Black Stone Cherry
The name of the album made me want to go to the deepest part of the South to dig out all that represented. I rarely get scared, but there had been awful rain in New Orleans when we got down there, and the location was at the end of a barely dirt road in the swamp… out, out, out and then out some more, with people on the porches of shacks, looking at you like ‘You’re not from around here are you?’ Baby alligators swimming, the hugest water moccasins sunning themselves on the walk we wanted to shoot.
If we wanted authentic, we had it. There is this very vintage nature to this band’s sound, that pulls the feral primitivity of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf through the British bands who were synthesizing those influences to create rock & roll: that nasty, lean guttural expression of youth grappling with their most basic urges, lusts, even needs.
The night before I’d gone to every voodoo shop I could find for crows feet and monk’s knuckles, the juju beads… Little things that, again, suggest everything. Even John Fred’s drum, which is an actual Civil War drum, evokes those funeral parades that celebrate death as an essential victory of life.
When you get that much on sensor, you want to reinforce the mood when printing, so I washed it all out to give it a more weathered feel. Then to reinforce that, I degradated the image to take away the sense of now and add timelessness, to make it a picture beyond when.
Shooting bands for a living, somehow you find yourself having to take an awful lot of band shots. If the musicians themselves have personality and look cool, you’re half way home. Bonus points if you genuinely love their music.
But then there’s the other half, the elusive part that makes you plan and plan and then cross your fingers and hope for magic. I think of this process as being a lot like doing a dance designed to make the skies open up and produce rain.
In this case, it felt like we got a nice big heavy thunderstorm.