Photographers Jason Obrotka and Paul Miles spent a year going backstage at rock & roll concerts throughout New York City and documenting what life is really like for bands on the road in the new book Before I Hit the Stage.
Obrotka recently chatted with Extra Mustard's Andy Gray to talk about what inspired this new collection of photography, what bands inspire him, and whether or not groupies still exist in 2015.
Andy Gray: Was there a moment where you realized that you should focus on the backstage/behind the scenes component of a band? Did most bands agree to give you access?
Jason Obrotka: There wasn't a moment, author/photographer Paul Miles had asked me if I was interested in doing a book together documenting bands backstage before they perform in one city during the course of one year, I was in. I think its a subject music fans are always interested in, the big mystery of what goes on backstage. We would see what bands were coming into town and and let them know what we were up to and see if they were interested in participating. One in five welcomed us into there pre-show inner sactum giving us anywhere from three minutes to three hours to shoot.
AG: Who are some of the bands that appear in the book?
JO: Its such a variety but to give you a couple names The Yardbirds, Cherie Currie (The Runaways), Dinosaur Jr., Violent Femmes.
AG: I know it’s hard to pick just three, but which are your three favorite photos that appear in the book?
JO: That is a tough one, I'd say my three favorites are The Bobby Liebling from the Doom Metal band Pentagram, the portrait where he is looking into the broken mirror, El Hefe of the Punk band NOFX practicing his trumpet with the silhouette on the wall and Saxon walking through Times Square.
AG: You’ve obviously had some great experiences. Were there any moments where you were like “I can’t believe this is happening?”
JO: Honestly, most of the time I'm so focused while I'm shooting I zone out and just work on getting the best photographs I can in the time frame I'm given.
AG: Who were your favorite bands growing up. Who are you listening to now?
JO: Growing up I listened to bands like Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Jane's Addiction, Ministry, Red Hot Chili Peppers. Now its quite a bit different, lately I have been listening to Ernest Tubb, who is one of the pioneers of country music, as well as a lot of Johnny Cash and the newest Marilyn Manson album. That's defintely a wide range for ya.
AG: What bands would you most like to go backstage and shoot?
JO: Black Sabbath, being my favorite band, and Motorhead.
AG: What’s your favorite venue to shoot a concert?
JO: In New York City I would say The Best Buy Theater. The lighting is great there.
AG: As a sports fan, I’m most interested in what goes on in the locker room. Things as simple as what time the players eat before a 7:30 game or how they arrange tickets if a friend is in town. Were you able to see how a band eats before a show or how they get tickets to a friend? Did you notice mundane tasks or is the rock ’n roll lifestyle a real thing?
JO: Most bands get a daily schedule from their tour manager with a list of things from equipment load in, press interviews, meet and greets, sound check, dinner, show time etc. Depending on the band and venue most of them have catering before they perform. Bands also give their tour managers a list each day of people to put on the guest list for backstage passes, tickets, photo passes etc. The rock 'n roll lifestyle I experienced I'd say is a bit toned down. Every artist is different of course so some request certain things, like specific alcohols, to no alcohol, to a favorite soft drink or snack, but I would say most of it is pretty mundane these days.
AG: Without going into specifics, do groupies actually exist or is that a dated concept?
JO: Yes, they are still around but I would say it's not anything like what I heard was going on during the Led Zeppelin days.
AG: Not to get all camera nerdy, but what do you like to shoot with?
JO: I like to shoot with Canon SLR's.
Before I Hit the Stage is now for sale through Amazon.com with 222 pages of photographs of bands from across the full spectrum of rock playing a variety of venues.
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GALLERY: 100 GREATEST SPORTS PHOTOS OF ALL TIME
100 Greatest Sports Photos of All-Time
Muhammad Ali and Cleveland Williams
Nov. 14, 1966 | Ali knocks out Cleveland 'Big Cat' Williams in three rounds at the Houston Astrodome to defend his heavyweight title in November 1966. The bout drew a record indoor crowd of 35,460.
World Series, Sept. 29, 1954 | A 12-time Gold Glove winner, Mays made one of his best defensive plays in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series when, running at full speed with his back to home plate, he hauled in a deep fly ball to centerfield to help the Giants hang on to a 5-2 win. Mays had been the NL MVP that year, and he led the Giants to a sweep of Cleveland for the title.
