Monday, August 4, 2014


Greg Dulli, Toronto 1998

THE AFGHAN WHIGS ARE PLAYING RIOT FEST here in Toronto next month, part of a 2-day bill that also includes The Cure, Social Distortion, The National, Death From Above 1979, The Buzzcocks, Bob Mould, Thurston Moore, The New Pornographers and Paul Weller. We've never taken the kids to an actual, for-real concert yet, but for a moment the wife and I considered spending a lot of money and dealing with no small amount of discomfort and whining to expose our offspring to the sort of music we used to love before they were born.

After a moment, sanity returned and we decided it was a bad idea.

I was a big fan of Greg Dulli and the Afghan Whigs during the long terminal phase of my life as a single man, from my mid-twenties and long into my thirties. If you had come to believe that relationships were a minefield, that men and women could visit some truly amazing grief on each other, and that love was a fire we chose to thrust our hands into, then Dulli and the Whigs were the band for you. I was not a happy camper.

This was taken with a Bronica SQa in my Parkdale studio in the fall of 1998, when Dulli was doing press for the 1965 album, which would be their last before they broke up in 2001. The client was NOW magazine, and when I got the gig I contacted the publicist and asked if it was OK if I wrote things all over the seamless backdrop behind Dulli - stuff like "The only woman I have ever loved is my mother" and "I will never lie to you."

She said she'd talk to Dulli and get back to me. A few days later, I got a call saying Greg thought it was fine - as long as I wrote everything in Italian.

A quick call to my friend Vince took care of that, and on the morning of the shoot I laid the charcoal seamless down on my studio floor and began writing in a thick pastel chalk, carefully copying Vince's translation. Later, when Dulli arrived at my studio, I proudly pointed to the backdrop, hoping that it would pass muster and that I wouldn't have to come up with a plan B on the spot. He seemed mildly amused. I reminded him that he'd requested everything in Italian.

His eyes quickly darted to the publicist and he stifled a chuckle. "Oh, did I say that?"

The shoot went well. I gave it my customary treatment in the darkroom with dry mount tissue and vignetting and put it in my portfolio. I'm not sure I ever shopped that portfolio around for work.

I met my wife the year I took this photo. I haven't listened to the Afghan Whigs in ages.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to Riot Fest, but sprung for the VIP tickets. Last year I had to see what will probably be one of the last Stooges shows and the first Replacements gig in 22 years. Unfortunately, I had forgotten how much I hate people since my last festival. Also, VIP has private bathrooms and a bar.

    It's too bad you couldn't make it. It would've been fun to bump into you there