Thursday, 15 March 2018

Top Tens: Charlie Longman from PINTS' Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

…And Out Come The Wolves. The best album by the best band. Rancid were the band that made me say, “I’m going to do that”. I wanted to make noise my way with my pals and make someone feel the way I still feel when I listen to that record. I think they are the best band to start with when introducing anyone to punk rock music. Their career spans every type of punk rock there is and if you delve into their continuing and past musical endeavours you will discover a treasure trove of great music including: Operation Ivy, The Bastards, The Transplants, Devils Brigade, Old Firm Casuals and so on. Through them I got into the Hellcat Records’ Give ’Em The Boot compilations, which introduced me to many of my favourite bands. There is something to Rancid which goes beyond their music; it’s like discovering a family you never knew you had and I am forever grateful to them for that. It honestly would sound redundant for me to continue to go on about how much this band mean to me without repeating the phrase “this is sick, this track is awesome etc.” Just go and listen to some fucking Rancid and make sure you start with “…And Out Come The Wolves.”

Johnny Cash
I never had an interest in music when I was younger. I hated the radio and both my mum and dad primarily listened to soul music (something I wouldn’t appreciate until a lot later). I remember the first bit of music that sparked any reaction out of me was when my uncle took me, my cousin and my brother out on my 11th birthday. We sat in his car and he was playing A Boy Named Sue (the uncensored version - fuck you very much, Spotify) from the Live At San Quentin album. I was hooked and in my opinion, there isn’t a storyteller, lyricist or rebel since that tops The Man in Black. He was mean as hell and you hung on every word he said. It sparked a lifelong love of mine for country music. Country was punk rock before punk rock. It was working class, sang about what affected the people at the bottom and most importantly it was honest (unlike modern pop country bollocks). While rock ’n’ rollers were living the highlife and playing big stadiums, Johnny Cash played prisons and had a real connection with his audience. The year The Undertaker had “Ain’t No Grave” as his Wrestlemania intro music it blew my bollocks off.

The Misfits
As a kid (and now to be fair) I loved two things: Punk Rock and Horror Movies. So, to discover a band like the Misfits was a dream come true. When I read about them for the first time I immediately fired up Limewire and downloaded every song I could find. I’m a massive nerd at my core and I spent hours finding all the references in their songs to all the horror movies I could find. They are a band I cannot help but love, even to this day with Jerry Only on vocals you can still go to a show and, while it might not be as good as the glory days with whatever line up you prefer (Danzig or die), the fun is in the atmosphere and it’s amazing to hear those songs live. The perfect blend of horror movie nostalgia and my favourite time in American hardcore - seeing Danzig and Doyle play songs at the Garage a few years back was a life changing thing for me. No matter how good you think you are on stage, no one is quite like Danzig.

Jamie T
As a kid me and my pals were always crashing parties of the kids who went to Chigwell (a more “well off” part of Essex depending on what part you end up in) school. These kids had big houses with swimming pools and all that bollocks, so their parties were always a bit of a laugh. This was just as the show Skins had hit TV so all these parties had the same shit soundtrack comprising of bands that looked and sounded like northerners who had moved to London on their gap year from university to sell falafels during the day in Shoreditch and had an endorsement from Topman. It made no sense to me and seemed to be a million miles removed from my comfy punk rock bubble. Until I stumbled upon the CD Panic Prevention by Jamie T that is. There was this scruffy kid on the cover sitting in a room filled with Gang of Four, Ian Dury, The Damned records and all sorts. I ‘borrowed’ it off some kid and began to listen. Jamie T summed up in audio form what it was like to be a young kid street ratting with your mates and living day to day. The nights out you had with your mates and the trials and tribulations of your youth now had a backbeat to them. It was totally DIY and easy to fall in love with. He became the soundtrack not just to my youth but to my life as he somehow always manages to release an album at a significant time in my life, almost as if his fans and he are growing up together.

Street Dogs
I’m going to slightly cheat here and include (along with Street Dogs) the first Dropkick Murphys record: Do or Die, as Mike McColgan was the singer at the time of that record and the reason for loving both are so similar. Punk rock likes to give it the big’n. It’s all fuck the Queen this, smash the system that etc, but it rarely ever gives you an example, reason, or a way of doing so. I was hooked on Street Dogs from the moment I first heard Two Angry Kids. Powerful, catchy as hell and beautifully written lyrics as per always but it was songs like Unions and Law, Up the Union, Modern Day Labour Anthem or the title track of Do or Die that really struck a chord with me. In a 2-minute song I’ve already been taught about unions and policies that help me and my fellow blue-collar Joes find a way of being treated fairly and getting our voice heard when we believe our rights are being played with. It inspired me to enquire about a Union with every job I’ve had. I made a point of seeing Street Dogs every time they played London for about 4 years before finally being offered to open for them last summer. I had so badly wanted to thank the lads for all the music and stuff it taught me over the years but instead just drunkenly told them “I love your band man” over and over again like a drunk fanboy bellend. It was truly a huge honour though and hearing them give us a shout on stage was a career defining moment for me.

