Okay this next story is a bit long and winding but it's important because my entire career may not have happened if it were not for a parking space.
At the Foo Fighters show in Salem, Oregon (photos in next section) I met some of Nate's friends from Tacoma, near Seattle. On my next trip to Seattle, I reached out and they said I could crash at their place. So we're hanging out in Tacoma getting to know each other, wondering what to do on this Friday night. One of them said “I just remembered Money Mark from Beastie Boys is playing at the Showbox in Seattle tonight!”
Hoping it wasn't sold out, we piled into the car and raced to Seattle! Traffic coming into the city was nuts, and as we were talking about how hard it would be to find parking a car pulled out right in front of the Showbox!! Like RIGHT IN FRONT!
We got out and ran for the door. As soon as we got in they closed the doors and the people behind us didn't make it. Sold Out. If we'd parked in any other space we wouldn't have gotten in.
How is any of this relevant? We were waiting for the show to start and Dave Grohl walked by. He saw me with Nate's friends and stopped to say hi. Just then Money Mark also walked by and stopped to say hi to Dave. Dave introduced us to Mark. Mark had a show coming up in Vancouver (near where I lived) so I asked if I could do an interview and shoot his show and he said yes.
We did the interview in Vancouver at a hole in the wall restaurant called Taste Of Jamaica. Mark’s drummer Fredo had the soup. He said it was dope. This was my first time meeting Fredo Ortiz who became one of my dearest friends.
To find out how getting that parking space changed my life, check out more stories about Mark, Fredo, Mix Master Mike and Beastie Boys from 1998 onward.
As for this show at the Starfish, it was mesmerizing. Such brilliant songs with beautiful melodies performed on so many instruments and gadgets, culminating in the intergalactic premiere of Cornetophone; a balloon attached to a trumpet. He played it perfectly.
When I went to see Foo Fighters in Salem I brought them prints from the first couple of times that I'd shot them. After seeing them Dave asked me if I wanted to shoot the whole show.
A photo pass typically allows you to shoot the just first 3 songs but this time after the 3rd song instead of leaving the pit I stayed put. A rather aggressive security guard yelled at me to leave. I tried explaining that the band said it was ok and he said “Well, no one told me!” and grabbed me by the arm.
Which was fair (except for the manhandling) because all he saw was my photo pass. But I wasn't letting go of this opportunity, and he wasn't letting go of me... so it got heated.
Before starting the next song Dave saw the scuffle and said “He's cool. He's with us!”. That felt pretty fucking cool.
Those first few encounters with Foo Fighters meant a lot more to me than just hanging out with a band and feeling cool. I'd lost my Dad the year before and was directionless. My whole life I'd planned on working in film like him, but now everything about it reminded me of him and I couldn't handle it.
Photography gave me a sense of independence and gave me the time to deal with losing my Dad at my own pace. I spent a lot of time alone, and while I loved taking pictures I had no idea if I was any good at it.
Dave's encouragement in those early days motivated me to keep pushing ahead and gave me something to look forward to.
Not sure who took the picture of Dave and me, but thanks!
Vans Warped Tour was the ultimate festival for me. Punk rock and skateboarding. I feel like I'd been waiting my whole life for something like this to come along! In '96 I went to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, and over the years shot it many more times.
This was my first time shooting a show from the stage, which is now like a second home. Punk legends Pennywise were playing and straight across was the vert ramp with some of the best skaters in the world. It was paradise!
One of the athletes I met on the vert ramp was Sergie Ventura, who sang a song with Pennywise from time to time. He asked me to take pictures, and that's how I made it onto the stage.
Steve Caballero is part of the Bones Brigade who I idolized as a kid. I watched all of the Bones Brigade videos a thousand times and had pictures of them on my walls. Legends. More on that in 2017.
Finding out that Steve Caballero was going to be at Warped Tour was probably what drew me to it. I asked Steve Alba who was skating and also seemed to be running the ramp if I could get up top to take some pictures. He said I could for a few minutes so I timed it for when Cab was riding.
A few years later at Warped Tour in Toronto we were both up there again and Steve asked if I wanted him to do anything specific for a picture and I thought it would be great to get a shot of him doing a handplant right in front of me.
The photo exists but I can't find it, so here's one I took of Cab doing a handplant 21 years later.
1: Pennywise. 2: Sergie Ventura on the vert ramp in Montreal. 3: Steve Caballero on the vert ramp in Vancouver. 4,5: Steve Caballero at Cal Jam in 2017.