Chuck Bednarik and Frank Gifford
Eagles at Giants, Nov. 20, 1960 | Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik celebrates after laying out New York Giants running back Frank Gifford at Yankee Stadium. The hit forced Gifford to temporarily retire from football.
NFC Championship Game, Jan. 10, 1982 | Known simply as "The Catch," the reception by San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark resulted in a six-yard touchdown pass from Joe Montana to give the 49ers a 28-27 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. The victory would propel the 49ers to the Super Bowl, where they defeated the Bengals.
David Tyree and Rodney Harrison
Super Bowl XLII, Feb. 3, 2008 | New York Giants receiver David Tyree (left) secures a catch with his helmet as Rodney Harrison (right) tries to wrestle him to the ground. Tyree's catch was instrumental in the New York Giants' upset of the previously undefeated Patriots, 17-14.
Beijing Olympics, Aug. 16, 2008 | American swimmer Michael Phelps out-touches Serbian swimmer Milorad Cavic by 0.01 seconds at the finish of the 100-meter butterfly final. It was the seventh of Phelps' record eight golds during the Olympics.
World Series Game 1, Oct. 19, 1991 | Atlanta Braves catcher Greg Olson goes head over heels after tagging Minnesota left fielder Dan Gladden out at home during Game 1 of the 1991 World Series. The Twins would win Game 1, 5-2, and go on to win the Series in seven games.
Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston
May 25, 1965 | In their heavyweight title rematch Ali defeated Liston by knockout in the first round. Ali would hold the heavyweight title until 1967, when he was stripped of it for refusing to be drafted into the Army.
Antwaan Randle El
AFC Wild Card playoffs, Jan. 5, 2003 | Pittsburgh receiver Antwaan Randle El has his head turned around as Chris Akins (36) of the Cleveland Browns is called for face masking. The Steelers defeated the Browns 36-33 during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game on Jan. 5, 2003, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield
Heavyweight Bout, June 28, 1997 | Mike Tyson bites the ear of Evander Holyfield during their 1997 heavyweight fight. Tyson's boxing license was temporarily revoked for the incident and he was fined $3 million.
Belmont High at Colonel White High, Sept. 24, 2005 | Three-foot, 112-pound Bobby Martin played on punt and kickoff coverage and was the backup varsity noseguard for Dayton's Colonel White High. Born without legs, he can't wear prosthetics because he has no thighs to affix them to.
Spring Training, March 8, 1965 | San Francisco Giants pitcher Juan Marichal winds up for a pitch during a spring training game in Casa Grande, Ariz. Marichal was known for his distinctive windup, which consisted of one of the highest leg kicks in major league history.
Masters, April 8, 2001 | Tiger Woods tees off in the final round of the Masters, which he won by two strokes over David Duval. The win completed the "Tiger Slam," Woods' run of four consecutive major championship victories.
Women's World Cup, July 10, 1999 | U.S. women's soccer player Brandi Chastain exults after kicking the World Cup-winning penalty kick in the 1999 Women's World Cup final.
Super Bowl XXIII, Jan. 22, 1989 | San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana leads his team down the field in the closing minutes against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII. With only 3:10 left in the game, Montana marched the 49ers 92 yards down the field to beat the Bengals 20-16.
Paralympic Games, Sept. 21, 2004 | Spain swimmer Vicente Javier Torres starts the 150-meter individual medley at the Paralympic Games. Torres took the silver medal in the race.
Super Bowl II, Jan. 14, 1968 | The Green Bay Packers carry head coach Vince Lombardi off the field after their 33-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders. It was the Packers second consecutive Super Bowl victory.
Don Larsen and Yogi Berra
World Series Game 5, Oct. 8, 1956 | New York Yankees pitcher Don Larsen hugs catcher Yogi Berra (8) after pitching the only perfect game in World Series history, at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees would win the Series in seven games.
Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain
April 5, 1968 | Two giants of the NBA, Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics boxes out Wilt Chamberlain of the 76ers during a game in Philadelphia.
All-Star Weekend, Feb. 6, 1988 | Air Jordan takes off from the free throw line and soars to a perfect score of 50 to defeat Dominique Wilkins in the finals of the Slam Dunk Contest. It was the second straight title for the Bulls star, and the '88 contest is widely considered the best ever because of the duel between Jordan and Wilkins.
