Sketch by Rory Brown
Too often interviewers will sit down with a musician and ask them to cite their influences or bands they grew up with. Often they’ll regurgitate a pre-prepared list of acts you’ve heard of just to tick the boxes and push the question aside; rarely do they delve deeper. Yet some of the most interesting things about people are the stories which make them who they are; what they do as a profession, which sport team they support or why their favourite band will only ever be The Stone Roses.
All of these things start from an initial moment. We want to capture these important moments in people’s lives, so we’re asking musicians, our writers and anyone else to talk to us about three albums which are important to them. It might be a record that made them obsess over an artist, one which resonates with their coming of age, a record that reminds them of a personal loss or one that transports them to a certain time and place whenever they hear it. It’s much more than just a list of your favourite albums.
To kick For The Record off we’ve picked Will Ritson, front man of electronic punk band Formation. This year saw the five-piece release their debut album Look At The Powerful People; a record that Will and twin brother Matt have been working towards for the past few years. It felt fitting to chat with someone who’s put out an album in 2017 that will become so important to many people in years to come. In our first For the Record feature, he’s picked three very different records, for very different reasons.
“Picking three important records was really difficult for me so to make it a bit easier I decided to break it down and pick my favourite record of all time, the first record I bought and finally, the most recent record I bought.”
John Coltrane – ‘A Love Supreme’
“This is my favourite record of all time, it was a real eye-opening, mind-bending, spiritual journey the first time I heard it and changed my perspective on music immediately. I grew up singing ‘spiritual’ music in church and playing jazz at school, so the concepts on this record weren’t completely new to me, but the abstract nature of John Coltrane’s Jazz is so much more intense and audacious. His saxophone, his voice, speaks much more deeply and personally than anything I had heard at that time in my late teens and I had it on repeat for weeks, trying to decipher what must have been going through his mind and why it resonated with me so much.
“Also, the team of musicians he had assembled around him was extremely important, Elvin Jones being a big influence on my drumming too, and the connection between them all is totally indestructible, not only on this record, but many others in the classic Coltrane quartet era.”
Foo Fighters – ‘There Is Nothing Left To Lose’
“I remember asking my older brother for recommendations on what CDs I should buy with some birthday money I’d gotten, maybe I was eleven or twelve, and he said if I liked rock and drums then I should check out Foo Fighters. I think this album was on display in HMV so I took a chance on it; being too young to know anything about them at the time. It was a great choice and I still listen to this album now (and without that stupid, nostalgic glisten in my eyes).
“Nothing about it seems dated to me and I think in terms of their long and relentless catalogue this has got to be their best record. It bangs from track one and proceeds with a perfect balance of heavy and delicate songwriting all wrapped into an amazingly well recorded and produced package; the guitars are dirty, the vocal melodies and treatment soar over the roomy, live punch of the drums! This record is what led to them being the biggest band on the planet. BREEEEEEAAAAAAKOOOOUUUUUTTTTTT
Julian Bream – ‘Julian Bream plays Bach and Villa Lobos’
“I have a couple of long e-mail and Whatsapp threads with friends where we share new music, videos, gig dates etc. and one video that my friend Peter sent me recently was an old BBC documentary about classical guitarist Julian Bream. If getting a good recommendation is like striking gold, then this was the equivalent of a gold rush. His playing blew me away, one tear-jerking performance of a piece by Heitor Villa Lobos (‘Prelude No. 4 in E Minor’) and I was straight on Discogs looking for any recorded version of it. I managed to get a record that included Villa Lobos and this amazing piece by Bach (‘Chaconne from Violin Partita No.2’) which is a total adventure and makes me think of spaghetti-western cowboys gun slinging across some arid desert landscape! The way he plays is so tense and dramatic.
“Beyond the impressively speedy fretwork, you really do forget what’s possible on an acoustic guitar, in terms of being absolutely sensitive, but that’s what makes Julian Bream a true master. If anything this record is a reminder to always check out recommendations!”
Good advice that. So Will, if you were to recommend a record from 2017 that our readers have to listen to, which would it be?
“I would recommend the new Estrons EP Glasgow Kisses. They’re such an energetic live band and capture it well on this record and the vocal performance by Thali is especially powerful. It’s a great one to play really loud and piss off the neighbours.”