This is something that I've put off doing for a while. Ever since Avon came up with the idea of getting people from the punk rock community to give us their top ten punk rock influences, I've avoided doing one myself. Partly because picking just ten would be really quite tricky and also because I don't feel like people would really care about my picks. However because this week Colin's Punk Rock World is three years old it seemed like a good time to do it. Hopefully you all enjoy it and can relate to some of them.
1. The Abu Club
The Abu Club is the name that myself and my three oldest and best friends, Craig, Anthony and Dr Dave, gave our little gang when we were children (after the monkey from Aladdin). None of these three chaps are strictly punks in the sense that they particularly enjoy punk music but when I think about growing up with the three of them I realise that they've always had a punk rock spirit. Think back to your days at secondary school, your year group and all the different cliques there probably was. We had the populars, the grungers, the geeks, the smokers and so on. Our little gang never really fell into one group or another and just went about our lives minding our own business and being ourselves. This really taught me that you don't have to act a certain way to fit in with a crowd and you can just be yourself, do things your own way and be accepted. Since my school days I've always gone and done things my own way knowing that it's okay to be and do things differently.
2. Less Than Jake
Less Than Jake changed my life. Growing up I'd heard all of the MTV pop punk bands such as Green Day, The Offspring and blink-182 and I enjoyed them immensely. Then I heard Gainesville Rock City and I fell in love. There was something about that fast paced punk rock interlaced with horns that I just got and I have been obsessed with the band ever since. They were the first band I ever went to see live and have seen them many times since. I've even seen them in Gainesville at Fest. Through Less Than Jake my love of ska punk grew and grew, I discovered so many fantastic bands from the USA and the UK and I know I'll definitely be a ska kid at heart for life.
I first heard [Spunge] whilst listening to Steve Lamaq's old Radio One show. The song was Roots from the album The Story So Far. I thought this song was just incredible and after I got my first ever pay cheque from work I went into our local Virgin Megastore and bought that album. I've probably listened to that album a thousand times and I still love it. [Spunge] were my first foray into UK underground ska punk and I discovered so many great bands because of them.
4. Golf Records/Household Records
So many people who have done these influences lists have listed Fat Wreck and Epitaph Records. Not surprising really as the bands on those labels were a big part of growing up listening to punk rock but for me it was the UK scene that really got me excited. Golf Records, Deck Cheese and Household Name were the home of so many of my favourite bands at the time. The list of great bands from the time that were members of those rosters reads like a who's who of UK punk at the time. Capdown, Lightyear, Jesse James, 4ft Fingers, Vanilla Pod, Not Katies, Captain Everything, The Filaments, Uncle Brian, Tiny Elvis, Fletcher, King Prawn and many, many more! These bands played a big part in shaping my musical development and, on the rare occasion that any of these bands play, I do everything in my power to make sure that I see them.
5. The Lock Up
I miss Mike Davies' old Radio One show The Lock Up. There's a good chance that you do as well. His weekly two hour show helped me to discover so much great punk rock from the UK, as well as the USA. He did an incredible job of showcasing the talent in the UK underground scene and often put them on his always popular stage at the Reading and Leeds Festivals. Why the show stopped is beyond me.
6. True Believers
The Bouncing Souls anthem True Believers is a song that should inspire all punks all over the world. The song is jam packed with lyrics about living life the way that you want to despite what other people might think and standing and fighting for what you believe in. That's how I try and live my life every day, to me it's the only way to live.
7. Reinventing Axl Rose
The Against Me! anthem Reinventing Axl Rose paints a perfect picture of what not just a punk scene should be but how the whole music world should be. In the song Laura Jane Grace sings about how music should be about empowering people rather than making money, becoming famous and living a glamorous lifestyle. As someone who is tee-total, the line "Just Gimme A Scene Where The Music Is Free, And The Beer Is Not The Life Of The Party" always really struck a chord with me.
8. UK Punk Scene
The United Kingdom's punk scene is absolutely incredible. There are so many incredible bands all over the place it's ridiculous. The spirit of community across the punk scene is second to none. I really can't believe that any other music has a communty anything like our one. It's not just the bands who are great either. Whenever you meet a stranger at a show they are always the nicest person. When you go to a DIY punk show, even if you're alone and don't know a soul in the room, it always feels as if you are in a room full of best friends. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.
I felt like it was important to separate the promoters from the UK scene as an influence. If there weren't so many fantastic promoters across the UK, there wouldn't be much of a punk scene. I've looked into putting on shows myself and it looks like it's a lot of work! Taking the time to organise a venue, finding bands to play the show, trying to promote it, getting people to come, making sure things run smoothly at the gig, making sure the bands are looked after, doing the door so you end up not really seeing the gig you've just put on… So much goes into it. These people put on shows not for money, most promoters work on a not for profit basis, but because they love music and want to help it thrive. These people are often the unsung the heroes of the scene and deserve all of the love and respect in the world.
10. Jeff Rosenstock
Jeff Rosenstock has been featured quite a bit on this blog recently. His DIY attitude to music is a massive influence on me. He's certainly not the first person to take the DIY approach to punk rock but he did help to pioneer the idea of giving his music away for free. It was more important for him that people would get to hear the music and his message rather than ever making any money from it. This practice is fairly common these days but when he began to do this with his band Bomb The Music Industry it was seen as a big risk and it was an incredibly brave decision. Safe to say that the rest is history.