Thursday, 14 April 2016

Top Tens: Robot Doctors Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

Robot Doctors are a punk rock band from Dundee. Here are their top ten punk rock influences.

Green Day (Darren, vocals and guitar)

Without a doubt this bands biggest album, the one everyone talks about, is Dookie but my love for this band began with Kerplunk.

I was 13 when I heard the band for the first time. Dookie had been out for about eight years, Nimrod and Insomniac had been released and Warning was being finished up. I suddenly had my eyes opened to a whole new genre of music and had album upon album to listen to.

I had never heard music like this before and although I haven't been a fan of anything released by Green Day in quite a few years, I would still to this day argue that Billie Joe Armstrong is one of the best lyricists to make music.

…And Out Come The Wolves by Rancid (Iain, guitar and vocals)

This was the very first punk album that really caught my attention. Previously I had been listening to nu-metal bands like Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit but Rancid’s catchy courses and fast-paced, punchy three-minute songs had me hooked from the word go. I was also playing bass at the time and, as any Rancid fan knows, Matt Freemans epic bass lines were enough to keep your attention before you even noticed the rest of the music.

The bass solo in the opening track, Maxwell Murders, set my music goal for the next few years. I never did learn it. The album opened up a whole new world of bands and music for me that I can say for certain was the start of my love for punk music.

Bleed American by Jimmy Eat World (Kieran, bass)

I was 15-years-old when the title track’s chorus boomed from the TV and demanded I pay attention. I did, which proved to be a good move in both the short and long term.

Jimmy are one of those bands I return to regularly and are a big influence on all of us in Robot Doctors. This LP is magnificent from start to finish. It is musically brilliant, catchy and reflects real life lyrically through heartbreak and making subtle social and political observations.

Nirvana (Craig, drums)

First and foremost, Nirvana may sound like a strange choice for a punk influence but actually I consider them to have been a punk band more than a “grunge” band. The term didn’t technically exist when they started and came from a scene of bands from America with a particular sound.

Sure grunge is the first thing we think of when we consider Nirvana’s short lived work but in actuality they were a punk band. Certainly with their ethos anyway, as well as with their fast-paced take on rock music.

Asides from the criticisms about perhaps being a band that perhaps contradicted themselves at times, an everlasting impression people hopefully remember them for was that they were a band that promoted the fact that we should be accepting of all people. They often spoke out against fascism, homophobia and misogyny. A far more positive message for youngsters than the image of Axl Rose violating a woman for an audio recording on an album. A feeling I believe is strong in the punk community.

Nirvana influenced me when I was younger as a gateway band to many others. Listen to songs such as Territorial Pissings, Sliver or even Smells like Teen Spirit. These are great, thrashy, punk tracks for a young teenager whose musical exposure was as limited as it was when I was 11-years-old.

Dave Grohl’s certainly been a large influence on me learning how to play the drums. I still remember learning the drum intro Teen Spirit and being overjoyed.

Hot Water Music (Kieran)

I was a latecomer to HMW. In fact, my first encounter with them was Dave and I’s old band being compared to them. We duly went away for a listen and became rather chuffed with ourselves for a few days. Combining aggression and melody, there are few things better than this band in full flow.

Alkaline Trio (Darren)

This was one of the bands that Green Day led me to. Alkaline Trio always had a darker edge to them. They make punk rock that is often morbid but also incredibly romantic. Kind of like Edgar Allan Poe armed with an electric guitar! Although I don't think Matt, Dan or Derek have married within their own families.

An argument is often made that “rock music corrupts our youth” but for me and many others, punk rock has always addressed universal themes honestly and growing up there was nothing more comforting to me than to feel I wasn't alone in the way I felt. Alkaline Trio are a great example of this. Also... they are a three-piece packing a serious punch!

Kerrang (Iain)

As much as I would probably sit and slate most of the music that is featured on Kerrang TV today, the channel was the first consistent window into the world of alternative music that I had access to.

Back in the day, hanging out with friends would be heading over to someone’s house who had Sky TV and sitting there for hours on end watching all the metal, nu metal, rock, punk and ska music you could handle at the age of 14. We even used to make compilation VHS tapes of our favourite bands that less fortunate friends without Kerrang could take home… simpler times.

When the P-Rock channel was introduced later I really found myself in my element listening for the first time to punk bands like The Bouncing Souls and Pennywise, who would quickly find their way onto my CD rack in abundance.

The best thing about Kerrang is, although there are plenty more ways to expose yourself to new music these days, I’m sure that they are still doing their part in shaping young people’s lives with regards to music tastes looking to the alternative.

Laura Jane Grace (Craig)

Hopefully not too many people have been living under a rock and know who LJG is but understandably we don’t all listen to rock music so here’s the picture for anyone reading who doesn’t know of her. Laura Jane Grace was once known as Tom Gabel and is still currently the lead singer of punk band Against Me!. A band I’ve listened to and enjoyed for many years now. In 2012 it was announced that Laura had come out openly as a woman after suffering from transgender dysphoria.

Now, for me, the issue of someone who truly believes they are a man or a woman and is born differently but is living a life they don’t feel comfortable with is absurd. Especially if it stems from the idea that you need to be who you are for other people even though it actually makes you miserable.

Now it just so happens she fronts a band I admire so this is not just limited to LJG as the issue still stands for anyone who suffers from any affliction whereby someone is suppressed by the pressure to conform to society’s norm. I’m mostly influenced here by the positive response to the news and the awareness that has been created through punk music. No one else should decide what makes you happy for you.

The Living End (Darren)

At this point it seems as though I only listen to three-piece bands. This Australian punk rockabilly or “psychobilly” band (a rose by any other name, huh!) were introduced to me by a good friend back when I was at college and kicking up dirt in the streets of Arbroath!

What I love about these guys is it just sounds raw. Chris Cheney is an amazing guitarist but, more importantly to me, can write great hooks and catchy choruses without compromising that pace or raw sound. The double bass is just a great addition to any band!

I had the pleasure of seeing these guys at the Astoria in London 12 years ago and, despite what I can only describe as the world’s most aggressive hangover, I loved every second they were on stage.

The Masses Against The Classes by Manic Street Preachers (Kieran)

Not very punk? Think again. It got to number one in the charts without a music video. It quotes Chomsky and Camus and references Gladstone (“all the world over, I will back the masses against the classes”). Plus it’s a damned good tune. The Manics are my favourite band. You never know what they’re going to do next. That’s punk to me. Oh, and I’ve borrowed lots of Nicky Wire’s stage moves over the years.

Dave (guitar and vocals) simply doesn’t like music, unfortunately. We harness his talents after winning them in a bet with a mysterious hooded man by the roadside in Padanarm. That’s the only reason he even tolerates us as a band. It’s all just “noise and thumping” to him, apparently.

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