Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Melissa Auf der Maur

Melissa Auf der Maur, Toronto, May 2004

WHAT IS A CANADIAN ROCK STAR? I suppose the Canadian rock star is the one who replaces the person who died of a heroin overdose in a big deal American band and stays clean, leaving to join another big deal American band, then refusing to rejoin either band for reunions that would have made them a lot of money. The Canadian rock star is also the person who quits touring and recording to go on maternity leave.

I started my career shooting and writing about music and musicians, so I think I can make jokes about Canadian rock stars and our apparent immunity to the usual pitfalls of stardom and success (which usually involve neglecting to reap the huge but potentially lethal benefits of stardom and success.)

I know this sounds like I'm mocking Melissa Auf der Maur, a Canadian rock star - which would, in itself, be a very Canadian thing to do - but the fact is that I admired her immensely, both before and after I photographed her in 2004, and especially when she opted out of the music industry for bohemian life in a small town, which once again seemed a very Canadian rock star thing to do.

Melissa Auf der Maur, Toronto, May 2004

Auf der Maur had made her name as the bassist in Hole and the Smashing Pumpkins when I photographed her for the free daily doing publicity for her first solo album. Her dad, the late Nick Auf der Maur, was a drinking buddy of my father-in-law in Montreal, and as a native of Montreal I had always suspected she was probably better suited for the role of rock star than if she was from any other Canadian city. (Which is exactly what someone from Toronto would say.)

I photographed her at the pool hall above the Rivoli on Queen West, in the booth where she was doing press interviews. I suppose I could have asked her to move, but it was actually the best bit of light in the room, and I figured she looked good enough that the background of the photo would probably be irrelevant.

Finally, it's important to add that the dullest portrait is improved if the subject has red hair.

Melissa Auf der Maur, Toronto, May 2004

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