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Punk Photographer Ed Colver Chats About his POW Releases and the Early Punk Era

mike_ness_framed_wood_print Framed Mike Ness image. Click photo for purchasing info.


For five years, Edward Colver photographed the Los Angeles punk rock scene we have all grown to know and admire-- or hate, depending on what side of the venue doors you chose to stand behind in. But for those in-the-know in the late 70s and early 80s, Ed Colver did the music world a dutiful act when he decided to photograph the early era of punk.

Between late 1978 and 1984, Colver acted as a major game-player in the scene, documenting the overall look and feel of an American counter culture quite unlike any before it. Fast, loud, sweaty, destructive, angry, bold and bloody, the images of Ed Colver will live on as relics from a a culture that continues to define and sculpt alternative ideals and personas.

Luckily for us, Ed Colver has graced POW-- and music lovers worldwide-- with a new print installment in his series featuring Social Distortion guitarist and frontman, Mike Ness.


HR of Bad Brains, also available for purchase. Click image for more info. HR of Bad Brains, also available for purchase. Click image for more info.


Prints on Wood: Your third release with POW is a shot of Mike Ness of Social Distortion. Can you talk about seeing Social D in the early days and what those past shows were like?

Ed Colver: I saw them numerous times and photographed them probably every time I saw them. They always put on a good show and they were always such a good band. I mean were just teenagers when they started out, ya' know. They worked wonders though, they did good. A lot of those types of bands that I was seeing, I'd just go seem them on a Tuesday night and there'd be 20-30 people there. It'd just be empty. And then by about 1983, Black Flag was drawing three thousand people at the Olympic and things changed.

POW: What do you think is the major reason the scene changed so rapidly, so fast?

EC: Well it kind of came above ground. It still wasn't socially accepted, but it got recognized and more people came in; It got publicity. I mean Black flag tirelessly toured the country in a van playing anywhere they could for years. They had more work ethic than anyone I'd ever met, just about.

POW: I've been reading around, and it seems you have some thoughts on bands that were coming up around that same time, but got lumped into the punk category--

EC: This always gets me: People go 'are you into New-Wave' and I go 'fuck no I'm into punk rock.' They would be used in the same sentence which is just ludicrous because they have nooothing to do with each other. People call Blondie and Talking Heads punk rock and it's just like [laughs] no. It's funny. It's always been strange that they'd got lumped together. Maybe they rooted their ugly heads at the same time, but that's it [laughs].

POW: You are one of very few people able to say they photographed the album covers of some of punk rock's most important bands. Can you talk a little bit about some of your favorites?

EC: Black Flack Damaged, Black Flag Louie Louie, Circle Jerk's Group Sex, the first TSOL album, those are all ones I'm real happy with. 45 Grave, I did some nice stuff for them. Channel 3 with the backward gun, that was actually done for Black Flag's Damaged when I was working on it and it didn't get used-- the Channel 3 Fear of Life cover with the bad graphics [laughs].




POW: Do you have a database of images that maybe didn't fly with band members or labels at the time, but that you look back on now with fond thoughts?

EC: Yeah, I'm still finding stuff from bands that I photographed and never even looked at. Like I was never into English punk music and I photographed The Exploited and the UK Subs and a couple of those bands and I never even looked at them. There are some really, really funny photos of the UK Subs though since I shot 'em when they were teenagers also.

POW: You've done two other releases with Prints on Wood including HR from Bad Brains and a Keith Morris shot which I especially love.

EC: Thanks. He chose that one in particular actually. I have others that I like better; but he chose that one so we went with it.


keith_morris_edward_colver_print_on_wood Keith Morris image, also available for purchase. Click image for more info.


POW: How did that decision come about?

EC: He kind of just decided on that one. He just said 'I'd like to use this one,' so I said ok.

POW: You seem to be an extremely easy person to work with.

EC: [Laughs] Yeah i just get along great with him really well. I've known him for over half, actually, maybe two-thirds of his life probably.

POW: Looking back on your 5-year-run of punk photography, what words do you have about your role now decades removed?

EC: This stuff has become history, ya' know. It was a total underground culture of people that weren't recognized.  Being involved in that real early era was the same as being in the Beat Generation movement or the early Hippe, Anti-War movement-- those types of people, it was the same thing.

Available until December 1st, Ed Culver's Mike Ness release is obtainable through POW as a 12 x 15.5 in., framed or un-framed fine art print on birch wood. You can purchase it by clicking here.

mike-ness_edward_colver_wood_print Un-framed Mike Ness image. Click photo for purchasing info.