Back in the ’80s I would see so many fights break out at punk shows in Chicago, or witness a group of dudes single out and jump someone for no real reason. Riding trains from the south side of the city to the north to see live music was never easy or safe and always posed obstacles for us young punks. There wasn’t a train or bus ride where I wouldn’t ask myself, “What the fuck is gonna happen tonight?” Growing up in gang-infested parts of the city earned me some smarts, and the last thing I would ever do was carry anything on me that was of value, especially my camera.

I was obsessed with seeing live music and would go to almost anything that was happening in Chicago at the time. Entering the ’90s, so many bands were changing and jumping genres, and locally it seemed that bands had lost that hardcore edge to them. I wanted to start one that brought it back. In 1991, Los Crudos were born. Later I would go on to form Limp Wrist as well as Arma Contra Arma, Tragatelo, Harto, Needles, NN, the Shhh, Nrrrv, and, most recently, Canal Irreal.

At the tail end of the ’80s and into the ’90s, when punk shows became fun again—more about the music, the bands, and the fans—I decided to risk bringing out my Canon AE-1 to document this scene that meant so much to me. Prior to shooting digital, I could afford about a roll of Tri-X per show, maybe two, and I’d hope for the best. When things went digital I had more chances at capturing killer shots, but I could also take 100 frames and end up with garbage.

I have been photographing for more than 35 years now. I do a variety of styles but am mostly known for shooting punk shows, and I still get knocked on my ass here and there while doing it. But I live for this, the energy and the sound. I love watching a kid in their first band, trying their hardest and sucking, only to come back a year later with a new project that blows all our fucking minds. No band is too small or unknown for me to photograph; there is something so raw about it, it’s all worthy in my eyes. Punk shows have always been a blast, the ones that happen without permits, illegal shows, basement shows, on the street or in someone’s shitty apartment. Those tend to be the best ones, and I always try to have my camera for them.

GWAR perform live on stage in Chicago.
Blood, cum, punks, and skins! (1989)
Gwar played a show at Club Dreamerz, a small venue in Chicago, and somehow my camera survived. The entire crowd was doused in liquids and I found myself ducking and dodging the entire set. I’ve had plenty of loads in my face over my lifetime, but Gwar shot best.
A photo of punks in Mexico.
Punks in Mexico (1994)
(Top) On the first Crudos tour of Mexico, about 20 punks took a day trip to Monte Alban in Oaxaca, Mexico. (Bottom) These are Otomi punks from Toluca, Mexico. We spoke about life, punk, the world, and pulque. As they told me about pulque one of them reached down and grabbed my dick and said it would make it really hard.
Gag at the Oakland Metro (2013)
Gag at the Oakland Metro (2013)
I recall the first time this band came through the Bay with their crew from Olympia, they were young and trying to make a name for themselves. It was an aggressive set and by the end of the night the singer’s shirt was drenched in blood.


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