From the memorable to downright weird, Melbourne photographer Kane Hibberd has seen it all! Now he’s releasing images from the first five years of Soundwave in a 450-page book featuring over 600 photographs of artists and fans. Kanye Lens Vs Soundwave Volume 1 will take you through a range of moments you remember, missed, or wish you’d been around for!
Inked: What’s your strangest moment you’ve experienced in the years of working on Soundwave?
Kane: There have been a few of them, but I think the weirdest one would have to be watching the drummer from Goldfinger back in 2009, getting someone from the audience up on stage at each festival to willingly eat a Twinkie out of his butt cheeks.
Let’s just take a minute to think about this. It usually happened towards the end of the set. Drummers sit. They sweat a lot. That there makes being anywhere near a drummer’s arse pretty disgusting, but to add food in to that mixture. Fuck off. Goldfinger pretty much gave me free rein to go anywhere on stage so I got pretty close to the action on a couple of occasions. Check out the double page of it in the book and you will know what I mean.
Is shooting Soundwave a different experience for you to other festivals? From an assignment point it’s pretty much the same – big crowds, big stages and lots of artists. But, personally, Soundwave for me is more than another assignment. I’m part of a bigger family that makes Soundwave happen each year and I kind of put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure I do the best job I can each year. I have to get the photos I see happening before me. It really bums me out if I hear about something I’ve missed. Photographically, documenting Soundwave is hopefully a legacy that I’ll get to leave to the music community, and something that I’ll be known for in years to come.
Why base a book around Soundwave photos? Soundwave only exists because of the community around it. People who are into heavy music tend to be really passionate about their favourite bands. Their love for the bands and music is typically something that they carry with them throughout their lifetime. They don’t usually grow out of it, and they don’t just like a band because it’s a trend, they do it for the music.
So doing a book about Soundwave made sense. I’ve always wanted to do a book about Soundwave ever since it became a national tour in 2008 and this year just felt like the right time. I felt like I had the images and the guts to take a chance and do it.
Because I was publishing and distributing it myself, it was a scary proposition but I thought I just had to give it a go as I had thought about it so much that it would drive me crazy if I didn’t just do it.
So I created the book to not just be about the bands on Soundwave, but an overall picture of what Soundwave is like, for not only the bands, but also the fans and crew. It’s a holistic view of what makes the festival tick. I chose images based on the strength of the image, not who was in it, so it was just about strong imagery, not band X. I think this vision has worked as I have had few people who have no interest in Soundwave at all, really like the book based solely on the imagery.
What photo is your favourite in the book… or captures a favourite moment? One of my favourite images in the book would be the image of Billy Lunn from The Subways stage diving from the main stage into the crowd. I just happened to be walking past the pit, heading backstage and I heard him say something about getting in the crowd. I literally ran into the pit as he was running to jump and was so lucky that I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. It’s a fair fucking distance from the stage to the barrier and from the image it doesn’t look like it’s going to end well.
I spoke to him afterwards and there was a point where even he didn’t think he was going to make it.
Do you get much sleep when Soundwave hits Australia for a number of weeks? The back-to-back festival days are always so brutal. I am onsite from around 8am-11pm and then I have to dump all the content I’ve shot to my computer, which usually takes a couple of hours, and reset everything so I’m good to go the next morning. The lobby call for Sydney after Brisbane is 4am. And I am definitely not a morning person. So I can’t even say that it’s because I’ve been partying because I usually don’t get my first beer until around Adelaide. During the Sidewaves week I am usually flat out doing press shots with some of the bands, and also shooting the Sidewaves, so it’s a pretty full-on 10 days.
Have you made any lasting friendships that you never would have thought possible due to Soundwave? Soundwave is always hard for me to spend time with anyone as I’m moving constantly the whole time around the site. I usually only get a quick five minute chat before I’m moving on. I have gotten to know the Soundwave staff and crew really well as I run into them throughout the year as well. As for artists, it’s the returning bands I’m starting to get to know a little better such as Billy Talent, Cancer Bats and The Sword. I got to eat a tonne of BBQ with The Chariot this year… that was pretty cool. They are some funny dudes. All the artists on Soundwave are super chilled, I wouldn’t say they would be inviting me around next time I’m in their neighbourhood, but they are all starting to know me and are, most importantly, comfortable with me taking photos of them.
Do you get to capture private moments, not just those on stage? Some years it’s easier to shoot backstage than others, depending on who is on the festival. Some artists have restrictions. So even though I have a AAA pass, it’s important to respect people’s privacy. I always ask before I take a photo of someone backstage, which can ruin a candid moment, but again, for me, it’s important that artists are comfortable with having their photo taken. So, yes, I do get to capture some private moments but these moments also come as people get to know you better. So I think in the coming years as I get to know more bands, management, and crew, I will be able to get even more intimate moments documented. The other thing with these kinds of images, as I mentioned before, I don’t get to spend a lot of time with people so you can’t expect to get these images after spending five minutes with somebody. It all takes time.
What was the 2013 Soundwave festival like for you – highlights and any low moments? 2013 was a pretty epic year as you could see by the line-up. Everything about it was massive. The bands, the crowds (Sydney had two stadiums running!). It was kind of daunting with all the bands playing as there was so many that I wanted to shoot multiple times but I just couldn’t get around to them all. I was so busy leading up to the festival; I was tired before it even began. So far this year I have had three days off, so for the first few festivals I just had to suck it up. Once I got into the groove though, I was fine. Highlights for me would have to be Cancer Bats. They are a band you want to see on a small sweaty club stage, but I thought even though they were on a festival stage it still had that intimate feel to the gig. Muthafucking Cancer Bats! Bring Me The Horizon also slays crowds. Just a relentless wall of sound. The Chariot was also amazing – so much energy in a 40 minute set. And finally, I thought Paramore were also killer. I saw them four out of five shows as I was shooting a lot with them and they always sounded amazing.
Who are the photographers that you look up to and are inspired by? I don’t really follow a lot of photographers’ work. I look to cinematography for inspiration. One photographer I do admire though is Danny Clinch. He is an American who has been shooting musicians and celebrities for years. He uses a variety of lighting techniques, but the one consistent thing he does is to make sure his imagery is all about the subject and portraying some kind of emotion. He doesn’t use lighting or post-production to cover up a boring portrait.
Favourite Soundwave band from over the years – and why do they stand out? I’m a massive Alexisonfire fan so having them on the national tour twice was pretty cool. They are some super nice guys and it was always fun to shoot them, as they didn’t have a choreographed show so you never knew what might happen.
What band do you dream about shooting? If I could turn back time, If I could find a way, I would have loved to have shot Nirvana in their club days. The energy and excitement of that scene would have been so crazy.
How far away is Volume 2? So volume one is imagery from 2008-12 (five years) so, based on that logic I would imagine volume 2 will be out sometime at the end of 2017. Let’s just get through a few more festivals before we start thinking about that though, eh?