Thursday, 7 January 2016

Top Tens: Mark Bell from Mug's Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

A top ten influences list is a really hard one for most people to pin. It goes without saying that the ten bands I’ve chosen are specific to me. I wrote a few different lists and I’ve come up with 10 that I feel happy putting out there. You’ll also have to bear in mind that in terms of influences this list will probably equal about 25% of the music my band ‘Mug’ my cite as influence (being one of four who all have equal active parts in writing all the music/lyrics/melodies, etc). I’ll also mention that I’m gonna ignore the favourites. Yeah, NOFX, Alkaline Trio, Bad Religion, Millencolin, No Use For a Name and early Green Day should take top spots on this list, but I’m betting you’ve all read that list about 1000 times. Instead I’m going to focus on those bands that had me obsessed for a few months at a time. Those odd, random finds where you really want to get down a song in that similar style, that similar sound. Those albums you can’t wait to tell your best mate about but they probably won’t listen to it anyway. I’ve also put my choice album next to them should any of you not know where to start. That’s the list I wanted to write.

10. RX Bandits (The Resignation)
When I was at university I had heard about these guys. They were ok. Kinda ska-punk stuff. Not my thing but they were alright. When Mat (Mug singer) lent me this CD it blew me away. It remains one of my favourite albums of all time. So much is put in this release, the words, the message, the melodies, the intricate musicianship and the rawness of the mix. Seeing them play the whole thing live is one of my favourite memories.

9. The Shell Corporation (Force Majeure)
I (rather big-headedly) like to think of these guys as an American version of ourselves. Obviously, that’s ridiculous, they have a shit-tonne more cred and have played way more shows and toured a lot more. But there is something in their set up and sound that reminds me of us and maybe where I want songs to go and the shapes they should take while we’re writing.
8. Arteries (Dead Sea)
I heard about these guys when we supported the Flatliners in 2011. I fell in love with this band and played them consistently in my car for about 3 months. The power and the rawness of their sound! You can tell they recorded the whole album in a few days but they still nailed each and every song. When I saw them play live it just cemented everything I loved about them. The lead singer (Miles) had this really long blonde hairs and was whipping it about on stage and you could tell they loved playing their songs live. Then they went and stopped playing for some reason. Which sucks.

7. A Wilhelm Scream (Ruiner)
Only really got into these guys in the last few years as they were always a bit hardcore for me but then I saw them live and they remain the finest band I’ve ever seen live. I walked out of that show with split personalities. On one side I wanted to throw away all my instruments because they just showed me that I’d never be able to play to that standard ever. The other half wanted me to write songs as ferocious and sharp as they did. I opted for the second as I didn’t want to throw out my lovely instruments… Still trying.

6. Crazy Arm (Born To Ruin)
I’m not really political. I usually don’t care about the political message of most bands and it usually annoys the hell out of me when I get force-sung this stuff at me. But I didn’t feel any of this with Crazy Arm. They write songs with passion and with amazing melodies. They showed me you can play fairly slow without sounding boring one second and up the tempo the next song all while sounding amazing as fuck. I got a chance to see them in the summer and they are so incredible live. They are technical wizards on the guitar and they have such great crowd control.

5. Bangers (Small Pleasures) 
I kept seeing this album cover all over the place. I had a listen and was instantly hooked. Roo (see a few articles ago for his top ten) writes amazing songs, you can tell he writes for himself and he’s just stoked that anyone else likes them. The dynamic of the three-piece is so raw and powerful. The riffs and sound of the guitar are so original and fit so well in the dynamic. Live, they are a pleasure to watch as they all look like they are having so much fun and the rawness of the songs work so well as a live show. True story: I was so stoked on this album that once I met David Hasselhoff and got him to pose with a copy of it just so I could send it to them. I still don’t know why I did that…

4. Hogwash (Rainmaker)
I love Hogwash! They sound incredible and they are a real treat to watch live. The thing that really struck a chord with me was how well they use vocal melodies and harmonies. All 3 of the front stage guys can sing and all do in sweet harmony. I listened to this album around the time we were writing ‘Growler’ and it really rubbed off on me.

3. Authority Zero (The Tipping Point)
Such a tight band and they have a way of writing really catchy poppy choruses without them sounding too cliché or the same chords everyone uses. I think it’s the way they put the vocal melodies to it, but whatever it is, it works. Again, I was listening to this album around the time we were writing our last record so I *ahem* took inspiration from certain lines and melodies.

2. Crime In Stereo (The Troubled Stateside)
This album is so raw sounding. It sounds like they recorded it all in one perfect aggressive take. They use ideas and breakdowns in their songs that I still want to try and emulate and then they bring it all together with catchy melodic choruses. This album is a pretty much perfect album for me. Not too keen on where they have gone but I always have time to listen to this on a loop for a few hours in the car.

1. Sweet Empire (This Season Needs Torches)
I can't remember how I came across these guys but they ended up staying at my house, drinking whiskey and showing me their ballsacks (Cheers Koen) while I was cooking them breakfast. This band was the first show I ever put on and they were literally the nicest guys. They put on a killer live show too with so much passion. We’ve played with them a few times since and their music always reminds me of the time we were writing our first album, I admit a few of the songs all started out with guitar riffs I had learnt from this album and changed slightly in the hope that the rest of my band (and the Sweet Empire boys) couldn’t figure it out. It totally worked too. Hahaha! Nobody will ever know…

Cheers for reading. Hope you guys check some of this stuff out. There is still a bunch that I would have loved to have mentioned, friends’ bands and the like, as well as loads more bigger ones. But I don’t care. Cheers for to Colin for letting me write this and for being more dedicated to smaller bands than I could ever be.

Check out Mug here:

Mark also does some awesome illustrations: Check that out here: