Archive for July, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way To The Show

Posted in music, photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Nuclear Assault
Celebrity Theatre : Anaheim, CA
December 1989

Have you ever had one of those days when you wish you had just stayed in bed? Well, this was one of those days. At the time, I was hosting an extreme Metal Show on my college radio station and I was offered a couple of tickets to see a band that I was really into and supporting heavily on my show – Nuclear Assault.

Nuclear Assault had just had a great run with the Survive album. Now, with their newest release, Handle With Care, it was time for these East Coasters to be considered a serious threat to the Bay Area’s Thrash and Speed giants. My buddy Len and I really appreciated Nuclear Assault’s approach to their music. They were very socially aware, but they had a sense of humor. Nuclear assault also appealed to us because they fused speed metal and hardcore – long before it was popular to do such a thing.

Just before we left for the show, I got a phone call from their label rep. She knew that I was also going to be shooting the show for Creem Magazine’s Thrash Metal Special. She told me that if I arrived an hour early, I could snap some shots of the band in the dressing room before their set. I was blown away!! This was a chance for me to get something special, something timeless. Then I thought about it…I had no studio lighting, I didn’t even own a flash…that’s how broke I was. I needed to borrow something, pronto!

I would lose a little bit of time, but my roommate knew someone with a flash I could borrow. It took a bit longer than I hoped, but I got the flash. Unfortunately, the flash did not come with batteries. I was going to have to make another pit stop to pick some up on the way to the show. Now I was starting to stress out, I still had to pick up Len. If I was not at the venue early enough I would blow my photo opportunity in the dressing room.

I was about 30 minutes behind schedule when I finally picked up Len. As we were racing to the show, I spotted a Target off the freeway and pulled in. Len knew I needed batteries, but he also knew that I didn’t have a penny in my pocket. Len was smart and decided to play it safe and wait for me outside…I couldn’t blame him. Times were tough for me back then, so the batteries were going to have to somehow find their way into my pocket. It was Christmas time and the store was packed. I figured this would be a breeze, but I had to make it snappy.

I quickly found a 4 pack of Duracell AA Batteries and walked to another aisle that was a bit more crowded. As I mixed in with the other shoppers, I dropped the pack of batteries in my pocket. That was easy, almost too easy. I headed for the exit door, I could see Len pacing outside, looking at his watch. The moment I stepped outside the exit doors, an undercover security guard grabbed me. Before I knew what hit me, I was handcuffed and paraded through the store. I was quickly huddled into a small supply room where I was threatened and reprimanded by three or four security guards. To make things worse, I was wearing an Andrew Dice Clay t-shirt – that did not go over well with a couple of the security guards. They definitely were not fans of The Dice Man.

All I kept thinking was, “How long is this going to take? I gotta’ get outta’ here. Can’t I just say I am sorry and leave?” I must have been their only catch of the day…they really wanted to teach me a lesson. After about 30 minutes of this nonsense, I was released and told that I could never shop in that store again. When I got outside, Len was pissed. Then I think I pissed him off even more when I asked to borrow four dollars so I could get the batteries I still needed. Of course I also had to ask him to go into the store and buy them for me since I couldn’t shop there anymore.

Now we were really late. I was sure that we had no chance of making it on time, but I kept assuring Len that we would make it. We raced to the venue, grabbed our tickets and my photo pass and jumped inside. Dark Angel had just gone on stage. I couldn’t help myself…I had to snap some shots of Dark Angel. Now I was really pressing my luck, I was obsessed. I snapped a couple of songs and then jetted straight to Nuclear Assault’s dressing room.

As I entered their dressing room I looked at the clock, I was a little over an hour late. I really screwed up. I decided that I had to make things right and apologize to the band and to their label rep…it was the only thing I could do. Just then, the band’s label rep saw me. Before I could say a word, she said, “Kevin, I was worried you didn’t get my message. Thank you so, so much for waiting, I am so sorry. I really owe you for this one. The guys just finished up and they are all yours.” I wasn’t sure what had just happened…it was like a truck just ran me over and I was reborn. As I chatted with the band and snapped some shots, I put the pieces together and figured out that the band had arrived late and then had a last minute video interview that pushed my time back an hour.

I might be a lousy shoplifter, but sometimes I sure have good luck!

Photographed with the remains of my Canon AE1-Program, a cheap, no name 28mm-70mm lens and a borrowed flash. Shot on Kodak Negative film.

SLAYER’S STILL REIGNING DVD…the aftermath

Posted in music, photography with tags , , , on July 4, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

SLAYER
Augusta Civic Center
Augusta, ME
July 11, 2004

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

***
Part five of a five-part series I am doing this week as I look back at the making of Slayer’s Still Reigning DVD. From load in to load out, I was there with the band.
***

As we walked down the hallway back towards the band’s dressing room, I studied their bloodied faces. They looked amazing…even Jeff, who was not thickly covered in blood. I had to capture this moment. I told the band, “Don’t wash your faces, don’t even touch them.” Luckily, I had planned ahead and set up a couple of studio lights in one of the showers in Slayer’s dressing room…just in case they walked off the stage looking like they did at that moment.

I didn’t even let the guys put their guitars down, I grabbed all of them and walked them straight in front of my lights. The band was still huffing and puffing as I snapped away. These photos have turned out to be pretty important shots in terms of Slayer History. All the Slayer guys were in great moods. Kerry and Jeff were comparing stories about how hard it was to play their leads on the slick, bloodied guitars. Dave explained how blood kept splashing into his face when he would hit his snare drum. I grabbed Kerry and Tom and did some bloody solo shots of them and then I told them that I was done and they could shower off. Funny thing is, I don’t think these guys wanted to wash the blood off…they probably would have kept it on all night if they could have. But the blood was starting to dry up and get sticky and hard.

As I began packing up my gear, I caught a glimpse of Tom walking into the shower (yes, he was fully dressed!). I noticed how the blood mixed with the water…it just looked so morbid I had to photograph it. Tom loved the idea and I snapped and snapped as Tom rinsed the blood from his body and clothing. The photograph of Tom’s feet surrounded by a pool of blood ended up as the artwork on the DVD itself in the Still Reigning packaging.

Surprisingly, Jeff was in great spirits despite the mishap. Sure, he was bummed, but he was so proud that his dream became a reality. Jeff’s answer to this mishap – “I guess we will just have to do it again…maybe take it on the road.” And that is exactly what they did. On their next tour, select cities and venues were treated to the bloody shower of rain – although the touring version was a much more toned down version. The pouring buckets of blood were missing and the pouring blood rain was a much more watered down version. Nevertheless, it was still very exciting to witness such an extravaganza. It was an honor to have been hand picked by Slayer to document this historical event for them.

SLAYER’S STILL REIGNING DVD…the show

Posted in music, photography with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

SLAYER
Augusta Civic Center
Augusta, ME
July 11, 2004

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

***
Part four of a five-part series I am doing this week as I look back at the making of Slayer’s Still Reigning DVD. From load in to load out, I was there with the band.
***

One of my favorite parts of being a rock photographer is the final moments before the show. There is a certain electricity that is present when a band walks from their dressing room to the stage. You can feel the power of this electricity increase with each step as the band gets closer and closer to the stage. The energy must have been contagious because even I got caught up in the moment…I can be seen leading the band out of the dressing room on the DVD’s bonus footage. I had never seen the band more focused for a show than they were that evening…trust me, I have been seeing and shooting them since the early 1980’s. This was their night and their dream was about to be realized.

