“What The Fuck Is Bridge 9?”

By Gordon Ball

Last week Scotty Wade asked me if I could write up a little thing about growing up in Southern Ontario and photographing bands in the 90s. Fuck, it was such a long time ago, so I am going to try my best here. I think the best way to go about this is to interview myself.

Me: Hey, hows it going brother, good to meet you. Been a fan of your work for a long long time.

Gordon Ball Photos: Thanks brother, fuckin ah!

Me: I am going to skip all the how old are you, where you from, whats your fav colour shit, and move onto the real shit, the stuff everyone wants to know. cool?

Gordon Ball Photos: Ya Man shoot away.

Me: How many girls have to slept with?

Gordon Ball Photos: 54

Me: What bands did you play in, if any?

Gordon Ball Photos: Shit, uh:

Evil Cheese 1995
Enter The Dragon 1995
Confine 96-99
78 Days for 24 hours
Poison the Well for 24 hours
The Fullblast 00-02
The Separation Suicide 02-04

Me: Ok, never heard of any of those bands. Here’s a better question, what was is like growing up in the 90s in the middle of the 905 / southern ontario scene?

Gordon Ball Photos: It was fucking awesome. I think there’s a lot of credit to be given to the bands like Chokehold, Grade, New Day Rising & Shotmaker. I don’t think a lot of the American bands would have given a shit about coming into Canada if we didn’t have those bands. And since Buffalo was only an hour away or so, Despair would be up playing all the time, or we would drive down there, see a show and get some Mighty Taco. But ya, the 905 scene was a goldmine. Who would have known that a little suburb outside of Toronto would have such an amazing scene. It was hard getting records and shit, HMV and all that shit DIDN’T carry anything. So we would either order shit from Very Distro, drive to Home of the Hits in Buffalo, or order shit from Victory (but usually they wouldn’t send you anything and they would say the money order was probably stolen by a black or Mexican person in the area, then we would check the money order and Tony would have cashed the money order months ago). But ya, the 905 scene wasnt like Syracuse or NYC, or Cali where there were certain scenes. We were all influenced by Rev, Victory, Initial, Ebullition, New Age, Three One G, everything. So we would have mosh bands, crust, emo, San Diego screamo, youth crew, all over the place…. and they all would play the same show for like 5$ or something. Shows would be like 5 – 7 bands, who would all sound totally different, but we all had the same interests: the 905 hardcore scene.

Me: So where did it all start: “the photo life of Gordon Ball” ?

Gordon Ball Photos: Hmm, good question. It was like the big bang or some shit. I grew up knowing about cameras because my dad was a photographer for CP, he had always been really influential about music and art and stuff. But the hardcore shit, well that’s a pretty rad story. I have skateboarded for as long as i can remember, I have thrasher and transworld skate mags from the mid 80s. so I kinda knew about all that shit but never really cared. I was a metal head forever, then in the summer of grade 8 / 9, my buddy’s cousin lent me and my buddy rob this tape of NOFX and SLUGFEST. Then in grade 9 we had a “coffee house” at school one night, and our friends older brothers were in this band called Sun Still Burns (who featured Matt Jones from Grade). And after watching Sun Still Burns play I was fuckin hooked.

Me: Ya man Sun Still Burns was fucking amazing.

Gordon Ball Photos: No shit.

Me: So how did the photography and hardcore fuse?

Gordon Ball Photos: Like I said, I knew about taking pics and shit, so I started shooting the bands, thats pretty much it.

Me: Who was the best band to shoot?

Gordon Ball Photos: Grade during the 96 / 97 era. There was something about them that was so magical. It was always an experience watching their live set. Hmm, who else. Spread The Disease was great to shoot. Left for Dead was awesome to shoot. Converge was really good to shoot then, cuz they would play for like 30 people and lose their fuckin minds. Actually, all the shows back then were so small, it was nuts. If there was more then 100 people you would be so weirded out.

Me: Whats you favourite sound?

Gordon Ball Photos: Woah thats deep. Let me give it a try- Shot glasses hitting a table. Keiths opening riff off of exile on main street. Opening the door to my place and hearing my dog bark. Skateboards on the street.

Me: Why did you lose interest in shooting bands?

Gordon Ball Photos: Nah, I still do now and again. I kinda grew outta the hardcore scene around 99. I still kinda played in bands after that but i never really listened to the music anymore. My tastes were changing and shooting bands move onto other things like fashion and lifestyle, etc.

Me: Not staying young till you die?

Gordon Ball Photos: Haha, good point. Shit got weird in hardcore after Bush got into office. I think the scene really shifted from the far left to the right. I look at bands like Underoath, actually any fucking cross licking band who plays a hardcore show, and I just bummed that all the shit we were signing about in the 90s didn’t mean shit. No one says anything about this, and its a huge bummer. Its like its cool to be hardcore and be into god, and really its an oxymoron to me. Call me narrow minded or whatever, but get outta here ya know? One of the main reasons why i got into hardcore was becasue of the politics behind it.

Me: So you are blaming losing interest in the scene because of christian hardcore?

Gordon Ball Photos: Ya, pretty much. I don’t want to be associated with it anymore. Its not the same as it was.

Me: But didn’t shooting bands help you get you where you are today? Like, since the punk and hardcore shit got mainstream, didn’t all the culture get dragged along with it?

Gordon Ball Photos: Ya that’s true. I cant argue that. The underground gets a lot of cred for being underground, and when the fat cats get their hands on it, they really take a hold of it. I went from shooting bands in basements to photographing shit for Nike. I am a bar code.

Me: You a corporate sheep?

Gordon Ball Photos: Baaaaaa.

Me: ok ok, back to photography. Is that all you have ever done?

Gordon Ball Photos: Ya pretty much. As long as I can remember.

Me: Anything you want to add to this?

Gordon Ball Photos: Ya actually I do. Hardcore is about friendship. All the bands I grew up shooting were good friends, and I pretty much still talk to everyone. Bands come thru Montreal and they still look me up for a place to crash or just for a plain old hang out. I met some of my best friends from traveling and playing shows, touring, and shooting bands. I am lucky that I found out about the core.

Check out more of Gordon Ball’s Photography at his website www.gordonballphotos.com

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