11 Aug 2015

Black Gives Way To Blue

Hello again, readers, non-readers and picture-watchers.

The slowest writer on the internet is back with a brand new post… finally!

It’s really been a while since the last time I updated this blog, and it’s been even longer since these actual pictures were shot – more than a year, in fact.

I had a hard time trying to remember how I came up with this outfit because, damn, it was so long ago (LOL). Anyway, after spending some time interrogating my brain for clues, I was able to reconstruct my thought process with more or less accuracy… or perhaps I made it all up?

You’ll never know ;)

I was planning to make a short daytime trip to the city in the early days of June, so I wanted to wear something casual, comfortable and not too heavy, because, as you might already know, June in Spain can get really hot.

I was still pretty much under the influence of the Hillbilly Friday vibe, and, naturally, my thoughts were heading in that same direction. For a start, I picked my Motor Rebel sleeveless T-shirt and combined it with a pair of dark grey/blue MNG jeans. Following the Hillbilly Friday scheme, I also grabbed this second-hand blue plaid shirt and put it on top.

The proto-outfit was really simple, so I kept searching for ways to spice it up. Since I didn’t have much time, my idea was basically to create a new look reusing pieces from my previous outfits that I had scattered around my room.

Of course, that was easier said than done.

I tried a few things, but, in the end, I found myself struggling to find a concept… just as usual (LOL). After a while of attempting and failing, I felt like giving up.

I sat in the bathroom, wearing nothing but my underwear, and waited for inspiration to tell me what to do next. At one point, I looked at the pile of discarded black, grey and indigo clothes and said to myself: “Heh, heh… Black gives way to blue”. All of a sudden it dawned on me: I had accidentally come up with a concept.

I put my Motor Rebel T-shirt and grey jeans back on and started thinking about ways to develop my newfound theme. I though about the Black Gives Way To Blue album and its complex sonic architecture; about the contrast between the brutal attack of the distorted guitars and the elaborate neo-classical Queen-style layering, and the way the band made it all sound so unquestionably organic.

I kept in mind the album booklet picture where Jerry, Will, Sean and Mike are portrayed casually sitting in a somewhat shabby-looking castle-like hall, dressed in various hues of black, with some grey and denim blue thrown in the mix. I’ve always thought that this image sums up the backstory of the record quite well – the story of a band laid to rest long before its time, rising from its ashes fifteen years later, aged, but not necessarily older; scarred, but not necessarily bitter; changed, but not necessarily different.

I tried to imagine how I would draw myself into that context, and I came up with a few ideas.

For a start, I picked the scarf from my Denim & Stripes outfit and tied it in a bow, just like I did back then. It turned out to be exactly the thing I’d been looking for. It wasn’t the most heat-friendly solution… but, then again, a great look requires sacrifices ;)

I would have liked to add something like a livery or a tail coat on top in order to reinforce the outfit’s neoclassical spirit, but I didn’t find anything that suited that idea – at least not in that very specific colour scheme – so I dropped it and went back to my initial plaid shirt. It didn’t look bad after all, and it certainly added some much needed grunginess to the overall picture.

At that point, I was faced with my usual dilemma: hat or uncovered head? I was tempted by the latter option for a second, but then I thought that my outfit was already too minimalistic to go without a hat, so I just kept following my Hillbilly Friday logic.

I didn’t have much choice in the cowboy hat department, so I went for the black cotton hat I had previously worn with my Bite It look. I wondered whether I should leave the brim unbuttoned, but I finally decided to clasp it to the sides, in order to give it a more cowboyish feel. In that position, the hat positively resembled a tricorn, which eventually made me look like an American Revolutionary War soldier – a grungefied version of an American Revolutionary War soldier, that is.

[I know that The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is set in the Civil War instead of the Revolutionary War, but this song still suits the spirit of my oufit pretty well :P]

Finding the right shoes was a bit of a problem (isn’t it always?). Once again, there weren’t many viable options, so I ended up reusing the trainers from my Hillbilly Friday outfit. I was actually surprised to see how well they matched the jeans – these trainers just seem to match everything (LOL).

