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Wet Plate Portraits: Nick Oliveri

Thursday, 23 July 2015 Written by Laura Johnson

Photograph: Gareth Jarvis

Nick Oliveri, if you aren’t already aware, has spent the last two decades cultivating a near iconic beard and grinding out low end grooves for Kyuss and Queens Of The Stone Age, as well as thrashing through the hits with Dwarves. He’s also fronted his own project, Mondo Generator, and more recently opted to strip things back and hit the road with his Death Acoustic tour, on which he is armed with just an acoustic guitar and a sinister grin.

Last weekend, he brought the UK leg of a European trek to a close at The Moon Club in Cardiff. Gareth Jarvis was there to capture a single wet plate portrait of the man himself for the first in this new series, which revives a method of shooting long forgotten by many photographers.

“I enjoy working with tactile processes, in which you can craft a print by hand using chemistry, glass and light,” he said. “You get to feel the materials and smell the vapours. It’s more appealing than the clean and sterile digital workflow. I end up with black stained hands from the silver nitrate solution. I enjoy photographing bands, so it seemed a natural move to make collodion portraits of musicians. Nick is  a rock legend and a really nice bloke. He was so enthusiastic about being photographed with the vintage technique. His blue eyes came out incredible.”

Preceding his set, and kicking things off in grimy style, were Gung Ho. Their scuzzy grunge-punk did more than enough to whip the crowd into a beer-soaked frenzy and the local troupe were joined by Oliveri for Big Takeover, which pushed a suspense-fuelled set of punters into overdrive.

Pints had already been raised, and spilled, but things kicked up a further notch when Oliveri stepped out for his set and fixed the attention of everyone in the room. Sounding like he’s been smoking 20-a-day since his teens, which may be true, Oliveri exudes a visceral charm.

He may be rough, but he was certainly ready and attacked his songs with a determined ferocity. The crowd was treated to everything from Dairy Queen, lifted from 2009’s ‘Death Acoustic’, to Queens Of The Stone Age’s Feel Good Hit Of The Summer, during which he incited a stage invasion that brought the madness to a chaotic close.

Head here to see more from Gareth Jarvis.

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