16 iconic photos of your fave bands and the stories behind them - Features - Alternative Press Misery Signals premiere exclusive clip from their documentary, ‘Yesterday Was Everything’—watch - Features - Alternative Press Indie band the Kickback premiere new track “Rube”—listen - Features - Alternative Press Extreme brotherhood: 10 metal bands with siblings - Features - Alternative Press 10 easy ways to dress like Paramore’s Hayley Williams - Features - Alternative Press Here’s what some of the top YouTubers listen to - Features - Alternative Press Marina City premiere powerful music video for new song, “Dreamers Never Die” - Features - Alternative Press Vagabonds streams new album, recorded entirely in random, unoccupied places— listen - Features - Alternative Press 13 times the scene has shown its love for ‘Harry Potter’ - Features - Alternative Press 13 statues, murals dedicated to musicians and where you can find them - Features - Alternative Press McCafferty release early stream of new EP ‘Thanks. Sorry. Sure.’—listen - Features - Alternative Press Upcoming emo movie premieres original song, exclusive teaser featuring Frank Iero—watch - Features - Alternative Press 19 songs we bet you didn’t catch this week - Features - Alternative Press Greeley Estates premiere new song, discuss upcoming EP ‘Calling All The Hopeless’—listen - Features - Alternative Press 10 alt beauty vloggers who deserve your subscription - Features - Alternative Press YouTube sensation NateWantsToBattle drops music video for “Heroes Never Die”—watch - Features - Alternative Press 15 of Paramore’s best covers - Features - Alternative Press The top 5 songs of 2017 so far, chosen by you - Features - Alternative Press From Trophy Eyes’ John Floreani’s POV: What you miss when you’re wishing for something else - Features - Alternative Press Alt rockers Never Let This Go debut lyric video—made with only Taco Bell sauce packets - Features - Alternative Press Salems Lott premiere dystopian video for “Enigma”—watch - Features - Alternative Press From Twenty One Pilots to Thrice, here are the backstories of 18 concept albums - Features - Alternative Press 46 musicians share their favorite Warped Tour lineup of all time - Features - Alternative Press Electric Century premiere “Hey Lacey” and discuss new album—listen - Features - Alternative Press Warped Tour’s worst day ever, as told by founder Kevin Lyman - Features - Alternative Press The emotional stages of listening to All Time Low’s ‘Last Young Renegade’ - Features - Alternative Press 8 times bands didn’t need no stage - Features - Alternative Press The 11 best albums of 2017 (so far) - Features - Alternative Press Radar State premiere new video for “Spinning Wheel”—watch - Features - Alternative Press 10 best metal albums of 2017, so far - Features - Alternative Press 10 up-and-coming bands from Brazil you should listen to - Features - Alternative Press The 14 best Twenty One Pilots songs, chosen by you - Features - Alternative Press Rozwell Kid’s Jordan Hudkins explains every track of ‘Precious Art’ — in GIFs - Features - Alternative Press Metal rockers Ded premiere new video for “Dead To Me”—watch - Features - Alternative Press 18 rock-star dads with their most prized possessions: their kids - Features - Alternative Press 28 of Mark Hoppus’ best dad jokes - Features - Alternative Press Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was the best thing to happen to female superheroes - Features - Alternative Press 19 songs you need to hear this week - Features - Alternative Press 10 of the funniest Paramore memes - Features - Alternative Press The top 5 albums of 2017 so far, chosen by you - Features - Alternative Press From a broken down van to haunted hotels, take a look at DREAMERS’ best tour moments - Features - Alternative Press Sworn In’s Tyler Dennen gives an exclusive track-by-track first-look for new album ‘ALL SMILES’ - Features - Alternative Press Crooked Teeth’s west coast emo shines on “Out Of Place”—exclusive - Features - Alternative Press Diamante’s “Coming In Hot” with the premiere of her new video—watch - Features - Alternative Press 5 ways Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’ shaped alternative music - Features - Alternative Press The 7 most inspiring things Gerard Way has ever said - Features - Alternative Press 10 times bands were accused of ripping off another band’s album cover - Features - Alternative Press Victory Records newcomers Carousel Kings premiere video for “Fractals” — watch - Features - Alternative Press Silverstein premiere new song “Lost Positives” and discuss new album ‘Dead Reflection’ - Features - Alternative Press 10 times scene kids ruined their yearbook photos (including that one with Neck Deep) - Features - Alternative Press How Neck Deep and 14 other bands really feel about Warped Tour - Features - Alternative Press The 12 best songs