Throughout the history of popular music, much has been written about the tour. A right of passage, and increasingly a financial necessity, for any band worth their salt, touring is the holy of holies in rock n roll mythology. On tour is where the Rolling Stones first threw that TV out of their hotel window, it’s where Jimmy Hendrix destroyed his own stage, it’s where the greatest bands cut, and occasionally lost, their teeth, and it’s the subject of fashion photographer Stella Asia Consonni’s latest book To Anyone Who’s Ever Lost Someone To the Side of the Road.
Over two weeks last summer, Consonni joined Philadelphia shoegazers NOTHING for a stretch of their 42 date tour of the United States. Travelling with them, capturing the moments between the shows, Consonni simultaneously captures the essence of the modern tour, an arresting mix of fast food stops and sudden swimming breaks in the local lake all frozen in 35mm.
Following the book’s release, we caught up with Stella to find out how a London-based fashion photographer ended up on tour with Philadelphia noise-merchants and get a look at some exclusive images from the book.
Hello Stella, how did you get to work with the band NOTHING? When did you decide to go on tour with them?
In spring I shot NOTHING at my studio in London for a publication, and they invited me to their show at the Moth Club the following night. The show was great, and it was there that I thought about working with them on something bigger than a magazine feature. A few days later we organised for me to join them on their summer tour.
Were you a fan of their music before you started working together?
I actually didn’t know their music before their UK PR got in touch with me to shoot them back in spring. It was definitely a great find and the show at the Moth Club was beyond expectations.
On tour, they were playing almost every night and by the end of it I knew all the lyrics without fail. If I listen to their music now, it brings back all the memories, as if my very own music video is playing in my head.
How long were you on tour together? Is there one memory that sticks out from the tour?
I was with them for two weeks. I flew from London to Denver, and from there we went to Salt Lake City, Boise, Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles where I flew back home.
I have lots of great memories. I think one of the best ones was while one of the guys was driving very early in the morning and I was trying to stay awake with him. The sun was rising, the sky was various shades of pink, orange and blue and the full moon was still shining. In my half-asleep-half-awake state, I felt incredibly lost and far from home but at the same time part of a pack of restless souls just like me. I remember drifting off to sleep with a smile on my face.
Or that time that Domenic and I ended up chase fighting each other with camera flashes in a parking lot at 3 am. Or that other time when I played ‘calling cloud shapes’ in the back of the van with Kyle, we went on for hours finding it very amusing for some reason (probably because of the fun stuff we got in Portland).
Can you tell us a little about their story and why it appealed to you?
I didn’t really know much about them apart from the few things I read in the press release their PR sent me. I tend not to dig too much into research before I shoot someone, I like to approach my subject with fresh eyes. It was their live music that appealed to me more than anything else, it somehow spoke to me on a superior level and made me think that people that create that kind of music are worth looking into.
I’m sure you know the band extremely well now. Did your perceptions change of them?
In the short time I spent with them, they went from being complete strangers to very close friends. I observed each one of them until slowly they opened up to me and I got to see the persons behind the musicians. I got to know their caring and delicate personalities buried under tough tattooed skins.
Is there one photograph from the upcoming book that you are most fond of?
The pictures at the lake towards the end of the book. Mainly because they remind me of when we snuck into a gated area and jumped in the murky freezing water in our underwear even though swimming wasn’t allowed. Probably because the water was toxic or something.
What were the fans like? What kind of person resonated with their music?
I haven’t really had a chance to meet personally any of the fans as we were always on the go while on tour. I had a great response for book presales though, lots of people emailed me saying the sweetest things and lots of appreciation.
What does NOTHING’s music represent to you?
It reminds me of one the best trips I ever had.
All photos: Stella Asia Consonni
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