An interview with….98 Wounds

Magazines tend to be filled with words, but they say that a picture speaks a thousand of them. 98 Wounds is a magazine which embraces that, focusing upon music photography rather than reviews and articles. The first issue was produced in March 2013, but the real story goes back earlier than this.

A photographer by trade and having plenty of photos being printed in NME and Sounds, it was in 1978 that founder Neil decided that he wanted to create an outlet for all of the photos that just sat gathering dust in his cupboards, resulting in a photocopied fanzine called The Poser. ‘In those days you couldn’t just upload them to Facebook. For various reasons it petered out after 7 or 8 issues, but John Peel described it as ‘worth getting hold of’ and we were selling out the 500 copy print run.’

Although it was short lived, its influence is felt on Neil’s work.  In 2012 he decided to produce a book of photos from that year, a sort of yearbook. It was around 450 pages, and turned out to be a little too large for software, publishers and readers. Breaking it into three parts, and then four, 98 Wounds has eventually become a quarterly featuring the best new music in London. ‘In a sense 98 Wounds is what I wish I could have created back in 1979. A reasonable quality book about bands who are happening now in London.’

It’s not that pictures are considered to be superior to words, but quality is important, and much of that seems to come from the photographer as well as the band’s performance and the gig atmosphere. ‘I’m not really interested in shooting bands at big venues with silly 3 song rules and lighting which any idiot with a camera set to auto can take ‘good’ photos.. Whilst I was at the planning/concept stage I came across Keira who was another gig photographer with a similar desire to capture the energy of a gig rather than just turning out passable shots with no soul, of bands the photographer doesn’t care about. If the photographer clearly doesn’t care about the band, why would their readership care?’

98 Wounds is a phrase in the song Privilege (set Me Free) from the album Easter by Patti Smith, and the title was chosen artistically illustrate a certain amount of struggle as well as the practicalities of it being ‘short enough to write big.’

Music today often seems to be about fame and notoriety, but when discussing his heroes John Peel, Joe Strummer, Malcolm McLaren, he says that those ‘worthy of admiration will have a greater vision than just making cash, they need to care about something, to at least believe they can change things. Maybe even make some sacrifices for their art. These days there don’t seem to many people who stand out with these qualities. Today I find well known bands politically anaemic and their music bland and pointless. Who is fighting austerity for the poor and cash handouts for the rich ? I find plenty of enthusiasm and originality amongst smaller bands, but will they be swallowed up by the crushingly dull music ‘industry’ ?’ It’s not all bad news – as one of the first to share words and photos about Savages, Fat White Family and Slaves, it’s certainly a publication that supports new music.

If you want to know who the next enthusiastic bands are and the ones worth watching, you know where to go. ‘Let me just say that we don’t put bands in 98 Wounds if we don’t think they are worth seeing, so look in 98 Wounds… and get down to some shows.

Going back to Patti Smith, he recites the lyrics:

I see it all before me:
the days of love and torment;
the nights of rock-and-roll.

That is what the magazine is about…..

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