Hi, it’s Will from Misgivings everyone. You might know me from being the guy that plays two sets at shows in Portsmouth sometimes, sometimes three.
I thought I’d talk through some of my main inspirations and influences for songwriting and being a musician in the form of a Top Ten on this fantastic website Colin’s Punk Rock World. Some of these are people in bands, some of these are people who are not in bands, some of these things aren’t even people. Try to bear with me.
1. Gordon Ramsay
I do my best work when I’m a bit knackered to be honest. I feel like there’s a sweet spot for how ideas manifest themselves when you’ve just got home from a tiring day at work and your body is telling you to spend the evening napping on the sofa watching Gordon Ramsay’s Hotel Nightmares, but then instead you spend the evening playing your acoustic guitar but still watching Gordon Ramsay’s Hotel Nightmares while pressing record on your phone’s voice memos.
The reason why Rob sometimes shouts obscenities while we’re playing is because he expects to hear Gordon shouting ‘where’s the fucking lamb sauce?’ in the quieter parts of the songs from listening to the demos. I also find watching sports a good songwriting prompt, when Gordon isn’t on.
2. Robert Pollard (Guided by Voices and every other band he’s been in)
I had a Tory mate at school who told me that ‘Thatcher only slept about 3 hours a week’ (or something) and got out of bed super early and then spent the day running the country into the ground. I’m not comparing this total hero to the Iron Lady, but I heard that Robert Pollard gets up at 6am every day, writes songs and makes collages all morning and may end up with a whole album by the end of the day. ‘Uncle Bob’ has appeared on and designed the artwork for around 100 albums and many of them are worth a listen, he’s a songwriting machine. He has the ability to write playful guitar riffs, great melodies that never get old, short concise songs with lyrics that cover a wide range of emotions and does so at a really alarming rate. He also seems to be chronically tequila drunk.
3. My Musical Friends
So this is an important one. I was lucky to grow up in a musical family, but even luckier to have some good pals in Fareham/Portsmouth who I grew up playing rock and punk music with, drinking all night and going on long midnight walks to the woods.
I’ve always been an obsessive music fan and there are maybe four or five bands that I’m the biggest nerd about but none of my friends really give a shit about any of them and vice versa which means the only time we really talk about music is when we’re talking about our own, if that makes sense. So I get a lot of chances to air ideas out with people.
4. My House
So Ollie and I started the band in the room that I’m writing this interview, all the way back in 2013. The room has been his room, it’s also been mine and it’s currently my studio room (currently inhabited by boxes of our new record Hermitage, buy it!). We’ve written many of our songs in the very same area of the room. The room doesn’t really have any particular acoustic quality but I’ve recorded crappy demos in here for the past five years and somehow that makes things sound right.
5. Bob Mould
Shocker. It’s been observed before that my guitar sound/style is a bit of Hüsker Dü/Sugar (although I like to think I’m a bit cleaner!) but the thing that inspires me the most about Bob (the second Bob of this list!) is his lyrical honesty, which is surely the reason for his success and legendary status. I’ve been a fan for so long that it’s difficult to separate where his influence begins and ends in me, but his music has always been there. Thanks Bob.
6. Patrick Stickles & Titus Andronicus
So one of my favourite bands of the last decade is this band Titus Andronicus. I wore their T-shirt in the video for ‘Call It Off’ which has the cross and the A on it, which I seem to get some shit for because people think I’m wearing the anarchy symbol like a poser, but anyway, Titus Andronicus are brilliant so it’s worth it. The mastermind behind the band, Patrick Stickles writes concept albums about the civil war, addiction, mental health and everything they do seems to be very joyful and angry at the same time. They’re definitely a band for the lover of a lyric sheet and their records tend to include covers which made me check out stuff like Pulp and Daniel Johnston which probably would have passed me by otherwise.
7. Going on long walks with R.E.M.
So my best buddy Pete and I are totally obsessed with R.E.M. and we always talked about how the singer used to drive around with instrumental tracks and mumble along jibberish lyrics until the lyrics would formulate themselves. I don’t drive, but I often like to walk around listening to instrumental/acoustic demos of my songs and looking for the right notes… but if then that doesn’t work out and I get frustrated, I just put on ‘Reckoning’ and I feel good pretty quickly.
8. Great Shows
A bit cheesy I know, but I genuinely feel really up for writing songs and making music the more I’m surrounded by it. Some of the shows that have been on over the last few years have really inspired me, whether it’s just to show appreciation to the hardworking promoters by writing more music and taking what we do seriously or aspiring to be as good as some of the artists we have in the city and who visit us.
9. Books About Songwriting
This one is probably quite boring but I think I used to pretend that songwriting was something you either had or didn’t have, but like most other things it’s probably a skill that you practice, and I’ve found that to be particularly well challenged by the books ‘Writing Better Lyrics’ by Pat Pattison and ‘Tunesmith’ by Jimmy Webb. If I was ever asked for advice about how to get good at writing songs then this would be my go-to.
So this is maybe one of my all time favourite inspirations, I mentioned how obsessive I get about bands and records and a good rock documentary really is like Christmas.
XTC’s ‘This Is Pop’ comes to mind, the Descendents film as well as the 3 hour long Tom Petty documentary. Watch a documentary about a band you’ve never heard or aren’t sure about and it’s like a journey. But you don’t even have to move.
Not much more to say on this one really, thank you for reading!
Misgivings release their new album Hermitage on December 7th via Lockjaw Records and Charlie's Big Ray Gun Records. Pre-order the album here. Keep up to date with all things Misgivings here.