I added some of my Hillbilly Friday bracelets as a bonus, so my wrists wouldn’t be left unadorned. I discarded the tribal-looking pair and just kept the most badass ones.

I didn’t have my nails painted this time, and that allowed me to adjust my nail polish choice to the actual outfit. I had an experimental nail art idea that involved fusing black and dark blue by using a cracked black top coat, but it didn’t work out the way I expected, so, in the end, I had to settle for a more standard metallic midnight blue nail polish. Not that you could tell the difference on the pictures anyway ;)

In the end, I totally succeeded at reproducing the colour scheme of the Black Gives Way To Blue album cover, with the overall look blending in with the textured black/blue background and the American flag on the T-shirt echoing the central white, blue and magenta heart illustration. That last part was unintentional, but I have to say I’m very satisfied with how the elaborate game of colours and textures turned out.

My trip to the city was alright: I bought myself a nice amount of nail polish, and I also paid a visit to the music department, where I got the AC/DC Live album (not to be confused with Live At River Plate, which I also have :P) and Depeche Mode’s Ultra – a criminally underrated musical gem of the 90s.

The truly unexpected find of the day, however, was this:

The doggy was the only studio album missing from my Alice collection. I had been hoping to find it ever since my birthday, but it never seemed to be in stock. In the end, it found me in one of those old-fashioned stores that only sell records – how about that, progress? I came in there looking for John 5 CDs (you have to look for them in specialized record stores because the big retailers ignore John 5’s existence in this part of the globe) and walked out with this beautiful surprise instead.

Not bad, huh? ;)

[Who said cats and dogs couldn't get along? ;)]

I reused this outfit on the very next day, to see a band play at local pub in my village (which, by the way, was the first and last concert to be carried out there, as far as I know). The idea was to have an insight into the local live scene (where I was still hoping to perform at some point), but I have to admit that the conclusion was rather discouraging.

The band in question was one of those typical all-purpose ensembles that play covers of all-time classics in a completely standartized and un-innovative way – stuff like Elvis, Bob Dylan, The Beatles… and Nancy Sinatra, naturally – never forget These Boots Are Made For Walking! The group was formed almost entirely of men well into their 40s (not that that is necessarily a bad thing), with a couple of younger girls to sing backing vocals and fill in for some female parts. The singing was awful and the repertoire was boring. It seemed like everything that was not a mid-tempo country-tinted tune (which is exactly how they made EVERY SONG sound) had been outlawed – and it’s not that I have anything against country music in the first place (obviously LOL).

I kept subconsciously hoping that they would kick into Sludge Factory at some point, but it never happened – not that they would have been capable of pulling that off anyway.

The audience, however, seemed to be beyond thrilled with it all.

The place was totally packed with drunken locals who danced and sang along to every song, and who considered it their god-given assignment to stare at my cowboy hat every time they walked past me – which happened all the time, because I was coincidentally sitting right in front of the restrooms. Some of them even made jokes about it, because… naturally. The easiest way to freak people out in Spain is to put on a cowboy hat – I can guarantee you that.

I returned home feeling depressed and frustrated. It was clear that the grungy broodiness of my repertoire had no chance of appealing to that party-loving crowd, and, to be honest, I almost preferred it this way.

I guess that Spain’s almost non-existent live music scene and I are simply not meant to get along.

[Here you can see me in a brown-tinted variation of this look while posing with the CD I had gotten on the mail that very same day – an extremely lovely gift from my Japanese colleagues, the grunge band D.O.G.S. You would be amused to know that I was actually wearing purple pyjama shorts instead of pants, but we'll keep that between us, OK? ;)]

Anyway, my busy June activities did not end there.

I wore this outfit yet again for a night out one week later.

