Yesterday Arms & Hearts released his brand new EP Set In Stone. Reviewed here. To coincide with the release he told me his top ten punk rock influences.
The Gaslight Anthem: When a bandmate of about 4 years ago showed me ‘The 59’ Sound’ I was hooked. I had always liked some punk rock, but never had I heard something that connected to me on a deep emotional level as that did; from that first guitar riff to as soon as that chorus kicked in, the pure emotion in Fallon’s vocals. From that point I decided I wanted to learn to sing and write my own songs from that, my interest grew the more I discovered. The Gaslight Anthem and Brian Fallon’s other projects essentially became the soundtrack to my penultimate teenage years and the basis for my songwriting, whilst also introducing me into this scene and lead me on my journey to discover most of my other influences.
Chuck Ragan: Chuck Ragan was a big game changer for me. The original idea for Arms & Hearts was to start it acoustic and then make it into a full band, but Chuck showed me that you didn’t need drums and electric guitars to sound fucking huge! I find his lyrical concepts and styles really intriguing and inspiring; ‘Covering Ground’ is one of my favourite albums. Fun fact; I met Chuck at one of his shows at Gorilla in Manchester and I happened to have been pretty intoxicated at the time. I remember it was in the toilet, and I remember it was pretty awkward… and he probably thought I was a weirdo.
Dave Hause: I remember discovering Dave Hause through the Revival Tour, which Chuck and Brian were a part of. I used to spend hours on YouTube watching the full concerts wishing I could be a part of it, then myself and my friends Sammy Battle, Emma Hallows, Harry Woodrow and Sam Lyon have since done a similar concept and shows with our collective group To Anywhere. I remember being completely blown away by his voice and the passion he puts into his performances, as well as how much I could relate to his lyrics, especially in his album ‘Devour’ which me and my best friend spent a lot of time driving around listening to.
Northcote: Matt Goud aka Northcote is one of those acts that just blow you away. I first saw him supporting Dave Hause in Manchester, the second time was when he was with a full band and my friend Sammy Battle supported and the third time was when I got to support and it’s probably my favourite show that I’ve ever played. Matt and all the other guys were super nice to me and my first meeting of Matt was him walking into the dressing room singing Pharrell William’s ‘Uptown Funk’ to himself. He’s such a positive guy and it shows in his song writing. One of the reasons I think I connect with his songs so well is because they’re so positive and hopeful, which can makes a nice change; it was a little insane and such an honour to play a show with one of my favourite artists. ‘Hope Is Made Of Steel’ is probably one of the best albums to come out this year and I recommend it fully.
The Lion and the Wolf: Tom George, known just as well under his alias The Lion And The Wolf is an amazing songwriter, as well as a good friend. I first met him when I supported Billy The Kid as part of To Anywhere and then the first three dates of my first ever tour were with him. He has taught me so much and I am big time indebt to him for all the help and advice. His songs are also something to withhold and he has never been afraid to discuss the sadder things in life within his lyrics. The album ‘Symptoms’ remains a big influence on my work.
Bill Hicks: Although not a musician, the comedian Bill Hicks has inspired me on my opinions on certain topics. One thing that has always stuck with me is his opinion on musicians, as he says ‘Play from your fucking heart’. It’s an order I try to obey with every show.
Frank Turner: Frank is generally a brilliant Folk Punk songwriter. The fact that no matter how successful he gets he still (from what I’ve seen) remains down to earth and a genuine person. ‘I Am Disappeared’ and his general ethic inspired me to tour for the first time.
The Menzingers: ‘The Obituaries’ was the first song I was introduced to and I fell in love with this band since then, later reinforced when I finally bought the album ‘Chamberlain Waits’ and had my heart torn out by the song ‘Time Tables’. The lyrical content of full on honesty, and of heartbreak, really finds its way into my writing. ‘Burn After Writing’ is my go to cover song at shows.
Red City Radio: I think I was first introduced to Red City Radio at high school before The Gaslight Anthem or any other bands, but I don’t think I appreciated them as much as I do now. To me, they’re one of those bands that mean so much to me and I don’t think they have a bad song. From the ‘We Are The Sons And Daughters Of Woodie Guthrie’ to their latest self titled release that has nothing but bangers. My favourite song of theirs is ‘Show Me On The Doll Where The Music Touched You’ which contains the lyrics ‘I am fucking unstoppable, I am a fucking juggernaut’ which can without a doubt can get me out of any rut. They’re such a huge influence to me because they have such catchy choruses with some of the most inspiring lyrics. I aspire that one day I will be as good as a songwriter as those guys.
The Roughneck Riot: One of those bands that no matter how wasted they get they can still play perfectly, and I have witnessed this on several occasions. All of them are super nice and have helped me loads. Their songs have such a serious subject matter within their lyrics, but combined with the catchiest melodies I have heard from a band in that genre, have inspired my own song writing and performance in a lot of ways.