Monday, May 4, 2020

Primitive Souls - Tokyo garage rock captured on camera!

Anyone who has been to a garage rock gig in Tokyo - be it a psychedelic all-nighter at UFO Club, a wild and primitive blast of raw energy at Heavy Sick, or the legendary Halloween Ball at Shinjuku Loft - has been struck by how the bands not only sound great, they also look really good and make for great photo opportunities. You can find many Tokyo rock photos and videos on Facebook and Instagram, but as far we know there has been very little in the form of printed documentation of these amazing performers.

Enter Australian photographer Michael Liddell who rightly thinks it should be a crime to leave thousands of unique portraits of Tokyo’s garage-rock, punk and psychobilly live music scene wasted on a hard drive. In the interest of preserving some history of a visually striking subculture and showing off what the scene has to offer, Michael has produced a series of photo books.

Blow Up - Primitive Souls encapsulates the raw energy, interesting fashion, varied influences and power of Tokyo’s talented underground musicians. The first book contains portraits of 45 bands, including rock ’n’ roll veterans Guitar Wolf, visually powerful Tokyo Cramps and the raucously energetic Stompin’ Riff Raffs.

Michael’s main goal with the photobook series is to have a tangible history for the bands to hold and flip through, stored within reach of the record player. Also, to give something to the punters to remember sweaty gigs and crazy nights and perhaps introduce new people to the scene.

Usually a model and commercial photographer, Michael was taken to a Halloween Ball garage rock festival hosted by the legendary Back From the Grave collective a few years ago and this changed his career trajectory irreparably. Since this mind blowing moment, he’s spent all his time perfecting the art of live music photography in the darkest, dingiest lighting, being punched in the back of the head and often being covered in beer.

The garage rock and primitive music scene is tight knit and ultra-friendly, it didn’t take long for him to get close access to the bands and capture one of a kind shots. The entire community has been incredibly helpful with the books and the bands threw in all their support within days of being approached.

With over 100 bands and more shows in the hard drive waiting, the first 2 completed books have just barely scratched the surface. Watch out for the following issues of Tokyo’s garage, rock and punk primitive portraits.