At The Great Record Chase we strive to get inside the heads of prominent new artists, and what makes their musical nerves tick. Over the course of several months we have been putting together a project in which a selection of new artists on our radar have put together an editorial. This consists of musical influences that formed, shaped, and brought to life their sound. There has been an impressive amount of new talent that has come our way since starting this website back in the Fall, and we want to take everything to a whole new level.
Today we sit down with a band who is quite new on the scene as a collective, Well-Known Strangers. Currently their debut EP, Found, is making its way around the indie circles, garnering new fans in tow (count me in as one of them!). Today we have the pleasure of the whole band sharing what records have inspired them.
Name three albums or artists that influenced your musical styling you play today and why they are important to you. What made them so influential to you? When did you first discover them? How did they help form the music you create today?
I have learned how to refine my pitch and filter out harmonies while listening to my favorite boy bands, especially Boyz II men in High School. Who were the most classic and talented in my opinion. My mom Karen Ade is an intense influence when it comes to finding the right harmonies in a song. She is a devout Christian and has a crystal clear singing voice. I have grown up listening to her sing all types of songs but especially Christian music. She had a mysterious ability to pick out the harmonies (high or low) in a tune. I remember thinking it was the most amazing talent to be able to just DO that without any music or coaching…almost like learning another language. I owe that to skill to her, for sure.
Ani Difranco’s album Dilate turned me into a woman. I honestly think i went through another puberty when I listened to that album all the way through. I always think of her writing style when I begin the songwriting process. She uses vivid imagery and knows the exact moments to create the instrumental tension needed to match the heartbreaking or heartmelting lyrics in all of her songs. I hope to write like her one day. She influences me to find different ways of expressing myself. This has helped me in many different avenues of my life not just songwriting.
Jukebox the Ghost has been my latest influence. They make such interesting music and don’t seem to subject themselves to a formula of songwriting or even a genre of music. They might throw in a “ding” on the drums in the chorus and the next time it won’t be there or they replaced it with some other sound. I have been looking for “the unexpected” since I have found them and I try to emulate that in some of my songwriting. I want to grab people by the ear drum and sometimes you have to be subtle about it. The people who are really paying attention will notice.
Jacqueline Du Pre, Yo Yo Ma, and Leonard Bernstein.
The virtuosity and ease of Jacqueline Du Pre and Yo Yo Ma have inspired me to try and emulate them. Yo Yo Ma has also done so much in expanding what a cellist can do on the instrument. He has traveled the world and played so many genres of music. His fame and talent has inspired so many young cellists and even non-musicians.Bernstein was a famous conductor as well as a composer and he influenced me by his incredible interpretations and the unique way he conducted the orchestra. His music influences me because there is so much variety and passion that makes one feel great emotions.
I listened to Du Pre and Ma’s recordings of concertos and other famous works soon after I started playing the cello and still do to this day. I listened to Bernstein’s “Candide Overture” every night before bed for at least a year when I around 12 years old. All these artists help me in a variety of ways from playing the cello and getting that perfect sound to figuring out what harmonies sound good and always trying different ideas.
U2. I’ve been listening them since they first appeared in the US market. So much to say regarding their impact on me personally…could speak to that for hours. Their longevity as in their dedication to each other, their approach towards songwriting, keeping it simple and letting Bono and The Edge take it away, and their ability to morph with the times yet still stay true to ‘THEIR’ sound. All of these elements are very important to me and the way I approach my own projects. I’ve seen them live several times and their shows are some of my best memories, period. Bono’s passion towards his own values and the way he turns his lyrics into melodies is unlike any other. The entire group clearly understands their roles and plays them perfectly…not just the music, but the stage presence and interaction with their band mates.
The Beatles. The importance of their work to me is almost indescribable. Their songwriting, song structure, radio-friendly approach, lyrics, and impact on the music industry…all elements that have strongly influenced my approach towards music. I’ve researched their successes and struggles and constantly find myself referring back to the research I did prior to making music-related decisions. MANY of their songs will go with me to my deathbed as some of the greatest songs of all time. Along with the Goo Goo Dolls, The Beatles had a huge influence in my desire to include a cellist in Well-Known Strangers music, specifically one of my favorite songs, Eleanor Rigby.
