Thursday, 11 November 2021

Top Tens: Luke Seymoup's Top Ten Influences

I’m absolutely thrilled to be here on Colin’s Punk Rock World today! And, I’m equally thrilled to have the chance to nerd out about all the influences that have helped make the Seymoup Expanded Universe what it is today! As a musician, I’ve always been a bit of a misfit in terms of genre. I’ve always considered myself a punk musician but others haven’t always been so kind (haha). Punk music is my first and longest passion, but there were definitely a lot of different artists and styles along the way that have contributed to the way my music sounds. I’m glad to have the chance to put on paper (or screen, as it were) all the inspirations that have made me the musician I am. Narrowing down to a list of ten is always hard (there are so many artists that only just missed the cut) but, right now, these seemed like the most important to include. I just hope Brian Fallon, Mike Skinner and Kacey Musgraves can forgive me for the snub!

Alkaline Trio
Anyone who has spoken to me for any length of time since I was about 15 years old probably knows how obsessed I am with this band. Alkaline Trio is the shining example of a band that knows what they do well and sticking to it. They’ve introduced some different elements over the years (like going a bit New Wave on “Agony & Irony”) but the core mix of sweet vocal melodies with dark lyrics is always there. There are so many Alkaline Trio songs that I wish I could have written. Having played in bands with only one guitarist for decades, Skiba’s style certainly influenced how I write and play lead parts (my song ‘MulderScully’ is proof of that). I get a kick out of seeing local bands play live and finding that Skiba influence in the guitar parts. You can always tell.

The Lemonheads
I first heard The Lemonheads on a compilation I bought in high school called “All That Punk.” They’ve always had an affiliation with the punk scene but calling them a punk band is a bit of a stretch. Regardless of genre, the song on there (“Confetti”) had me instantly hooked. Evan Dando’s deep, smooth vocals over loud ringing open chords was addictive and it made me dig into whatever else I could find from them. If Skiba influenced my lead guitar playing, Evan Dando made me love layers and layers of big rhythm guitars that leave your ears ringing. Such an incredible songwriter who knows when to be funny and when to be serious and you never, ever question his sincerity.

Bruce Springsteen
I have memories of listening to the oldies station in the car when I was a kid and having my mum change channels when Bruce came on because she didn’t like his voice. Maybe falling in love with his music was a bit of rebellion for me? Bruce Springsteen was definitely an odd musician for me to become obsessed with at the peak of the emo-pop era. I was a saxophone player as well and the shrieking solos that Clarence Clemons delivered across Bruce’s discography get my blood pumping to this day. What can I possibly add about Bruce’s lyrics that everyone doesn’t already know? His songs have been so important to me for so long and, when I was first forming my band, I was pitching the idea of it to potential members as a “Punk Rock version of the E Street Band.” I think we still live up to that concept in some way.

The Distillers
I’m sure I’ve told the story in an interview before, but I discovered The Distillers by finding a printed lyric sheet for ‘Dismantle Me’ someone left behind in a classroom in high school. I was hooked on the imagery in the lyrics immediately: vultures pounding their wings; wanting to bury someone; the humidity of Swanston Street on a hot day. I had to hear the song as soon as I could. What I discovered was a howling voice from Brody Dalle and wild energy to the band that I would strive to replicate in my own music for years. Maybe Brody’s voice was my inspiration for the volume I usually sing (and speak) at.

Glenn Danzig is a person who feels like he was conceived as a character in some kind of abstract gothic novel yet, somehow, he’s a real person who exists. I love that he has a vision and aesthetic for exactly what kind of music/comics/movies/whatever he wants to make and he’s stuck to it for nearly half a century. I’m not a metalhead by any stretch of the imagination, but those first three Danzig solo albums feel like some of the heaviest music ever made. Danzig doesn’t need screaming or down-tuned guitars to make his music heavy. Blues riffs in standard tuning and his demonic Elvis impression get the job done. Any record he appears on is something I need to own (yes, even Danzig Sings Elvis). His discography has classics upon classics upon classics and, if you haven’t already, you need to spend a little bit of time appreciated every era of Danzig’s career (especially Samhain who rarely get talked about).

