Thursday, 14 January 2016

Top Tens: Harker's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

This week Harker's Mark Boniface and Tony Ware discuss their top ten punk rock influences.

The Wedding Present
Mark- I think TWP were probably the first band I obsessed over. I was introduced to them around 2005 with the release of 'Take Fountain'. Their back catalogue is so different on every release, but the most important to me is definitely 'Seamonsters'. It's just a perfect amalgamation of great songwriting, guitar riffs, noise and heartbreak all at the same time. It sets the bar for how I write songs.

Tony- I pretty much have exactly the same feelings about this band as Mark does, except my obsession goes way back to the ‘Tommy’ and ‘Bizarro’ days. ‘Seamonsters’ is one of my favourite albums of all time. I just love how they started to change their sound with every record after ‘Bizarro’ (esp. with the addition of Steve Albini producing), going dark and noisy with ‘Seamonsters’ to relatively upbeat and poppy with the likes of “Saturnalia”. The draw for me though as they’ve progressed is how they use their guitars, and the ever-increasing insane guitar sounds they come up with. As you’ll see, this will be a re-occurring subject in my comments…

M- I wouldn't say Fugazi are a direct influence on our music, but I remember the first time hearing them it was like my head was caving in on itself. Their music teaches you shouldn't view music as chords, scales, diagrams. It's a powerful tool that's used to move people in so many ways. Every Fugazi record I believe pushes this message through. It's a shame them existing as a band was a little before my time.

T- I did manage to see Fugazi – 4 times – and without a doubt they are one of the best bands I’ve ever seen live. I first heard of this band when a friend recommended them to me – I went out and bought ‘Repeater’ on tape the next day, and on first hearing ‘Turnover’, I basically went “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!” then rewound the tape and played it again! I don’t think I’ll ever get my head round what Fugazi do as a band – what they do is so utterly unique. I’ve seen bands try and replicate it, but come up short and totally miss the mark.

Hot Water Music
M – For me, the most important band of my late teenage years. A lot of the personal attachment lies in their lyrical themes, which I believe helped me with growing up, having an identity and feeling like you're part of a community. 'Southeast First' sums up how I feel about this band.

T- I like ‘Trusy Chords’ and ‘Wayfarer’. I also wish I could build a house with my bare hands like Chuck Ragan probably can.

Jimmy Eat World
M - While most people my age were introduced to Jimmy Eat World through 'Bleed American', my first experience was through their 1996 album 'Static Prevails'. I bought it on a whim, along with 'Clarity'. This band started as a small 90's indie emo band, then grew into this awesome, underground-influenced alternative/pop/rock band. Even in their later albums like 'Invented' you can hear their background shine through. I think this is the band we want to strive to be, we have little time for worrying about how we look, or how we're perceived in a scene. We just want to write great songs, and play for the passion and love of music just like these guys have been doing for nearly 20 years now.

My Bloody Valentine
M – My first show as 'Harker' was around late 2011, and it's inception was very different to the music we're trying to create now. When I met Tony through mutual friends, and formed the band as it is today he introduced me to a lot of music that I had heard but not really understood. MBV was one of them, but it was when I saw the film 'Lost In Translation' that I finally understood the work of Kevin Shields and the band. For the new songs we're in the process of writing, we're hoping they will shine through with a strong influence of the weird shimmery noise pop MBV are known for. The track 'Sometimes' always blows my mind, and brings up all this feeling of nostalgia, that I don't think any other song can do quite as well.

T – One of my all-time fave bands. And another band that on first hearing, I just couldn’t really take in what I was being subjected to (‘You Made Me Realise’). ‘Isn’t Anything’ and ‘Loveless’ are pretty much perfect pop records in my opinion. These guys have definitely been a big influence on what I play in a lot of the bands I’ve been in, especially from the Kevin Shields school of “turn-all-your-fuzz-pedals-on-at-once-and-see-what-happens”! I love searching for new and bonkers extreme guitar sounds to add to Harker, and melding it with happy emo pop music is something I’ve been wanting to do for years. You can throw Jesus And Mary Chain and Dinosaur Jnr into that mix as well, for much the same reasons as MBV.

Bob Mould
T – A major guitar playing influence on me. For me, Major Bob’s standouts are Husker Du’s ‘New Day Rising’, Sugar’s ‘Copper Blue’, and ‘Silver Age’. I never saw Husker Du, but Sugar were huge for me in my 20’s. For him to come out with an album as incredible as Copper Blue – a perfect combinations of pop songs and total noise – then to follow it up with the brutally dark ‘Beaster’ is just insane. Seeing him perform those songs live, along with MBV, probably helped kickstart my severe hearing problems I have today!

M – On the list for his solo efforts, as well as Husker Du & Sugar. I've been listening to Bob’s solo stuff since 'Life And Times', with each release getting better and louder in the process. 'Beauty & Ruin' is full of these short guitar fronted pop anthems. Sugar's 'Copper Blue' is pretty much the same, except for it lies a little more on the 'alternative' side. Both outfits reflect on how well Bob is able to capture these hooks in such a short amount of time.

The Who
T – Just the greatest band ever. Pete Townsend is a genius. ‘Quadrophenia’ hurts my brain. I just can’t fathom how Townsend got his head round producing such a complex, multi-layered, powerful piece of work. ‘Live At Leeds’ is also one of the greatest live albums ever released – the performances of ‘My Generation’ and ‘A Quick One’ are so over the top and out of control, and is a brilliant snapshot of a band at the top of their game.
The energy and relentlessness of the Who live (and on some of the records) is what I’ve aspired to in most of the bands I’ve been in. I don’t think we’ve ever come close, but it’s fun trying.

M – Because there will never be another band like The Who. We're always talking about covering 'The Real Me', but I'm not sure Punks would get it.

Bruce Springsteen
M – I'll let Tony cover this one as I'd probably just write an essay dissecting 'Born To Run'. E Street Band are one of the best live acts.

T- I don’t even know where to start with this guy. Seeing him live, you truly understand what an incredible bunch of musicians the E Street Band are, and what a relentless performer he is. How on earth do they remember all those songs? It’s mind boggling.

Little Richard
M – We always request Little Richard to play while we setting up. His music is so exciting, particularly his debut record. There's this real energy bursting out of every track on the album, and it gets louder and louder.

T – He sounds like he’s taken all the cocaine in the world, then hit record. It’s exhilarating stuff. If ‘Jenny Jenny’ doesn’t get you excited and wound up, then you are dead inside. THIS is punk.

T – I can never resist a noisy indie pop band playing like a punk band, and when Superchunk appeared with ‘No Pocky For Kitty’, I was an instant fan, and have been ever since. There are so many elements that I love about Superchunk – the intertwining guitar lines, the off-kilter wonky songwriting, the fact they all jump up and down like Zebedee on speed – it’s irresistible stuff. Their longevity is impressive and definitely something to aspire to. It’s wonderful that after a ten year break they come back with two albums that are probably the best of their career - the poptastic ‘Majesty Shredding’ and its darker twin ‘I Hate Music’, both albums of the year for me. As a major influence, it’s not only their mega choruses and wonky guitar parts that are the big draw for us, but the fact they really don’t sound like anyone else. Oh, and they make the best videos…

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