Michael Grecco, punk rock photographer
Michael Grecco picked the right time to be in Boston. As an undergraduate photojournalism student at BU, he began scouting The Hub clubs with his camera and soon began receiving pitches from the mainstream and alternative press. Working for various media, magazine and radio stations, Grecco captured great images on camera of him at concerts like Talking Heads, Ramones, The Cramps, Dead Kennedys, David Bowie or The Clash. Visual evidence of his time in Boston can be seen reflected in one of his books Punk Post Punk New Wave: Onstage, Backstage, In Your Face, 1978-1991, an impressive collection of the best of his photographs. in black and white. Currently, he is exhibiting his work where he shows the glory days of the punk movement, post punk and New Wave. The Days of Punk exhibition was first shown at Photo London and is currently on display around the world.
– What influence did music have on you and where does your passion for photography come from?
My passion for both came at a very young age. My mother was a jazz singer before she married my dad. She sang around the house all the time, and played records. Music was infectious in our home. I found out about photography at summer camp, learning the darkroom, processing film and making prints. I was hooked on the magic of the process there.
– How were your beginnings as a photographer in the early days of punk? What was the concert that impacted you the most?
I was a freelancer for the Associated Press, covering news events in Boston. Previously, I was a big Jazz listener when I was living in New York. After being in Boston for a bit, one night I ventured into The Rathskeller in Kenmore Square and wound up at the Boston Battle of the Bands. I fell in love with a local band, La Peste. From then on, I worked news and political stories during the day for the Associated Press, and eventually The Boston Herald News. At night I became a club kid, hanging out with all the bands and shooting for Boston Rock Magazine and the legendary FM radio station WBCN.
– At that time in Boston, were there other photographers doing the same thing as you, photographing the punk scene?
Yes, I have a few friends from that era that are great photographers in their own right. For me though, I was very lucky to have been trained by some amazing documentary photographers at my “day” job. It gave me an incredible skill set that not only included some good photo techniques, but also gave me the ability to infiltrate situations. Being part of the scene, friends with all the local hipsters, DJs and musicians, gave me even more access.
– Which photos in your book are your favorites and which are you most proud of?
Since I am so draw to portraits, I love the vertical portrait of Billy Idol in the corner of the backstage area at the Paradise Club. I am also drawn to the horizontal portrait of Poison Ivy with her hands up around her eyes.
– To end the interview, we would like to know, which current band or artist would you like to take photos of at their concert?
I have been getting into a few girl bands lately, including Le Tigre, Wet Leg, and The Linda Lindas. I have a video series I am doing for the Days of Punk museum exhibitions in Malaga and Lisbon, called “What is Punk”. I want to shoot at least two of those bands for the series sometime soon!
We thank you for the interview you have given us. We wish you much success in your future projects.
Interview by: J. Lucas