At Home with Nathaniel Shannon (St. Vitus Bar: The First Ten Years)

At Home with Nathaniel Shannon (St. Vitus Bar: The First Ten Years)

A conversation with the NY photographer about compiling a massive book documenting the history of an already iconic venue.

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Last year, I was invited to write an essay for a book that aimed to document the first ten years of operation of one of the most special places in the world to me, the iconic St. Vitus in Brooklyn. I immediately stopped what I was doing (trans: I didn’t have anything going on) and penned an uncharacteristically sentimental ode to this incredibly important venue. Now, the book, St. Vitus Bar: The First Ten Years, is nearing completion and will see a release later this year. So today I present you with an interview with Nathaniel Shannon, who has done the yeoman’s work of assembling this giant collection.

Nathaniel is a photographer who shot a lot of the photos that appear in the book. He also conducted interviews, collected show flyers, and wrangled essays and photos from dozens of artists to tell the story of the first decade of operation of Vitus, which has hosted a truly daunting and diverse list of acts from Megadeth to Against Me! to American Football to uhhh Nirvana (if you count that). It was an arduous labor of love that took him almost three years. (And fun fact for anyone who has read my book, SELLOUT: My scrupulous editor Kate Napolitano also worked on this project, so you know it will be of the highest quality.)

Nathaniel and I talked about the joys and grievances of self-publishing, competing with every photographer on Instagram, and learning a process by doing everything the wrong way. We also spoke a bit about the life of a documentarian and the FOMO-fueled compulsion that comes with it. He said something that I wrote down because I’m one of those guys who likes to jot things down so that I can repeat them later and pass them off as my own wisdom to sound smart. “Just be there, because you never know what’s gonna happen.”

The Vitus book Kickstarter is closing soon!!! This week in fact! Back it right now if you want to make sure you get your copy when it’s released at the end of the year. After that, you can hopefully get any leftover copies from the St. Vitus webstore, but do you really want to take that risk? I am putting it in writing that I will try my best to get my hands on a few copies to give away to you lovely REPLY ALT subscribers when it’s available.

St. Vitus Bar: The First Ten Years

Here is a page from the book about the fabled Descendents show there, which I had a small part in facilitating. The “some people” Bill Stevenson references, that’s me. I’m some people. (Side note: This show was so unbearably hot that the woman next to me fainted before the band even went on. Good times.)

And a page about a band I will be forever linked to, the Armed. Of course, thanks to my recent piece of iconic journalism on them, we now know that the name Adam Vallely is bullshit.


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