Thursday, 7 June 2018

Top Tens: Emma’s Top Ten Punk Rock Influences


To celebrate CPRW’s fourth birthday this week, Colin asked me to write my very own top ten punk rock influences – finally! Not that I’ve actually been a part of the blog for since the beginning but Colin and Dan have already written theirs and I guess I’m next in line as I’ve been contributing to CPRW for nearly three years.

Although I’ve been secretly hoping that Colin would ask to/let me write my top ten for a while, I didn’t actually have a set-in-stone list so it did take some thinking and narrowing down. I decided to order my top ten chronologically – number 10 is my oldest influence and number 1 is, sort of, the most recent. Here we go…

10. Mama and Papa Prew
I’m surprised how few mentions of parents I’ve seen in other people’s top tens over the years… My mum and dad both absolutely love music – it’s how they met – and that means that I grew up with music always playing in our family home. They didn’t exactly listen to punk but there was a great variety of ‘rock’ music on offer from dad’s favourites Pink Floyd, Neil Young and R.E.M. to mum’s Bon Jovi obsession and plenty of (relatively speaking) newer bands as well – Oasis, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Foo Fighters, etc. These days my parents listen to a lot of folk and Americana, alongside the classic rock, which I like too. Like me, they love live music and probably go to far more gigs a year than your average person. Oh and mum loves dancing to Against Me!

9. The Pitz Club in Milton Keynes
So my parents got me into rock music pretty young, then when I was around 13 or 14 I’d discovered some newer rock bands of my own – y’know the kinds that were played on the radio. Mum and dad took me to my first few gigs around that age, which involved driving to Birmingham or similar Midlands locations, but I also ventured out with some of my school friends to Milton Keynes’ premiere music venue – The Pitz. By premiere I mean it was the best on offer at the time (long before the brilliant Craufurd Arms or MK11 venues that the town now has) even if it was a bit of a dive – a dive in a function room at a leisure centre that is. We used to go to The Pitz to see local bands play and it was here that I discovered ska punk… and, most importantly, Capdown! It took me a few years to get back into ska punk but I appreciate my initial introduction to it back in the day.

8. The Gaslight Anthem
I don’t have much to say about The Gaslight Anthem that I haven’t said multiple times on this blog before, most recently in my classic album review of The ’59 Sound (which you can and should read here). Basically they are, and always will be to some extent, my favourite band. Without them I don’t know if I would have discovered punk rock. I just really love this band, their songs and their sound.

7. Frank Turner
Yes, the controversial Frank Turner. He’s very much like marmite in the punk rock community isn’t he? I appreciate that not everyone likes his views or his music – I’m not even sure I like much of his new music and I try not to read into his personal opinions and actions too much – but I can’t deny that he’s been a huge influence on me and my music taste over the last 11 or 12 years. (That’s actually longer than I realised and it’s longer than I’ve been listening to The Gaslight Anthem!) I’m sure I’m not the first person to have been introduced to acoustic and/or folk ‘punk’ through Frank Turner and I’m sure I won’t be the last. It’s his man-with-acoustic-guitar singing down-to-earth songs that I love the most – Love, Ire & Song is obviously the best FT album. I’ve seen Frank live more than any other artist although I am now content not to see him again for the time being. I’ve moved on a bit in my listening tastes but I will never take for granted what an impact this skinny half-arsed English country singer has had on me.

6. Chuck Ragan and The Revival Tour
From one acoustic punk to another… completely different one from the other side of the pond. I know, I know, most punks would have Hot Water Music on their top ten list and not the solo endeavour and self-curated collaborative folk music event of one of the band members. But I ask you, did you go to the 2011 UK Revival Tour where Chuck Ragan was joined by Dan Andriano of Alkaline Trio, Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem and Dave Hause of The Loved Ones? No? Then you won’t have witnessed the amazing 3+ hour musical experience of these guys, plus Jon Gaunt and Joe Ginsberg, playing each other’s songs as if they were just having a jam at Chuck’s house. Also, Chuck Ragan – what a guy! I took the aforementioned mama and papa Prew to see Mr Ragan a couple of years ago and mum in particular just had the best time – she says it rekindled her love for live music too. Awesome.

