Interview: Anton Corbijn
DUTCH STAR PHOTOGRAPHER ANTON CORBIJN HAS BEEN ACCOMPANYING THE RISE OF SOME OF THE BIGGEST BANDS IN THE WORLD: U2, METALLICA, NIRVANA, TOM WAITS, DEPECHE MODE… ANTON HAS CREATED A SPECIAL SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS SUBJECTS. IT IS QUITE UNIQUE FOR A PHOTOGRAPHER TO REMAIN TRUE TO A BAND, ESPECIALLY OVER SUCH A LONG PERIOD OF TIME. IT IS EVEN MORE UNIQUE BECAUSE ANTON DOES IT NOT ONLY WITH ONE BUT WITH SEVERAL BANDS! HE HAS MORE OR LESS CREATED U2 OR DEPECHE MODE IMAGES TO SUCH AN EXTENT THAT THERE IS A BEFORE AND AN AFTER CORBIJN’S VISION OF THESE BANDS. HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH DEPECHE MODE GOES EVEN DEEPER AS HE DOES ALL THE “VISUAL” WORK OF THE BAND, EVEN THE DESIGN OF THE RECORDS SLEEVES! HIS WORK EVEN INFLUENCES THE TITLE OF THE ALBUMS OR THE SUBJECT OF THE SONGS! INTERVIEW WITH A PECULIAR ARTIST.
WALTER : Last year I went to an exhibition which presented vinyl album sleeves through the photographic works that are frequently infused in them. When you started shooting in the 1980s, did you think that an album sleeve could be presented in an exhibition as an art piece?
TY MATTSON : I started shooting as a music fan and I did not know anything about art! So at this time it never came to my mind. But obviously, as time went by, I became often puzzled by the way my work ended up so I decided to start designing some stuff myself. Not that I necessarily made it better but at least if I made a mistake it was my mistake!
W : You work with famous bands such as U2 or Depeche Mode, but the design approach is different. For U2 you just “take” pictures, you do not design them. But it is your picture which is the design for albums like Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby. Concerning U2, you even have an influence on the name of the albums! This was the case for Joshua Tree for example.
TM : I had first encountered these trees in 1980 while photographing Captain Beefheart in the desert. When I described this tree to Bono one night prior to entering Death Valley, he listened carefully and the next morning it had become a logical title for the album.