It wasn’t a great deal of an outing, really. The evening was VERY hot – way hotter than I had expected – and my friends and I basically spent hours walking around, trying to find a place to eat. There was some important football match going on, so every bar was packed and noisy like hell.

We ended up eating at our usual pizza restaurant and finished the night with some Hawaiian cocktails; you know – the typical stuff.

Aside from having some of the ugliest cocktail glasses on the planet, this specific Hawaiian bar also offers free popcorn snacks with your drink, which is more than enough to turn me into a faithful client. It’s all good, as long as you get there early enough – there’s nothing more disappointing than walking all the way up to the place just to discover they’ve run out of corn LOL

[Errr... LOL]

On the train home next morning I saw this impressive woman, and, naturally, I had to shoot a picture of her – I hope she doesn’t mind (LOL). She was sitting there, with her son’s sport bag under her seat, wearing this animal print suit like it was no big deal. It was nice not being the most extravagant person in the train, for a change ;)

The thing that truly motivated me to immortalize her with my phone, however, was her hairstyle. Doesn’t it remind you of anyone...?

Well... That’s one truly weird coincidence :D

I rounded up my unusually active month with an emergency shopping excursion to the beautiful town of Gavà (note the sarcasm in that italic).

[Did I accidentally get off in Mexico? LOL]

June was already half-way through, and I was caught up in the preparations for my upcoming trip to Germany. Did I forget to mention that? ;) Oh, well… I won’t be giving you any more details that right now, but don’t worry – I’ll explain EVERYTHING on my next post ;)

I needed to find a pair of trainers I could spend almost 24 hours in, which meant they had to be extremely comfortable, not too heavy and, preferably, water-friendly.

For a start, we paid a visit to one of those wonderful Chinese dollar stores. It wasn’t really a part of the master plan, but we couldn’t miss the chance to take a look inside.

This Chinese dollar store was particularly HUGE. It was almost a hypermarket! It had everything, from clothes, to home décor, to… everything (LOL). Walking among those shelves was too much fun. I even shot a few pictures of my favourite landmarks, including the amazing plastic flower wall and the plaster cast putti sculptures (I would have loved to get one, but I decided against it, after considering the alarming lack of free space in my house).

I didn’t stop myself from buying this truly amazing kitsch crucifix, though ;)

Back in the clothing department, I found this nice denim cap with a star embroidered in silver paillettes – only €2.99 y’all! Baseball caps are not exactly a fixture in my closet, but this one was definitely worth it.

[Hasta la vista, baby]

The most amazing find, however, were these THREE awesome cowboy hats. There was a whole shelf full of them, in different sizes and colours. I picked the ones that looked less damaged and that fit in better with my wardrobe. The grey hat is a little bit too small for me (I’m still trying to figure out what to do about that), but the other two are just great. There’s no way you’ll ever see me without a cowboy hat again LMAO

…just kidding ;)

After our visit to Dollar Store Wonderland, we moved on with our search for the perfect pair of trainers around the local shoe shops. We found absolutely nothing, but we weren’t really expecting to, so I can’t say that was a big disappointment.

Fortunately, there was still a place left unexplored: the shopping mall.

We took a quick look through Bershka, and left empty-handed, naturally. All the clothes in there were plain awful, with styles ranging from girly hipster to Tumblr-grunge. Basically, it was all about bleached and destroyed denim and faded California/US T-shirts – the type of stuff you would most probably encounter in a Lana Del Rey video. Their shoes were just as awful as everything else, but I wasn’t going to give up just so easily.

We moved on to the Shana outlet next door and that was it. It took me just a few minutes to come across the exact trainers I’d been looking for. Literally. As soon as I saw these blueish/grey high-top trainers I knew they were the thing I needed. The quality is nice, and they didn’t cost more than €10, which is the average amount of money I usually find acceptable to spend on shoes LOL

In the end, I got my trainers… and this cool butterfly print indigo scarf as a nice extra :)

[Cats always want to be in the picture ;)]

Finding the right location for this potoshoot was a little tricky.

