â€œIâ€™m a rock â€˜nâ€™ roll photographer, which is a strange thing to be,â€ said Tony Mott. Mottâ€™s shot of the Divinylâ€™s singer Chissie Amphlett taken during one of the bandâ€™s residency shows at Sydneyâ€™s Picadilly Hotel in the early â€™80s was selected for their tour poster (with a $20 pay off) changing everything for the former hotel chef. Today, Mott has rock stories that could fill a bookâ€”and he has. Mott shared tales on the road and in the studio during an exhibit of photos in his new book, â€œRock â€˜Nâ€™ Roll Photography is the New Trainspotting,â€ Tuesday night at the Red Bull Space.
A photographic journey through 20 years, only a small portion of the Mottâ€™s work was on display, including an â€œExpress Yourself,â€ cone bra-clad Madonna (1990), Bjork in 1994, a younger Michael Hutchence portrait and David Bowie on stage, both circa 1988, Nick Cave and others flashed on a big screen.
Sponsored by Sounds Australia, the exhibit also included live performances by two Sydney-bred bands, including the aptly-named, Cameras, who just released their debut In Your Room, brought their atmospheric rock with vocalist and keyboardist Eleanor Dunlop evoking a brooding Florence Welch in Stevie Nicks garb. The band moved through a short, five-song set for their first New York show while Guineafowl, whose singer Sam Yeldham was recently shot by Mott on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the CMJ exhibit, closed the eveningâ€™s music with some indie pop during another five-song set.
A tour with the Rolling Stones, intimate shots of Janet Jackson, Metallica, Iggy Pop, Nirvana, Stevie Wonder and INXS (list goes on), Mott is still amazed by his career path even three decades later. â€œI never meant to be a rock photographer,â€ he said. The photographerâ€™s stories throughout the years spilled out, including the time he opened Ozzy Osbourneâ€™s Sydney hotel window for some light to the astonishment of the metal god, who hadnâ€™t bothered to the look at his view for three days; reviewing photos for hours with the Stones, whose tour was described by Mott as â€œthe rock royalty of rock photographyâ€; Perry Farrell grabbing the photographerâ€™s private parts in a sign of trust prior to a shoot; and Bjorkâ€™s strange request to be photographed when the sun was a half-inch from the horizonâ€”something Mott says worked perfectly.
Concluding his trip down memory lane, Mott reminded the CMJ crowd of the insanity of rock photography: â€œRock â€˜nâ€™ roll is a strange game with strange characters.â€
Tony Mott w/fans