1. Bob Mould
So this is a weird one. Weird because Bob's influence started before I even heard any of his music.
I got my first guitar aged 11. I didn't take lessons. For the first couple of years the handful of people I knew who also 'played' guitar were into guitarist guitarists – Slash, Steve Vai, whoever was in the Red Hot Chili Peppers that week. I could hear they were all good musicians, but fuck… fret wanking bored me. I liked Green Day. I liked Nirvana. I liked songwriting. A friend of mine had one of those monthly guitar magazines – Total Guitar or something. I didn't care for them. But, this one issue had a piece on Hüsker Dü. I read it because Billie Joe Armstrong once said (something on the lines of), 'Hüsker Dü, the Replacements and weed were the 3 biggest influences on Green Day.' In this article it said Hüsker Dü sounded like a 4 piece even though there were 3 members in the band. It explained it was down to Bob's playing style. Hold a root note and move the other fingers around. Instead of going out and getting a Hüsker Dü album, I just started playing this way – no idea if it was right, or even similar, but it started to sound okay. I stuck with it and still have a hard time explaining songs to other people in the band.
When I finally heard something Bob played on, it still wasn't Hüsker Dü – 'Copper Blue' by Sugar instead. Now one of my all time favourite records. Bob's output during the 2010s has been absolutely fantastic in my opinion too.
2. John K Samson
You know how some bands hit upon something a little bit different, something maybe not unique – we all have to use F, C and G after all – but something exciting, a style unheard of before, Mogwai, Jawbreaker and Leatherface for example. They then spawn a whole host of copycat bands? It's by no means a bad thing.
I've been guilty of trying to write a Jawbreaker style song. A Hot Water Music/Iron Chic type chorus. With JKS the influence isn't trying to write in his vein. I simply couldn't. I couldn't do it justice. I'm not that good. He is THAT unique. JKS's influence is more about aiming to write the best words I can. Telling a story. Making the mundane sound beautiful, the everyday picturesque, the sad relatable (but not woe-is-me and self-pitying).
JKS is poetry. My brain is thinking of a million examples of how to highlight this. I'll leave it with 'Sun in an Empty Room.' My favourite lyric ever. Perfection.
3. Chewing On Tinfoil
The guys in Chewy create some of the best music I've ever heard. Each song is full of so much emotion and energy, with great songwriting and great musicianship. They could be massive but I love how they keep it DIY and stay low key.
One of the first punk bands I ever heard was All, on a game called Street Skater on the Playstation. I instantly fell in love with punk rock and have been a fan of both All and Descendents for 20 years now. Their bassist, Karl Alvarez, was one of the reasons I picked up bass instead of guitar and his playing style helped to shape my own.
I sort of wish that I could have put a really obscure band that I’d seen play at the Attik in Leicester years ago that had a really profound effect on me but honestly if it wasn’t for NOFX I’d probably not have discovered my love for punk and still been a long haired grunge kid. When I was 12, I bought a copy of Kerrang magazine that came with a SD called ‘Search and Destroy: The History of Punk’. Dinosaurs Will Die was the first track and that was it, completely hooked. Nirvana hoody in the bin and off with my paper round money to buy anything on Epitaph that I could find.
6. The Lawrence Arms
I first heard the Lawrence Arms when Jim from Our Souls showed me ‘The Corpses of Our Motivations’ about 15 years ago and they’ve been my favourite band pretty much ever since. Lyrically (especially Chris), I think they’re brilliant. Musically, I love all the subtle bass chords Brendan chucks in every now and again and Neil’s drums are always a perfect fit for the songs. I used to always try and chuck as many fills in as possible when I was playing but listening to how he played it showed me that you had to do what’s best for the songs not just yourself. Amazing band.
7. Screeching Weasel
I picked up Weaselmania years ago, a compilation of tunes from their records up to 'Teen Punks In Heat', and it blew my mind. That was that. Ever since I’ve been a full on Weaselhead. I love Ben Weasel’s ability to mix irreverence with sincerity lyrically whilst backing it all up with killer tunes. Honestly I think he's a genius, warts and all. I could never figure out if Jughead’s lead parts were so simple because he couldn’t play particularly well or because that was just the musical aesthetic they were going for. I don’t suppose it matters much when the results are so sweet. OK, the outputs been patchy since circa '96 but I defy anyone to challenge the assertion that LPs like 'My Brain Hurts' and 'How To Make Enemies and Irritate People' (with Mike Dirnt on bass) are anything other than fully fledged pop-punk masterpieces. I think the biggest thing I try to apply from Weasel to my own playing and writing is the KISS motto – Keep It Simple Stupid.
Around about when I was 19 or so I found myself on some long forgotten website and stumbled upon a band from Leicester, our hometown. I played the track on offer 'Proud To Fail' and couldn’t believe the explosion of snotty skate punk majesty spat out of my speakers. That something local could be so good astounded me and reset my expectations and ambitions as to what I might be able to do. I’d still be happy to be half as good. The song 'Another Five Days' on the Our Souls EP quotes 'Proud to Fail' in humble tribute and wholehearted unity with its sentiment. I still rate them as the single best band from Leicester I’ve heard and seen over the last 15 years or so. They've now long since broken up but their output is still kicking about the internet and is well worth loaning an ear to if you like foot-to-the-floor full throttle melodic punk rock.
I have been hooked on NOFX ever since I first heard them on a Punk-o-Rama CD when I was about 13. Learning to play their songs on guitar and bass helped me understand how a simple chord structure can turn into a completely different song with the use of octave chords and different rhythms. NOFX helped my guitar playing grow and definitely influence me still.
10. Morning Glory
When I first heard 'This Is No Time Ta Sleep' and 'The Suicide Singles' with the programmed drum machine, shitty sounding guitars, bass that sounded muffled, vocals that sounded like they were recorded in a wheelie bin, I thought 'this is great!'. The songs are upbeat and positive sounding but had negative soaring lyrics full of feeling. I came to learn it was just one guy who recorded it on an 8 track reel-to-reel recorder. This inspired me to get recording down my own tracks, with drums, bass, guitars and vocals. This is something I still do to this day and is a great way to flesh out ideas for songs. I can easily spend a whole afternoon getting engrossed in a song. Usually to the point where I can’t stand it anymore!