Bruce Springsteen
My journey into discovering the boss man is something I’m quite proud of, because unlike so many older artists I’m into or most people I know who are fans of Springsteen, he was not introduced to me through anyone else. I discovered Bruce on my own at a time where I felt I really needed him. When I was 14 I was out with my pals getting pissed on cheap wine and after climbing a fence to get into a safe spot to take a piss I got my foot caught on it and broke my ankle. I spent a week in hospital and an entire summer (a lifetime for 14-year-old) pretty much bed bound. This being the last days of youth without smart phones and easy internet access everywhere, all I had for that week in hospital was whatever magazines where available in the shop and the limited channels on the hospital TV. One night when my boredom was reaching a critical boiling point and the painkillers I was on were wearing off, I flicked through the channels of the TV set and discovered a top ten of Bruce Springsteen songs. I was hooked from then on. Springsteen’s power doesn’t come from a big band or massive live shows (although it certainly is something to behold and live, Bruce and the E Street band are untouchable) for me it’s in his words and the stories his songs tell. Bruce has the power to turn the most mundane and average qualities of working class life and turn it into poetry. That summer on crutches and not being able to go out with my pals, I lost myself in the world that Bruce Springsteen and the characters he sings about created, so it’s something we try to do with our songs (except all of ours are about our pissed up mates). To this day there isn’t a bad day at work that can’t be cleared up by Bruce Springsteen, the only boss I listen to.

The Clash
I think a lot of people’s journey into Punk music is very similar. You start with the classic big three: The Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Ramones. You discover the first wave and it grows from there. You do your research and realise it lived on past, the 70s and the rest is a hodgepodge of bad haircuts and hours sewing patches on your denim jacket. But the Clash in my opinion are so much more than a band from way back when. In school you’re never taught about politics. You’re never told about the horrors of ending up on the dole or what the bloody hell is happening around the world and how it affects us. The Clash were that band for me and Joe Strummer is the ultimate punk poet. He was the start of my mouth getting bigger and my voice a whole lot louder. Stand up for what’s yours. Fight anyone who may take it away from you. The working class are not stupid; we just need to be more aware and I think The Clash are the perfect soundtrack to that realisation. 11 years in school or the 40 minutes it takes to listen to any Clash record? I know which one I’d prefer.

Cock Sparrer
Despite living and growing up in Essex, I spent all my time as a teenager in London, when I was first able to buy a Travelcard me and my friends would journey to London for any reason (most of the time it was a show at the Astoria or to get pissed by Trafalgar Square). Bands like Cock Sparrer are like an audio map of the big smoke. Their music resonated with me because they’re singing about things that are virtually on my doorstep and that I’d see every week while out with my pals. They’re unapologetic in their delivery and not afraid of their roots. Whenever PINTS start writing I usually surround myself with a lot of home-grown punk bands (Cockney Rejects, Sham 69, the Filaments etc.) but Sparrer are always at the top of the pile. True kings of the game. Still slaying live shows and, while often copied, are NEVER bettered.

Our Time Down Here
Our Time Down Here are the most underrated British punk rock band of all time. I’m happy to see them getting all the attention they deserve and more with their new band Creeper but I will never forget and fail to admire the work they did as OTDH. My brother got back from a tour with his band and said he reckons I would love the band they went out with. He threw me a copy of the Last Light EP and I listened to it solidly for weeks. When Midnight Mass came out I did the same and I genuinely mourned when they finally broke up. I also kick myself for not being in PINTS at the show where they supported them at the Fighting Cocks in Kingston. At a time where every punk band was trying to sound like The King Blues, a lot of hardcore bands became parodies of American bands and pop punk had started its descent into becoming an arena for sexual predators and fake, forced Californian accents they dared to do something different. Our Time Down Here showed that punk rock can mix some of the sub-genres best qualities comfortably by blending powerfully catchy songwriting and imagination.

Black Flag
When you’re young, the world is out to get you. At least you think it is. But when you’re that age it’s more than likely that you will think like that. The world is a scary place and everything around you is changing. So, when I first discovered Black Flag’s Damaged album it was a game changer. I stared at the cover with that guy smashing a mirror up and instantly related. I felt like smashing stuff up all the god damn time and once the music started it all fell into place; all the frustration of youth, feeling like an outsider, like you didn’t belong came screaming out. Every bit of venom I wanted to spit at someone and every fist I wanted to swing belonged in the comfort and confines of Black Flag’s music and I thank them for that. It’s something that I’ve always wanted with PINTS – to give people a place to lose themselves and have fun. PINTS at the end of the day, is all about having fun in a room filled with angsty, shirtless, pissed up nutters all letting loose from the world around them.

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