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21 May 2014

Life Is Like A Box Of Records: Michael Palmer (We Were Promised Jetpacks)

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Some time ago I was sitting on a bus with a token playlist of songs that had influenced my life in some way or another. Being somewhat refreshed, I started thinking of all the times that these songs had become significant and thought, wouldn’t it be an excellent idea to delve into other people’s ‘Life Record Boxes’.

Today is the turn of Michael Palmer of We Were Promised Jetpacks. To find out more about them please visit: wewerepromisedjetpacks.com

Leftfield – Release The Pressure

As a kid I would get all my music from my parents. My mum got a row from my Gran once when she caught me singing ‘Teenage Kicks’ as a toddler. But the first stuff I really latched onto as a teenager was all electronic and Leftfield was my first ever favourite band. That double percussion hit before the beat comes in after all that intro (at 2:46 in the video) just blew my wee mind.

The Chemical Brothers – Hey Boy Hey Girl

Still maybe the best fucking song of all time. I can listen to it on an infinite loop. It’s utterly magical. As a wee boy in my early teens I wanted desperately to know how it was possible to make something like that. I still don’t know. Will I ever?

Fatboy Slim – Gangster Trippin

I was in school one day and someone had found/been shown the original song the sample was from. I looked it up just now and it’s ‘You Did It’ by Ann Robinson. I remember having an argument when he kept insisting that Fatboy Slim had ripped the song off, and I was trying to explain what ‘sampling’ meant. I can’t remember who the argument was with. In fact, the song might have been Rockafeller Skank. It was Fatboy Slim for sure though.

Radiohead – Paranoid Android

Holy fuck, you can do shit like this WITH GUITARS? I didn’t realise that you could make guitar music that wasn’t as awful as Oasis. I had a new favourite band now.

Bloc Party – Always New Depths

It was either this song or ‘This Modern Love’, but I went for this one. I was trying to figure out how to play guitar in a band for the first time. I didn’t really know what you were supposed to do, I didn’t want to just play chords and I didn’t want to play solos. So I ended up copying Russell from Bloc Party. He’d found the secret formula for doing both and neither of those things.

The Longcut – A Last Act Of Desperate Men

I was at a T in the Park, and it was back in the days when you could just wander about and watch bands. The folk I was with were off to see something I wasn’t into, and I’d heard a Longcut song on MTV2 one night at like 4 in the morning. Remember that? Coming home from a night out and putting MTV2 on and watching weird music and writing the good stuff in your phone? Anyway, I’d heard a song by The Longcut and saw them on the T in the Park listings so went along and they blew the tits right off my chest. From a selfish point of view, here’s this guy (Lee Gale) going mental stuff on a guitar. So simple and subtle, but dynamic and so organically loud. Figured it was worth seeing if I could copy him. Saw this band 6 or 7 times in the space of a couple of years, literally every time they came up to Glasgow or Edinburgh.

Frightened Rabbit – Square 9

I started going out with my girlfriend in March 2006. That month I met a bunch of her pals and her brother was going to a gig in Nice N Sleazy that his friend was playing, so we went so I could meet her brother. His pal’s band were on after a band called Frightened Rabbit. I still have the ticket for that show in a drawer somewhere. Anyway FR played this song last and the place shook. Back when they were a three-piece. Apparently Billy had only recently joined. It was interesting to see what being a good band actually felt like after they were done. The way the room felt different than it did before.

The Twilight Sad – Talking With Fireworks

I saw them for the first time at Connect Festival, and then at Cab Vol in Edinburgh for a show the day after, when everyone was hungover. This was another selfish guitar one. Another “oh right, you can DO THAT?” moment. “You can make a guitar sound like that?!”

Outkast – Spottieottiedopaliscious

This is just me in a very specific moment. I’m riding shotgun, E-Rey is driving, it’s late, it’s dark. Sunflower seeds and cookies.

Bear Hands – What A Drag

My band did a tour with this band a couple of years ago. They’re my favourite band to watch live. I would watch them each and every night. Each show I could focus on a different member of the band. “Tonight, I’m only going to watch Val” and really appreciate the bass. “Tomorrow, I’ll watch TJ” and really appreciate the drums. I also did a bunch of remixes for them where I realised how great Dylan’s voice is. It’s got so much in there, so much going on. Anyway, Ted the guitar player is the latest guy I’m trying to steal from. He’s all groove and melody. Feel free to try and steal from him because you can’t. Trying to play like Ted is like trying to dance like Michael Jackson. You’ll just look like a bad imitation. Though you’ll still look pretty cool.

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