Damon Albarn in a facemask: Kevin Cummins’ greatest {photograph} | Artwork and design

Kevin Cummins

Blur toured Japan in 1992 and I went with them for NME. It was the primary time we’d seen Japanese youngsters sporting facemasks. Damon was intrigued, so he purchased one. Usually whenever you’re away with a band, you don’t get time to see something of the cities you’re in – and loads of bands aren’t that anyway. However Blur have been eager to discover Tokyo. Damon wished to get on a prepare and see what that was like. He seems like he’s shivering however I feel it was a joke to suit with the face overlaying. Again then, it was actually uncommon to see a westerner sporting a masks. Due to Covid-19, the picture appears actually prescient now.

NME obtained loads of letters in regards to the shot. Folks didn’t perceive what was occurring. How dare somebody present vulnerability? I believed it might make a very good cowl, however NME at all times wished the duvet star to be immediately recognisable and make eye contact, in order that they ran it inside.

I at all times obtained on with Blur. To start with, Damon was actually relaxed. By the point we obtained to the Blur v Oasis battle, he’d develop into a special individual, very withdrawn. However he was at all times amenable and nice to {photograph}. We’d discuss so much about soccer. It most likely helped that I wasn’t the one doing the interview, asking questions on the whole lot. In contrast to loads of rock stars, Damon truly carried cash round with him and purchased drinks. Usually musicians say “What room are you in?” and put the whole lot on that.

It was arduous staying alive by that Britpop interval. Oasis have been by far essentially the most extreme band I’ve ever hung out with – and I’ve been on the highway with Metallica. I as soon as stayed on the Marriott lodge in Portsmouth with Oasis. The pool was subsequent to the bar, so Liam threw all of the plastic furnishings into the water. Noel stated: “You fucking dick, the place are we going to sit down now?” He made him get all of it out.

East 17 have been ingesting within the bar and once they noticed us arrive mob-handed, they fled to their rooms. There have been about 25 of us and the man behind the bar couldn’t cope. He introduced final orders, so Noel stated: “In that case, I’ll have six double gin and tonics, he’ll have six JD and Cokes, and he’ll have six pints of Heineken!” Then, when the barman went on a bathroom break, just a few individuals went behind the bar and cleared it out – all of the spirits, the whole lot. They blamed it on East 17’s highway crew.

The bands have been all nice to {photograph}, although. Virtually all people was trendy and picture aware, particularly in contrast with the summer-of-love period that had come earlier than, with all that unhealthy acid-house put on. As a photographer, I appreciated having the ability to form the way in which a band was perceived.

After I first met Brett Anderson from Suede, he wasn’t assured in entrance of the digital camera. I arrange mirrors and advised him to look in numerous instructions, seeing which of them he felt appeared greatest. With Oasis, you didn’t want to do this – that they had a great deal of swagger and didn’t give a toss. They might have fights in the midst of a photograph session. I might be like: “Oh God, what do I do now?” The remainder of the band would say: “Don’t fear, it’ll be over in a few minutes.”

One time after I was taking pictures Blur, my eight-year-old daughter Ella got here alongside. Toys R Us had saved a retailer open for us to shoot in. She actually appreciated Blur and Oasis, however she was making an attempt to be cool in that means youngsters do. I requested if she wished an image with Damon and he or she stated no. Then, a bit later, she stated: “If Damon needs his image taken with me, I’ll be stood over there.” He nonetheless thinks that’s humorous.

Whereas We Had been Getting Excessive: Britpop and the ’90s by Kevin Cummins is printed by Cassell Illustrated. Interview by Tim Jonze.

Kevin Cummins’ CV

Kevin Cummins



Kevin Cummins

Born: Manchester, 1953.

Educated: Salford school.

Influences: Diane Arbus, Jane Bown, Invoice Brandt, August Sander.

Excessive level: “Being awarded an honorary doctorate by Manchester Metropolitan College in 2015. It’s beautiful to be acknowledged again residence.”

Low level: “Working with many vastly proficient however troubled younger artists who then die too quickly.”

Prime tip: “Take a e book: 90% of the job is spent in lodge lobbies, ready for musicians to show up.”

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