I’ve been a huge fan of Against Me! ever since I heard the “Rock Against Bush Vol 1” compilation by Fat Wreck and heard their track “Sink Florida, Sink”. I then delved into their collection and fell in love. They are a huge influence and I have the utmost respect for that band and in particular for Laura Jane Grace. My last LP “The Party We Came For” was named after a line in their song “Cliché Guevara”. I have them inked onto my skin and I will always be a huge fan.
A huge influence of mine and another band I have inked into my skin. I love The Menzingers’ records, but 2 particular gigs stand out for me when I think about The Menzingers. I saw them open for The Bouncing Souls at Moho (R.I.P) in Manchester in 2012, a tiny basement venue, just after “On The Impossible Past” was released I was just getting into them at the time, and that show was the start of a fruitful relationship between me and their music. Raw energy, great pop hooks and intense screeching vocals. I have attempted to cover many of their songs drunkenly around campfires over the past few years.
I’m not really sure I understand what “punk” officially is, everyone seems to try to decide for each other these days. But for me, Lady Gaga is punk as hell. I love her music, her ability to write amazing pop songs, her ability to put on an incredible show and I really respect the efforts she makes to make her music and her shows inclusive for absolutely everybody. She celebrates weirdness and I believe that act itself is one we should celebrate. She’s a huge influence for me.
I have always *liked* Bruce Springsteen, and his songs, but until last year I can honestly say I only knew about 20 of his songs. Despite loving everything I’d heard, I had never searched further into his discography for some strange reason until I read his recent autobiography “Born To Run”.
That book is now, for me, the book of all books. He tells us about his life and his career from the start to the present day and my god is it inspiring. At times, it has single handedly turned my spirits around from “ah why the hell do I try do this”, to “holy crap, there’s so much hard work for me do yet and I’m so ready for it!”.
It has kept me company on my past 4 European tours (I’m on my 3rd read now) and since have been listening to his discography on repeat, making up for the time I have wasted not listening to all of his music.
I love Regina Spektor, and everything she has ever done. From her garage punk lo-fi earlier records to her more polished recent releases, she exemplifies her versatility as a songwriter, a musician and a vocalist. Regina Spektor is actually a huge influence musically on my recent writing and what will eventually be my 4th full length album. She has opened my eyes to a new way of writing lyrics, with the way she approaches certain subjects and themes.
One song of hers that is hauntingly beautiful is a song from her album “Begin To Hope” called "Après Moi".
You will understand what I mean if you listen to that song, check it out.
NOFX are the kings of independent punk rock and, despite their strange ways and their constant need to cause controversy, they are a band I will always turn to during my darkest times. NOFX were the soundtrack to my high school days and introduced me to so many more bands through Fat Mike’s label Fat Wreck Chords.
Their series “NOFX: Backstage Passport” is absolutely hilarious and an example of exactly how *not* to behave on tour. I also think Fat Mike is a very underrated songwriter.
For me, his lyrics are up there with some of the greatest and NOFX’s pop hooks have always been an influence to me when writing.
It’d be rude for me not mention Frank Turner. Frank Turner was the first acoustic Singer/Songwriter I ever heard, that wasn’t a quiet, chilled out, background music kind of acoustic player. I didn’t know loud acoustic music existed.
I saw him live as support for Green Day in 2010 (when I was 15 years old) and he blew me away.
I was really getting into playing the guitar and writing songs myself at the time and I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said he is one of the main reasons that I decided to give it all a (proper) go, after seeing him entertain 30,000 people before Green Day played.
His album “Love, Ire & Song” is an album that I find myself returning to quite frequently, even after all these years.
Boohoo, Green Day are sell-outs and all that crap. I love Green Day and they were my ultimate first love in rock music. My Mum and Dad bought me “International Superhits” from a car-boot sale in 2002 and had that CD on repeat in my portable CD player at school for months on end. Then they brought out American Idiot a couple of years later and the rest was history.
I still claim that Green Day (along with McFly) initially taught me the basics of writing a song and I’d spend hours in my bedroom playing along to their songs on my crappy Westcoast electric guitar.
The Swellers are another pop-punk band that had a huge influence on my writing and the thing that stood out with them for me was the fact they weren’t a typical 4 chord punk band. They were a band that could really play their instruments, probably one of the most technically gifted pop-punk bands I’ve heard. I went through a solid year of listening to “Ups and Downsizing” literally every single day. It didn’t feel right if I went through a day without listening to it (although “My Everest” is now my overall favourite record of theirs).
They are now split up, and they somehow never made it “huge” like they should have, but they are a band I still listen to regularly and will always visit for song-writing inspiration. Oh, and I think it’s really awesome that frontman Nick Diener would played lead guitar too, as well as singing lead vocals. He is a super talented human being.
The Smith Street Band
The Smith Street Band are one of my favourite bands to watch live in the world. I love them on record too, but they are spectacular live. The energy and emotion in the room when they play is indescribable.
In 2014, I got tickets to see The Menzingers play at Gorilla in Manchester and The Smith Street Band were booked as main support on that tour. Although I had heard the name a lot, I had never listened to their music, but I had heard great things. I decided to stave from listening to their music and rely on the element of surprise at the show.
I met up with some non-music friends that I hadn’t seen for a while before the gig and we had a couple of drinks and a few smokes. Now I can handle my smokes well, but on this day we took it way too far and I was super-high before the gig. I had to leave them and make my way to the venue by myself. I was attending the gig by myself, but I knew there would be folk there that I knew. I was suffering from a state of paranoia and I was having a panic attack just walking through the streets of Manchester en route to the venue - it was a strange evening.
I got to the venue, watched the opener, went outside for a cigarette between bands and caught up with a few familiar faces, all whilst internally trying to convince myself that I wasn’t going to die (I clearly wasn’t, but again, it was a weird night). Then The Smith Street Band came on. I stood by myself, fixated on the stage, the band and their music and then it happened.
I still can’t describe what happened during that 40 minute set, but I just remember feeling pure ecstasy, amazement and awe at what I was witnessing and hearing. I had forgotten that I was even panicking in the first place and I was just enthralled with the energy coming from that stage and every song they played.
I will never forget that gig and I will listen to that band from now on, as long as they keep releasing music. Oh, and the Australian accent is just bloody awesome.
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