There are so many albums that will permanently leave their mark on my life. Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon” – Listened to this album when sleeping over at a friend’s house and literally stared at his older brother lying down motionless (probably stoned) staring at the ceiling and embedded himself in the moment. Pearl Jam’s “Ten” – What an amazing album front to back. Energy, power, and passion….each and every instrument and role. Rush’s “Permanent Waves” – When I heard Spirit of Radio I was hooked and immediately started playing the drums. Followed that up with “Moving Pictures” and not sure there’s a more talented band anywhere. The Beatles’ “Revolver” – In grade school we sung Eleanor Rigby and it’s never left my side and I immediately asked my parents to buy as many Beatles albums as they could. U2’s “Under A Blood Red Sky” – The rabid fans, Bono’s energy and anthem approach towards his stories and values, the power of The Edge’s guitar riffs and use of effects, and the venue…Red Rocks…the ultimate stage. Kiss “Alive”- Their approach towards their fans and stage presence.
Roger Gower Jr.:
Jose Pasillas of Incubus is a total pocket drummer! His feel of the music is amazing. Pick any song…he’s great to study! Incubus’s 1999 release of Make Yourself featuring Drive… TOTALLY HOOKED!! Jose’s interp of Brandon’s lyrics and music applied to drums is stellar! His fills are unique and connects phrases beautifully!
Neil Peart goes without saying! What drummer doesn’t want to emulate his licks! METER god!! His tempos are unshakable! RUSH FAN SINCE 1975…nuff said
Tommy Igoe – Dude can play kit, bells, maracas…AT THE SAME TIME!!! WHAT?!? Amazing clinician and teacher! Love his methods for kit work aimed at the beginner. Jazz loves this dude!! Each artist has unique qualities apart from their skills as a drummer! I believe I noted the significance of their influence above. Tommy Igoe was my latest discovery in 2001. His versatility and ability to play multi-percussion parts simultaneously is refreshing, but difficult! Excellent clinician and hope to attend another soon! He is my Jazz Influence!
The Beatles “Abbey Road” – I was fascinated how they were able to mesh bits and pieces of songs to create the medley on the second side. Paul had an incredible knack for creating interesting twists to melodies and bass lines and Ringo knew how to glue all the pieces together through simplicity.
Rush “2112” – I was blown away by this album. I couldn’t believe how much sound and precision could be created by three people. Watching them live is a treat.
“Murmur” by REM was a game changer for me that spurred my curiosity for alternative types of music. I loved the lyrics, harmonies, guitar riffs, and bass lines that were forever looping in my head.
I probably have played these three albums a bazillion times.
Album: Rubber Soul, by The Beatles. I grew up in a house with lots of Beatles records, so I was exposed to them very early on. Rubber Soul is a wonderful example of the diversity of song writing The Beatles were able to maintain. From the rock-blues of “Drive My Car” to the lilting ballad “Michelle” to folk-flair of “I’m Looking Through You” this album is so sonically rich that it never tires the ears. The vocal harmonies throughout the album are deeply influential as well and the album continuously reminds me to fight against self-imposed musical pigeonholes.
Artist (group): Rush. I was first exposed to Rush in my preteen years and was amazed with their technical abilities and complex musicianship. Rush inspired me to strive for technical precision in all aspects of guitar playing and taught me to be an intellectual guitarist as a result of the mental gymnastics necessary to play their music. While I don’t want to write a song like “La Villa Strangiato,” a lead guitarist should always reach for precision and mastery of the instrument.
Artist (guitarist): Roine Stolt. If Rush can’t be considered obscure any more, Roine Stolt certainly can; he’s one of the best guitarists of whom no one has heard! As lead guitarist (and dominant song writer) for The Flower Kings (among other bands), Roine has all the best qualities that I admire in a guitarist: technical precision, command of the instrument, and melodic artistry. He can make the guitar sing with an astonishing ease without selfish virtuosity interfering in the composition. I discovered Rione Stolt about seven years ago, and he teaches me that a great lead guitarist plays what is appropriate for each song, with technical precision and mastery as a foundation, so that the guitar can sing with the other instruments and vocals to compliment the song beautifully.