What are your influences?

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shedshrine
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What are your influences?

Post by shedshrine » Sat Jan 23, 2021 8:57 pm

Some random musical memories on influencers. Hoping others might share their stories, or at least list their influences. We all got into this art/hobby/line of work because we heard some things.

This year's NAMM every guitar manufacturer seemed to have a superstrat. Don't know if it was just because of EVH's passing and it's just on our minds, or if it was just time. When he did pass it did make me think about first starting out on guitar.

That first album came out and I started messing around with my dad's classical guitar. (which he rarely played, but when he did he quietly strummed and with head down and eyes closed hummed and whisper-sung Gordon Lightfoot songs.) I had no idea how to play so I just did down strokes with my thumb on the low E because it sounded cool and fumbled around til I hit notes that sounded like they fit whatever song I was listening to on the radio, or my early Aerosmith albums.

Eddie just sounded like he was having a great time and he made the guitar sound ferocious and fun at the same time. You could hear his sense of humour. I think the first song I tried to learn (by ear) was 867-5309. Then Van Halen 1 dropped and it was all about tapping around on the neck trying to find cool rythymic passages. My dad comes by the room, here's me tapping around on his classical guitar and said something like "Y'know, you don't seem to be getting the hang of guitar, maybe you should try something else". Ok Gordon. :)

The Police came along and Andy Summers showed me that a barrage of notes isn't the only way to make cool music. If you use the right note choices with spacious playing you can say a lot too.

And Alex Lifeson's textural approach, another three piece where he would really be filling out the sound.

Allen Holdworth's IOU was something I'd play in my car's cassette deck and just marvel and wonder at what the hell he was doing. It was like he wasn't even thinking about guitar as a guitar, he was playing it like it was some all enveloping sound generator.

Michael Schenker's expressive playing with UFO and his first couple solo records. That great controlled wide vibrato.

When I started looking more at songwriting and not just guitar playing, I remember really studiously listening to Elvis Costello's Armed Forces and This Year's Model. All the interweaving of parts, the craft of putting together a pop song.

When you are into music, it's not a passive sport. Anywhere you are that you hear it playing your ears tune in and listen actively. (unless say, it's Enya and your not in the mood for Enya at that particular moment. And I say that as someone having Shepherd Moons and Watermark in their vinyl collection.)

Billy Idol's Rebel Yell, that Steve Steven's fest, sounded so futuristic, modern, sleek.

Thomas Dolby's Wireless. That album was so much more than "she blinded me with science". Again, it sounded like the future. I was working at a pharmacy after school doing deliveries at the time. One of the pharmacists and I were talking music, and he was gushing about Wireless. I asked if I could ever so carefully borrow it to tape it. After some severe hand-wringing on his part he let me, and I didn't let him down. :)

Was rock all there was? Okay, I'm digging Jeff Beck, this fusion thing is cool. What about jazz?

The blue note stuff many start on, Coltrane, Monk, Mingus, Davis, Evans, Dolphy, Silver.

I was backpacking in Europe (i'd made some money on an oil tanker gig one summer) and I ended up traveling with this Dutch dude while in Germany. We met this great girl at a Munich Biergarten, and she seemed to take an initial shine to me, but Ari's German was much better than my non-existant Deutsch. They actually ended up marrying a couple years later. Anyway, I travelled back through Holland and stayed with his family a few days. We took his drumset out to the windmill bluffs overlooking the ocean there and took turns just 'playing the view'. (with a little help from Amsterdam's best). During that stay he turned me on to Kind of Blue. He said you listened to it and it was like there was this giant expansive plane out before you and the music could go anywhere and if you followed it it took you with it. Pretty good verbal analogy for jazz right there.