Stanley Cup finals Game 4, May 10, 1970 | Boston Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr celebrates his Cup-winning goal during overtime of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals against the St. Louis Blues. Orr would win MVP honors, and the victory was Boston's first Cup in 29 years.
Super Bowl III, Jan 10, 1969 | Jets QB Joe Namath offered reporters a guarantee: the underdog Jets would shock 18-point favorite Baltimore. Broadway Joe delivered on the field, earning MVP honors in a 16-7 victory.
1980 Olympics, Feb. 22, 1980 | The impossible had been accomplished, and it was time to celebrate. The United States upset the unbeatable Soviet Union 4-3 on Mike Eruzione's game-winning goal to finish Miracle on Ice and advance to the gold medal game (which it also won).
Atlanta Olympics, July 23, 1996 | Kerri Strug holds her pose after sticking the landing on her vault despite a painful ankle injury suffered on her first attempt. The United States' gold medal hopes rested on her, and she fought the pain on her second attempt to secure the title for the U.S.
Carmen Basilio and Tony DeMarco
Nov. 30, 1955 | Carmen Basilio (right) celebrates with his cornermen after knocking out Tony DeMarco (left) in the 12th round for the world welterweight title.
Billy Kilmer and Manny Fernandez
Super Bowl VII, Jan. 14, 1973 | Dolphins defensive lineman Manny Fernandez (75) hurdles a Redskins offensive lineman in pursuit of quarterback Billy Kilmer (17). Fernandez would finish the game with 17 tackles as the Dolphins defeated the Redskins 14-7 to become the first and last team to finish an NFL season undefeated.
New York, April 18, 1999 | Wayne Gretzky waves to the crowd at Madison Square Garden after playing in the final game in of his career.
Beijing Olympics, Aug. 20, 2008 | Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt reacts after breaking the world record in the men's 200-meter final with his time of 19.30 seconds. He had broken the 100-meter world record earlier in the games, too.
1926 | New York Yankees outfielder Babe Ruth, the Great Bambino, spends time with some fans. The 1926 season was one of Ruth's best as he hit .372 with 47 home runs and 146 RBI.
The Masters, April 13, 1986 | Jack Nicklaus celebrates making a putt during his historic victory at the 1986 Masters. Nicklaus shot a 65 on Sunday to outlast both Tom Kite and Greg Norman and, at age 46, become the oldest man to ever win the Masters. The victory also marked Nicklaus' record 18th professional major.
Spring Training, March 30, 1957 | Braves outfielder Hank Aaron starts to run toward first during a spring training game in 1957. That season, Aaron's fourth in the majors, he won the only MVP award in his Hall of Fame career, and he led the league in home runs for the first time, with 44.
USC vs. UCLA, Dec. 3, 2005 | USC running back Reggie Bush jump over UCLA defender Marcus Cassel and into the end zone for a touchdown. Bush's spectacular season earned him the 2005 Heisman Trophy, but the award was later stripped because Bush had received illegal benefits during his time with the Trojans.
Penn State football
Notre Dame at Penn State, Sept. 8, 2007 | Penn State declared a stadium-wide 'White Out' or 'White House' as 110,078 attended the September 2007 game, the second largest attendance in Beaver Stadium history. The Nittany Lions defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 31-10.
1984 Olympics | World champion Mary Decker, who became tangled with Britain's Zola Budd about halfway through the 3,000-meter run, looks on from the infield after falling from the track. The collision ended Decker's day and shook up Budd, who fell from the lead to seventh place.
Maxwell Fornah and Victor Musa
Sierra Leone, April 6, 2006 | The members of the Single Leg Amputee Sports Club of Sierra Leone chase for the ball in Freetown. A brutal civil war left more than 6,000 amputees in Sierra Leone.
Wimbledon, July 4, 1981 | The always emotional John McEnroe reacts after beating rival Bjorn Borg for the Wimbledon title. He would win the tournament again in 1983 and 1984.
Super Bowl X, Jan. 18, 1976 | Steelers WR Lynn Swann makes an acrobatic catch over Cowboys defender Mark Washington. Swann became the first receiver to win Super Bowl MVP honors after catching four passes for 161 yards and a touchdown during a 21-17 Pittsburgh victory.
World Series Game 7, Oct. 13, 1960 | Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski launches the game-winning home run off New York Yankees pitcher Ralph Terry. To this day, it remains the only walk-off home run in Game 7 history.
