Without a shadow of a doubt, Against Me! are a huge influence on my life and PET NEEDS' music. Laura is an absolute hero - principled, gnarly and consistently honest. She isn't afraid of pop melodies and delivers her songs with ferocity and conviction. I saw AM! play in Lisbon in front of about 40 people and they played as hard as when I saw them headline on a massive stage in London.
My favourite album is 'Searching for a Former Clarity', however I love absolutely everything they have put out.
Mate. This man.
I learnt guitar by playing Billy's songs and my wife and I signed our wedding register to 'Milkman of Human Kindness'. He's an absolute inspiration in both his music and his politics. I had the pleasure of meeting Billy at a festival in Southend and he's every bit as warm and kind as you'd imagine. His lyrics are second to none. I'll never forgive Lars Fredrickson for covering 'To Have and to Have Not' and changing the lyrics, "All they teach you at school is how to be a good worker, The system has failed you – don't fail yourself!"
Dingus Khan are a Manningtree based band and are the most fun act I have ever seen live. A chaotic, hook-laden tidal wave that smacks you in the face and leaves you confused, trying to understand how and why you enjoyed it.
I've seen their frontman Ben throw up on himself multiple times, run around with a full wheely bin full of disgusting festival juice on his head, shave a monk-shaped patch into his head and microwave a copy of their latest fanzine live on stage. I also booked him to play our wedding and he was the perfect entertainment – the nans loved him.
Songwriting-wise, Dingus construct clever Blur-esque pop songs then absolutely destroy them sonically, with three bass players, three drummers and a host of other insane sounds on their album 'Save Mistley Swans'. They're a force to be reckoned with. We're lucky to have them in Essex.
Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes
When we last went into the studio we sent our producer a Frank Carter track as inspiration for the kind of sound we were looking to achieve. MASSIVE riffs, incredible tones and an explosive live performance. My opinions on Frank himself differ slightly, however there's no denying that Blossom is an absolute beast of an album.
Kulk are the coolest band. A two piece grunge/punk act in their mid teens who we played with at the John Peel Centre in Stowmarket and who I've been a massive fan of ever since. Part The Fall, part Nirvana, part The Birthday Party and part pure fucking performance art, every time I see Kulk I think 'We need to write more parts in our songs like this'.
I know, I know. When I talk to people about John Lydon, I feel like a disparing father desperately trying to cling on to some positives... 'Oh, but he's not that bad really, look at this great tune he made'... only to be massively dispirited when he, I dunno, releases a limited edition book for £350 or starts bigging up Donald Trump on national TV.
However. Sex Pistols were my gateway into punk. I remember watching something about a Pistols anniversary on Newsround when I was a kid and was completely fascinated by these bizarre, snotty punks on my TV shouting about the queen. Following this, I became obsessed with the band and would watch The Filth and the Fury religiously every night on DVD. The music was amazing, but for me the story was even better. Some cockney tragedy of manipulation, control and betrayal, ending climactically with the death of two star-crossed lovers.
And I still stand by the fact that Never Mind the Bollocks is an insane soundtrack to the calamitous play, which will remain firmly in my top ten albums – probably forever.
This is my only choice that isn't guitar based. To me, Sleaford Mods are everything that punk should be. Honest, reductive, snidy, hilarious and vicious. They have not compromised one iota of their sound despite their considerable success. They are the most real band I know.
Also, Drayton Manored is PET NEEDS' soundtrack to every drunken shop tinny stop at every service station on the way back from shows.
This band, man. Following Against Me!, PUP are probably the second biggest influence on PET NEEDS. My brother and I both absolutely love them. They have a glorious sense of fun in their writing and play fantastically with dynamics. And their YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAH sections are second to none. What a band. Also, if you haven't seen the video to SLEEP IN THE HEAT, you need to check it out. I'm unashamed to say it brought a tear to my eye.
My wife, brother and I drove about a 400 mile round trip to Belgium just to see Rancid play '...And Out Come the Wolves' in its entirety. That says it all, really. WHAT TUNES.
X ray Spex
Poly Styrene has been influencing my lyrics for years. I love her crossover between lyrics and poetry. Her words are fantastically intelligent, juxtaposed by her juvenile shrill tone, spat out in a way that takes the piss and almost trivialises the band for people who don't give them the time to listen properly.
"My mind is like a plastic band. I eat Kleenex for breakfast, and use soft, hygienic Weetabix to dry my tears."
Where possible we also try to go on to an X-Ray Spex song. Disenfranchised party music at its best!
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