Five years ago I had just finished my double bachelors degree at Monash University and had taken a ‘green collar job’ in the Sustainability industry in Melbourne. In my spare time I studied photography, played indoor soccer and jammed guitar with an Argentine I’d met the year earlier while volunteering in the university exchange club. His name was Joaquin, and despite being a self-confessed ringer (a member of a well organised international community of Lord of the Rings nerds) he somehow managed to possess an infectious charm and coolness that accompanied his prodigious musical talent like a rock star’s hand in glove. But for reasons I couldn’t fathom at the time, he was far more intent on pursuing a career in linguistics than taking too seriously what I thought was his incredible musical talent. He had never performed a gig.
Shortly before he departed Australia for the last time, I encouraged Joaquin to play an open mic night at the Elwood Lounge with me. We called ourselves ‘Convicts and Conquistadors’ and the show went down like fat in a drain pipe – except with less clapping. I took it as a sign that my natural talents lay more in photography, but on that night Joaquin’s musical career was born, and the next thing I heard was that he had formed a band in London.
Fast forward a few years to January 2013, the next time Joaquin and I meet, and we’ve both turned our efforts towards creative careers. I’m passing through London on my way to West Africa on freelance travel and charity assignments, while Joaquin is in the midst of gigging, writing and recording songs for an album. I get a taste for Joaquin’s new music in a packed south London pub watching his band ‘Yossarian’ (a four piece dystopian rock outfit) fire-hose the crowd with streams of dark melody.
Over the next couple of days I crash at Joaquin’s place and meet the rest of the band: frontman Ash Spencer, Sam ‘Keys’ Vanderpol and Morgan ‘Beats’ Griffiths. They ask me to do a shoot and I’m soon experimenting with set ups in the attic, lying in the snow in minus 3 degrees and sending the boys into a dingey roadway underpass to stare at lights. Somehow they manage to complain about the cold while I’m the one laying face down in the snow – but the photographs we make feel like music history.
Fast forward again (to the present) and Yossarian’s momentum is seriously starting to gather. They’ve gigged hard on tour in Spain, won a host of awards and raised over £15,000 via UK crowdfunding platform Indiegogo for their upcoming album ‘The Little We Know’ (available now by preorder). They’ve already received favourable reviews from Supajam.com, Seamstress for the Band and Music 411 and are about to return to England for gigs in London and Brighton (see tour dates).
Little did I know what I had started with Convicts and Conquistadores, but I hope that Joaquin someday drags Yossarian to Antipodean shores to atone for the musical crimes we committed all those years ago. For the mean time though I guess I’ll content myself with my favourite photos from the shoot (below) and a copy of the album. Favourite tracks : 13.8, God Gamble and 7 Hours.