Monday, April 26, 2010

YOUTH/DECAY : Iconic Rock n Roll Photography with David Corio

It was March 1998 i remember, before i even aware of the existence of Rolling Stone and NME magazine (since i live in east coast of Malaysia, you found it hard to find a copy of these magazine there, save it only for Q and Hit Parader that cover lotsa brittish pop, rock and metal music), and you know it's not just about the sound you hear, but the visual element too. Make it the cover art you want to flip over and over again and the photo shoot. You can feel how evil Manson or Diamond were from their photo shoot. And it was March 1998 too when my writing piece was featured in local publication for the first time, and it appeared in ROTTW (the magazine i work with right now) and i write this Soundgarden album review. I was 17 back then. In the early days, ROTTW cover a lot of musician in particular like guitarist, and in the same issue of Soundgarden review, there was this Angus Young from AC/DC photo shot that i'm gonna remember it forever. This iconic photo was shot by David Corio, a regular with NME magazine back in late 70's/early 80's whom i never knew until recently when he pay a visit here for YOUTH/DECAY : Iconic Rock n Roll Photography Exhibition that was held at Zinc Art, Bangsar (April 23 till May 5). And i remember this early shot of U2 that was done by David when U2 was still unknown, unsigned, without a single record and still not a million dollar richer than now, the photo that you can see on their U218 Singles compilation cover, taken in Dublin in 1979. The same photo i used as base for my illustration i did for Nadia Badaruddin's Lacuna feature in ROTTW magazine (the only page where i can go crazy with my illustration art). I don't know why i wanted to use this photo, it's just it feel so strong and it worked really well with my ink + painting style. It did.

Here's a short about David Corio : he was born on 1960 in London makes him 50 years old now. He attended Gloucester College of Art & Design when he was 16, and then was introduced to Stiff Records and did early live shot for Ian Dury and Elvis Costello, along with the pub rock and the burgeoning punk scene. He was comissioned by NME maagzine as a freelance photographer, and then on regular basis from 1979 till 1984 with his photo subject rangng from Bob Marley, The Clash, John Lydon, U2 and The Birthday Party, most photos that was feature in this exhibition. His work also appeared in magazines like The Face, Time Out and Black Echoes. And as you see in this album, most of his photo works are black and white.

When i heard about this Rock n Roll Exhibition exhibition and David will be coming here (he's been here for quite some times actually,...), i almost jump from my chair. I was like, "Man, i have to show this U2 piece to him,.... if he will get mad or something." It can be 2 works of him, if i used his Johnny Ramones shot for my Lacuna illustration on The Ramones but i didn't.

I almost had a hard time going to this exhibition, without a company,... first on their launching on April 23rd but i have to go since it's a limited invitation, so i guess i had a chance to meet David more ... personally rather than normal exhibition day when he rarely appear. I guess i was wrong. When i arrived at 9pm (the door open at 7:30pm), it was crowded with people, some familiar faces and they were about to party with Aggrobeats. There i met Maya Suraya, a longtime friend i knew and i guess i wasnt surprised when i met her here. I never manage to see David, truth be told, i dont even know how he looked like. As i was tired, i drank too much glasses of 100 Plus, looking at these photo works. I dont feel like reading all these description. I'm totally lost. For weeks i've been lost. I guess i should leave.

That was before i'm about to say goodbye to Maya and she asked, "Are you coming here tommororw? There'll be talk with David and i will be doing interview with him." "Great. What time is that?" "It should be around 2 pm, after you've done with registration." "I'll try to drop by." And I left. When i arrived home, i try to keep myself calm. It started to rain. Home however didnt felt suicidal like it used to. Hanafi and Asyraf was there, fixing the computer.

I sleep well, and it's just this dream i made up that i sleep well.

Somehow, Saturday morning, about 11 am I woke up, I feel like i'm about ready to take over the world. I prepared my breakfast, bread, egg, and soy um... that i never had for so long, and ready to run, like i never run before. I set an hour to get myself from home to Zinc Art.

And i remember i'm walking thru Central Market as fast as i could and never give a damn about my surrounding, but there's always music in my ear. I think it drives me. Stimulates me. When i lay my back on a runaway train, all the sweats running, dropping down. Like Default music video when the guy is running, fear of wasting his time, that's how i did. I arrive at Zinc Art when time is 2:09 pm. And only few people there. The talk didn't start yet. It was quiet, calm,... peaceful moment you dont want to ruin. I saw Maya talking to these English guy. I knew he's David because there's no one else that look like him in the gallery, and he's the only guy who look like he's gonna tell you a thing or two about rock photography. And he looked younger than what it supposed to look like a middle century guy.