January 1977 | Philadelphia 76ers forward Julius Erving gets full extension on a one-handed dunk against the Denver Nuggets.
John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson
Opening Day, April 10, 1961 | President John Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson take in Opening Day at Griffith Stadium, Washington, D.C., home to the expansion Senators.
Canadiens at Rangers, Dec. 18, 1957 | Montreal Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante surveys the ice without a mask during a game between the Canadiens and the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Plante was the first NHL goalie to wear a goaltender mask on an everyday basis, a practice he started during the 1959-60 season.
John Havlicek and Chet Walker
Eastern Conference Finals, April 15, 1965 | Leading 110-109, Boston Celtics guard John Havlicek stole the ball on the inbounds pass from the Philadelphia 76ers to secure the Celtics victory. The Celtics would go on to the NBA Finals, where they would defeat the Lakers in five games.
Masters, April 11, 2004 | Phil Mickelson celebrates after making an 18-foot putt on the 18th hole to clinch a one-stroke victory at the Masters. After years of being called the best player without a major victory, Lefty broke through with his nine-under-par performance. He won the tournament again in 2006 and 2010.
Reds vs. Cubs, August 1975 | Cincinnati's Pete Rose dives into third base in a game with the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Baseball's all-time hits leader, Rose was 4-for-9 and drew eight walks during the series with Chicago.
British Empire and Commonwealth Games, Aug. 7, 1954 | Roger Bannister, the first man to break four minutes in the mile, races the "Miracle Mile" against John Landy, who was at the time the only other person to have broken four. Bannister won the duel and later took the first ever Sports Illustrated "Sportsman of the Year" honors.
Pittsburgh Pirates Fans
1960 World Series, Oct. 13, 1960 | University of Pittsburgh students cheer as they look down on Forbes Field from the top of their campus's Cathedral of Learning as the Pirates are winning their first World Series in 35 years against the Yankees. In Game 7, Bill Mazeroski hit the first walk-off home run in World Series history, a shot over the left-field fence that gave the Pirates a 10-9 win.
Bills at Jets, Dec. 8, 1974 | New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath listens on the sidelines during a messy New York Jets-Buffalo Bills Game. The Jets would win 20-10 behind Namath's 131 yards and two passing touchdowns.
Montreal Summer Olympics, Aug. 2, 1976 | Nadia Comaneci of Romania completes a somersault during the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Comaneci was the first gymnast to ever be awarded a perfect score in an Olympic gymnastic event, and in total, won three gold medals in Montreal.
Pistons at Celtics, Nov. 19, 1955 | Boston Celtics point guard Bob Cousy drives by two Fort Wayne Pistons defenders during a game in 1955. Cousy's unorthodox style, featuring behind-the-back dribbling and no-look passes, stood in marked contrast to the rest of the league, which was then dominated by a more fundamental style of play.
Spring Training, March, 1956 | Six-time batting champion Ted Williams discusses hitting during the Red Sox's spring training in Florida. Williams, then 37, hit .345 with a major-league best .479 on-base percentage during the season.
St. Louis, Sept. 28, 1969 | Chicago Bears linebacker Dick Butkus, who Sports Illustrated anointed "The Most Feared Man in the Game," makes his move during a game against the Cardinals. . Butkus was named the NEA NFL defensive player of the year at the end of the 1969 season.
Summer Olympics, Aug. 8, 1992 | U.S. sprinter Carl Lewis celebrates after winning the gold medal and setting the new world record in the 4x100-meter relay. Lewis' final leg, which he covered in 8.85 seconds, stood as the fastest anchor leg on record until 2007.
NAIA College Football Championship, Dec. 19, 2007 | Carroll College linebacker Brandon Day slides in the mud after Carroll College's 17-9 victory over the University of Sioux Falls for the NAIA college football championship. Since 2002, Carroll College has won six NAIA championships, including one in 2010.
Australian Open, Jan. 21, 2007 | Serena Williams celebrates a point during the 2007 Australian Open finals against Maria Sharapova. Williams, who was unseeded because of her World no. 81 ranking, continued on to beat Sharapova and win the tournament.
World Series Game 1, Sept. 28, 1955 | Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman Jackie Robinson steals home against the New York Yankees in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the 1955 World Series. Despite Robinson's steal, the Dodgers lost the game 6-5, but they would go on to win the Series in seven games.
