In a change to the normal top ten influences, Leeds based acoustic punk Andrew Cream gives us his top ten defining moments in music.
1. Dad buying a Green Day album
I got into punk music the same way half the people my age did in the late 90s: I heard ‘Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)’ on the radio, watched the video to ‘All The Small Things’ on CDUK and a friend started listening to Green Day through his older brother - all within a few weeks of each other. After having told my parents that Tim was now listening to this Californian three-piece, my Dad went out and bought 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours. It wasn’t that he was trying to get me into their earlier stuff before introducing me to the hits - he wanted to find the song ‘Basket Case’, but for some reason thought it was named ‘Green Day’.
After realising his mistake, he wasn’t too interested in the album so didn’t mind me stealing it. I listened to it pretty much on repeat (along with Will Smith’s Big Willy Style and Five’s Invincible) until Dad bought Dookie a couple of weeks later. Dookie is still my favourite all-time album and absolutely paved the way for the next 16 years of my life.
2. Going to my first gig
A couple of years later when I was 13, I started downloading songs from the internet (each song would take like, an hour, to download). The three bands that I initially managed to find were The Vandals, The Ataris and Capdown. Capdown were touring machines at the time so it wasn’t soon after that they visited my hometown of Peterborough. It took a bit of convincing my Mum to allow me to go (she even rang the promoter to find out if there would be any drugs at the venue - he said no...looking back that was most definitely a lie), but it was soon agreed that the aforementioned older brother of Tim would drive us to the gig and my Dad would pick me up.
The gig was ridiculous - Capdown probably played the best set I would ever see them perform. But it was the two local supports $up and Evil Macaroni that shaped my life in music the most: aside from seeing them both 20+ times over the next few years, I ended up being in a band for seven years with the singer of the former and released a split CD with the singer of the latter.
3. Joining The Ruined
After my first band broke up when we were 15 (the rock n roll lifestyle really put a strain on our relationships), I ended up joining a band with members of other recently demised or winding-down local bands. I was the youngest in the band by a few years - I remember we actually had to cancel a couple of gigs in our first year because I was grounded. We started playing out of town and touring pretty quickly, and by the time I was 17 we had toured the UK a few times and were going on a European tour.
While we weren’t everyone’s cup of tea (too gimmicky for the punk crowd yet not gimmicky enough for the horror/psychobilly crowd), my time in the band gave me a brilliant insight into all aspects of the DIY scene - booking tours, putting on gigs, releasing music and the rest. I had some amazing experiences with The Ruined - we supported some great bands and went to lots of places I’d previously never been - and I’m really proud of the music we made. We kind-of petered out when I was at uni, although the band have recently started gigging again (without me) - they’re definitely worth catching.
4. Moving to Manchester
The first gig I went to in Manchester - during my Freshers Week - was The Steal, The Mercury League, The Dauntless Elite, Leif Ericsson and a bunch more at the Black Sheep Alldayer. Manchester had a great music scene while I was there (it still has) and the amount of bands I knew and liked must have risen tenfold in three years. I made some great friends who helped shape my tastes more and there were numerous gigs and clubnights that we went to every week. Special mentions go to Bomb Ibiza, Roadkill Records, Andy GI and Daniel Mills.
5. My first acoustic tour
I started playing solo gigs when I was 21 - for the first few months I was so nervous before playing, I kept questioning why I put myself through it. The turning point I think was when I booked a UK tour for myself and Dan Allen, aka Ducking Punches. Playing every night for two weeks really helped my nerves subside. I still get nervous every now and then but now I’m able to get it to work in my favour a lot easier.
6. Seeing A Wilhelm Scream live for the first time
I can’t remember when exactly I first saw A Wilhelm Scream, but I do remember being blown away at how proficient every member was on their instruments, while each sporting ridiculous cheesy grins. They clearly love what they do and are easily my favourite band to watch live. Totally inspirational.
7. My first solo Euro tour
When I got bored of my job in sales at 23 I decided to book a six-week tour around Europe. My first ever gig outside of the UK was at a small festival in a north-west German town called Meppen in front of around 200 people. Not every gig was that good, but they were all in some way memorable. The mainland Europe hospitality is second-to-none - and very similar from France across to Poland. I’ve been hooked on playing gigs across the Channel ever since - it’s my fifth trip out there this month.
8. First time going to The Fest
If you’re aware of Florida’s retreat for punks, there probably isn’t much I can say that you haven’t already heard. The first time I went in 2009 was one of the best weeks of my life. I’ve only missed one year since then and I’ll be playing it for the fourth time this October.
9. Moving to Leeds
When you get to your mid-twenties, I think a lot of people naively think that they’ve learnt all they need to know, or the opinions and ideals that they have will stay with them forever. My partner and I moved to Leeds at the end of 2013 - and I certainly wasn’t prepared to have my beliefs shaped any more. But in the last few years I think I’ve learnt more about what’s important within the music scene than I ever had before - I’ve changed what I write about, how I put on gigs and my eating habits. I’ve also got two new favourite venues: Wharf Chambers and The Brudenell Social Club.
10. Getting a car with a DAB radio
This might sound a bit ‘he couldn’t think of a 10th thing to write about’, but I think it’s valid. DAB radio introduced me to 6Music - while there’s a lot that’s wrong with the BBC, 6Music is (for the most part) wonderful. Not only does it play a nice amount of underground DIY bands (shout out to Crumbs for their recent repeated plays) and a lot of great older music that you’d rarely - if ever - hear on other stations, but it’s also helped me widen my music tastes dramatically. I’ve never really been closed-minded, but now I listen to a lot of music that I probably wouldn’t have given a second chance if heard on the off-chance a few years back. Maybe my tastes are changing as I age.
Andrew has a new album named Self-Portrait out which was reviewed here.
You can buy Self-Portait here: https://andrewcream.bandcamp.com/album/self-portrait