Billy Talent – June 25, 2003 on the set of their first music video, Try Honesty

Try Honesty was directed by Sean Michael Turrell and set in the abandoned Whitby Psychiatric Hospital just outside of Toronto. Ian D'Sa explains the vibe quite well: “You could tell a lot of horrible things happened there. You couldn't help but feel the ghosts of the people that lived there and struggled there.”

Their call time was before sunrise, and what would have already been a very long day was even more exhausting because in between scenes when they would have normally been able to take a breather, they had to run around this huge location with me to take photos for the album art and press for Billy Talent I.

I remember it being rushed because the album art had to be approved and go to print that same week so this was the only opportunity to get some photos. Processing the film, showing proofs to the band and label, making selects, then printing the images and laying them out in the artwork can take several days even in a rush, so it was a big time crunch.

While walking around the property looking for locations with Jenn Hirst from the label, we went into a basement (probably haunted) for some reason. The floor of the long, cold, unlit hallway was covered in a thick layer of broken glass and other debris. We walked past room after room that were basically windowless prison cells and even the walls were covered in filth.

We somehow got separate because it was so dark, and out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw something move at the end of the hall. All I remember next is getting the hell outta there and running into Jen outside the building.

I was hard to tell which areas had set dressing and which were just naturally creepy, because everything was decrepit. I felt especially uneasy shooting in the room where there guys are looking through broken windows, and was actually expecting to see some kind of ghostly apparitions when I got the film back.

Jane's Addiction – September 27, 2003 at Massey Hall in Toronto

During the first of 2 nights at Massey Hall I sat in the audience with my pal Mark Wigmore and told him “Tomorrow night I’ll be on stage with my camera.” I honestly can't remember exactly how it happened, but the next night I was on stage at Massey Hall shooting Jane's Addiction.

As always I did my best to stay in the shadows, but every once in a while my cover gets blown. I scoped out a little nook on the far left side of the stage in front of the speakers that was nice and dark. In between songs I hopped over there just for a minute. Of course as soon as I did Dave Navarro wandered over to stage left, and so did his spotlight.

I'm not even sure the band was told that I was there shooting, and though for sure I'd be escorted off the stage. I made myself and small as I could hoping that no one would see me (didn't stop shooting though), and I guess no one did?

I went and sat behind Stephen Perkins (drummer) and he looked back and gave me this big smile. He introduced himself and told me to make myself at home. His drum tech gestured for me to go out in front of Perkins, centre stage, to get some pictures of him playing, and even though I'm sure it would have been fine I got shy and stayed put. It happens sometimes.

At the end of the show I stood up on his drum riser to get this great shot of the band with the crowd.

Later, Perkins emailed me to see if he could use the photo of him smiling in his album art for Banyan Live at Perkins' Palace. I said yes.

The Mars Volta – July 21, 2003 at the Opera House in Toronto

Having never gotten to shoot At The Drive-In before they broke up, I was really looking forward to seeing Cedric and Omar’s new band, The Mars Volta. When I met the tour manager before the show I thanked him for hooking me up and gave him my card.

“Why are you giving me this?”
So the band can get in touch. I’d like to show them photos from tonight.
”Keep it, they don’t care about photos.”
Why are they letting me shoot if they don’t care about photos?
”Trust me they won’t even look at them.”

I love giving people my photos of them because it’s a way to connect and thank them for letting me be there. It’s something that I really look forward to. So this was disheartening to hear right before the show. Nevertheless I shot the them and I think these photos are fucking great.

One moment that stands out and makes sense given what I just told you, is when the singer Cedric held the base of his mic stand in front of my camera, and slowly started pushing it closer. I pushed back with my free hand and we had a staring contest, and he kept singing. It was exciting and also kind of scary. That dude is intense.

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