Just because rock stars are cool, doesn't mean they don't have appalling taste in music...
Ol’ Dirty Bastard
Frank Iero, the former My Chemical Romance guitarist, grew up listening to the blues and jazz that his drummer father and grandfather would play in late night New Jersey bars. It was that music that informed his early influences, with the blues-folk of Richie Havens a particular favourite. The soul of Otis Redding was also an early influence. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay is by far my favourite song of all time,” said Frank once. “If I feel sad, happy, uncomfortable or anything, this song will make me feel good. It’s an instant cleanser for my emotions.” But while the grunge of Nirvana led him to the punk of Black Flag, The Bouncing Souls, Jawbone and others, there has long been a place in Frank’s heart for the downright what the fuck. “I love that [Pras and O.D.B.] song Ghetto Supastar, That Is What You Are,” he said. “Pretty much anything O.D.B. raps on is good but this is great. Come on dude! This is pretty damn good! I have this on my iPod and, yeah, I’ll put it on in the car. I have no shame about this. I have a few other guilty pleasures, another one is Eamon’s Fuck It – that’s a pretty rad song. It’s frightening isn’t it?”
Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker has long flitted between punk rock and hip hop, his Transplants sideproject with Rancid’s Tim Armstrong blending the two forms. His early loves were the likes of The Descendants – particularly I’m Not A Loser from the seminal Milo Goes To College, about which he said: “You can tell why I like this song from its title. It’s pretty self-explanatory. When I was growing up, people were always quick to tell me that I’d never make it. Everything I tried, they’d tell me I couldn’t do, that I was a loser. It happened with everything, from what I did to the way I looked. This song made me realise I didn’t care.” But he was just as influenced by rap. “I love Tupac and particularly Hit ‘Em Up,” he said. “Tupac didn’t give a fuck. I loved that about him.” But a lot of his other influences are more drum-based – with Jimi Hendrix’s drummer Mitch Mitchell a favourite and Elvis Costello’s Steve Goulding another. So far, so good. And then there’s Culture Club. “I love fucking Karma Chameleon,” he once cheered. “I don’t care how fucked up Boy George is now, but I love him. I love Culture Club’s music too. There’s something about it that just makes me feel good no matter what I’m doing. I don’t care what you think, this is good shit!” OK, Travis. Sure.
For some reason, The Shadows are a band that seem to exist as a pre-Beatles laughing stock, forever associated with Cliff Richard, Hank Marvin’s massive glasses and their twee dance moves. It’s why, if you were to claim that – without them – popular music would not exist, people raise eyebrows. But, had they not twanged and twangled their way through the ‘50s, The Beatles may well not have formed, the Stones may not have happened and … heavy metal would almost certainly never have been invented.
Because the first music that Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi ever loved was that of The Shadows.
“They were a big influence on my early life,” he says. “Them and Chuck Berry. But it was The Shadows who were the bigger inspiration, partly because they were played more frequently on the radio. “I couldn’t afford discs in them days – in fact, if I’d taken a disc into my school I’d have been murdered – so I’d listen to everything on the radio. I’d sit up in my room listening to the Top 20. Songs by The Shadows always stuck out to me – Wonderful Land or Apache were great.”
They were the first songs he learned how to play too. “I knew I wanted to play guitar and they were the only band in my day who played them properly. In America there was The Ventures and I wasn’t mad about them, but The Shadows had a much classier sound. So I imagine the first song I worked out how to play was probably Apache.” No Apache, no Paranoid. No Shadows, no Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.
For the Slipknot singer Corey Taylor to be in thrall to the sounds of UK punk is perhaps not too much of a stretch. But it’s the reason he loves the Sex Pistols that stands out. “My first kiss was actually with my babysitter,” he said. “I was 11 and she was a few years older than me. It was pretty weird; she was very strange and giving. She was a huge punk fan and she’d come over and play Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Buzzcocks and a bunch of New Wave stuff. But it’s the Sex Pistols who remind me most of my first brush with molestation.”
It’s to be expected that a man who regularly and, apparently voluntarily, wears some of the loudest suits in showbusiness is ashamed of very little – and he claims to have no guilty pleasures. “That would imply guilt and I’m not guilty about shit. If I like something, I embrace it with all my heart,” he said. “But when I play DJ sets at parties, there are plenty of songs that make people raise their eyebrows at me. Songs like Rock Your Body by Justin Timberlake. People will give me a look when I play that then, within 15 seconds, they’ll be dancing.”
But there is one song that others near to Taylor might like to watch out for. “When I got divorced from my first wife and I moved into my own place, I’d have parties at my house. If I wanted to pick up girls, I’d always play Stay by David Bowie and strut through the house like an idiot. I really overdid it to the point where it became a comedy routine. All my friends do the strut now, too, if that song comes on. It’s hilarious. Did it work? Yeah, I guess that closed the deal for me a couple of times …”
As a kid, Mastodon lynchpin and songwriter Brann Dailor – the band’s drummer – grew up listening to exactly what you might expect. The song that got him into rock music was Iron Maiden’s Where Eagles Dare. “I bought the album it came from, Piece Of Mind, with my own money when I was six – it was the first record I’d ever bought. My parents were big music fans and my mum was playing in a cover band who played Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, so I got introduced to heavy rock early on.”
And then someone introduced him to Phil Collins. Dailor immediately gravitated towards the singing drummer and Collins’ influence on Dailor’s occasional similar dual role in Mastodon is clear.
“The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway by Genesis is one of my favourite records of all time,” he said,“and Phil Collins’s drumming on In The Cage is a huge influence. I’ve always been a big Genesis and Phil Collins fan. But he didn’t start influencing my drumming until I was a teenager. His stuff is really complex and, when I was young, I couldn’t grasp what he was doing. When I was 15, though, I started trying to rework his fills.”
Still, though. Phil Collins. A man who named an album …But Seriously. A man who became a byword for smugness. A man who dumped his wife by fax. A man whose music has only ever seriously been lauded by the serial killer yuppie Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. That Phil Collins? “ People are always surprised when I say I like Phil Collins…” Dailor admits.
Given the twists and turns of Frank Turner’s career – from wild-eyed, polemical hardcore punk to, erm, less wild-eyed, polemical folk music – it would be reasonable to assume a wide variety of influences. His first love was Iron Maiden. “Killers was the first album that I ever bought with my own money and so Iron Maiden felt like the first band that was actually mine,” he said. “This song just opened up a whole new world of possibilities to me. All I had really listened to at that point was The Beatles and I just couldn’t believe that anything could be as intense, rocking, energetic and as despised by my parents as this! It had never occurred to me before then that I could use music as a way to irritate my folks.”
From there, as is ubiquitous for anyone who became a teenager in the ‘90s, he discovered Nirvana and then went further back to discover the punk roots that begat them. Via Cave In he discovered the perfect amalgamation of metal, punk and emo and then through the likes of Billy Bragg he discovered folk, through The Hold Steady he discovered heart and from Bruce Springsteen he learned to tell stories. And then there’s Destiny’s Child.
“Bills, Bills, Bills is such a fucking tune,” he said. “What more can you say? Rhythmically it’s really interesting, it’s got a hell of a hook and you can’t mess with the sort of half-rhyming they do it. It helps that Beyonce’s hot and they’ve all got great voices too, of course.”
And what did he learn from them?
“I have been known to get bootylicious,” he claimed. “Occasionally but always in private.”