of 2017 (so far) - Features - Alternative Press Head North debut new Little Elephant Sessions, share the story behind ‘The Last Living Man Alive’ - Features - Alternative Press With Confidence give you a behind-the-scenes look at life on tour in new music video for “Archers” - Features - Alternative Press Why ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’ is My Chemical Romance’s best album - Features - Alternative Press Lakeshore premiere politically tinged video for new song “Future”—watch - Features - Alternative Press Dreamcar’s Tom Dumont talks No Doubt’s musical evolution in Ernie Ball episode—watch - Features - Alternative Press 9 guitarists from your favorite bands share the first song they ever learned to play - Features - Alternative Press 11 incredible Panic! At The Disco tattoos you really should see - Features - Alternative Press 10 iconic Pride parade performances we won’t soon forget - Features - Alternative Press 10 new songs you need to hear this week - Features - Alternative Press 11 unsigned Canadian bands it’s aboot time you’ve heard, eh? - Features - Alternative Press These Streets pit into their new album with “Wasting Away”—exclusive - Features - Alternative Press 14 best Twitter rants by Say Anything’s Max Bemis - Features - Alternative Press The Wrecks premiere wild, self-produced concept video for “Favorite Liar”—watch - Features - Alternative Press From Taking Bark Sunday to Pawbreaker, here’s who the dogs of Riot Fest are excited to see - Features - Alternative Press 11 song titles and lyrics inspired by films - Features - Alternative Press 8 reasons why Download Festival is giving us serious FOMO - Features - Alternative Press Wolf & Bear premiere new video “GreyBlood”—and, yes, that’s a Dance Gavin Dance member you see - Features - Alternative Press Op-Ed: Hundredth’s new album ‘RARE’ is exactly what the scene needs - Features - Alternative Press 17 bands speaking out with their music in 2017 - Features - Alternative Press 12 musicians share their biggest Warped Tour disasters - Features - Alternative Press The Homeless Gospel Choir drop new track “Why?” from upcoming album—listen - Features - Alternative Press 12 amazing Twenty One Pilots tattoos you have to see - Features - Alternative Press Magikarp Jump is a little bit weird, a little bit dumb, but the right amount of fun - Features - Alternative Press 20 things you didn’t know about Alternative Press - Features - Alternative Press Magikarp Jump is a little bit weird, a little bit dumb, and the right amount of fun for mobile game - Features - Alternative Press My Chemical Romance saved my life - Features - Alternative Press Erra premiere music video for “Skyline,” a song “about loneliness”—watch - Features - Alternative Press Dayseeker premiere “Vultures” off new album, their “proudest work to date” — listen - Features - Alternative Press 11 times bands changed their original song lyrics - Features - Alternative Press 10 things Greta Van Fleet learned on their very first tour - Features - Alternative Press Atlanta quintet Separations drop heavy track “Exist” from sophomore album—listen - Features - Alternative Press 12 songs you need to hear this week - Features - Alternative Press 14 of our favorite music videos that celebrate LGBTQ pride - Features - Alternative Press 15 merch items to show off your pride for Pride Month — and any day of the year, really - Features - Alternative Press QUIZ: Can you guess the All Time Low music video from a single screenshot? - Features - Alternative Press Is Donald Trump the political Sex Pistol? Let’s take a look - Features - Alternative Press Watch Imagine Dragons’ winning “Believer” music video for Adobe’s “Make the Cut” competition - Features - Alternative Press Electro-pop duo the Fantastic Plastics cover the Flaming Lips’ “She Don’t Use Jelly”—watch - Features - Alternative Press 21 songs you need to add to your summer playlist - Features - Alternative Press Jule Vera premiere love song “Show Me” off upcoming album—listen - Features - Alternative Press 11 reasons you have to see GWAR at Warped Tour this year - Features - Alternative Press From moshing to serving Katy Perry potatoes, 26 musicians share their first Warped Tour experiences - Features - Alternative Press 14 times bands made amazing transformations for their music videos - Features - Alternative Press He Is We bury the hatchet, announce reformation and summer tour - Features - Alternative Press Less Than Jake’s Buddy Schaub & Jake Crown’s Coffee Project premiere “Wasted Love” —listen - Features - Alternative Press Set It Off, Too Close To Touch talk about playing Manchester 48 hours after terrorist attack - Features - Alternative Press Gothic summer: A spooky kid’s Warped Tour survival guide - Features - Alternative Press 10 reasons you need to see Brendon Urie in ‘Kinky Boots’ on Broadway - Features - Alternative Press

