May 2, 2019 · music writing

Eight Influences

Laff Attack Rappin' & Goofin'

I'll never know what possessed me to buy this on tape at the ripe age of 10. There was a palpable anticipation and uncertainty about what the fuck was going to come out of the speakers. Listen to Doug E. Fresh & MC Ricky D in particular and imagine a 10 year old Polish immigrant living in the midwest, hearing this completely different world for the first time. I think what struck me most was the humor. It was my musical coming out of the closet moment.

OMD - If You Leave

That my memory is alarmingly poor makes me particularly introspective about the ones that do stick, and for what reason. I recall walking through a mall, eyeing up an arcade, the anticipation of walking in and salivating over watching others play was building up, and then this track stopped me dead in my tracks. Was it the synth? The melody? The unique blend of a voice that was clearly masculine yet somehow soft? I don't know, but it really caught me off guard. To this day, a single second of this track transports me. Music is a time machine.

Ministry - Thieves

Holy fuck, listening to Ministry is painful, and not in a good way. Clearly, I was into this because I was an angsty, spoiled little teenage shit. But there was one important lesson I learned here and I'll enumerate by way of a funny story that comes to mind. My bandmates and I were celebrating at some kind of event to mark the end of a show.

When I say bandmates, I don't mean fucking Jimmy on guitar, Rob on bass, and Tammy on synth with me on vocals. I mean Brad on trombone, and Scott on Tuba. Anyway, the function was going smoothly, until we hatched a plan to get the Ministry tape out of my blue Dodge Daytona and ask the DJ to play this tune, knowing full well that at 1 minute 18 seconds shit was going to get real serious and it was our civic, teenage duty to mosh up the dance floor.

I suppose in a sense I am still playing the wrong tracks at the wrong time.

Jane's Addiction - Jane Says

In High School our band (see text in 'Ministry - Thieves') went to some mega band halftime performance thing for some football bowl shit and I got ill on tacos. I listened to that Jane's Addiction CD on repeat ad nauseam like a baby holds on to its soother. Maybe it wasn't the tacos, but instead my repeated flicking of the CD player to make it skip in a controlled way, which consequently fucked with my worldview to the point that I transitioned away from a normal human to a musician, leaving me ill like some kind of spiritual sweat lodge experience. In retrospect, I think the age of the skipping CD player was a global clarion call for curious, burgeoning audio pranksters.

Oh, while you're at it, Youtube "Jane Says" and then tell me that it was AFX who kicked off the atonal sound and Jamie XX who birthed the use of steel drums in unexpected places.

Primus - Jerry Was A Race Car Driver

I have nothing witty to say here. Oh wait, something just came to mind. Fuck, got distracted by the fucking slay ass rhythm and melody, and who's the fucking genius that decided to roll the drums so damn hard on the breakdown?

I didn't have MTV during the time this came out, but watching the video for the first time now I can see that this scene was directly responsible for inspiring the fashion style for the very early rave days.

Dinosaur Jr - Green Mind

When I was 17, I got a girl's phone number, and called her up to ask if she wanted to hang out. Her parents dropped her off at the K-Mart parking lot so they could make sure I wasn't too abnormal. We had a nothingburger of a relationship.

Pearl Jam - Ten

Truthfully, talking about music is a fucking waste of time. It's a right place, right time kind of experience. "Getting" it or not doesn't say anything about you, it just means... fuck, there I am doing it again. Pearl Jam theses are very much off limits to everyone but high schoolers.

The Prodigy - Wind It Up + Your Love

My first clubbing experience was as a 14 year old in a really sketchy venue down an even sketchier alley in a shitty part of town. It was no more than 10 feet square. Literally, literally. I can still smell the smoke machine and despite the fact that there were only 3-5 of us there I truly was taken to another dimension.

Don't worry if you missed this era. Your time has its own mystical, strange music, you just have to find it, or be the one to make it.

Originally posted to The Ransom Note