Sunday, 17 June 2012

Influences

I've been pondering the music I've listened to over the years that may have influenced me, although I'm still not sure what music I want to make. Anyway, here's a rundown of the 'tracks of my years' (or something like that).

I didn't really get into music until my mid teens. Before that I heard whatever was on the radio (generally Radio 2 at home) plus some assorted records that my parents owned. So I got a fair bit of exposure to a lot of 'easy listening' music. I watched Top of the Pops, so I knew what was out there.

At some point I got into ELO. I had their Time album, but also listened a lot to Out of the Blue. I still love that stuff. I think I liked the big orchestral sound. I then picked up on Queen and later Genesis and Pink Floyd. Queen were the first major band I saw live (Works tour at the NEC). I made a lot of use of the record library (and the local blank cassette dealer!).

Although I had a guitar when I was about 10 I was only playing classical for the first few years. At university (well, Coventry Poly) I bought a cheap Strat copy and a little amp. I seemed to play a lot of blues then as I was listening to lots of Clapton from his whole career. I was also getting lots of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and ZZ Top. I wasn't so much into the more 'metal' acts like Iron Maiden, but I listened to whatever I could get my hands on, including the old Friday Rock Show with Tommy Vance.

I discovered Steve Vai via his work on the David Lee Roth albums and he blew my mind. He still does, but I've not kept up with his more recent albums. That led to Joe Satriani, who I do like, but don't find as much fun as Vai. I'd read about all sorts of guitarists in the magazines, but you wouldn't generally hear them on the radio and we didn't have Youtube back then, so I didn't always get to hear them.

More recently I've got into a range of music. I have a real thing for Björk. She doesn't use guitars generally, but her music and her voice really move me. I've seen her live twice and both gigs were amazing. I also got into bands like Eels, Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead, Muse and King Crimson.

Lesser known artists I've also got into include Camille, Porcupine Tree and Frost*. I listen to a fair bit of classical music, but don't consider myself an expert on it. Composers I really enjoy include JS Bach, Stravinsky and Phillip Glass.

In the last few years the internet has become my main way of finding new music. Whilst looking for bass guitar tutorials I discovered there was such a thing as solo bass music by  Steve Lawson and Jeff Schmidt. Steve is exploring various interesting ways of marketing his music, including giving it away. I've been to a few of his gigs, which were magical, and met some interesting people there. A guitarist works in similar ways is Matt Stevens. I really want to get to one of his gigs some time.

I've been to lots of gigs over the years from tiny pubs to Wembley Stadium. Both ends of the spectrum can be good, but I'm preferring the smaller scale events these days. A great instance of that was the gig I went to last week featuring Static Plan, Dorje and The Drills at the Purple Turtle in Camden. It's a tiny club that was packed with guitarist as Rob Chapman of Dorje runs a guitar forum and Phil X of The Drills is a legend due to his videos for Fretted Americana. The Drills were the real stars and played a storming set. One of the best sets I've seen. You can get a flavour from this video shot there:


I came away with a couple of great, but very short albums