Welcome to 5-10-15-20, where we talk to artists about the music they loved at five-year interval points in their lives. Maybe we'll get a detailed roadmap of how their tastes and passions helped make them who they are. Maybe we'll just learn that they really liked hearing the "Denver, The Last Dinosaur" theme song over and over when they were kids. Either way, it'll be fun.
My cousin gave me this cassette. I don't think he was even that into it. He probably didn't even like it. I think it was the first piece of music I owned, so I just treasured it and listened to it a lot.
I remember I did an art project. The theme was "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I cut a picture of Vince Neil out of Hit Parader and glued my face over his face-- my eight-year-old face over Vince Neil-- so I must've really, really liked them.
I broke the album out again when I was in my early twenties, and I really liked the title track a lot. The whole record? A lot of phaser on the drums. Like, more than two songs. That and the cowbell might have been a little overused. But I think that was the charm of it being their first album.
Stryper: "To Hell With the Devil"
When I was 10, it gets worse. I was huge into hair metal. It was mainly what was on MTV, so it was all I really knew existed. I was like, "Oh, this is music. This is what it has to offer me."
I have no clue why I especially liked Stryper. It's one of those things. I had this neighbor who was older than me. Now, looking back, I realize he was mentally handicapped. He was really into hair metal, too, so I would go to his house and he would show me concert VHS videos of Stryper and W.A.S.P. and all these bands. But Stryper I really got into. I had a few of their albums.
They would throw Bibles into the crowd. I don't think I really had an opinion on [the band's outspoken Christianity]. That's what kind of boggles me; it was just this band I liked.
I really just liked whatever was on MTV-- like Poison, stuff like that. And then even the lesser stuff like Trickster, Warrant. I liked Slaughter. I was in the fan club, and I got a cassette promo of their second album before it came out. I was like, "Wow, man, I'm on the inside."
I think I lost interest in hair metal when Nirvana came out. But there was still that awkward middle period where I was still getting Ratt albums as well as Mudhoney. It's like trying to reset my head. It's like, "What's this change? What am I feeling?"
Sonic Youth: Evol
This was the phase where I was getting into music that I would still say is pretty good, and it was still all MTV. Going into record stores and seeing Nirvana's Bleach was almost like, "What the hell is this? What is this record?" I couldn't even comprehend what it was. Going in and seeing five Sonic Youth albums that I'd never heard of was just, like, "What?" I didn't even get it. So I just grabbed that one one day, and it was pretty intense.
I don't know if I bought it was because of the cover; I just knew I had to start somewhere. Maybe it was all they had at Tower Records. But I remember really having to sit with it and really wanting to understand it, and then slowly becoming so obsessed with that record. It's so dark and so minimal, especially since I was coming off listening to Dirty.
I had Goo and I had Dirty thanks to the Columbia House Record Club. I would check out all the bands that Nirvana said were cool because it was a penny an album. So I was like, "Oh, Goo! I'll get Goo." So I loved all that stuff, but it was when I got the early stuff, especially Evol. The cover's pretty violent, and the back cover picture is so weird-- like a weird shadow on Thurston's head. It makes it look like his face is pasted on, and that creeped me out. It was like, "Are these people even real?" I couldn't comprehend underground music.
The Rolling Stones: Flowers
Flowers is a U.S. compilation of singles and some B-sides, just a repackaging of all the UK releases. That one came out, I think, in the mid-60s. My cousin got married, and he gave me all his old LPs-- which were really just Rolling Stones records, so I got like 10. That's the one that I really clung to.
As I got into Sonic Youth, Sonic Youth would be like, "Check out Harry Pussy." And then the gates were open. So I rejected classic rock for a while, and then, mid-college, started to finally let my guard down. The Stones were the first band to get through. Even now, I'm just getting into the Beatles.
The music on Flowers is not totally innocent, but it's more poppy than they were about to get. And it wasn't like Satanic Majesties; it wasn't drug-pop yet. It was kind of bubblegummy, but it was also kind of gnarly. "Mother's Little Helper" has this huge distorted bass and an out-of-tune 12-string lead. All the songs are just great.
This album is all things they had done for soundtracks compiled. I first heard it on tour with an old band, Wooden Wand. James [Jackson Toth], who sang in that band, played it for me one day, and I'd never really heard Can. I knew of them, but I hadn't really got into it yet. And it was the music that I needed at the time. Every track that came on, every change in every song-- I was like, "Yes. This is where I'm at." I just loved hearing the musicians playing together so well. But everything's all over the place just in the way that I wanted. The players are just so good.
That was my first krautrock thing before getting into Neu! and then other things. That's also when I got into the Zombies and their LP Odessey and Oracle. That one was big for me around that time, too. It's just the catchiest album. You always notice new things about it. It's so well crafted. Immediately, you're like, "Oh these songs are great." And then slowly, you're like, "Whoa, that bassline there is amazing. Those backup harmonies, I never noticed that! Where'd that come from?"
Various Artists: Nigeria Rock Special
This is a compilation that Soundway Records put out-- all these Nigerian rock and psych-funk bands. I was reading the liner notes, and I guess the producer went to London and studied with George Martin at EMI when the Beatles were recording Abbey Road. Then he went back, and he was the big shit, so they promoted him to producer. So the recordings sound great. And it opened me up to all these other bands that were doing that.
I was just looking for the other, you know? Hearing too much American music and growing up on it and just hearing something that was like, "Whoever's making these records, I do not know them." When I hear a lot of records these days, it's like, "Yeah, it sounds like a lot of guys in the studio." I think that was a big attraction, as well as how good the players are-- and just the sounds and how they're just going for it. The way all these different influences are trickling in, and how they're bringing their own culture's influences into it, too. It has elements of things that you'd recognize, but then things that American bands would just never think to do.
I also got into R. Stevie Moore. This Jersey guy's been doing home recordings for about three decades or so. His stuff is just amazing and it's all over the place. It's just great songwriting. And it's home recorded, which is always a plus for me. Not necessarily lo-fi, but just home recorded-- you can just hear him recording it.
Posted by Tom Breihan on May 7, 2010 at 9 a.m.