Wu-Tang Clan
When I got my driver’s licence, I think “Enter The Wu-Tang” was the only album in my car for about 6 months straight. Consequently, I think I’ve heard that album more times in my life than I’ve heard any other. Still, even now, listening to it feels as fresh to me as when I first heard it and I constantly discover new samples, lyrics and ideas in it that I’ve never noticed before. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. The Wu-Tang Clan appeals to me because each member has their own distinct personality with their own vocal style, lyrical idiosyncrasies, and personality. They’re a cohesive unit where each member operates at the top of their game to create something that’s truly special and truly unique. The songs introduce all different kinds of concepts in their song structures and composition. No two tracks are alike on Enter The Wu-Tang or any other album. There are so many different styles across their group and solo discographies that, even if you don’t think you’ll like them all, there’s certainly something that will appeal to you. Wu-Tang Forever.

Against Me!
I have a vivid memory of playing a basement show in 2007 and having my band absolutely butcher a cover of “Baby, I’m An Anarchist.” I’m glad it happened in an age before smart phones because I wouldn’t want to let Laura down like that now. I’m a sucker for a huge chorus and Laura Jane Grace writes them like no one else can. Every Against Me! record is different from the last and they’re all classics in their own way (I won’t rest until White Crosses gets the recognition it deserves!). The one thing that ties them all together is the huge choruses that make you want to scream every word like it’s the last thing you’ll ever do. When I’m stuck for a chorus, I often find myself asking “what would Laura do?” This band is also responsible for my obsession with exclamation marks and made me insist my old band Miyazaki! never have our name spelled without one.

My Chemical Romance
I love fiction and storytelling (especially comics, more on that later). My Chemical Romance always had a vision for their music that allowed them to talk about their personal struggles through the lens of a high-concept narrative, rather than in a literal way. What kind of punk band writes a whole album about someone trying to earn their way out of hell by collecting the souls of evil men? It’s unheard of outside this band, I’m sure! Oft imitated and never equalled. And yes! I’m saying punk band despite their genre-affiliations over the years. You can’t listen to Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and tell me that’s not pure punk rock! It’s 2021, get past their look! This band is solely responsible for any time I’ve written a song or album that told a long, in-depth narrative. I’m not sorry about it and I’m sure they’re not either.

Ramones (specifically 80s & 90s Ramones)
Look, I love those first four 70s Ramones albums as much as anyone, but there’s something truly special about the way they grew and changed through the 1980s. It’s only when you listen to their whole discography that you start to realise how much they experimented with different sounds through their career. You want straight-up punk? “Too Tough To Die” has you covered. 50s/60s pop? Check out “End Of The Century.” Want them to play with synths? They did it a whole bunch of times! There are some true musical and lyrical gems that people aren’t aware of because they insist on only spinning the first disc of that 1999 Ramones anthology compilation. That signature simplicity in the chord progressions, melodies and lyrics is still there, but they have plenty of songs on those later albums that are deep and emotionally moving. Listen to “Poison Heart” or “She Talks To Rainbows” and try not to feel something. I DARE YOU! I’ve read every book there is to read about the Ramones so, if I ever get invited onto a music quiz show, they’re going to be my specialty category.

Chris Claremont's X-Men
Finally, I’m going to end with something non-musical. My two great obsessions in life are songwriting and comic books, with the X-Men being my comic of choice. I spent most of my university years (when I should have been studying) memorising every facet of X-Men continuity from the preceding 50 years. Enter Chris Claremont. Chris Claremont wrote Uncanny X-Men for 16 years, from 1975 to 1991. Not to mention countless spin-offs through the 1980s and returns to various titles after that. Anything that you probably know or like about the X-Men is his doing. In some ways, I feel like Chris Claremont partially raised me, as a result of the literal years of my life spent with his work. Claremont was always the master of creating his own universe-within-a-universe where concepts would cross from one of his titles to another, or a small seed of story planted in the 1970s would pay off in a huge way some time in the late 80s. Building a world of continuity is what I want to do with my music. I want to be as prolific as Chris Claremont and have everything I put out matter to my discography overall. There are no throwaway songs or albums. EVERY. SINGLE. THING. is important! Welcome to the Seymoup Expanded Universe. You’re living in it.

Luke Seymoup has a brand new single out on Monday 15th November, titled Serengeti, and you can pre-save the track now.

Luke says ‘It's a ballad dedicated to all the dearly departed music venues that we've lost in Melbourne over the last few years (thanks to Covid, real estate nonsense and those awful people who move in next to a venue and complain about the noise).’

Check out Luke Seymoup’s discography on Bandcamp and like them on Facebook.

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