Classical I discovered before the train started around here, and commute traffic felt like it was going to kill my very being. Interesting to put it in context as it was the pop music of its time. For me, Classical was an escape, a tranquil cloud to let immerse you and dissappear into. Helps to get to sleep too. :)

and now I dig it all. A massive vinyl collection, Spotify, youtube, soundcloud, bandcamp wormholes, Whatever the mood, wherever your head is at, there's some "aural medicide" at the ready to avail yourself of. Pretty cool!

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Re: What are your influences?

Post by Nick Sevilla » Sun Jan 24, 2021 3:03 am

My earliest memories are of listening to the Soviet Army Chorus & Band album. Still have that one somewhere around here. At around age three or so, along with a ton of great music my parents played on the regular. They had an actual Pioneer Quad playback system. SO you could sit almost anywhere in the living room and be enveloped by the music, at low volume.

Guitar influences? Jeff Beck was the first one I got into, quickly followed by Jimi, which is still mysterious to me. No one can ever replicate them both well enough, IMHO.

I was fortunate to have open minded parents who would regularly buy weird stuff to discover at home. Since we lived where live concerts were pretty much nonexistent, at least not foreign American bands, most music I enjoyed at home.

The very first concert I attended was right next door to our house, where there was a GIANT empty plot of land, which turned into a music festival / carnival / circus, depending on the time of year. It was Rigo Tovar, who is a legend among Latin Tropical music. I was spellbound by the rhythms, and watching everyone dance maniacally to that music.
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Re: What are your influences?

Post by winky dinglehoffer » Sun Jan 24, 2021 9:59 am

I grew up in a house where the Beatles' music was ubiquitous (older brothers.) At 10 my uncle played David Bowie for me. I bought Aladdin Sane, but I think I had to grow a bit before I understood that record. By 12 I was getting into Zappa & saw him for the first time, but that's also about the time I first heard the Sex Pistols. Saw the Ramones at 13, and that pretty much changed everything. Around the time I turned 17 I saw Art Ensemble of Chicago--mind again blown. Influences besides those? Hank Williams, Philip Glass, the Shaggs, the Residents, Charlie Parker, Roxy Music, James Brown, Thelonious Monk, etc. etc.
I think I'm influenced by music I love or that moves me--whether that's obvious from the stuff I do or not.

Probably the raw simplicity of a lot of early punk/new wave (plus some 60s garage rock thrown in for good measure)--as well as the bad attitude-- compelled me more than anything.

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Re: What are your influences?

Post by markjazzbassist » Sun Jan 24, 2021 10:05 am

my father didn't listen to music, my mother listened to jazz, r&b, and gospel music. i listen to and play those 3 genres now. neither of my parents listened to the beatles, so all this treating them like demi-gods stuff is hilarious to me, just sounds like 60's rock n roll to me, nothing special. which always pisses off musos, i don't give an F though, motown/stax/prestige/bluenote over that stuff all day every day.

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Re: What are your influences?

Post by Scodiddly » Sun Jan 24, 2021 12:16 pm

Gosh, where you do start on something like this? Growing up my Dad played organ and piano, and so we pretty much always had a piano and later a Hammond C3. We all had to take some piano lessons. Parents always willing to buy instruments if needed, and my brother (four years older) had a pretty good record collection, a bass, and a guitar. I took up bass in orchestra, and of course bass guitar at home along with a little guitar.

So bass was my first real instrument, and at some point I heard Jaco Pastorius on one of my brother's Joni Mitchell records. Took a long time to ever approach *that*, but I was able to learn a lot of Police tunes and such.

Eventually I burned out on bass, or rather my shoulders and wrists did, and I gradually found myself playing a beater acoustic that was laying around more than my prized Teisco del Rey strat copy. And of course at some point I'd found Tom Waits, and covering his songs taught me a lot about singing with my own voice (because you sure can't borrow his). Eventually I bought a better acoustic and also found Joe Henry, whose records taught me a lot of jazzy chords and also about singing with good diction.

