Find out more about Taipei Houston here
Formed last year (2021) this new duo from San Francisco, going by the name Taipei Houston, have a super cool garage rock vibe with a highly articulate edge. At the time of writing, these two brothers (Layne and Myles Ulrich) are only just beginning to make a name for themselves. They haven't released any music yet, instead choosing to build a dedicated following the traditional way through playing live. Unless you've been lucky enough to catch a show then live videos are currently the only clue as to how stunningly good these guys are.
Although none of the videos I've seen do full justice to their live sound the gritty no frills recordings sits well with their garage rock ethos. At this stage it's difficult to pinpoint exactly where on the musical spectrum they'll eventually sit, in the fullness of time... many will make comparisons to Royal Blood and White Stripes, but Taipei Houston have their own thing going on. They're technically gifted and certainly bring an exciting new dynamic to the art of riff-heavy groove-making.
It was a real pleasure to meet the guys for this photo session. They were both incredibly lovely people to work with who allowed me to direct them without fuss, even when I asked them to do slightly odd things like walk backwards and forwards to create the blurs in the top photo.
My main goal for that image was to create an artful portrait capable of holding its own among the many other portraits I'm sure these guys will pose for in the years ahead. I feel happy I managed that with that photo. I love playing with longer exposures and was pleased those blurs worked the way they have.
The rest of the photos were made more traditionally, but even with that natural feel there's a definite sense that they're musicians. I thought that was quite interesting.
I include a series of shots of the guys running through the underpass... not because I feel they were particularly good shots, but because it shows how they threw themselves wholeheartedly into the session... and I thank them very much for that. True professionals.
I chose this location under Brighton pier firstly because I felt it had a cool vibe that suited the grit of their music, but also because I felt this was an opportunity to add our own mark on an iconic place so infused with musical history. Luckily there wasn't many other people using it so we could work without interruption.
Huge thanks to the guys and their management for letting me just do my thing. I'm grateful for the trust shown to me.
I also want to thank them for giving me access to shoot their show the next evening... these are a few of my favourites images from that. I was very happy to be able to shoot beyond the first three songs which allowed me to be a little more patient with the lights, and meant I didn't have to work around other photographers creeping into the frame.
As you can see Layne (bass guitar) and Myles (drums) both play with tons of energy. It was exciting to watch and a huge pleasure to shoot. Constant movement doesn't always create the most flattering of images BUT this is rock music... and the movement is bourne from emotion and energy, my most favourite things to photograph, as personally I think they make the coolest images every time.
Incidentally, the show was held at Chalk in Brighton, an ideal place for gig photography, with a wide stage, blacked-out side and rear spaces, and excellent lights that beam nicely in a dry ice haze. Thanks to the lighting tech for giving me something good to work with... that's always very much appreciated.
Keep up to date with the band at taipeihouston.com and make sure to get along to one of their shows when they return to these shores to play Reading and Leeds festival this year.
On a final additional note, I want to do something I don't usually do (I've never done it before in fact!) and point you in the direction of a live review written by someone else, of Taipei Houston's gig a few days later at Camden Assembly in London. It's written succinctly with a wonderful descriptive flourish by James Hickie, and worth a look if you'd like to read more about the band.
© GREIG CLIFFORD.
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