The intro music rand through the venue and the band exploded onto the stage. Here is the entire set-list for this historic gig:

Intro / Darkness Of Christ
Disciple
War Ensemble
Hallowed Point
Necrophiliac
Mandatory Suicide
Fight Til Death
Spill The Blood
Payback
Dead Skin Mask
Hell Awaits
South Of Heaven
—————
Angel Of Death
Piece By Piece
Necrophobic
Altar Of Sacrifice
Jesus Saves
Criminally Insane
Reborn
Epidemic
Postmortem
Raining Blood

As the band began to bring Postmortem to a close I knew it was due or die time. I glanced at the kids that were crushed behind me in the front row and they had no idea what they were about to bear witness to. I only had moments to get ready. The kids behind me looked at me like I was a freak when they saw me wrapping and covering my cameras with a contraption I had built out of cardboard, duct tape, and plastic trash bags. There was no way I was going to chance my camera equipment getting covered in blood. No one really knew how this thing was going to work.

Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman began the screechy, dive-bomby guitar intro to Raining Blood. As Dave Lombardo jumped in with his pounding triple drumbeat, the stage lights began to turn on and off – blackness, bright light, blackness, bright light. Then we saw it, our first glimpse. Just as the stage lights turned on for that brief moment, huge buckets of blood – I am talking gallons and gallons of blood – poured down on the band. It was pure evil. I was sprayed with blood as Tom Araya whipped his head round and round as they roared into the song. Tom and Dave seemed to get the worst of it…they both looked like the skin of their face was cooked and peeled off. Kerry got it pretty bad as well, but his face was still visible.

Surprisingly, Jeff, who was the mastermind of the raining blood idea, was virtually untouched by the blood. Jeff was having some guitar problems during the beginning of the song and walked toward his amp to fix the problem. In doing this, he missed his mark when the gallons of blood were dropped from above. I saw it on his face, he was pissed – and I felt terrible for him. But Jeff was a true professional and continued to perform the song incredibly.

Then exactly on cue, as if they had rehearsed it a million times, the shower of bloody rain began. As Tom screamed out, “Now I shall rain in blood!” and Kerry and Jeff tore into their leads the impossible happened. The venue was raining blood over the stage. It was eerie and demonic, yet it was beautiful. Now the band, including Jeff, were being showered in steady blood-rain and it looked spectacular. For the first time ever, a crowd at a Slayer show were speechless, their eyes were wide open and they jaws were on the floor.

The plan worked perfectly…the blood was contained within the stage, and the crowd stayed completely dry. Flawless. And the rest is Slayer History. As the band and I headed towards the dressing room, I couldn’t help but wonder how Jeff was going to react to the mishap on stage. And, what about the flipside to that – how was the band going to react to Jeff regarding the mishap? Was I about to see a huge Slayer blowout in the dressing room?

Stop by tomorrow as I conclude my weeklong retrospect on Slayer’s Still Reigning DVD.

SLAYER’S STILL REIGNING DVD…the dressing room

Posted in music, photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

SLAYER
Augusta Civic Center
Augusta, ME
July 11, 200

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

***
Part three of a five-part series I am doing this week as I look back at the making of Slayer’s Still Reigning DVD. From load in to load out, I was there with the band.
***

Hatebreed and God Forbid had gotten the crowd warmed up, now it was Slipknot’s turn. Doors had opened a bit late due to the last minute set-up of the blood-rain system, but at least it was complete and ready to go. Whether it was going to really work the way everyone was hoping for was another question.

I photographed a couple of songs during Slipknot’s opening set. If anyone could hold their own as an opener for Slayer, it’s definitely Slipknot. When I finished shooting, I headed back to Slayer’s dressing room to hang with them until they went on. Just before I left the arena floor, I took a good look at the crowd, the venue was oversold, and there was hardly room to stand. Everyone was feeling the excitement of what was soon coming.

