Dead Girls Don’t Say No was the name of the first band I was in that included real, live, non-imaginary people. We were an all girl punk band and we met exactly once at the guitarist’s house where, rather than practice, we took promo pictures. I never saw the developed pictures or the drummer again, and eventually the band became a duo, just the guitarist and me. Ultimately we had more photo sessions than performances; actually we never performed for an audience, but Holly Rection (yes that was her stage name) gave good face and we went with what worked.
There’s nothing more exciting or frustrating than that moment when your band decides promo pictures are needed. You will most likely do the old favorites that scream “amateur”, such as the band in front of a brick wall (it’s so gritty) and the band in a desolate area where no one looks at the camera (it’s so existential), and you will inevitably come to realize that some band members are less photogenic than others and that rock star sneer that looks so cool in the bathroom mirror actually makes you look like you’ve smelled something bad.
I’ve gone through my share of photo shoots and hated each one a bit more than the last, always holding on to that glimmer of hope that just once the camera will capture my true essence and the resulting picture will make me look sexy, cool, talented, mysterious, thin, and just recently added to my list of photo musts, young. That said here are some of the memorable promo pictures of my musical career. You can pick me out because I’m always on the right side of the picture. Weird, huh?
Fiction – Playing obscure prog rock covers in sports bars in Delaware seemed like a good idea at the time, as did this picture perfect shot of us hanging out in a desolate area where I refuse to look at the camera because I’m an existential loner. I love the fact that our drummer looks like he’s back in prehistoric times and about to invent parididdles. Had you asked him, he would probably have told you that he did in fact invent paradiddles. He was jus that kind of guy.
The Lactators – The year was 2002 and we were one of the first all-mom punk bands on the all-mommy band scene. (There really was an all-mom band scene. Google it if you don’t believe me!) I love this picture – three moms dressed up as Kiss in front of a refrigerator. Definitely one of my favorite promo pictures ever.
Candy From Strangers – We were a glam-pop-punk band trying to tap into the Blondie “Parallel Lines” vibe, but none of us look particularly comfortable. This picture made me consider getting my eyebrows professionally waxed and shaped.
The Little Things – Karen and I still play music together and we happen to be playing at The Brainwash Café this Saturday, July 23rd 2011. (Am I slick or what? Look at me getting the plugs in there while still serving up interesting content, eh? ) By the time these photos were taken I had decided the best thing to do was cover as much of my face as possible and smile. If only I’d thought about covering up my roots as well.
Demolicious – When I turned 40 I decided it was time to become the pop starlet I always dreamed of being. I took the stage name of Demolicious (later to become Demolicious Wonder, thanks to Second Life) and before I created any new music, I decided to take promo pictures, coming full circle on my view of when you need promo pictures. Oddly enough, I was always hesitant to use these photos. Why? They look too good. They look like me, but cuter, cooler and perhaps younger. It felt like false advertising, but it also goes to prove what the right photographer with the right lighting, make-up and a bit of Photoshop can do.
Now I think I might be in need of some new promo pics to capture the spirit of my latest music. Not sure what that spirit looks like – weird, sexy, cool, frazzled, mature, cute, disheveled, enigmatic, freak, mommy, musician?