SECTIONS

ALTERNATIVE PRESS

Features

16 iconic photos of your fave bands and the stories behind them

June 28 2017, 1:00 PM EDT By Jason Pettigrew


[All photos: Lisa Johnson]

In the time since she stole her parents’ camera to photograph her Barbie dolls, Lisa Johnson became one of America’s (if not the planet’s) finest rock photographers.

Lisa Johnson Mike Herrera
Lisa Johnson (L) with Mike Herrera (R) of MxPx and Goldfinger. 

From the mustiest clubs in the worst neighborhoods of LA to the vistas the Vans Warped Tour traverse every summer, Johnson has captured casual moments and manned battle stations in the most brutal of pits. She took time out from her TEI talks at Warped Tour to tell Jason Pettigrew some of the stories—and storied images—of her career.

Read more: Warped Tour’s worst day ever, as told by founder Kevin Lyman

NIRVANA
From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah package, 1993

Nirvana Lisa Johnson

I got sent to Seattle to photograph them, and that photograph ended up being used in that packaging. It wasn’t intended at the onset, but it was later used in it. I love this photo, and they were definitely one of the bands where people would tell you how difficult they were to work with, and I’m like, “No, they’re not difficult.” I think they were equally as afraid of the publicists as I am. They were very nice.

There was a great level of cynicism with all the stuff going on around them. I’m thinking that, in you, they found a kindred spirit that understood what they were about. Like, “Oh, she gets it.”
Yeah, exactly. And it’s funny, too, because for this shoot, I set up some music and I was like, “I’m gonna play something cool that they’ll really like.” So I put on Fu Manchu or something and after a while, they were like, “Can we change the music?” I was like “Sure!” And Krist [Novoselic] put on the Beatles. I was like, “Whoa, even better, this is awesome!” I wouldn’t have expected that from them. The perception was that you’d think they’d want something noisy and loud, but really they didn’t. They wanted the Beatles, so I was happy about that.

SMASHING PUMPKINS, 1991
Rotten Apples: Greatest Hits cover, 2001

Smashing Pumpkins Lisa Johnson

You call this “the end shot.” Was it the last shot of the session?
No, just because it was the end of the road, and I always just call it the end. The funniest story about this is when we were doing it, I don’t think they knew the sign was there. At the end of the shoot, I was like, “And look, the ‘End’ sign so when you guys break up and get back together after 20 years, you can use this picture for your album cover!” Billy [Corgan] and I laughed hysterically. We thought it was funny. James [Iha] and D’arcy [Wretzky] didn’t think it was as funny, but Billy and Jimmy [Chamberlin] were laughing. True story. So when it was time for that Greatest Hits record, Billy called me up and was like, “We’ve got to get that photo and it’s got to be the cover,” and I was like, “Okay.” I love that photo. It really captures that early time. They were still in a van. It was a very—you could feel that energy. Something was going to happen.

RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE DVD cover, 1999

Rage Against the Machine Lisa Johnson

They had me shoot, probably three nights or so. They’re always looking for something to use, and it’s really hard to get them doing something—like the pinnacle of a moment together at the same time. You can’t control where people move onstage or the lighting situation. I had no control over it, and it was very dark lighting—like on-off-on-off. So it was very exciting to get this super-awesome photo of them. It really captures who they are and what they’re about, so they ended up using that on the live DVD back in the day. It’s not a composite shot: That is what it is on film. That’s the shot, you know. All this early stuff is on film.  

