My name is Dan and I manage Thumbhole Records, an independent label set up solely to help promote upcoming and underappreciated alternative punk/rock bands from around the world. I’ve been putting together compilations and promoting these bands since 2012, and although we don’t physically sign any of the bands ourselves, we’ve tried our best to support the acts on our compilations and build up a community of artists who are all in the same cross-promoting boat.
Although my label specialises on the punk rock influenced genres, I am a sucker for a night of power ballads, or even some cheesy 80s pop… but then I was raised on a mix of Pink Floyd/Def Leppard from Dad and The Carpenters/Elvis Presley from Mum so what chance did I have? None of the below are in any particular order as they’re all awesome for different reasons!
NUMBER ONE – AFI – The Boy Who Destroyed The World
My youth was spent playing video games. I had no time for girls or even the amber nectar until later on in my late teens! And one of the games that consumed all too much of it (but at the same time, not enough) was Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3. Not because it was visually or mechanically better than 1 or 2 in any way, but that soundtrack! Sure, we had the likes of Millencolin on #2, but #3 really introduced me to the sounds of AFI. Usually sandwiched between 96 Quite Bitter Things by CKY and Wish by Alien Ant Farm, this track really fuelled me into the faster yet whacky style of punk rock that I love today. Mr Havok’s vocals in this one were I think his pinnacle in a mix between the now melodic tones and the then thrashy shouty tones. An absolute golden tune that I am proud to say I almost learnt properly once.
NUMBER TWO – Story of The Year – And The Hero Will Drown
Until I heard this track, I’ll be honest, I didn’t care much for shouty stuff. I was still listening to Lit and Goldfinger more often than not, so this was a pretty big jump for me. But my god, this song (and the whole Page Avenue album) made my teenage years! Dan’s amazing vocals both melodically and RAAAAAA!ily (pretty sure that’s a word) spurred me on to join many a hard hitting band myself. It still makes a regular appearance on my Spotify playlists and would recommend it to anyone that’s not listened to it after 10 years of it being around!
NUMBER THREE – Rose Of Sharyn – Killswitch Engage
Probably picked this up at a similar-ish time to Story of The Year – probably after seeing them both at Taste of Chaos? But I’ve always been a firm believer that the best bands stem from a background of mates who enjoy music – not a band that have been surgically stuck together. And from getting obsessed with the antics of Adam on their tour DVDs, I became a huge fan of their work. In particular Rose Of Sharyn was one I’d pick up and play on guitar regularly myself. Great riff work and beautiful vocals – but then that’s what KSE are great at!
NUMBER FOUR – Muse – Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)
OK – I know someone just scoffed at this! To start things off here, I’ve not watched the Twilight films, maybe bits and bobs of one of them but all I know is there’s vampires. I didn’t know this song was in the soundtrack. However the reason I love this song is it is the one my wife and I had our first dance to. We picked it from a long drawn out list of songs that not only meant something lyrically to us, but also wasn’t a boring acoustic ‘just us’ number. We wanted something that we could have a small bit of spotlight to, that then opened up into a bigger sound so we could get everyone else on the dancefloor quickly, and this was perfect. Whenever I hear it now it’s always going to remind me of my wonderful family and where it got ‘locked down’.
NUMBER FIVE – Sum 41 – Fat Lip
I mean, is this NOT on anyone’s list? Normally when I put a list together I’d purposely try and pick the not-heard-that-much songs off of an album, but Fat Lip has been one of those songs that is now engrained in my bones. If you melted me down and turned me into a CD, I’m pretty sure this would be Track 1. Every time I hear that iconic intro, or see the intro-intro pop up on TV, I’m excited and getting ready to storm through the party like my name was El Nino.
NUMBER SIX – Canterbury – Gloria
I’ve always had a huge passion for dual vocals in songs, especially when they get some amazing harmonies going. This track I actually discovered back in the days of LAVA TV – anyone else remember that? Upcoming artists could submit their videos and the public voted to see them pop up. I remember finding this and Deaf Havana – Friends Like These at the same time (more from that later). So, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the harmonies in this song are probably my favourite in any song… ever. I think they’re JUST right, like the Goldilocks of harmonies. If you’ve not listened to it yet, make sure you give it to Chorus #2 and then we can talk. Massive not-so-well-known stroke of genius.
NUMBER SEVEN – Toto – Africa
Africa by Toto is my Die Hard of the music world. By that I mean, if it ever comes on, there is no way I’m going to be satisfied unless I enjoy the whole thing – it can never be skipped.
NUMBER EIGHT – Deaf Havana – Friends Like These
Another LAVA TV discovery as mentioned, this song seemed to be the perfect song to bring together ANY band. Play it to them a couple of times, and suddenly you were all best friends. It’s true! We tried it!
It’s an amazing tune and although Ryan Mellor has left the band now, I think the vocalwork was amazing. As a massive Alexisonfire fan I always enjoy a blend of shouting and melodic vocals, and this delivered and seemed to bring the genre back into the modern market. Note though, I still love the direction that Deaf Havana took, but can’t help thinking they may have helped fill a gap in the heavier music scene had they stuck with Ryan as an extra vocalist.
NUMBER NINE – TrueHeights – Don’t Look Down
Of all the tracks we’ve had on compilations, this was the one that I thought ‘WOW – we’re really putting out some high quality tunes here’. Obviously I love all the tracks we put out, but when this entry came in for Tracks You Might Have Missed v2, I was genuinely flattered that they wanted to be involved. This band work really hard and their sound is amazing, and was a pleasure to work with them. Since being on the compilation they’ve signed to We Are Triumphant Records and it will always remind me of when I realised our compilations had really taken a big step up quality wise.
NUMBER 10 – Andrew WK – Party Hard
I love this song for so many reasons. It has been on the playlist of many a rock night, and even more after parties where the floor literally turns to beer and someone is passed out in the sink. But Andrew WK is one of those people that truly embodies music to its fullest. Does he put out the most technically challenging songs? No. Do some of his songs sound sort of similar? Yep. But damn… he can party. And he loves what he does and more importantly, always seems to pop up doing something amazing when the troubles of the world are at an all time high. If you haven’t watched the video of him tasting savoury UK snacks… do it now.
Thumbhole Records upcoming new compilation titled ”Tracks You Might Have Missed V3” Is out June 15th. For more information please check out the official Thumbhole Records website – www.thumbholerecords.com/tracks-you-might-have-missed-v3.html