Musician interviews inevitably arrive at naming one’s inspiration. The formula involves picking your own genre, then rewinding to decide whoever was the coolest shit in that genre when you were in your mid teens and is still cool. Kraftwerk is a great one. Everyone knows Kraftwerk, it’s the cheddar cheese of influences. (I’d more likely mention Telex as that would earn a raised eyebrow from the interrogator, at the same time as being actually more cool in a daggy way).
Recently the game has levelled up. You have to name someone that requires the interviewer to fake recognition, and dive online when writing up the interview to know just who the hell ‘The Lost Jockey’ might have been, and is this a trap for the unwary? Like when I mentioned ‘Blorp Essette’, the title of a cassette by the Los Angeles Free Music Association, which mysteriously became one of the interviewer’s favourite bands.
But really, inspiration comes like a thief in the night. No one ever admits the real moment, so let me take the risk.
I was lying in bed last night listening to a storm trying to tear the roof off my house. I sleep just under that roof and so the noise is quite an experience. I’ve become intensely phobic about this happening, and to distract myself I tried to think of the moment I was first drawn to make music. Happily the storm lasted for hours so I had plenty of time to sift through the decades and land on just the right spot.
Sure, there were years with tape recorders, the old man’s Jazz 78s, sound effect records, but let’s focus on music.
It’s 1972. I am ten years old. My brother and I are off to see some disaster porn at the pictures, and it was about the time that they were starting to put some speakers in the cinemas that could actually woof, I mean woof louder than what you had at home. Make shit rumble.
Irwin Allen’s The Poseidon Adventure. HELL UPSIDE DOWN the poster promised and who wouldn’t want to see that?
Just like today you had to have a theme song. It was a rather drab number called There’s Got To Be A Morning After which got played before the film, in the film, after the film and all over the god damn radio once it won the Academy Award for Best Song. Never mind that. What mattered was hearing some big old woofers in a big bloody theatre pumping out some tube amp sub frequencies as part of well formed melodic structure. It’s a slow song, so what I was hearing was: DROOOOOOOOONE DRONE DRONE DROOOOOOOOOONE etc. with a person singing sweetly over top. It was quite an experience, and then you got to see Ernest Borg Nine clambering up a ship funnel.
Now I didn’t then rush out and immediately start making avant garde. I went to see the Towering Inferno instead, not nearly as good. But when Autobahn came on the AM radio in 1974, it only reinforced that I like that Kind of Thing, and that I wanted to make that thing.
So from now on I am going to say that my inspiration is Al Kasha and Joel Hirchshhorn. They’re pretty underground, so you probably haven’t heard of them.