Thursday, 13 April 2017

Top Tens: John Maiello of Dead Bars Top Ten Punk Rock Influences

1) Green Day - 'Dookie'

In 1994, I was 7 years old and my parents both worked so for about an hour every afternoon I was in an after school program. I was in 2nd grade, and one of the 'older' kids in 5th grade showed me the song 'Basket Case' by Green Day on his Walkman cassette player. It was the greatest song I had ever heard in my life up until that point, and it made me feel a certain feeling that I'd never felt before. Not long after that I went to the store with my mom, and asked her if I could get the Green Day tape. I think it was 4 dollars. My mom, being a new mom, was excited that I was interested in something new so she got it for me. I went home and blasted it on my little boombox, and it only took a little while before my mom read the lyrics and decided that 'Dookie' was not appropriate for a 7 year old, so she took it away. I didn't even know the term 'Punk Rock', but I don't know if I would be here doing what I'm doing if it wasn't for Green Day.

2) Blink 182 - 'Dude Ranch'

A few years went by and I sampled a lot of different music as a kid in elementary school - mostly stuff that was on the radio and MTV. It was 1997, and I think I heard Blink 182's 'Dammit' in a movie trailer for the film 'Cant Hardly Wait'. I remember getting the same feeling that 'Basket Case' gave me. I thought it was the greatest song in the world, and I wanted to know more about this band. By that time I had a CD player and I bought 'Dude Ranch' on CD.

3) My friend, Derek Reilly

Green Day and Blink 182 were pretty mainstream bands, at least at the time I got into them. Both 'Dookie' and 'Dude Ranch' were released on major labels and both bands were selling out major venues, and they were, for lack of a better term, Rock Stars. As a young person getting into this type of music, I surrounded myself with other kids who were into the same music. My friend Alex was listening to a bunch of crazy stuff that he was getting from his older brother, Derek. Derek is 4 years older than me and was not only listening to awesome music, he was also playing awesome music in local bands. He was one of the founding members of Hidden In Plain View, who eventually went on to sign with Drive Thru Records. If it wasn't for me knowing Derek and going to see his bands play at a very early age, I don't know if I'd have the same drive to take my love for punk music and actually start bands and play punk music.

4) The Get Up Kids - 'Something to Write Home About'

I bought this CD when I was 12 years old, and it was my first introduction to what was described as Emo music. It was the first time that I heard something that I wasn't convinced was Punk music, but I didn't care because it was so good. It basically opened my eyes to the possibilities of song-writing. It didn't have to just be snotty pop punk songs. It could be more mature and more melodic, and I liked that.

5) Refused - 'The Shape of Punk to Come'

I also bought this CD when I was 12 or 13, and it was another eye opening experience. It was the moment that I realized that there was no formula for punk rock. It's about feeling and attitude, and not necessarily structure or sound. I must have listened to this album 1000 times. It was a huge part of my teenage years.

6) 'Our Band Could Be Your Life' by Michael Azzerod

I got this book when I was 14. This book was a major influence on me because it detailed the stories of so many influential bands that were before my time. This is how I learned about Black Flag, Minor Threat, The Replacements, etc. It reaffirmed that you could do whatever you want as a musician. DIY. The book title says it all.

7) My Friends Jarret Seltzer and Tom Keiger of Face First and Houston Calls

When I was a teenager in Northern New Jersey, Face First was THE band. Hundreds of people would go see them all over the state, and their shows were the most fun I have ever had. I saw them at least 20 times, but in 2003 they decided to call it quits. At the time, I was playing drums in a band with my high school friends, and I asked Jarrett from Face First if we could open their final show, and he said 'Yes'. It was my dream come true, and I'll always appreciate that because they really didn't have to have us play. Jarrett and Tom from the band went on to form Houston Calls who eventually got signed to Drive Thru Records. They were the first friends of mine who were actually realizing their dreams by putting out records, and touring all over the world. They also gave me a chance to tour with them; I sold their merch. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to see the country and work for one of my favorite bands. Later on, Tom and I actually played music together in a couple bands, and he is really the only reason I live in Seattle, weirdly enough.


In my early 20s, after playing drums in bands my whole life, I decided to try and learn guitar and write my own songs. At first, it was discouraging because it's not that easy, and I was having trouble playing along to songs I liked. Then I put on the Ramones and I re-remembered the beauty of simplicity. If it wasn't for the Ramones, I probably would have given up on guitar, and Dead Bars may have never been.

9) Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead

In the documentary, 'Lemmy: The Movie', a journalist asked Lemmy something like "Why do you keep going after 35 years on road?" and Lemmy responded, "You have a dream when you're a kid, and mine came true. Why stop?" That's what I want to say 35 years from now when you ask me this question.

10) My bandmate and partner in crime, C.J. Frederick

When I was writing the first batch of Dead Bars songs, I was at a pretty low point in my life. Uninspired, confused, and probably depressed. A lot of people who I showed my songs to thought they were pretty stupid, which advanced the insecurities I already had about singing and songwriting. For a while, the idea of ever forming a Dead Bars band was nothing more than a dream. When C.J. joined the band, I gained a great bandmate, but also a great friend. We've shared a lot of influences with each other, and have discovered new ones together. His influences and passions have made their way into the Dead Bars songs and I am forever grateful.

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