Pacers at Bulls, March 7, 1997 | Chicago Bulls power forward Dennis Rodman goes horizontal for a loose ball during a game against the Pacers at the United Center in Chicago, Ill. Rodman won his sixth rebounding title during the 1996-97 season averaging 16.1 total rebounds a game.
NFL Championship Game, Dec. 28, 1958 | Baltimore Colts fullback Alan Ameche plows through New York Giants defensive back Jim Patton for the winning touchdown in overtime of the 1958 NFL Championship Game, otherwise known as `The Greatest Game Ever Played.'
Cleveland, Nov. 29, 1964 | Browns running back Jim Brown weaves his way through the Philadelphia defense during the 1964 season.
FInal Four, April 1, 1968 | Lew Alcindor shoots his trademark skyhook as UCLA drubs Houston 101-69 in the national semifinals. Houston beat UCLA in January in what was dubbed "The Game of the Century," but Lew Alcindor and the Bruins got the last laugh en route to the second of what would be seven straight national titles.
Clean & Jerk, January, 1969 | Russia's Vasily Alexeyev completes a Clean & Jerk during a weightlifting competition in 1969. Alexeyev set 80 world records between 1970 and 1977, and is widely considered the greatest heavyweight weightlifter of all time.
Padres at Pirates, June 16, 1972 | Pittsburgh Pirates star Roberto Clemente tracks a ball from a San Diego Padres pitcher during an eventual 2-1 Pirates victory. The 1972 season would be Clemente's last as he would die in a plane crash in December of the same year.
Julien Leparoux and Sanibel Storm
Keeneland Race Course, April 28, 2006 | Jockey Julien Leparoux tries to hold on to the bridle as he is catapulted off Sanibel Storm, which hit the rail during the stretch run. The jockey and horse were both uninjured.
Earvin 'Magic' Johnson and Larry Bird
Salt Lake City, March 26, 1979 | Future NBA Hall of Famers Earvin Johnson and Larry Bird try to figure something out during the 1979 Championship game between Michigan State and Indiana State.
North Carolina and Michigan State
San Diego, Nov. 11, 2011 | North Carolina and Michigan State kicked off the 2011 college basketball season aboard the USS Carl Vinson off the coast of San Diego. The Tar Heels triumphed, 67-55.
Busch Stadium, Sept. 7, 1998 | Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire hits his 61st home run of the season to tie Roger Maris' record. McGwire hit the record-breaking 62nd home run the next day, and he finished the season with 70. Barry Bonds later broke the record by hitting 73 homers in 2001.
Vikings vs. Steelers, Dec. 22, 2001 | Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss makes a fingertip catch for a 62-yard completion during the fourth quarter of a 21-16 Minnesota loss to Pittsburgh.
Anchorage, Jan. 22, 2001 | After being swallowed, a rainbow trout fingerling peeks out from the gullet of a northern pike, in a lobby aquarium exhibit at the Alaska Department of Fish & Game in Anchorage. It was part of a demonstration by the ADF&G to illustrate the abundance of northern pike in the region.
LSU baseball team
College World Series, June 17, 2000 | LSU shortstop Ryan Theriot tosses his helmet in celebration after scoring the game-winning run in the 2000 College World Series. LSU rallied from a three-run deficit to top the Stanford Cardinal 6-5 at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.
Summer Olympics, Sept. 24, 1988 | Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson pulls ahead of the pack during the men's 100-meter dash at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Johnson would win gold and set a new world record, only to be stripped of both when he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs three days later.
Rose Bowl, Jan. 4, 2006 | Texas QB Vince Young celebrates after the Longhorns knocked off USC 41-38 for the national championship. Young threw for 267 yards and ran for 200 more, including the game-winning touchdown.
Summer Olympics, Oct. 18, 1968 | U.S. track and field athlete Bob Beamon flies through the air during his world record long jump of 8.9 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Beamon's jump, which inspired a new adjective for spectacular feats ('Beamonesque'), stood as the world record for 23 years.
Ron Turcotte aboard Secretariat
Belmont Stakes, June 9, 1973 | Ron Turcotte, riding Secretariat, takes a quick peek over his shoulder at his competitors during the running of the 1973 Belmont Stakes. Secretariat would go on to win the race in 2:24 by 31 lengths, the fastest time and largest margin of victory in the history of the race. With the win, Secretariat became the ninth Triple Crown winner in history, and the first winner in 25 years.