And there's all kinds of other stuff, like the surprising appearance of an electronic music class in high school (bleeps, bloops, and tape editing), singing in choir, and stumbling upon a Sun Ra 8-track tape in a closeout bin.

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Re: What are your influences?

Post by jimjazzdad » Mon Jan 25, 2021 4:13 am

Silly me. When I saw that the thread title, I assumed the question "What are your influences" was asking about engineers, producers, maybe even hardware and software... in which case, I would have replied Gert Palmcrantz, David Chesky, Peter Moore, Al Schmidtt, Rudy Van Gelder, Norman Granz, Tommy LiPuma, Creed Taylor, Teac/Tascam recorders, Audacity and Reaper...but then, I'm not a musician :wink:
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Re: What are your influences?

Post by winky dinglehoffer » Mon Jan 25, 2021 9:16 am

jimjazzdad wrote:
Mon Jan 25, 2021 4:13 am
asking about engineers, producers,
A quartet that caught my attention when I started paying attention: Conny Plank, Mayo Thompson, Martin Hannett, Mitch Easter.

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Re: What are your influences?

Post by shedshrine » Mon Jan 25, 2021 12:15 pm

jimjazzdad wrote:
Mon Jan 25, 2021 4:13 am
When I saw that the thread title, I assumed the question "What are your influences" was asking about engineers, producers, maybe even hardware and software... in which case, I would have replied Gert Palmcrantz, David Chesky, Peter Moore, Al Schmidtt, Rudy Van Gelder, Norman Granz, Tommy LiPuma, Creed Taylor, Teac/Tascam recorders, Audacity and Reaper...but then, I'm not a musician :wink:
By all means!

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Re: What are your influences?

Post by vvv » Mon Jan 25, 2021 2:11 pm

Dad liked the crooners.

Moms liked PP&M-type folk and country when I was growing up (eventually became a U2 fan).

The first albums I bought were Grand Funk's American Band (that was "for moms"), GD's Steal Your Face and the Boz Scagg's album with "Lido", and the live Skynyrd, and In Through the Out Door and some Foghat.*

I learned guitar on Logans & Messina and Dylan and Zep tunes.

My first band was punk-funk. I've also played in (all original) bands doing goth, alt.country, hard rock, grunge and Wilco-type folk rock.

Nowadays: Dylan, Mark Lanegan, Stones, Hags, Steve Wynn, REM, The Cure, James Blood Ulmer, Sly Stone, The Church, Frank Black, Scofield, Joy Division, Mascis, DBT, Isbell, Morphine have been recent influences. My biggest current influences are my two collaborators, Silversmith (Canada) and Grankspoine (England).


*funny aside, the first album I bought in college was the first Village People because I had heard some guys talking about how great it was during orientation. I still don't like it. :twisted:
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Re: What are your influences?

Post by shedshrine » Mon Jan 25, 2021 7:07 pm

Man, these replies are great!




________________________
winky dinglehoffer wrote:
Mon Jan 25, 2021 9:16 am
jimjazzdad wrote:
Mon Jan 25, 2021 4:13 am
asking about engineers, producers,
A quartet that caught my attention when I started paying attention: Conny Plank, Mayo Thompson, Martin Hannett, Mitch Easter.

I’m definitely not a producer, and only a functional engineer,  but your comments made me realize I have been motivated, inspired and very much influenced by what I’ve read in the countless Tape Op interviews and here on the message boards. By the people's stories therein.

I was in a Tower Records (remember those?) in the early naughties and saw a mag with a sort of sillouette outline of a macintosh tube stereo looking piece and it crossed my mind maybe it was some kind of diy stereo kit magazine. I started flipping through the pages and started reading about an engineer named Tchad Blake who was working with Los Lobos at the time I believe and how he was recording things through pipes and cardboard tubes and large cans and.. well I bought it. And I subscribed.

A couple years later ( I was a little slow on the uptake ) discovered this Tape Op magazine had a message board online as well and signed up here.   My first question on here was something about balanced vs unbalanced cables in some situation (thanks for the awesome replies).

