Monday, 18 February 2013

Music Monday Q&A: Richard

Have you ever experienced the feeling of teaching and nurturing someone, only to have them surpass you?  That's how I feel about music fandom and my brother, Richard.  As the older sibling, in our teens I influenced and guided his tastes as much as he would let me.  Over the years, the situation has reversed and he now influences and guides me far more.  It's a standing joke that he introduced me to most of my recent favourite bands... and that I insisted most of them were crap on first listen.  But - apart from an inexplicable liking for the Fiery Furnaces and equally inexplicable dislike of Beirut - his taste is impeccable, and I've been badgering him to do a Q&A for me for ages. 

If anyone else fancies doing a Music Monday guest post, give me a shout in the comments!

What’s the first record (single or album) that you bought?
I’m horrified and ashamed to reveal the answer is Ten Good Reasons by Jason Donovan.  Undoubtedly his best work though.
I can still remember Richard listening to this album.  He also had a childhood fondness for Jive Bunny.
What was the first gig you went to?
REM in Huddersfield for their Monster tour.  I was taken along by my sister and her friends (who I’m sure were thrilled to have a 13 year old boy with them).  I don’t remember too much about the gig, other than being surrounded by Beautiful South fans (who were one of the support acts) and being bought a poster and T-shirt by Janet.
What song reminds you of being a teenager?
Anything from Monster, Fables Of The Reconstruction or Document by REM (they were the first three REM albums I owned).
How would you sum up your music tastes, in terms of genre?  Have your tastes changed over the years?
I mainly like American music nowadays.  I guess I’d sum it up as Indie-Americana-Folk-Noise-Rock.  I don’t think my tastes have changed much.  The first band I ever really got into was REM, and everything else I’ve got into has been a result of that initial REM infatuation.  It could have been so different though.  When I bought my first REM album (Monster) it was a toss-up between that and a Bon Jovi album – it was on the advice of my sister (thanks Janet!!) that I chose REM.  I shudder to think how my life would have been if I’d become a Bon Jovi fan instead.
Which songs will always get you on the dance floor?
I don’t dance.  Dancing’s for losers.  Plus, being white, male and heterosexual I think there’s some kind of law against it.  However, if I did decide to live dangerously and break this law, I would probably choose Don’t Be A Dropout by James Brown.
What are your top five favourite albums or artists of all time?
In no particular order:
1) Yo La Tengo
I love Yo La Tengo.  I love them for many reasons.  I love them because they appeared in The Gilmore Girls (which I am only partly ashamed to say I’m a fan of – as a great man once said, ‘Good is good’ (coincidence #1: that great man was the bass player from Yo La Tengo; coincidence #2: he was talking about The Gilmore Girls)).  I love them because they named a song after a joke from The Simpsons.  I love them because they once performed an entire episode of Seinfeld in lieu of a support act.  I love them because they’re the only band in which I can lose myself – forget all my troubles and just immerse myself in their music.  I love them because they have a female drummer (I surefire sign of a great band).  I love them because they just seem like nice, normal people.
They come top in most ‘best ever’ lists I can think of: Best song (The Story Of Yo La Tango); Best cover version (You Can Have It All); Best instrumental (I Heard You Looking); Best guitar solo (Pablo & Andrea); Best album title (I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Kick Your Ass); Best album artwork (Popular Songs); Best song title (Deeper Into Movies); Best music video (Sugarcube).
The comments on YouTube are usually a showcase for the very worst of humanity, but I saw something on there that just summed up how I feel about Yo La Tengo beautifully: ‘All my friends said “What is THAT?” Me? All I could say was “Can’t you FEEL it?!’.  Yes I can xbxbear. Yes I can.
2) Sufjan Stevens
I think he’s an incredible artist: musician, songwriter, lyricist, producer, the works.  Even his more experimental projects are better than most artists could dream of.  But at the top of his game he’s the best songwriter in the world today, and Illinois is the greatest album of the 21st century.
3) Boards Of Canada
I find their music strangely moving.  There’s an emotional depth that I thought was impossible for electronica.
4) The Beach Boys
Brian Wilson is undoubtedly the greatest genius in the history of popular music.  It’s incredible to consider that he was only 23 when Pet Sounds came out.  What could he have achieved if not for the drugs and mental health issues?  I find the Beatles vs. Beach Boys debate a bit unfair given that The Beatles had Lennon, McCartney and George Martin (and Harrison), whereas Brian Wilson was basically doing everything himself (with his bandmates often a hindrance).
5) Saint Etienne
I’m not choosing Saint Etienne per se, but the phenomenon of rediscovering an artist after many years.  I’ve got a lot of CDs (over 1000 albums at last count – and yes, I do occasionally count them) and most of the time I listen to the same 5%.  But sometimes I’ll pick out a CD that hasn’t been listened to for a while, which usually triggers a week or two of frenzied immersion in some band or other, only to then forget them for another 5 years.  Saint Etienne have been the most recent recipients of this honour.  But a quick word on Saint Etienne anyway: they’re a national institution and their best songs are Nothing Can Stop Us, Like A Motorway and Avenue.
Do you have any guilty pleasures when it comes to music?
Does The Beach Boys count as a guilty pleasure?  I guess the early stuff (Fun, Fun, Fun and the like) probably does.
If you could sum yourself up in one song or lyric, what would it be?
I have no idea.


  1. I cannot believe you chose Jason Donovan as the video!! Especially after I praised you more than once in my answers.

    1. Hehe! We both know I made you put in most of those positive comments about me ;)