5. Mike Davies and the Radio One Punk Show
In 2010–11 I was studying for my graphic design degree in Falmouth, Cornwall. I would go into the studio to work alongside my pals on my course and then plug into my iTunes library or, if I hadn’t listened to it already, catch up on the Punk Show with Mike Davies. It was broadcast at 2am one day in the week so I never listened to it live – did many people actually listen live? I was still relatively new to punk rock at this point but I knew that I liked the genre, probably more than other genres, and so listening to this show was a great way for me to discover some new bands. Sadly the Punk Show got cut from the Radio One roster in 2014 but the legend lives on!

4. The Menzingers
I’m not really sure which I discovered first, the Punk Show or The Menzingers, as it was around about the same time really. It was pre-On The Impossible Past but post-Chamberlain Waits, yet I was listening to their first album the most. There was just something infectiously enticing about A Lesson In The Abuse Of Information Technology and I couldn’t stop listening to it. It was actually a lot shoutier and screamier than my general tastes, even for punk rock, but for some reason I loved it all the same. When On The Impossible Past was released in 2012 I wasn’t immediately hooked on it. It was really different to the band’s earlier albums and it took some time (a few days) to grow on me. But when I had got accustomed to it there was no turning back, my Menzos obsession had well and truly begun. Basically, for everyone one song I listened to by another band I listened to three Menzingers songs. I absolutely loved them – and still do. They have got more and more popular over the years and therefore play bigger venues these days but seeing them at the Underworld in 2013 was a turning point for me. I went to a proper punk gig by myself and it was exhilarating.

3. Bangers and Specialist Subject Records
I’ve already mentioned that I went to university in Cornwall but there wasn’t really much of a punk scene in Cornwall, at least not one that I knew about or had ventured into. However, I did know about a number of South West of England punk bands. My long-time favourite of these bands, who also happen to be the Cornish ones, are Bangers. I listened to them a hell of a lot whilst at uni, alongside bands such as Above Them (who I always think were from Wales but they weren’t, they were from Yorkshire), The Arteries, The Cut Ups, Great Cynics and OK Pilot. Many of these bands were either on or associated with Specialist Subject Records, a DIY UK label that was of course co-created by Andrew from Bangers. Ironically I never saw Bangers live until I’d left Cornwall – however I did travel back to Falmouth to see them support fellow Cornish band Crowns after leaving. I was gutted when Bangers broke up in 2016 but I got to go to their last ever show (it was emotional) which was also a celebration of Specialist Subject Records. Discovering Bangers and their labelmates gave me an insight into the underground UK punk scene, which leads me in nicely to my next pick…

2. The DIY punk scene in the UK
It took me several years of listening to punk rock to actually start seeking out DIY punk shows in the UK. Obviously I’d been going to gigs since I was a teenager but that was generally to see bands with my friends – or my dad – who also liked the same bands. By the end of university I had this ever growing love for punk rock but no friends who might want to go see such music live with me. That’s why forcing myself to go it alone to see The Menzingers was such a turning point for me. Before too long I didn’t care if I had to go alone, I had to get my live punk rock fix. Throughout 2014 and 2015 I gradually upped my attendance at DIY punk shows, mostly in London, then I met Colin… and our favourite thing to do together is go to a gig. The scene itself is just so welcoming and the music is pretty alright too. I don’t think I properly realised just how amazing our punk scene is in the UK until MPF this year. Everyone from the different scenes all over the UK, including our usual London crowd, travelled to punk rock Mecca, aka Manchester, and just had the most amazing time. There were friendly faces everywhere, high fives and hugs a’plenty and just so, so much love for punk rock. It makes my insides all fuzzy thinking about it.

1. Colin’s Punk Rock World
Well, we’ve come full circle. I’ve discovered a hell of a lot of bands through writing for and reading CPRW. Some of my favourites albums of recent years are those that I reviewed for this ’ere blog. Obviously most of that is down to the blog’s namesake who also happens to be someone I share my home and heart with but I don’t want to get all soppy with this post. It was Colin who encouraged me to write my first review for the blog (a gig review/ramble of The Gaslight Anthem’s ‘last’ show with Against Me! supporting) although I was quite happy just to redesign the logo and blog layout. Of course, the other members of the team are all wonderful and vital parts of what makes CPRW so great – plus it’s fun having our group chat to discuss all things punk rock together. I love our little blog family.

This top ten was written by Emma Prew.