The community was so welcoming and helpful.* I was  nervous I was going to ask a “stupid question”. But the denizens here made it clear there are no stupid questions as long as it’s sincere and you aren’t a jerk. :) My point being Tape Op the magazine and messageboard have been a great inspiration and therefore influence in that it showed me that it’s not just about a cool chord progression or a great vocal take ( i mean it really is but what I really mean is you can get next level stuff going if you pay attention to how you capture your stuff. That has been an invaluable lesson moving forward from that point. (wish I'd been up to speed sooner!)

I'm sure you can find these stories in some form elsewhere, but here is where I heard all the great backstories to Joy Division's Hannett experience and the myriad of other fantastic album creation stories that still keep me enthralled and ready to learn more, even when I'm not exactly picking up an instrument as often. Big thanks!

*I attended an AES conference in San Francisco at Moscone Center some years ago. It was great to see and meet some of the guys and gals you read about in the magazine and on here. I came around an isle and made eye contact with Larry Crane. I didn't know what to say. I think I just smiled and mumbled something about "thanks for the great magazine". He was very welcoming but I didn't stay to chat. I'll hang out next time!

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Re: What are your influences?

Post by jimjazzdad » Tue Jan 26, 2021 4:43 am

I haunt several different audio & recording forums regularly. What I really like about TOMB is the fact that so many musicians hang out here. It gives proper perspective: a great recording always starts with a great performance.

The obligations of a good recording engineer (also a producer) are simple: facilitate the process of recording a performance; do no harm to the music.

My favourite kind of recording to do or listen to is 'live from the floor'.
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Re: What are your influences?

Post by mjau » Tue Jan 26, 2021 10:50 am

This is fun to read.

When I was a kid, I was so taken by Ben E. King's Stand By Me. It sounded like the perfect expression of emotion. I'm still chasing that.

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Re: What are your influences?

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Sat Mar 06, 2021 7:11 pm

Oh man....the three people responsible for pretty much my entire musical life -

My older brother is the first. He was the one with the good stereo and the record collection and the guitars. I started playing music to be the bass player in his band. We played only R&B/Soul covers. Stax, Motown, Ray Charles, lots of Booker T & The MGs, etc, etc, etc. That music became my DNA and everything I do still comes from that place in one way or another. He went to New York on a high school trip and brought back Rain Dogs by Tom Waits. That really blew the doors off of my 8th grade brain and reorganized my musical world.

Second is Glen Hall. Glen is a free/improv jazz player, composer and teacher. When I was a teenager he taught music lesson out of his house a few streets away from me in the suburbs of Toronto. I didn't know it at the time but when I was starting bass lessons with him he was making a record with Gil Evans (arranger on Kind of Blue, Sketches of Spain, etc). Our lessons evolved from technique and fundamentals to me showing up and saying I heard a record with a sitar on it or a moog or whatever. He'd root around in the next room and come out with a sitar, or a moog, or you name it. He's the one who started me thinking beyond my own instrument. He also sold me my first 4 track. He showed me how to make a tape loop. He also gave me a real world example of someone making a living in music. As an adult I had the pleasure of reconnecting and engineering a couple of sessions for him. He'd be in his early 70's now I'd guess and he's still miles ahead of me in terms of musical adventurousness. Always seeking. Always moving forward.

The third is my writing partner and eternal bandmate Brian Poirier. We met at 16 and have been playing and writing music together almost uninterrupted since (34 years at this point). If those R&B covers are one half of my musical DNA then he's the other half. We finish each other's sentences musically.

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Re: What are your influences?

Post by shedshrine » Sat Mar 06, 2021 7:22 pm

That's the dream connection isn't it, somebody you start out with and grow with through time. And a teacher/mentor that really connects. Good on you! I was the older brother in our household. I had to stumble around and find good stuff firsthand, ha!

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