybe reduce the concerts to a few times a year?” I explained to him that I am my own boss and there was no way that I could get away from concerts, it was my life and that is what I do and I love it.

He pulled out my test results and went over them with me. He pointed out that my hearing is great in all areas and tones until we get to a certain mid-range area – then my hearing dramatically drops in both ears (I circled those areas in red on the closed up image). These are the areas where many people’s voices seem to fall. I asked the doctor what I could do besides stay away from concerts. He advised for me to wear earplugs. I explained to him that I always wear earplugs – religiously. He continued on to explain more about my hearing loss. I asked him that if I could cut down on the loud concerts, how long it would take for my hearing to return to normal. This is when I thought I was going to faint. He hung his head sadly and could not look me in the eye. Still with his head down, he said. “Your hearing loss is very serious and irreversible. There is nothing that can be done for you. I’m very sorry.” I felt like the guy just told me I had cancer and only had a month to live.

So, for the rest of my life I need to have my hearing checked twice a year to track the loss. Most likely I will have to wear a hearing aid when I get older. My love for music and rock photography is so strong that I am willing to live with that. I actually saw some pretty cool looking hearing aids at Costco…hahaha.

Kevin Estrada ~

Summer Tours Taking Their Toll

Posted in Uncategorized on July 12, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

To my loyal readers

It looks like I have no choice but to reduce my posts to Two or Three posts per week rather than Five times a week…at least until the summer concert tour season slows down.  I have been hoping this was not going to happen, but it looks like I can’t keep fighting this.  I am just being hit from every angle – Warped Tour, Mayhem Tour, Ozzfest, Cruefest – plus all the regular shows and sessions I normally shoot.  So please stick by me and keep tuning in and telling your friends.  If it were not for you, loyal readers and true music fans, this blog would have no life and no spirit.  Don’t give up on me, I still have lots of great stuff coming up every week.

Kevin Estrada

Put A Cap On It

Posted in music, photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Limp Bizkit
Hollywood, Ca
November 15, 1997

What’s wrong with this photo? Is the color off? No, I wanted it to look that way. Is there too much contrast in the photo? No, I wanted it to look that way too. Wait…Fred Durst is not wearing a baseball cap…did he forget his hat? No, I wanted him to look that way. But it wasn’t easy.

Limp Bizkit had recently released their debut CD, Three Dollar Bill, Yall$ and the sales were off to a slow start. At the time, the band was a touring machine, and were currently main support on Primus’ The Brown Tour. Touring is what was eventually going to break Limp Bizkit and make them one of the biggest rock bands in the world.

I hooked up with the Limp guys at the Palladium in Hollywood. Time and space were tight that day, so I had to set up just a few feet away from the stage and shoot the session as Primus rolled through their soundcheck. Before we started shooting, I chatted with the band a bit so we could loosen up, get to know each other a bit. The guys were very confident, borderline cocky as they told me that they were a unique band and there was no other band like them. They went on to tell me that they wanted this photo shoot to be different than all the rest of the shoots they had been doing…for me to get creative and do something really different.

Realistically there was not much I could really do – I had a colored backdrop set up on the floor of the venue…how creative can you get? I pitched the idea of creating a different color scheme for the band, one that was over saturated and extremely contrasty – more edge and less pop. They loved the idea. But I needed something more.

I walked over to Fred and told him that he should lose the baseball cap he was wearing. He freaked out on me and told me there was no way he was doing a photo shoot without his hat. No way. I pulled Fred aside and told him that he needed to trust me. Fred was ready to walk. Then I said, “I thought you guys weren’t like all those other bands, I thought you really wanted something different…something that matched your music.” He looked me in the eye, raised an eyebrow and removed his cap.

The result was a very rare Limp Bizkit photo session, one that I truly believe is unique and not at all like the rest of the shoots the band had done prior to my shoot or even afterwards.

Photographed with my Canon EOS1, a Canon 28mm-80mm 5.6f lens, and a small Novatron strobe kit. Shot on Kodak film.

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