Photographer Jason "Repo" Reposar recently toured with Queens Of The Stone Age aka QOTSA for the Splendour in the Grass Australian tour in July. Here's a short interview and a bunch of epic photos from Repo's experience with the best Rock n Roll band in the world...
You recently toured Australia as the photographer for the Queens of the Stone Age at the Splendour in the Grass festival in Byron Bay and the subsequent support shows in Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin. How did you get to be the QOTSA photographer on this tour?
I sent drummer Jon Theodore a message when QOTSA released the dates for the tour and it was a no brainer from there. I was like, "I'm coming and shooting this" and he was like "fuck yeah you are!" Then it just went from there.
Who are some of the bands you’ve toured with recently?
I was with Ugly Kid Joe and Skindred in Europe over summer.
Who is the QOTSA band these days or who specifically was on this Aussie/Splendour tour as QOTSA?
What other bands are they from or played with previously?
Kyuss, A Perfect Circle, The Waxwigs, The Mars Volta, One Day as a Lion and probably a few more.
How does your photography equipment change when photographing the band at a huge festival Splendour In the Grass as opposed to shooting the band in more intimate gigs at the Darwin Convention Centre or Festival Hall Melbourne?
To be honest, my gear pretty much stays the same. I don’t really use a 70-200mm lens, as I probably should at big festivals. I’m just not into getting the same shots from the pit as all the other photographers. I’m more into going side stage or finding different ways to compose an image with a 50mm or 35mm lens. I like to be close to what shooting. My goal is to capture images that most people don’t see. Can’t see. It’s about access and using that to get images that I’d love to see. My typical music rig is a Sony RX1 and Sony aR7II with the Loxia 50mm. I like to keep it light so both cameras never leave my shoulders.
What was the highlight show for you on this tour?
The Melbourne show at the Festival Hall was best energy exchange between the band and crowd for me. I spent the entire show shooting from the pit being smashed around which was awesome. I shot around 2000 photos and got 150 odd photos sharp. Was a nice change to the side stage.
The crowd and the energy in the room were incredible. The band put in the best set that night too…. In my opinion anyway. As a photographer, I gave myself the freedom to experiment and it paid off.
When photographing a band like QOTSA what are some of the rules and regulations that you need to respect behind the scenes?
It wasn’t very rigid or uptight with QOTSA. It was pretty cruisy actually. Just don’t be a dick is a good rule I try to live by. The guys and the crew were super chill and cool. I only got told off once and that was for being in the way of the Drum tech during the Splendour set.
Was there a specific mood you are aiming to capture with these photos from this Aussie tour?
These days I try to be close to the energy of what’s happening and just pull the trigger on what appeals to me at the moment. I’ll just be present with whats happening and look for my moments. I think the mood translates quite well if I operate in that mode. There's also a battle with etiquette. Gauging when it's ok to withdraw from a moment and photograph it without altering the situation. So I guess I am trying to capture the mood of the moment I'm in at the time when I'm doing my thing. Lots of other considerations but basically just that for me.
What do you and the QOTSA crew love about Australia?
You’d have to ask them about that. I’m sure they probably feel a bit like myself… The country is beautiful. Every territory has its own different character and that translates to the people living there too. Wild beautiful place!
Do the guys surf?
Jon Theodore surfs. We tried to get a wave at Broken Head but the wind was off and we didn’t have wetsuits so we said fuck it.
Your best moment captured from your time in Australia with QOTSA?
I shot my first show ever from the pit in Melbourne. I was about three people back from the front row and the energy was on fire. There was so much energy going on where I. It was amazing. I was enjoying the show, bouncing, vibing and picking out shots here and there when the bouncing stopped. I got a few good keepers from that show that I'm really proud of.
You are cementing yourself as THE rock n roll band photographer of this time aka Mick Rock. Who is your favourite music photographer from the past and present?
Your lips to God's ears mate. I’d love to make a name for myself in the rock and roll photography world. I'm definitely having a go at it. I don’t feel as if I could make any sort of claims to anything like that though. The guys I look up to started in the sixties and seventies when Rock and Roll were it. Having photographers like Ross Halfin and Jim Marshall with the work they have produced, kind of makes me understand, that ship has sailed for me. They were there when it was all happening. They lived it. They captured it. I love looking at their photos and daydream about the experience they must have had. Those two guys are heroes to me. Today, the Led Zeppelin’s and Rolling Stones are in the past. These days the whole music scene has changed. The Dj’s are today's rock stars and although I don’t mind that kind of music I’m not interested in it. There's nothing there that inspires me to go out and investigate that scene with my camera. I’m rock and roll. I use my camera to explore the things in life that interest me most….. Surfing, Music, girls… hahaha. In that respect, I feel so fortunate to have found photography. It has opened up doors and worlds that I would never have imagined being able to be close to.
Who is your favourite photography muse?
Music – Queens of the Stone Age
Surfing – Andy Irons
Girls – They changed every 30 days on average. Right now - Raluca
Straight up - Who is the best Rock n Roll band on the planet at this time?
Queens of the Stone Age. 100%
When can we expect to see the Jason Reposar QOTSA exhibition come to life?
I certainly hope so. I’m hoping this next year and a half I’ll get a solid exhibition together.
What’s next for Jason Reposar’s life in Rock n Roll?
Well, Skindred is touring Australia in September followed by At The Drive in and then Metallica and Queens of the Stone Age in Europe.