Nish – 15 Most Influential Albums

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 | By | Add a Comment

As usual, Facebook is like a constant stream of spam and viral activities. Every now and then one of these “do this and then nominate people” posts goes around and I actually pay attention to it. I ignore most, they just annoy me, but the one about 15 most influential albums interested me. I guess with an album being recorded and that process as well as the writing process fresh in my mind I thought “Why not!?”. I tend to listen to my favourite influences more and more when writing an album as that’s usually what I draw upon to  write my parts to our songs. My list here might be slightly revised from what’s on Facebook as my mind is changing (and I’m remembering things as I go) as I analyse my choices. I’ll list the 15, but explain what they meant to me and why (if possible!). So here goes!

1. Throwing Copper – Live

2. The Color and the Shape – The Foo Fighters

I put these 2 together because I bought them around the same time. They were my first serious entries into Rock music. I tended to listen to dance/pop/mainstream hip hop and these 2 albums got me into Rock. They are my 2 favourite bands and arguably their best albums (each will feature another album later on). Live’s Chad Gracey suited my drumming style more, but Dave Grohl was something to aspire to which maybe not at that time, but later on would influence me even more. Songs like “Enough Space” influenced the intro for “You Don’t Know” on “Dark Little Hearts” and the way “My Hero” is played live in concert influenced the intro to “Vampire”…overall though, it’s not always specific parts that are picked up, but a general feel. Live’s drummer does fills that I describe as steady. They tend to follow a ‘left, right, left, right pattern and in one speed. It’s quite hard to describe actually. If you imagine that each hit is in the same speed as the beat in general, just hitting different drums to make a fill, whereas people like Dave Grohl (and Taylor Hawkins) tend to change speed of that pattern and use flams and syncopated kick patterns. Triplets etc are occasionally used, but not as often as other drummers. As I’ve developed, I’d like to think I’ve move more towards the Grohl/Hawkins styles, but ultimately Gracey’s drumming is more prevalent in my own writing (this is only my opinion, others may listen and think differently!).

These 2 albums, start to finish are outstanding. Not a single bad track, nothing I’d ever skip. Highlights? Pillar of Davidson and My Hero (only because I decided to choose 1 song from each)

3. Dookie – Green Day

Quite some time ago, I played the guitar. I still play, but not properly, but at one stage I had my own electric guitar, amp and pedals! I had no designs on playing in a band or anything, but still enjoyed the guitar (I did once play in a Sri Lankan band for 1 gig!). Dookie at that time felt more or less out of reach on the drums. Tre Cool was too fast, though I could play along to most of it, my technical playing ability wasn’t there. I had a good ear and could pick stuff up very quickly, but I was going through a period where I didn’t really play the drums much, so I sat down and worked out most of Dookie by ear (no internet to find tabs!). I would put the album on loud in my room, hook up my guitar/pedal/amp and play along…I think I tried to sing…wasn’t very good though! Love this album, great on a summer’s day with the windows down and cruising around! Highlight, other than the hidden track (funny), probably “She”

4. That Thing You Do – Movie Soundtrack, Various Artists

Tom Hanks’ fake rock n roll world appealed to me on many levels. The main one being a band, rehearsing in a garage, with the drummer filling in for them, suddenly making the big time. There’s plenty more to the film, but I loved the film, and came to love the music. It had a real authentic 60’s feel about the whole thing even though the songs were written for the film (1996). Even played the lead song in a covers band when playing a rock n roll set along with songs by Elvis, The Beatles etc…highlight – That Thing You Do.

5. Empire Records – Movie Soundtrack, Various Artists

A great pop rock soundtrack. Again, I enjoyed the film and then enjoyed the soundtrack…highlights, Gin Blossoms “Till I hear it from you” and Sugar High (preferred film version over soundtrack though). ‘Summer that Never was’ from Hollow Point Curses is my song for an American teen movie Soundtrack. Maybe we can get it on to American Pie 38 (Pie Hardest?) or something.

6. Vegas – The Crystal Method

Believe it or not, the only reason I listened to this was because of the computer game Fifa ’98 Road to World Cup. It was one of the better Fifa games, and one of the better soundtracks! Bought the album and got into it completely, even inspired buying a sub woofer for the car, but funnily enough, never ventured beyond this album! A couple of highlights, High Roller (when the drum beat kicks in on a loud system…wholly f*ck!) and Keep Hope Alive (similar to before!)

7. The Tragic Kingdom – No Doubt

As many people will have done, I got into No Doubt courtesy of their colossal hits ‘Just a Girl’, ‘Spiderwebs’ and of course ‘Don’t Speak’. Sure Gwen Stefani was part of the attraction, but I think this album is fantastic. One of 4 or 5 albums I can listen to start to finish and never skip a song. Our own ‘I’m Drowning’ as elements of ‘Don’t Speak’ in it, mainly in some syncopation of the hi-hat…nothing huge, but just a hint. Highlight, ‘Don’t Speak’

8. Romance is a slow Dance – Crumb

I forgot this one on the Facebook post till after. My best mate in my later days at school – Chris Ward – introduced me to this band. There was a group of us (all friends of Chris) who loved this CD. This album didn’t really make it very big globally, and many people haven’t heard of Crumb, but this album is a big influence on me. Especially the faster stuff, use of extended fills, sometimes spilling into the next bar etc…or doing the exact opposite and have a fill stop and leave room for guitars before smashing back in…it’s all in this album. There are 2 drummers on the album, one is Josh Freese of Nine Inch Nails etc..and they were signed to Warner Bros so big things were expected! I love the second album too, possibly even more, but Romance is a slow Dance played a huge part in my musical life (Chris and I played ‘Implore’ in our band which never played a gig!). Highlights, Implore and Celebrity Judges (appears in the film The Wedding Crashes when Vince Vaughn and Isla Fisher are getting it on!)

9. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness – The Smashing Pumpkins

2 great memories of this album (preferred disc 1 overall, but there were a couple of crackers on disc 2), having this on repeat whilst studying for major exams, having owned the cd for months before, but never listening and getting into it, I put it on as ‘background music’ and it soon became a favourite! Other memory, them playing in Wellington and everyone preferring the NZ support act ‘The Exponents’…we were clearly heathens! Highlight – Bodies from disc 2. TUNE!

10. Seven and the Ragged Tiger- Duran Duran

You can blame my sister for this. She was a huge fan. My main memory of this isn’t so good…Live Aid. But I forgive that as I love this album, and many of the others. I won’t go on about it, I’ve waffled on enough…not a major influence in my drumming, but influential in my life nonetheless!

11. Recurring Dream – Crowded House

This is a best of, so it’s a little naughty being on the list! I never really got into Crowded House in their prime in NZ. Same goes for Split Enz, the Finn brothers’ previous band…the odd song here and there but never band in general! But this best of, shows off what a good band they were. Neil Finn is a fantastic song writer…maybe a little mellow for some of my band mates, and maybe not riffy enough for our Colin, but great melody, arrangement, all the things I look for in music.

12. Fat of the Land – The Prodigy

Another album with fond memories. Obviously not The Idol Dead style music, so may not seem relevant, but there are some seriously ass kicking beats in here that whilst not directly inspiring any recorded songs, they’ve been at the back of my mind every now and then. When you hear Suicide Pack from Hollow Point Curses, you’ll notice something a little different for us. When Polly suggested it, something from this album came to mind…you’ll have to wait and see if this idea made it through 😉

13. Vitalogy – Pearl Jam

I got into Pearl Jam, as I’m sure most did/do with Vs and Ten. But for some reason this became my favourite album. Barring some of their filler stuff which still annoys me, there are some brilliant tracks on this. Inspired much drumming over the years, no specifics, but general feel. Highlight – Corduroy

14. Secret Samadhi – Live

2nd entry for Live. Not the award-winning monster that Throwing Copper was, but I personally love this. This takes me back to being in Uni, with my upgraded car stereo system (courtesy of listening to Crystal Method) this sounded monster. Still influencing my drumming style, I felt that this album was a little less poppy and a little darker…at least musically. I won’t rattle on any more, but I’m pleased as punch that the band are releasing a new album (which I’ve pledged on)…shame though that the band have split (and it’s a very ugly split) with the original lead singer…the new guy is good, very different, and the 2 tracks I’ve just downloaded are excellent, but I kind of wish this band weren’t called Live, as they’re just not the same. For me a band is defined by their most prevalent style. For some bands it’s a guitarist…their style or their sound. Most bands it’s their singer, again, style or sound/voice. Live are definitely in the latter category and they just don’t sound the same any more, but still, fantastic new tunes.

15. Wasting Light – Foo Fighters

Ok, another 2nd entry for a band, but hey, it’s The Foo Fighters! This, their latest album (another one due in November, which I have of course pre-ordered), was recorded with the same dude that recorded Nirvana’s Nevermind. You can tell. It’s got the same loudness, same energy and Butch Vig’s mixing/EQ style is still the same. The only way I’ve heard it described that really worked for me is that he EQ’s the guitars in such a way that he creates space for Dave Grohl’s voice. It can then be fairly low in the mix, but still be heard. It’s a great thing. Vocals do define the band, Mr Grohl is probably an underrated singer sometimes, but with 3 guitars going, room needed to be found for everything, and Butch has done just that. Of course, the charm of the recording is how it was all done on tape, old school method in Dave’s converted garage. Anyone who is a fan of the band, or remotely interested in that kind of thing, should watch the documentary Back and Forth. So this album inspires me very much in my drumming, but also in my audio engineer head. Plus, it’s Ethan’s favourite (we have one video on our iPad which is Foo Fighters playing this album start to finish in their studio…Ethan can watch the whole thing over and over again. He’s 2 next saturday (4th Oct)!!!!


Well, that’s it. 15 albums, loads of waffle about crap.

As with anything like this, there are always albums that you think of that could easily have made this list, so I’ll do some honourable mentions, but won’t go into details:

Life – The Cardigans

Slippery When Wet – Bon Jovi

Tails – Lisa Loeb

Core – Stone Temple Pilots (was on the original list on FB)

Greatest Hits – Creed (I know another best of, but I luuuurve this album)

Nevermind – Nirvana

Collective Soul – Collective Soul (NAME YOUR ALBUM FFS)

That’s it, I can’t go on any more!

If people enjoy reading this (or read this thinking “how boring, but I bet Polly/KC/Dan/Tim choices would be more interesting”) then maybe we can get the others to put something like this together.

Now, I’m just going to read back through it, cut some stuff out, noticed it’s far too long!!!! (edit: failed to remove anything, so it’s as long as I first wrote it!)

If you got this far, thanks for reading 🙂

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Drummer, part of tech idol and new daddy!