Earlier this year the final Purplene album was reissued on Hobbledehoy. Blackman, no stranger to the label, has another catalog release from many years earlier with Escaping Mankind by Charge Group. Here he reflects on a few artists influencing the way he approaches music.
The Velvet Underground
The Velvets have always been hugely influential – dripping with weirdness, atmosphere and darkness. Hard to comprehend that this music was made around the same time as the Beatles/Sgt Peppers, and way…way before other bands started exploring lyrical ideas like BDSM and hard drugs.
We all went and saw Fugazi a few times in the mid-nineties, and are still probably the single best live band any of us have ever seen. So good to see a band actually meaningfully standing up for something and remaining successful on their own terms. We were way into these guys when Purplene started and helped shaped us musically as well as morally, I think. The outtro to ‘Smallpox Champion’ still winds me in the guts every time.
June of 44
Before the Internet, we’d order stuff in from our favourite US labels (Touch & Go, Drag City, Jade Tree, Kranky, etc) often without ever having heard a damn thing. June of 44 were a band we all obsessed over and bought all their records – crazy discordant guitars, weird riffs and impossibly awesome drumming.
For a good while you couldn’t get in bassplayer Adam’s Nissan Pulsar (his car was known affectionately as Keith) without him playing this track ridiculously loud so we could all swim in its enormous guitar wonderland before going to rehearsal, the pub or some such. For a while I think we all wanted our band to sound like Swervedriver. They came to Newcastle to tour this record (in maybe 1995?) and it blew everyone’s minds…
The real deal. David Byrne and Talking Heads were always a major presence growing up in the ’80s…at a time when most other stuff finding its way onto radio and Countdown was cheesy and safe. These guys were always weird, simple, lacking in pretence and groovy as hell. To this day I still can’t get enough of this irrepressible song.
Probably my favourite and most influential Australian band. Listen to how fearlessly inventive and infectious these guitar riffs are, coupled with the most gut-wrenching, honest lyrical explorations. Their final record ‘On Second Thought’, their masterpiece, was written and released after singer Brendan Webb’s girlfriend Stephanie Ashworth (Sandpit bassist) had broken up with him to be with Paul from Something For Kate. The album’s devastating lyrics were all about the break-up, yet they still played and recorded the songs together. Incredible.
This hugely transformative band from Louisville KY forged a path that was completely their own, free from artifice and leading the way with what would become known as post rock. Still remember my brain exploding when I first heard the first riff from the ‘Spiderland’ record. So dark and weird and beautiful and immersive, and made when these guys were all still sooooo young. I think Steve Albini once said he would have paid to have recorded this album.