Today’s Life Is Like A Box Of Records is scribed by Ross Balsillie of Glasgow band Felix Champion.
You can find more about them here: felixchampion.com
The Dead Kennedys – Police Truck
The menagerie of musical influences that have guided my career so far can be easily traced – no bloodhounds needed here. Heavy beats and pounding bass emanated from my Uncle Andy’s room where I used to sneak up the stairs late at night and listen through the door to the Dead Kennedys ‘Police Truck’ or any of his more electronic original projects with ‘The Falkland Hill Yaks’ (https://myspace.com/falklandhillyaks). I think also this exposure to the Dead Kennedys probably shaped distrust in authority that carried onto my later musical loves.
Rage Against the Machine – Know Your Enemy
Carrying on with the political theme, my friends and I really got into Rage Against the Machine, quite a standard choice I know but an important one in my life and I’m sure at the time I thought it was quite audacious listening to my Dad’s copy of the self-titled album. Know Your Enemy was a favourite for our group of renegades and we would spend hours trying to play up to speed with the riffs, and pondering about that oh so fuzzy bass tone. Eventually, we mustered together a band that played mostly Rage covers and I remember fondly playing this track at an outdoor gig. No parents were pleased that day. Not even the Rage fans. Also, just recently found out Maynard from Tool did some vocals on it, what a guest to have in the studio!
The Foo Fighters – New Way Home
The bands I was in when I was young did mostly covers or originals in the very long shadows of our idols. One band in particular did a decent few Foo Fighters songs. ‘New Way Home’ from The Colour and The Shape was one of those beauties. This was the first Foo’s album I got and for the longest time I was obsessed with it (I still am). There’s just so much to it, and for me it straddled that line of some screaming but also that light rock/pop element in some songs that even Mums and Dads can nod their heads to on the school run.
Queens of The Stone Age – Tension Head
Another band that was insanely popular with my circle of friends (for all the right reasons) was Queens of the Stone Age. ‘Tension Head’ from Rated R was probably my favourite from that album for a long long time. The tone all over this song is just so dirty, everything just oozes sleaze and sometimes that’s just what you want the soundtrack to your grey school day to be.
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Water’s Edge
Nick Cave was another artist that I had heard raiding through my Uncle’s collection. I had first heard him on the soundtrack to the film Dumb and Dumber and again like the previous song, it was just so effortlessly cool, something that I think any under average height awkward teenager can really cling to (or hope to cling to just so some might rub off). ‘Water’s Edge’ from the album Push The Sky Away has the same visceral and foreboding tone that underpins a lot of my choices as well as somehow sounding intellectual and sophisticated at the same time.
The Eels – It’s A Motherfucker
The Eels have to be on this list somewhere. I mean, who doesn’t listen to at least one Eels track every 7 days like if somehow it was Mark Oliver Everett calling you after you had watched the video tape from The Ring? Daisies of the Galaxy is still an album that I go back to on a very regular basis. It’s so simple in essence and you think “Hey, that was an OK mostly acoustic album, I wonder why he’s so sad sounding all the time?”, but after you listen to their other work (Souljacker, Beautiful Freak, Electro-Shock Blues) and think retrospectively back, everything starts to click like it’s some kind of M Night Shyamalan twist ending that yields a collective “Ahh ok, NOW I get it” from the audience.
At The Drive-In – Invalid Litter Dept.
Like many other people (I frantically hope), my weird threesome romance with Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s voice and Omar Rodríguez-López’s guitar playing started with At The Drive-In’s Relationship of Command album. This was at the start of my degree and I had already started exploring post-hardcore with Drive Like Jehu’s Yank Crime album but At The Drive-In took first prize. There is just something awe-inspiring and brutal, but also poignant about the delivery of the out of tune vocals by Cedric that just lends itself so well to this diamond of a post-hardcore album. Critical moments for this are easily the screams towards the end of ‘Invalid Litter Dept.’ and at least once a week I have to hear Cedric screaming as if he is trying to scare the summoned demons back into the Ouija board after the newest Mars Volta album is finished.
Between the Buried and Me – Swim to the Moon
Now, while studying my degree, I joined a tech metal/mathcore band. This came straight after being exposed to the Colors album by Between the Buried and Me. While everyone was sitting their performance exams in 12 bar blues (you can meet me in any wresting ring of your choosing to try to justify to me why a 4th year student can play the same 3 chords for 45 minutes and still pass) I went the much more heroic route of mathcore. Suffice to say the lecturers who had been about since the 12th and hopefully final bar was added to the slightly over used blues formula, didn’t overly enjoy all those 16ths. Anyways ;Swim to the Moon; is from The Great Misdirect album by Between the Buried and Me and is just an absolute journey. Weighing in at a hefty 18 minutes, this song has everything. It also amazes me that nearly every album by this band tells a story that all links together in one huge Prog Metal Sci-Fi fable. I also think if I keep listening to it I might absorb the power to play it one day.
Bright Eyes – Make a Plan to Love Me
A bit of a soppy one here but I’ll not lie, this is definitely a track I can never get enough of ‘Make a Plan to Love Me’ by Bright Eyes is just a lovely, sombre, ethereal bowl of spiked punch at the school disco. Just drink it in, do your best robot impression and the night will be ace. I discovered Bright Eyes during my research into automatic writing. Conor Oberst is just an incredible song writer and really deserves to be a household name. Since finishing the dissertation that both tore into Rihanna’s cultural input with her track ‘S&M’ and praised the confused beat poets that left America due to their disgust in the nation long before it was cool to do so, I just couldn’t let go of Oberst.
Sucioperro – Random Acts of Intimacy
Lastly, probably the most influential artist to me on this list has to be the Glasgow-based Sucioperro. After listening to Random Acts of Intimacy online, I just had to see it live. There was something so genuine in the way the JP Reid wrote that really inspired me to start the project I’m in now. I’ve seen them a bunch of times now and even his new project Medals is just phenomenal. I can honestly say that he doesn’t have a bad song in his body and can’t recommend enough that everybody listens to any of the Sucioperro albums, EPs (I have them all) or singles (I have them all). Every song would do them justice but here is the title track from that album.
Thanks for reading, it means a lot for me to be asked to share my inspirations on here.
Please support your local scene and it will support you.
JP, if you read the same articles as us mortals, I salute you…please take me on tour.