The mood in Slayer’s dressing room was surprisingly calm and quiet, but there was still a sense of tension and unspoken worry. I sat alone with Kerry King for quite some time as he strategically whipped up a super-solid set list…saving entire Reign In Blood album as the encore. Kerry put a lot of thought and a lot of heart into this set list. He wanted to make sure that the first half of Slayer’s show was as strong as possible. Slayer has such a huge archive of songs, it was very difficult for Kerry to pick and choose what made it into the set that night.

Then, as soon as Kerry King laced up his Armband Of Nails, much like medication as it kicks in and starts to take effect, the band kicked into overdrive and became the Slayer that we all know. Right in front of me, Jeff and Kerry started jamming together, at full speed. It was amazing, it was like they were onstage and I was the audience. No amps, nothing, just them, their guitars and myself. I didn’t want that moment to end, it was incredible. Dave was violently banging away with his drumsticks on a locker door. Tom seemed to meditate as he sat alone, his mind seemed to be racing in a thousand directions…he was ready.

Through the arena walls we could hear the crow chanting – Slayer, Slayer, Slayer! It was almost time. Jeff was the most eager to get on stage. He was bouncing all over the room, he could hardly contain himself. Then, being the joker that I can be sometimes, I decided to pull a fast one on Jeff. Slayer’s road manager at the time had a very nasally and scratchy tone to his voice – and I could imitate his voice almost flawlessly. I pulled Kerry and Tom aside and told said, “watch this.” I slammed the dressing door open and in my imitated-road manager voice I yelled, “Okay, let’s go, it’s show time…come on, let’s go!” Jeff came running out full speed with his guitar and we were all waiting for him in front of the dressing room door laughing our heads off. Jeff immediately knew he was the butt of a joke and started cracking up. We all laughed it up and cherished the moment. It was a nice way to get rid of the day’s tension, if only for a brief moment. Just then, their real tour manager walked in the dressing room and yelled, “Okay, guys let’s go.”

Stop by tomorrow and every day this week as we get closer and closer to Slayer hitting the stage in my weeklong retrospect of Slayer’s Still Reigning DVD.

SLAYER’S STILL REIGNING DVD…soundcheck

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

SLAYER
Augusta Civic Center
Augusta, ME
July 11, 2004

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

***
Part two of a five-part series I am doing this week as I look back at the making of Slayer’s Still Reigning DVD. From load in to load out, I was there with the band.

***

As the teams continued to frantically work on the “raining-blood system,” the band readied for soundcheck. Slayer has gone through soundcheck a million times in their career, I am sure they can do it on instinct. Bit for some reason, the band seemed a bit unsure of things, they seemed to worry and stress over many minute details.

Then I heard it, the band, especially Kerry, were very worried about their gear. As the raining-blood system had never been tested, no one knew how much blood was going to pour on their amps, drums and guitars. No one knew if their gear would make it through the song, and no one knew if their gear would be in working condition as they continue on with the Ozzfest Tour the following day in Boston. Kerry and Jeff also had concerns whether or not they would have control of their hands and fingers on their guitar necks once they were covered in blood. These guys are pros, and they wanted to be sure of two things: One – the fans at this gig got the show of their lives and; Two – that this DVD really captured the fury, passion and essence of who Slayer really is.

As soundcheck commenced, it was time for us all to sit down and eat. During dinner, the band picked my brain, asking me what songs were on the War At The Warfield DVD. Slayer have so much respect for their fans…they wanted to make sure that a completely different set was filmed for the fans that evening and not a re-hash of the live DVD that was released prior. However, no one could really eat, as there was still no confirmation on whether or not the blood gimmick was really going to work as planned.

The blood system was being put in place above the stage. A plan had finally been put together and implemented. However, because of time and costs, there would be no testing of the system. It was a one-shot-deal…it would either work or it wouldn’t. This was a good time for Slayer to say a prayer…I wonder who Slayer prays to.

Stop by tomorrow and every day this week as we get closer and closer to Slayer hitting the stage in my weeklong retrospect of Slayer’s Still Reigning DVD.