Katriina Etholén: A Year With The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing

On the 9th of March 2018 my photo book about The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing was released – by coincidence on the same day when the band released their fourth album. This was my first own book so I take now a liberty to advertize it shamelessly as you can still buy it. I photographed the band at 15 concerts and got an idea to make a book. I continue photographing them.

1. The Men at The Forum, Royal Tunbridge Wells
The Forum, Royal Tunbridge Well, 5 November 2016.

I wrote a short story in a book about finding the band and what happened then. I replicate it here:

My journey with The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing began quite by accident in the autumn of 2015. About a year earlier I had heard the song ‘Brunel’ whilst searching for something about I. K. Brunel on YouTube. Despite loving the song, I thought that it must have been some kind of musical project by engineering students, as opposed to an actual rock band.

Fast forward to September 2015, I was photographing an American artist during his UK tour. Seven days, seven gigs. After the last concert the guitarist of his backing band asked me what I was going to do after the tour. “Visiting a couple of pumping stations”, was my answer. He asked if I knew the one by the River Thames, the Crossness Pumping Station. Of course I knew of it. It turned out that his own band have a Crossness related song, and he mentioned that they also have a song about Brunel. Only on the next day I realized what he was talking about. Brunel? Didn’t I hear a song about Brunel sometime earlier? I had to do some research. Yes, the guy was talking about The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing and yes, they definitely ARE a real rock band.

I wanted to know more. And the more I learned, the more interested I became. I realized that this is my kind of band. They write and perform songs about things I am interested in and the songs are humorous whilst still having meaning, and they contain catchy melodies. I also realized that the band seem to have strong opinions about social issues and what’s even better, our values are very similar. This all reminded me of my youth in Finland. In those days it was important that the music you were listening to had meaning, and naturally you could only listen to bands that shared your values. And besides all this, the appearance of the band is fantastic! Before I realized it, I was booking flights to go and see them on their UK tour.

And as always, if I do something I do it properly. During one year, from 2015 to November 2016 I managed to see them fifteen times. I have always seen the world best through a camera lens. If I cannot photograph in a concert, I lose something of the experience. I loved to photograph The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing. Little by little, it started to build up into some kind of a project and by the end of 2016 the idea of a photo book began to develop in my mind.

2. The Men at National Space Centre
National Space Centre, Leicester, 12 November 2016.

That’s what I wrote in the book. To transform the idea into the real thing was something else. My first attempt was getting nowhere. I had worked on the photo material for a long time and it seemed that the book would not happen at all. But as I had edited photos, I wanted to do something with them. The result was a mock book that was made in a photo lab in Helsinki. This was in the spring 2017. I showed the result to the band members and I was told that it should be turned into a real book. So I started work on the project, this time for real. In the course of the project there were lots of frustration and fears of not concluding it. But my good friend Dave Renegade kept my spirits alive and helped with texts.

3. The Men at Islington O2 Academy
Islington O2 Academy, London, 18 November 2016.

The mock book was my starting point. I just needed to make it better. I removed some of the original photos and added new ones. On Dave Renegade’s recommendation I asked Dave Twist to finish the cover design. Why I hadn’t thought him earlier, as I know Mr. Twist! So now I had a right person to do the final cover design. My friends Andy Marland and Aimo Hyvärinen were ready if I needed photo related advice and Andy Heintz wrote a short story about band’s activities during that one year period.

I had originally planned to publish the book myself, but finally it was published by Daniel H.W. Hayton. He is specialized on industrial heritage stuff, so this must have been a new thing for the publisher.

4. The Men at The Engine Shed
The Engine Shed, Lincoln, 13 November 2016.

The book (limited to 200 copies for sale) was released on the 9th of March 2018 on the eve of the band’s 2018 UK tour. Because of the big hurry to get it finished by the tour, I had no chance to see the final product until I went to the gig. When Andrew O’Neill said to me – before I had even seen a glimpse of the book myself – that I should be proud of it, I knew I had done something right.

After the last gig of the 2018 tour Andrew said to me: “You can’t stop now, can you?” Well, I guess he was right, as I will be there again this April, with my old school film camera and a hope of catching some of the action.

If you are interested in this 76-page book, you can still buy it at a price of £20 [new, reduced price] at the gigs or on the band’s Bandcamp site.

© Katriina Etholén

Below the pictures there are some lovely comments about the book starting with nice words quoted from Dave Renegade’s foreword.

5. The Men at Stereo
Stereo, Glasgow, 25 November 2015.
6. The Men at The Engine Shed
The Engine Shed, Lincoln, 13 November 2016.

In this book she combines both her love of music, and her passion for the Victorian age in general, and the Industrial Revolution in particular………much like the subject of the book itself The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing.

The combining of these two interests is the reason that you are now holding this book in your hands…..it is a visual historical record capturing a year of in the life and work of both Katriina and that of the band itself. To be treasured… – Dave Renegade, musician

*

Over the course of two tours and a handful of standalone shows in 2015-2016, Katriina was given (almost) unfettered access to the band, as they toured their way around the UK.

She was often already at the venues as the band loaded in, and would spend sound check time trying to work out the lighting and planning what she would shoot. No colour pics, no digital and no video footage, these are all shot the old-fashioned way – on film and live without a safety net. The results speak for themselves. A wonderful pictorial diary for the band themselves, but also we hope, an interesting curio for fans of the band as well as for anyone with an interest in grizzled old rockers who don’t know enough to quit when they are ahead. – Jez Miller, drummer in The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing

*

Uniquely captures the spirit of a band on the road, in an original yet timeless fashion. – Matty James Cassidy, musician

*

This photographic story is a fantastic trip to the strange world of The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing. It’s rare to witness how one can capture the spirit of a band, any band, like Katriina has managed to do in this unique book. No wonder though – it’s not often you get to read about finding a favorite band through mutual interest in Victorian pumping stations! 

Katriina knows what she does – as she always do, be it photographing the Finnish punk scene in the 80’s, writing and photographing of Nikki Sudden & friends in the 90’s or The Men today – and makes this year with The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing truly fascinating year. Highly recommended! – Mikko Jokela, Kevin Junior archivist

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Got your book today! Holy crap! It is GORGEOUS! The photos are GREAT! The atmosphere is UNIQUE! I just miss the sound… – Jacopo Brancati, photographer

*

Katriina’s book has captured The Men brilliantly and really suits the style of music. Love the book. Really great photographs, by a fan for a fan. – Gordon Lancaster, music fan

7. The Men at The Ruby Lounge
The Ruby Lounge, Manchester, 24 November 2015.

Big thanks to Jez Miller, Andy Heintz, Marc Burrows and Andrew O’Neill. Without you  my life would have been far more boring.

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