I read a post over at Gala Darling today, and she talked about your palate band – the group or songwriter who made you realize music was more than just the top 20.
I can’t define just one song, or one band, but I can name about ten pivotal songs, bands or musical “epiphanies” that have not just impacted my taste in music, but affected my life and personality profoundly.
Ever since I can remember, we always had music on in the house – whether it was the local classic hits station, my “Snoopy’s Christmas” tape, or my parents’ vinyl collection, my sister and I spent many a happy hour sitting in front of the huge speakers, drawing and playing and arguing and absorbing all that wonderful music. Queen, Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper and T-Rex stand out during this period – bands I still love today.
As a child I listened to more music than I watched cartoons – and for a kid, that’s saying a lot. Even the TV I did watched tended to be taped replays of my favorite snoopy cartoons, the rugby with my dad and Walt Disney’s Monster Hits (one of the first major musical influences of my life). If you’ve never seen this, it’s a collection of all the darkest, spookiest clips and songs from disney films. Songs like “Bad Moon Rising”, “The Monster Mash” and “Evil Women” should ave given the world the first clue I was born to be a darkling. It gave me delicious shivers – a sense of the kind of art I eventually wanted to create.
At primary school, I was bullied. Horribly, brutally bullied. And I found solace in the music. I developed my first ever “obsession” over a song – “Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum. I still get teary every time I hear that song. I wanted so badly to just up and run away, go somewhere where no one knew me, and I could start over – a couple of times I even did, but I never got very far. I’m always drawn to songs about freedom, like Iron Maiden’s “Running Free” and Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam”.
At around age 10, I caught the Spice Girls bug. Yep, I did. The local radio station I listened to played mostly classic rock, but would sometimes play a few “chart” hits, and they stated playing Wannabe and I just LOVED it. So catchy. My parents brought me the album for my birthday and I got caught up in the whole Girl Power thing. I was quite insufferable. I dressed up to look like Sporty Spice (she was my favorite, and the first girl I ever saw with a tattoo), and I wanted to be just like them. The Spice Girls appealed to me because they were the first solely female band I’d ever heard, and the first female singer that made me feel like being a girl made me special and powerful, rather than weak, like I felt at school. This started my lifelong love affair with women in rock and metal.
At around age 12, I met Alanis Morrissette. From the first note, I was in love. That voice, that rage, those lyrics like poetry. This was around the time I started going off the Spice Girls.
At age 14 I was listening to a local chart show, that “Phat Forty” and they were taking requests for a “Back Phat” – a hit from somewhere back in time. Someone rang up and requested Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”
Changed my life.
This was what I had been waiting for. This was the music I was born to listen to. All I wanted was more, more, MORE. I went to the Warehouse and brought my first Metallica Album – S&M (Yeah, a weird pick, but I didn’t know what any of the albums were, and that one had the most songs on it. I didn’t even know it was a live album). I took that baby home and it was like a religious conversion, I loved it so much. Over the next couple of months, I brought every metallica album. Someone told me about a radio station “The Rock” which played lots of Metallica and other metal, so I swapped over and started listening to that instead. I brought my first ever metal shirt – an original, official Metal Up Your Ass one, which I still own. I became a little Metallica-obsessed. I heard Iron Maiden for the first time and brought a couple of their albums.
I became annoyed at The Rock, because apart from Metallica and Iron Maiden, they didn’t really play any “metal”, and I knew there had to be more. When I was … around 16, I think, my parents got the internet! Eeeeee! Napster had already gone under (we were late to the game) but my enterprising sister downloaded Kazaa (remember Kazaa?) I started by downloading the back catelogue of every artist Metallica covered on “Garage Inc” and obsessively reading Metallica forums and checking out the bands they listened to.
I discovered Slayer, I discovered Meshuggah and Testament and Saxon. My CD collection started to grow. I was hooked for life.
I also discovered Nick Cave.
Who I will marry one day, even if I have to gag and kidnap him. Nick Cave is … heaven. His songs sound like my books – at least, they sound the way I want my books to read: darkly funny, incredibly clever, full of puns and mythic reimaginings and literary figures. I was lucky enough to see him live and meet him in person and I tell you he is hands down the best performer on earth, metal or nay.
And his voice … ergggggg *drools on keyboard* Nick Cave’s voice haunts my dreams. I am a sucker for men with dark, interesting voices. My BFF’s ex once rang our flat and CDH answered and ever since, she’s wanted to meet him because his voice gives her orgasms.
At uni I met a wonderful friend, Johnowar, and he introduced me to Manowar and Blind Guardian. My love of metal from Europe was born. I, in turn, introduced European metal to CDH, who used to be a no. 1 Cradle of Filth fan, but now bounces around like a happy baby at a Blind Guardian concert.
So these are my palete bands. If you haven’t guessed, these songs will feature in this week’s Metal Mixtape. But now I want to hear from you – what were the turning points in your music appreciation? How did you discover these bands – did you hear them by chance, did you have a metal “mentor” who thrust CD after CD upon you until you heard something that made your knees weak? Don’t worry if you’re not actually into metal – just tell me about how you found the music that shaped your life.
Yours with Nick Cave’s Bastard Children \m/