These stark white words on the TV screen fused themselves into my mind “it’s not the size of the man in the fight, but the size of the fight in the man”, as the screen faded to black and credits rolled.
In 2005, I’d just watched the Making of ‘…Ashes…’ from Machine Head’s newly released ‘Elegies’ DVD.
Little did I know, those words would bring fortitude for me in the coming years.
I’d enjoyed Machine Head’s music and, after watching that dvd, admired them as a band. They spoke of real emotions, persistence, strength, and staying true – packaged in the heaviest way. Me likey.
During the days of MySpace, I was an ’up-and-coming photographer’, shooting 4/5 shows most weeks, building a folio for the coveted ‘bigger shows’, and remember clearly when someone asked “How will you know when you’ve ‘made it’?” Without hesitation, I replied, ‘I’ll be on tour with Machine Head as their photographer’. This was 2006.
Saying it out loud was weird. How would it even happen?! I’d never met, or photographed them.
The following year, I’d had my first high profile gig, and from then on, an insight into the rock music industry. It became obvious quickly that a female wandering around backstage (even with a camera) was there to ‘get it on’ with guys in bands. This deffo wasn’t me. At all. It was hard to find connection without any ulterior motives.
Thankfully, I’d met a couple of other women in the industry who introduced me to a photographer visiting from Belgium; pretty sure they sussed I was struggling in a “man’s world” so the support was invaluable to me. She was booked in for a band shoot with another photographer for Roadrunner Records. The band? Machine Head.
Asking if I could travel to Belgium and learn some stuff, she came back with a yes. I was supposed to watch how a promo shoot was done, but ended up being handed the camera cord to take 3 photos. I dropped the cord. Great start.
Shooting shows in London continued and the revolving groupie door kept spinning. I despised these young women and what they were doing. It felt like I had to fight twice as hard being a woman in the rock industry, collecting ‘’choke on my c*ck for a photo pass” and other stories, more than I care to share right now. (Might write a book called that, for real!)
Festival season came, I saw Machine Head again at Download Festival UK and then Hellfest in France. I’d started talking with Dave and Phil. They invited me to more shows, and we got great. Robb never spoke to me. In fact, one time he stared right through me when I spoke to him, like I was invisible. I walked off. Fuck you then.
I had an ah-ha moment. Overhearing a female voice “I wanna sit on your face” I turned and saw this young woman was talking to Robb. He laughed it off.
Maybe he thought I was like all the other ‘groupies’?
Time went on.
The longer I was shooting for, the fewer derogatory comments were made. But I’d also noticed fewer women in the photo pit. Did they give up?
The sizzling summer of 2014 Machine Head played a tiny venue on the beach. Even though the guys said they’d sort me a pass, I bought a ticket. Buzzing from the show and a couple of beers, I spoke to Robb. Wanting to tell him how amazing the show was, I didn’t care if he listened or not.
He did listen, smiled, and offered me some of his drink.
A year later, they announced their return to the UK for another “Evening With…” tour. There’d be 8 dates spread over 10 days.
I thought, fuck it. I’m gonna text my good buddy Dave and ask if I can tour with them for the UK dates.
He was excited but had to check with Robb and the others. To be honest? I was prepared for a no.
4 months later, Dave messaged me with the tour schedule and offered me to go on the bus with them for 3 shows and a day off.
It was really happening.
In Manchester, March of 2016 the lights dimmed at the end of ‘Diary of a Madman’, I took a moment. 10 years. 10 YEARS I waited for this moment.
I ‘made’ it. Not just to my goal, but through all that shit.
“it’s not the size of the man in the fight, but the size of the fight in the man”.
PS. If you’re a young woman in the rock music industry reading this and would like some support, I’m here. <3