Back in 2008, self-confessed headbanger and respected documentary photographer Pep Bonet got the opportunity he’d always dreamt of. He was asked to capture Motörhead’s European tour, shooting the band during concerts and following them on the road.
Slowly but surely Pep got to know the crew better and so became part of the family. This enabled him to create an intimate account of the band and its members’ individual personalities.
His documentary background – Pep is well-known for his war photography – allowed him to approach this project differently than a music photographer might, focusing on the whole story rather than capturing the headbanging performances on stage.
“It was like any other story – but this was the one I really wanted to tell.” And it shows – the band members are seen in their most vulnerable moments, fooling around, having fun and prepping while waiting to take the stage.
During the tour, Pep was especially intrigued by Lemmy, the lead-singer who sadly passed away in 2015. His favorite image is Lemmy’s Boots. “When I first saw the boots I thought they were amazing, but now this has become a sort of iconic image of Lemmy,” Pep says.
Pep was lucky to shoot the band from 2008 until 2015. For him it was as a life-changing experience; not only on a personal level, but it also influenced his photography.
It led him to move away from his previous subjects and got him interested in extraordinary super-fan culture. This in turn led to Hellbangers: for a partnership with Nikon, Pep travelled to Botswana where he met a community of heavy metal fans.
“What shocked me was if you want to dress like you love metal in London, you can easily go to Camden Market. Here they have no rock shops, so they design these clothes themselves. It reminded me of Motörhead’s Ace of Spades cover or my 15-year-old self,” says Pep.
As the clothes are an important part of the series, Pep treated it like a fashion shoot, showing the heavy metal fans full-length and in different poses – a style that was completely new to him.
The project’s humorous feel is very intriguing; seeing these scary-looking metalheads showing off their leather chaps with such pride will definitely put a smile on your face.