2020 – A Place Of Honor In The Pylon Box
(ignore April 30, 2017 publish date – this was published on November 6, 2020)
Raise your hand if you have any idea what that title’s about.
Hmm………I think I see some hands going up in the Peach State.
Pylon was an influential Athens, GA, band that I shot twice in the early 1980s: once when they opened for Gang of Four at the Ritz in Manhattan in 1980 and again when they played at Hitsville in Passaic Park, NJ in 1982.
Not familiar with them?
In March 2019, I received an email from Vanessa Briscoe Hay, Pylon’s vocalist, saying that she found a shot of the band that I had taken in an old issue of Trouser Press and wondered what else I had of them because they were “working their way towards a reissue project”.
Here’s the TP page and image she found:
Because I had shot them from far away at the Ritz when they had almost no light on them, I concentrated on the much-better Hitsville performance images that I shot from almost point-blank range to send to her. I had also done a quick backstage shoot with them and sent those along too (the TP shot that she liked was one of the backstage ones). The Hitsville shots were fun ones with lots of smiles, personality and dirty socks:
And-oh-by-the-way, I also sent the one semi-sort-of-decent dark Ritz one, but only because that show was their first (I think) big New York City gig, opening for a band they really liked. Stuff like that is important to any band.
After much discussion, I was very surprised to find out that they really wanted to use the dark Ritz shot. I couldn’t imagine why, but – hey – it’s not my project.
After a fair amount of work, the image was put into acceptable shape (though I was still hoping one of the backstage Hitsville shots would get switched in).
As the Box came into being, I found out that it would contain 4 reissued VINYL albums and a book……….not a booklet, but a 200-page hardcover BOOK!
AND MY DARK RITZ SHOT WAS GOING TO BE ITS FRONT COVER PHOTO!
Had they lost their minds?
I really wanted to know what the thought process was here.
Vanessa explains it here in an interview……….note that she was leafing(!) through an old Trouser Press:
But that didn’t explain everything, so let’s dig deeper. It turns out that the band had donated a lot of things to the Special Collections Library at the University of Georgia at Athens, including a drum kit and the dress that Vanessa was wearing in my photo.
They took those items and added Pylon member Michael Lachowski’s bass and borrowed the late Randy Bewley’s guitar from his sons and set all these things up at the SCL@UGA to match the band placement setup in my photo and the resultant photo is the book’s back cover image.
As Brady Brock from New West Records (Pylon’s label) says:
“They think your photo is the definitive live image of the band. They also love the symmetry of it (we are talking about art school kids after all!). The special collections library has long housed Vanessa’s dress, which she also wears on the back cover of Gyrate as well. It was her favorite during this period. We recreated your set up with the dress and the instruments at the library for the back cover of the book.”
“Well they are mirrors, aren’t they? Your photo and the back photo were chosen by Michael Lachowski, our bassist, to reflect each other.”
NOW, I get it (finally)………….and I’m honored.
And now YOU can get it………….it’s being released today! (I hear that a CD version will be out next March).
Just don’t do what this masked man is doing and steal this book (with a respectful nod to Abbie Hoffman):