U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
On a plane, on my way to South Africa, the inflight entertainment on the communal projection screen included the music video for Still Haven’t Found… Up until that point, I had been a naïve Christian boy, listening to Classical music and Gospel artists. U2 were my window drug band for the world of music that had opened up before me. It was all One Tree (down)Hill from there. I know that they’re not regarded as cool anymore, but U2 had a HUGE impact on me. All of their albums, up until and including Pop, were gems for me.
Depeche Mode – Behind The Wheel
I was part of the video club at my high school and ended up shooting their matric dance that year. When I heard Behind The Wheel I was mesmerized and couldn’t film anymore. DM had penetrated the pop scene then but there was still a cool darkness about them that I fell in love with. Timeless and undated electro.
The Doors – The End
I was hearing bits and pieces of The Doors like Hello, I Love You and Light My Fire but it was The End that fucked me up, badly! By the time Oliver Stone’s movie came out, I was a complete Lizard King idiot. Obsessed. All I wanted to do was be a rock musician. My academics took a serious back seat and all I had the desire to do was experiment with sex, drugs and rock and roll. I even believed that I was Morrison reincarnated. Perfect escape for a 15 year old.
Bauhaus – Bela Lugosi’s Dead
After completely exhausting U2, friends at school were pumping different bands my way. Craigie Dodds, now a big time producer in the UK and L.A., introduced me to Bauhaus by encouraging a Taiwanese immigrant in our class to recite the Bela Lugosi’s Dead lyrics. When I heard the original recording after that I was hooked! It was a darkness that lured me onto the dancefloor, eventually.
Booker T & The MGs – Green Onions
After I dropped out of high school, I was taking up the bass guitar quite intensely and started getting into blues and then old school R&B, like Otis Redding, James Brown and Aretha Franklin. There was a definitive sound in 60s R&B that just was so familiar to me. Driving bass lines, soul beats and killer vocals. The simplicity but effectiveness of looped riffs and hooks like Green Onions was very appealing for an aspiring bassist. My first pro gig, at 17, was in a 10-piece soul band called Heart & Soul. We did the Johannesburg live circuit in ’92 and I learned a lot about performing those days.
Stone Roses – Shoot You Down
I had already started getting into British indie bands like The Verve (Gravity/A Man Called Sun single) and The Charlatans (Some Friendly album) but when I heard Stone Roses’ Shoot You Down, I was sucked into this euphoric sonic hole that made me feel ok to be me. It was around the time grunge bands were dominating the rock scene; where I felt out of place, as a rock vocalist, because of my higher-ranged voice. Those beats and bass and guitar lines – ridiculous.
Radiohead – Just
Creep was played to death and I hadn’t got into Pablo Honey properly by the time The Bends came out. The music video for Just blew me away. It was then that my Radiohead obsession began. I can safely say that I’m a Radiohead head. Johnny Greenwood’s ridiculousness on guitar just makes me want to scream. OK Computer, a masterpiece. In Rainbows, sublime. And everything in between, a revolution.
Bjork – Human Behaviour
I have a serious obsession with female vocals. Sugarcubes were already on my radar and songs like Birthday and Hit were resonating with me. When Debut came out, I was in love! I love Bjork and her Icelandic, experimental weirdness. Very important song for me. Not just vocally but instrumentally too.
Massive Attack – Teardrop
I had gotten into Massive Attack only after the Protection album, featuring Tracey Thorn on a couple of songs. Then I got into Blue Lines and especially Unfinished Sympathy. But when Mezzanine came out and the single Teardrop, featuring Liz Fraser (from Cocteau Twins), I was floored. The power in space and minimalism, combined with the ethereal vocals just kills me.
Ministry – Jesus Built My Hotrod
Ministry scared me at first, because of my upbringing and the religious confrontation of Psalm 69, but when I heard Jesus Built My Hotrod, I was sold. I love the dancefloor and that song just cooks! I had the pleasure of meeting Al Jurgensen a couple of years ago, when I lent him my harmonica for a show in Johannesburg.
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