A year in the life – Part I

From 2009 to 2017 I was lucky enough to be part of an amazing adventure, one that allowed me to fulfill a lot of my teenage dreams long after I had forgotten them.

In late 2009 I formed a band called You can’t win, Charlie Brown with a group of friends I had made on the road while playing with other bands. The original invitation to start this project was made with the lowest possible expectations, at least on my side: my plan was mostly to collaborate online, record something, maybe play a few shows and that was it. I never planned ahead because from my experience of playing in bands since I was 18 there was nothing after that. Little did I know that just 5 years later I would be playing on the main stages of the largest Portuguese festivals, having the number 1 top selling record on the week of its release (nationally), amongst many other crazy and seemingly impossible achievements. To this day it still feels surreal when I think about it, to be honest.

As my interest in photography grew, I started documenting the band’s activities, first with a smartphone and then with a real camera. It didn’t take long before the camera became my permanent companion in almost every rehearsal, show or recording we did between late 2015 and 2017. I don’t think at the time I realized just how much of a privilege it was to have direct access to these intimate moments, which was only possible due to the fact that my band mates had gotten so used to seeing me pointing a camera that they didn’t even noticed anymore. In no other circumstances would I have been able to take these candid photos and that’s something I’ll be eternally grateful for, alongside all the other musical blessings I got during that period.

In early 2017 I made the difficult decision of quitting the band because it was no longer possible to conciliate all of the band’s activities with the rest of my life, and since then I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with the immense archive of photos I’ve accumulated over the years. Many of them have already been posted online randomly, but I wanted to do something a bit more consistent and organized. The biggest problem was to find a theme within thousands of photos, something that would help me narrow down the scope of the project and create a narrative, instead of just pasting together random moments.

After reflecting a lot on what concept could better summarize my experience in the band, I came up with a rather odd choice: routine. At first glance this sounds silly, right? the life of a band is supposed to be crazy and wild, always interesting and fun, at least I think that’s the idea most people have. And it is true, to a certain extent: if you focus on particular moments, it’s a lot like that.

But if you zoom out and look at the larger picture, the story is a bit different. There are patterns that emerge and that are common to pretty much every band in the business, I guess: you create, you record, you promote and you perform. And then you repeat that all over again. Once I realized this, everything started to come together. I decided to create a photographic series documenting the full process of making the last album I recorded with them (“Marrow“), covering roughly a one year span in the life of the band. I’ve been going through my archives and organizing the photos according to the different stages I described earlier, in order to create a 4 part series.

The first part is about the songwriting process. For this particular album we tried something different, which was to build the songs together in our rehearsal space, as opposed to our previous method where each would write alone at home and then work on the arrangements together. In the end I think we used both methods for “Marrow”, but there was definitely a lot of late nights in the studio working on these songs together. As physically demanding as that was, it was still by far my favorite part of the process. The experience of bringing a rough idea to rehearsal, watching it gain a life of its own and turning into something completely different than what you could’ve imagined, it’s nothing short of extraordinary and it still feels like magic to me.