Chicago & The Bottlemen

A couple of weeks ago I flew out to Chicago to photograph a four page feature with a band that has just sold out Brixton Academy twice six months in advance. Catfish & The Bottlemen are still currently on their US tour and playing to sold out venues every single night. I cannot begin to tell you how easy the boys were to work with and how unbelievably cold Chicago was. I’m going to try and give some kind of chronological break down of the three days I had in Chicago…And by the way any photos that see that aren’t of Catfish are taken on my iPhone.

Day One
I had three seats to myself on the way to O’Hare airport so I slept for a good 8 hours of the 9 hour plane journey across the Atlantic. Luckily for our jet lag we had booked to go to a Chicago Bulls game about 4 hours after we’d landed so we jumped in a taxi from the airport, dropped our bags, went to get some ‘Chicago pizza’ and then headed off to a game me, Kev (writer) and Fred (press relations) knew nothing about. American sports never fail to surprise me with their OTT theatricals and the need to fill an interval with an entertainment show as if to confirm an American cannot sit still for 10 minutes without the need to be entertained. The Bulls won, there was a 12 year old opera singer at half time and it was a cool -18c as we left the United Centre so all was well in Chi-Town. Back to the hotel and asleep within half an hour.

Day Two
When I’m away in cities I’ve never visited before I get a terrible case of FOMO (fear of missing out) so I wasn’t even mad about being wide awake at 5am. There was a vegan cafe (shout out to Delicious Cafe on N Lincoln Ave) not too far from my hotel that I wanted to check out for breakfast so headed there at 7am and bought pretty much everything they had on sale in there. I then zoomed to downtown to go up Willis Tower (formerly Sears) and catch some views of the city from the second tallest building in North America (only behind the new World Trade Centre One in New York City). There’s an overhanging glass box that you can step into in Willis tower on the 103rd floor and I have a genuine fear of heights but managed to have a fellow tourist take a photo of me in it before I realised what I was doing. Rushed back to the hotel, met the boys, got a Chipotle and watched the City vs Barcelona game in an Irish pub before going to meet the band for the first time.

I’d only heard good things about working with Catfish & The Bottlemen before so I wasn’t remotely nervous about meeting or working with the band. We met them in the venue they were playing that night - a small club called Schubas Tavern which seemed to still have it’s Christmas decorations hanging from the ceiling. I scoured the venue for some good set-ups that we could do with the band and shortly after soundcheck we got to meet the band properly and started shooting!

I won’t go into detail what happened that night as Kev has gone into detail in the feature piece in the magazine about it all and he’s one of the best writers around so I’ll let the feature do the talking. It’s out until next Tuesday (17th March) and available to buy as a digital copy at all times (it’s the NME with Pete Doherty on the front with ‘Catfish & The Bottlemen’ in the top right hand corner). Instead of me waffling on anymore here are a few shots from the packed show in Chicago!

Jet lag had well and truly kicked in by the time all the equipment was packed away, the band had hung out with the fans and were chilling on the bus. I retreated back to the hotel to get some rest before the shoot with the boys tomorrow.

Day Three
The third morning was the morning to get the ‘Catfish take on America’ vibe of the feature piece. As Kev spoke to Van for an hour in the Hard Rock hotel in downtown Chicago I rushed around the surrounding area to find some locations to shoot against. Cloud Gate or the Big Silver Shiny Bean Thing as you might know it as was just around the corner so that was an obvious choice. I was looking for skyscrapers and American flags as I walked through the blistering cold of the morning knowing that I’d have to shoot quickly so that the band didn’t look dead/frozen on their feet in the photographs. Our time was cut short to get the photographs so I chose two locations and took photographs of the band as they walked from and to the next locations. See some of the photographs below from our half an hour run around downtown:

Straight from the shoot me, Kev and Fred jumped in a taxi straight to the airport and flew back to London. All in a (three) days work!

Massive shout out to Fred, Arwen, Catfish, Kev, Mike, Laura and everybody else that made this happen. I had an absolute blast! Big love.


J x

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