I slowly approaching Maya. "Is that David?" And came sure sign. I open my backpack, reach my copies of magazine with my U2 work on it that was based on David's photo. And I go to David...

"Can I have a little moment with you, David?"

Next I know, we're started to talk.

"I like his hair," David pointing his finger on Adam Clayton, that's on my U2 work, "are you doing this on computer or is this 'pysical artwork'?"

"Yeah. It's not computerized since i am so much the guy who going traditional. You can see this white painting texture here..."

... and i told him that i didnt know his name before but his body of works are so strong and keep intact my mind for quite some times. "it's such an honour to meet you here, Mr. David."

He signed on my copy of Lacuna's illustration as a sign of approval. Nah, he didnt get mad. He's cool enough that he like the hair of Adam Clayton.

Soon after, people start to filling the floor. I have my sit next to Fahmi whom i met several times lately at live show. And we chat...

"Kau buat apa sekarang ye?"

"Aku buat grafik, tulis untuk magazine. Macam biasa. Tapi aku dah jarang keluar. Lagilah kalau siang. Tak ada orang kat ofis. I'm seriously had nervous damage. But i see it's refreshing today. Seeing the sun shine thru the gallery window. Things i've lacked for quite some time...."

"Mana satu personal favourite kau?"

"I kinda like that Angus Young from AC/DC shot. It always reminds me the girl that I date. She wear one of this AC/DC t-shirt that i think is cool, ... then I wear one. But we never wear the same band t-shirt at the same date. I wish she's here. Ouh, that Depeche Mode shot from their early days. I used to told her i wanna live in the 80's. Rambut kembang, t-shirt kolar kancing sampai atas, tucked in, ... these new romantic look. Well, some time..."

Ah, Fahmi. That Springsteen shot too.

After a while we're ready for the talk. Maya lead us as the master of ceremony, open up the talk with David tellling us the story of his rock photographic years that i could relate myself. "It's this punk concert in London that i remember, i got crushed within a crowd and it's rain of spit..." He tell us the story behind U2 early shot when he had to stay at Larry Mullen's house in Ireland and sleeping at the living room floor because they couldn't afford a hotel. This one audience give him a personal question, did he played in a band since he's so into rock music, and he replied, "I was in a band, playing guitar but playing frustratingly..."

He also open the audiences to show their work for a critique and appreciation. If only i had the courage to show him these Buzzcocks and Infectious Maggots photos that i shoot. The photos that i still keep safe in my camera card. You know that's not just just about the show, but the story and people behind it, the moment you love so much and you don't want it to gone away from your memory. They just can't...

After a coffee, i took a moment to take look at all the photos again and read the description behind the photo. It's at this John Lydon photo that someone approach me, because he saw the magazine i brought with. He recognized it.

"Itu mag ROTTW yang baru ke?"

"Bukan, dah lebih setahun dah. Aku bawak sebab ada work David Corio yang aku buat. Aku kerja dengan ROTTW, grafik tapi dah selalu buat kerja journalism sekarang."

"Aku nak bagi CD band aku kat Abang Rom, tapi dia suruh Kitorang pergi rumah dia. Aku macam, eh,... buat apa kat rumah dia?"

"Kau pergi je, sebab dia buat kerja kat rumah. Dia tak ada masa nak pergi tempat orang sebab dia sibuk, lagilah kalau kau ni relatively unknown. Band kau nama apa ye?"

"Akta Angkasa. Aku Ned."

Shoot! I love this band. Really. If you happen to see one of my albums in year 2007 when i watched Everybody Loves Irene (but they didn't make it to play), you'll see few pictures of Akta Angkasa performing. They have been 'disappear or vanish from this earth' for awhile. I dont know why and what really happen.

"Where the fuck have you been, Ned?"

Ned asked if we can get out of gallery for awhile as he want to have his cigarette. And he play Akta Angkasa new tune, blasting from his car stereo. It was 5pm in the evening. The tone was so different.

It's the moment i enjoy. It's sad because it's not everyday you feel this way. It came only for a while.

Then we left, leaving the place at 6pm. And you're all alone again. In a sudden the
depression started to crawl all over you. But i only have one wish. I want to remember the
purpose i'm being here again. I don't want to losing it.

Ouh, dont start it on how i love Kuala Lumpur, as you were only 9 years old at the time. I hate this feeling of despising it now. Like what Fahmi said, "...balik lah kampung sejekap."

Yeah, next month i think. Like we planned it.

So i was here at at Zinc Art, Bangsar. How I wish you're here...

Location: ZINC ART SPACE, Lot 61, Jalan Maarof, Bangsar , 23/24 april 2010
b/w photos : yours truly
color photos : courtesy of Jam Division

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