If you’ve seen even a handful of concert photos or publicity photos of bands, you know that music photography has a lot of cliches: Climactic moments under hot lights, teeming crowds with their hands in the air, indie-rock bands posing next to trees and bushes. A recently published book from photographer Spencer Wells takes a different approach to documenting a specific period in Wisconsin music. It’s called Forward, and the images Wells captures here are intimate, relaxed, and disarming. And there’s maybe a dash of playful pretension at work in the design and text that goes along with the photos in the book, but that also says something about the musicians that wells spent a lot of time documenting between 2010 and 2015—the “winsome rock” era, if you will. The subjects here include the rapper Milo, experimental percussionist Jon Mueller, and Eau Claire musician Adelyn Rose. Wells captured them playing scruffy basement shows, working in home studios, and taking walks. Wells took some time to talk about it with me in January.
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