Sydney-based photographer Jack Mannix has taken photographs of everyone from Marilyn Manson to the Spazzys, is supposedly Jets favourite photographer, and was nominated for the Best Photographer category of the recent Jack Awards. He also plays in a great three-piece scream-and-drum band called Kiosk, and has a record label in the works. The thing is, Jack Mannix is fifteen years old and only halfway through Year Eleven at high school. I had a Melbourne breakfast (in the afternoon) with the big kid.
How did you first get interested in music?
I've always been interested in music, but I don't think I ever really got serious it until '99 - the year that is, not the band. An older friend introduced me to Le Tigre and Riot Grrl, so that first got me into music properly. That was also around the time when I first started getting older friends.
How did you get older friends?
I always just hung out with the older kids at school, kids a couple years older than me. And I liked to go places by myself a lot, like the Glebe markets. I became friends with some people who used to have a stall there.
When did you start taking photographs?
That was probably about two years ago. A few of my friends were doing a photography course, and I decided to go along. And I liked it, so I kept going. The first paid thing I did was photos of Jet for Juice Magazine. This was quite a while ago and Jet weren't playing big venues, but the Annandale Hotel would let me in all the time, so whenever they had a show on I'd just go there. They knew I was underage.
Can you describe your style?
Most of the stuff I do is photo-journalistic, I don't do a lot of set up things. I do get hired by record companies to do photo shoots, but when I do I try to make them as photo-journalistic as possible - because I don't have many skills, so I can't do a lot!
What s one of the weirdest photo shoots you've ever done?
Actually I do a lot of impromptu photo shoots after shows, and I was doing one for the &%$# a year ago, they'd just played the Annandale. Afterwards I was just going to do one of &#%, upstairs in the bathroom because there's heaps of light. He told me to meet him up there in about ten minutes, so ten minutes later I went upstairs, and he was nowhere to be found. It's actually like a hotel up there, and I heard this creaking sound from one of the rooms, so I was like "Oh, yuck!" I kind of went to the other side of the corridor to wait for ten minutes, to see if it was actually him or if he was just running late. Then the drummer ran upstairs and he was really angry. He was like "Where the fuck is &$#%?" and I said, "I think he might be in there but I'm not really sure." He ran up to the door and kicked it open, and &$#% and this girl came out half naked. The drummer started throwing a chair and then a television and tables. He was just throwing things at &$#% and the girl and they weren't doing anything. He kind of stopped and ran downstairs and then &$#% was crying and the girl was cut and bleeding. But then we were walking downstairs and the girl was like "That was just so rock'n'roll!"
Do you think photography is going to be a career for you?
I don't know. I want to do music, that's what I want to do with my life, but I think I will continue to do photography for quite a while, because it's something that I've kind of established myself in anyway, and I keep getting work.
How did you first start making music?
This girl Angie came up to me at a show I was photographing, I was photographing the Dandy Warhols last year, cause she'd seen me photographing other bands, and asked if I would photograph her band [When You're Dead, You're Dead Forever]. I went along to a rehearsal and ended up joining the band.
How did that happen?
One of them, who is a compulsive liar, said they needed a keyboard player, but it turned out they actually didn't. But I joined anyway, and everyone else apparently had no idea that she'd asked me to join. They were very polite and didn't say anything until I was in the band for a few months, when they were like "So how did you join the band again?" I didn't really like that band very much, so I left it after about half a year.
What didn't you like about it?
I didn't like the music. And there were six people in the band, and I didn't get along very well with all of them. Then Angie and her friend Catherine started a band together and I came over to Angie's house one day uninvited while they were having a jam, so I joined in. It's weird; I've joined a lot of bands without really being asked to.
What instruments do you play?
I don't really play any instruments properly, but for the purposes of Kiosk I play guitar and drums and vocals.
Is there a musical philosophy for Kiosk?
Not really. None of us can really play our instruments very well so whatever we make is just because that's all we really can do.
What are your songs about?
I think we're more about rhythm than anything else, so we just try to think of words that fit the rhythm. A lot of the songs at the moment are about boys Angie and Catherine have been with.
Tell me about your record label.
It's Angie and I and it's called Romantic Records. We're recruiting bands at the moment for a series of split seven inches. I think Hit The Jackpot and Wolf and Cub from Adelaide are going to be on it. Also The Coolies from New Zealand.
Do you have any recording plans for Kiosk?
We're recording in August. We've had a lot of people saying they want to record us; we're just going to keep doing those recordings to see if we like any of them. Then we're going to release a split seven inch, hopefully early next year.
How often do you manage to go to high school?
I go most of the time, but lately I've been having a lot of days off. I'm not terribly enthusiastic when it comes to school. My mind is elsewhere, I can't concentrate easily.
Do you want to finish?
I think so. I don't really think about that sort of thing until it comes around. I think I might be going part-time next year. I'd have to change schools to do it, but it's like a TAFE high school, it's good for arts and I think it's three days a week over the course of three years instead of two.
Do you have any friends your own age?
I have a few; I just don't have as much in common with them as I do with my friends who are older than me. They're going through things that I'm not going through. Trying to work out what they want to do with their lives, and I'm pretty certain what I want to do. They're going through all these things that I don't care about, worried about social groups and parties and stuff.
Does being a child prodigy ever get lonely?
Not at all, because I do have a lot of friends, they're just older than me, I hang out with them as much as kids my age hang out with each other. I don't get lonely at all.