TIM ARMSTRONG AND LARS FREDERIKSEN of RANCID, 2003

Rancid Lisa Johnson 2003

It’s from Warped Tour 2003 in Dallas, Texas. Probably the hottest day I have ever felt in my life—like literally steam coming off of your body because it was just so hot. I grabbed this literally seconds before they went onstage. I love this photo so much. They look awesome, period. It captures them—it’s just Rancid to me.

Nothing explains brotherhood like Tim and Lars together, that’s for sure.
Yeah, and it’s literally seconds: Lars is literally picking up his foot to walk onstage. Had I breathed or blinked, this moment would not have happened. It’s literally the calm before the storm.

AVENGED SEVENFOLD, 2003

Avenged Sevenfold Lisa Johnson 2003

This image was one that really defined the scene at that time.
That’s one of the reasons I included it. So many people probably don’t realize that I shot that. It’s probably one of the earliest photos of them as a group. They’re just so young and in the incubation stages of one the biggest modern rock bands of our time right now, to be quite honest. I love that photo. We were kind of joking a little when we did the hand, but we loved it.

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE, Warped Tour 2005

Gerard Way My Chemical Romance Lisa Johnson 2005

According to your notes, this is something that’s never been published before. What’s that thing in, ahem, “the way?”
It’s definitely a Warped Tour photo. It’s like water. You know, he’s shaking his head, and it’s sweat off his head. And then there’s a big sunspot in there. I know I’ve printed this photo, but I definitely haven’t put it up online or anything, so I say unpublished. Maybe people have seen it, but I don’t think they’ve seen it like this. This is just a detail from the image.

That’s a great shot.
MCR were really exploding, the early stages of them coming into their own. It was an exciting time. This was not the first time I’d seen them—obviously they’d been on the tour prior because this is another Warped Tour photo—but just seeing the energy come off of that stage and the reaction that the fans were having. It was just super-intense, and you just can’t replicate that moment, because it was such a moment in time, and we’ll never get back there. So I’m glad I was there to capture some of it on film. Because it’s not ever gonna happen again.

WILLIAM CONTROL, Hate Culture album and Flowers + Filth book, 2008

William Control Filth book Lisa Johnson

That’s your photo on the book, as well as the cover of his Hate Culture record.
They sort of were happening concurrently, and we did a collaborative effort with this book Flowers + Filth. It started because he found this really cool vintage camera. He didn’t even know if it would work, but he thought I might like it. He sent it off to me, and I was like, “This is so cool! Let’s do something—like you do some poems and I’ll do some photos, and we’ll kind of put them all together.” Over the course of about a year, he collected poems and wrote some stuff. It ended up actually being a little glimpse into a year of his life that was very tumultuous. It went from being very, very dark to, at the end [when] we were literally done with the book, he turned his whole life around. We didn’t really intend for it to be semi-autobiographical, but it ended up being that. That was a really cool experience. I loved how it came out.

THEHELL (Atom Willard and Matt Skiba) Sauve Les Requins cover art, 2012

TheHELL Lisa Johnson

That was super-collaborative for everybody—all of us, all around. They were very involved in this. Obviously they were shot at the exact same time. That’s why they look so similar, on purpose. They’re almost so similar that sometimes I’ll look at them and be like, “Which one’s which?” They kind of had an idea of what they wanted, and then we worked to make it happen.

Where was that photo taken?
In Skiba’s kitchen. Every inch of his kitchen right to the little dining nook is taken up by this photo. That’s about how big it is. I’m kind of in the living room taking it.

Whose idea was it to wear masks?
Definitely theirs. I don’t know if it was Matt or Atom’s, but they had a whole assortment of masks they wanted to try. Every time I see a comment that’s [referencing] The Bunny The Bear, we didn’t even know what the hell that was and we had to look it up after. No, we came up with this all by ourselves. And it’s a fox. It’s not a bear.

LARRY AND HIS FLASK, Warped Tour 2011

Larry and His Flask Lisa Johnson

This looks like it was shot on film.
I met them at Warped Tour. They’re a lot of fun and kind of out there. I really felt compelled to capture them—they were driving in this sort of RV that later broke down. I think they were calling it Molly. She broke down maybe a week or two later, so we’re really happy to have captured this. I just felt very compelled to make sure that I captured them and took a proper portrait of them that captured their essence.

CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

COMMENTS