Looking back through my Spotify rewind for the past 4 years has been quite an experience. It shows my growth as both a person and as a musician. I thought today I would tell you a little about my music and my journey through these playlists.
First, a little context. Aged 14, through a combination of edgy friends and Nightcore gamer music compilations on Youtube I discovered the Emo subculture, in particular the particularly awful glam rock/metal boyband Black Veil Brides. My obsession with the group meant I rapidly changed my look, trading in my nerdy suit jacket for a leather one. Within the year I’d acquired a bass guitar and was crushing Seven Nation Army in my small poster riddled bedroom. It was here I was introduced to classic rock and metal. Metallica, Misfits and W.A.S.P were the direct influences of Black Veil Brides and I embraced the school of thrash metal wholeheartedly. Cliff Burton of Metallica quickly became my very first bass hero, the first proper musical challenge I ever had was figuring out how to play For Whom The Bell Tolls.
Looking back now these bands are so far removed from anything I can relate to now, but as an angry, rejected by the system teenager these songs became the soundtrack of my youth. However, in late 2015 through an introduction to the Smiths by an old girlfriend and a random viewing of the film Sing Street on a plane back off holiday, the healing process had begun. The film had a definitive impact on me, telling the story of a young musician in 1980’s Ireland obsessed with bands like the Cure and Duran Duran. Sing Street remains my favourite film, even if now I realise it’s hardly Oscar worthy (eh? Get it?). The soundtrack is superb, and I quickly went down the rabbit hole that is 80’s indie. Around the same time my bandmates and I all went to see the punk duo Slaves live, and initially my thrash metal roots had made me naively dismiss punk. But when I saw the sheer primal force that is a live punk show, I completely changed my perspective. Through a combination of punk bands old and new, with the ever-present indie influence, my musical vocabulary was beginning to expand.
It’s here where I finally got Spotify, and let me tell you, 2016 is such a mash of really terrible emo music and some actually fairly decent stuff. The worst band by far is Rev theory, a cringey papa roach style act where the lyrical themes are terribly typical for a teenage boy; sex and cars. But where there is dark, there is always light, The Smiths, Hole and even Bob Dylan make an appearance in my top songs. It should also be mentioned that this is when I started studying music full time both in and out of college and I had begun to get a rudimentary understanding of my instrument. Maybe I would have a chance in this industry after all.
The next few years for me are a sense of duality. On one hand, I had become proficient enough at bass to take my very first steps in the Cambridge music scene. My band Psycho Candy was getting semi-regular gigs, I was going to see live music often and I had even attempted some session work. These are the years that were so formative for me as a musician and as you’ll soon understand, a person. You see, while all these achievements were going on, I was stuck in the deepest darkest depression I have ever experienced. I was living in a YMCA, alone, poor, trapped in a toxic relationship with a girl I hadn’t even met and through my own actions had ruined my relationship with my family. I admit I got low. I was a total mess. My music was my only escape from the realities of adulthood. However, I’m still alive, able to write for you lovely people and that is thanks to a titanic effort from myself, the constant support from my parents and finally an end to the afore mentioned toxic influence. I was eventually able to move back in with my family, and together we moved to Derby where I now study Music full time. By mid 2019 I had started Needs More Cowbell and I could see the light at the end of a very long, very dark tunnel.
It’s now 2020 in the midst of the corona virus pandemic and despite how horrid the world is right now I feel as though I’ve finally settled into my own skin and musically, I’m growing every day. My playlists now include classic rock, folk, Motown and ska, with my staples of punk and indie maturing into a musical sensibility that I can be proud of. I’m writing an album, I’m just about to finish my first year at Uni with flying colours and while I still have bad days, things can only go up from here. Not bad for only 20 eh?
PEACE LOVE AND MOTHERFUCKING COWBELLS,