I didn't have any specific idea about where I wanted to shoot or what kind of location I could use. To make things worse, the location of my Hillbilly Friday photoshoot was really, really hard to top. That's a problem I keep facing, apparently, since I can't stop myself from wanting to take things further and further every time LOL

Stray (my photographer and adventure partner) and I discussed the issue for a while until an internet search put us on the path of this amazing abandoned villa, which happened to be only a couple of kilometres away.

Interestingly enough, I had vaguely considered the idea of using some abandoned building as a backdrop for this specific photoshoot, but I couldn't really come up with any, so I had just dropped it.

...and yet the concept seemed to be quite perfect.

Driving to the place was pretty quick, but once we got to the end of the road we still had to walk for quite a while. I tried to use my phone's GPS to make sure we were on the right path, but, as usual, the damn thing didn't work – talk about the overwhelming infallibility of smartphone technology.

We walked past a couple of vineyards and found ourselves at the door of a traditional local cuisine restaurant. There was only a narrow path we could follow from there – one that was leading us right into the forest – and that's exactly what we did.

As we began our expedition into the unknown, we heard something rather unusual. It sounded like Smoke On The Water, even though it was too distorted by the distance to know for sure. Apparently, somebody was throwing a party in the backyard of one of the houses not-so-nearby. The volume over there must have been really crazy, considering we were at least one km away from the actual place LOL

As we got nearer, Smoke morphed into Hell's Bells. Both songs were replayed several times, mixed in with more 80s rock and pop, as well as some other stuff that was not quite so good.

Anyway, I have to say that was a pretty amazing soundtrack to shoot to :P

We kept walking down the track as the music started to slowly fade away, until we were left alone in the silence of the countryside. As we progressed with our quest for the abandoned country villa with absolutely no technological aid, we came across this interesting abandoned structure, and, even though it wasn't a part of the master plan, we took a look inside.

As soon as we walked into the main hall, we were struck with the view of this incredible green light.

All the windows were completely covered in vegetation, which, at that very precise moment of the day, worked as an amazing lamp screen. It was beyond spectacular.

The house had turned out to be way bigger than we had expected upon entering. The structure looked pretty damaged, but not to the point of being dangerous... or that's what we hoped, anyway LOL

The ceiling had collapsed in a few spots, revealing a second floor that, unfortunately, was inaccessible. We did, however, gain access to the attic, though a brick staircase that still seemed pretty solid.

We also took our time to explore the exterior and the stable (at least, it looked like a stable to me LOL). There was so much vegetation it almost felt like being underwater.

There was a ghostly aura to the whole place. It was like the Sleeping Beauty castle... with lots of swastikas spray-painted on it LOL

It was hard to leave such a magical place, but we still had to find the actual villa we'd come to shoot at.

We kept walking down the path for about a couple km until we realized something was wrong. We were approaching civilization again, which was totally impossible, since the villa we were looking for had to be strictly in the middle of fucking nowhere.

We tried to figure the situation out for a while until we finally understood that the place we were looking for was, in fact, the place we were coming from.

Holy shit! It was true!

Thinking about it, we recognized the front door and the arch windows on the attic. We had seen pictures of them on the Internet... what was missing from them was the jungle that had taken over the building during the (many?) years since those pictures were actually shot!

As soon as we realized, we turned around and walked all the way back.

The magical green light was already gone, but that didn't mean we couldn't take a few more pics ;)

On our way home, we passed the restaurant again, only this time the path was leading us directly into its backyard. There was nothing special in there... aside from three huge containers full with (empty) champagne bottles, right in the middle of the freakin' forest.

A bizarre vision to put an end to a pretty bizarre trip :)

T-shirt: Bershka
Jeans: MNG
Trainers: Alma en Pena
Hat: Natura
Scarf: Tex
Shirt: vintage
Bracelets: flea market / unkonwn
Bag: unknown