Thursday, 25 August 2016

Top Tens: Conor from Kamikaze Girls Top Eleven Punk Rock Influences

This weeks top ten is actually a top eleven and come from Kamikaze Girls drummer Conor Dawson.

1. Joseph's Well & The Cockpit - Leeds
Both of these venues were pretty much everyone's starting point in Leeds if you were in a band. We've seen so many important shows at both of these venues, and I was drawn to them constantly. The first time I (Conor) got asked to play Joseph's Well when I was in my first band at 15 I was over the moon because of how many legendary bands had played there before me. Unfortunately both have shut down, but we still have some really great venues left in Leeds like The Key Club and Wharf Chambers.

2. Johnny Cash
The original man in black. How could anyone not be influenced by this man right here. "I wore black everyday because I liked it, wearing it means something to me, it's my symbol of rebellion." He recorded an album live from Folsom State Prison for the inmates, and wrote the most incredible music in his time on earth. We’re both huge fans, and are hugely influenced by him.

3. St. Pauli Football Club
The left wing anti fascist, anti homophobia, anti racist football club are really pushing things forward in club football at the moment. They are trying to create a safe space for everything in what is a typically white male dominated scene. They have the most amount of female members in their supporters club and they organise political and social rally’s in their hometown of Hamburg. Hugely inspiring and totally comparable to the DIY / Punk scene in the UK at the moment.

4. John Peel
The greatest DJ the BBC have ever had. I remember night when I was 12/13 and was just getting into music. I would stay up way past my bed time and listen to his show under the covers of my bed just to hear what weird and wonderful sounds he would play next. A 13 year old Conor discovered Sigur Rós, Land of Nod and MC Gareth's introduction to minute melodies via John.

5. Kathleen Hanna / Bikini Kill, La Tigre, The Julie Ruin
For years we've had a big problem with punk been dominated by cis white males. I myself am a cis white male, so I find it very hard writing about this stuff sometimes because it's not something that’s affected me firsthand, but it is something that affects Lucinda so it does to a degree in this band. Just because it doesn’t affect me personally it doesn't mean to say that I can't see there’s a problem, and the problems that Kathleen Hanna brought up in the early 90s are still problems to this day. One of Kathleen Hanna’s biggest points was promoting a safe space for women at punk rock concerts. I'm including Kathleen Hanna in my list because she's always at the fore-front fighting for her rights and the rights of females everywhere, and this is 100% what the punk scene worldwide still needs. It's still very much seems like a white male club at times, and we need to always strive to make everyone feel welcome to safe in our scene.

6. Meg White / The White Stripes
Probably the most under rated drummer of all time. Everybody slags her off for her simple beats but it's her that taught us that less is more. It's about knowing when to hold back and when it’s the right time to actually play less. Sometimes a massive face melting drum fill is what you want to do to show off but it isn't what is right for the song. Meg white is an important for this reason.

7. X Ray Spex
Deliberate underachievers, how could they not make our list? It's taken us over a year to get our EP "SAD" ready for release. I feel like we embrace a lot of this band. We might not have a shrill saxophone but we try and embody the chaos whilst still keeping a killer hook. Poly Styrenes vocals were described as "powerful enough to drill holes in sheet metal." She is also on record as saying she doesn't want to be a sex symbol and if she was made into one she’d shave her head. Punk as fuck? I think so.

8. Kim Gordon / Sonic Youth
We’re both big fans of Sonic Youth, and Kim Gordon is a incredible role model for girls in bands. I guess what a lot of people don’t know about her is that she played in SO many different bands leading up to Sonic Youth and was also an incredible visual artist. Kim moved to the other side of the country away from her home, friends and family, all for the sake of music and art. More people should take risks for the sake of pursuing creativity. The book Kim brought out in 2015 ‘Girl In A Band’ is a must read for anyone with an interest in alternative music, even if you aren’t a Sonic Youth fan.

9. THE FEST (Festival in Gainesville, FL)
Where do we even start with this amazing festival? I grew up listening to less than Jake when I was 13. I was doing my paper round and the song Gainesville Rock City really stuck with me. Getting into them more I found out about this festival called The Fest that happened every year in Gainesville. It instantly went on the list of festivals that my impressionable 15 year old self needed to play. When we got the email from Tony in February 2015 confirming we were playing I was hungover in my car waiting to pick Lucinda up in a rainy car park in Leeds. She said "Guess who's playing fest?!” In my hungover state I just muttered "Who?" When she it was us, I jumped out of the car and ran around screaming! This festival is still the highlight and one of the most important things this band has done for me.

10. The Lovely Eggs
We recently had the pleasure of playing with this band at Tramlines in Sheffield. We'd actually been listening to the band for the last few years. Their songs ‘Fuck It’, ‘Digital Accordion’ and ‘Don't Look At Me’ were always favourites of ours on the way to shows. We shared a merch table with them at Tramlines and had a big old chat with them after the show about life in a DIY touring punk band. Holly gave Lucinda some incredible advice after she recently left her job to pursue Kamikaze Girls full band, and told her ‘Call me anytime for help, because when I needed help no one helped me.’ Their brilliant attitudes towards surviving in a band and everything else is why that they had to make our list.

11. Robert Smith / The Cure
Trying to pick just 10 punk influences is a real hard one so we’re going to be well punk and smash the rules… So who better than Robert Smith to be our 11th punk influence? Mainly because people probably wouldn’t class him as ‘punk’ but we do. The Cure are my favourite all time band and Robert Smith is a massive idol of ours. We take great inspiration from his songwriting and guitar sound in this band. The complex melodies are rivalled by none. We love how they can skip between a really dark gothic jam to super ultra pop in the same song and make it work perfectly. The Cure are a huge band, but amongst all the usual suspects we feel that they’re a little underrated, the gothic punks of the older ‘hero’ rock bands out there.

Kamikaze Girls new EP Sad is out on September 2nd through Bearded Punk.

Pre-order Sad here:

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