Appetite for Destruction – Guns ‘N’ Roses This is the perfect debut album. It really has everything I love about rock n roll music, it’s dangerous, sexy and loud but the song-writing is also stellar. There isn’t a single filler track on this record; it’s always driven me to strive to make every song I write a potential ‘classic’. It has such a melodic sensibility and a heavy electric edge. The guitar tone alone is spectacular which is why I was super excited that we got to use some super old Marshall Plexi’s on our record.
Rubber Soul- The Beatles This album is the ‘gap bridger’ of The Beatles catalogue. It’s the perfect blend of power pop and soft rock with a dash of experimentation throw in. Each song has its own atmosphere vibe and hooks and really shows how important it is to allow songs to have their own story. The lyric of Lennon’s in In My Life is effortlessly beautiful. Every single song stands up for me on this record, I played it a lot when I was 18, it’s masterful yet understated next to albums like Sergeant Peppers or The White Album, it’s simplicity allows the songs to shine.
Aladdin Sane- David Bowie Bowie was ever the chameleon and I really admire the way he fully projects a character or an idea into his albums. From the delicate and powerful piano to the incendiary guitars, when I first heard this album I was on the edge of my seat wondering what theme or direction the next song would take. Lyrically masterful in some places and outright fun throw away rhymes in the next, it is melodic and hooky and everything I love about music. It made me think, sing and dream.
Paul Stanley- Paul Stanley (KISS 1978) This is probably my favorite album of all time and it’s not one a lot of people know. KISS are a huge band but the solo albums they released in 1978 are still unknown to the masses. I wish I could have written every single song on this record. Power pop, riff heavy rock and power ballads included, this album taught me how to sing and how to write a great riff. Going even further, the songs are just so well constructed. I never really get bored of it and each time I find something new to get lost in.
Live And Dangerous- Thin Lizzy Along with KISS Alive! This is probably the greatest double live LP in rock music period. Phil Lynott has this great way of singing in such a colloquial manner. Some people think that being the lead singer of a band is about how high and powerful you can sing but it’s not. Sometimes people forget that you need timing, like Sinatra, Lynott is a master at this and it’s so effective. Every single song is solid and is a haven of riff mastery and melodic bass lines. This album has me banging my head and air guitaring but also brings me to tears by Still In Love with You.
The Strange Case of- Halestorm This album was a game changer for me. I’d been to, and dropped out of, University and was playing in a covers bands singing old school rock when a friend showed me the video to I Get Off by Halestorm and I was blown away. I got their debut but when the second album came out I fell in love with the band. Lzzy’s voice was like something I’d never heard and really pushed me to explore my whole voice and range; I wasn’t scared to be loud anymore. When I saw them live her voice was still flawless despite her rocking out, and it snapped in my head that I wouldn’t ever be happy unless I was doing that on stage. From that point I began to write and sing every day with no plan B.
Purple Rain- Prince I have always said that Prince is one of the most underrated guitar players of all time. All you have to do is listen to the intro of When Doves Cry to realise he’s just as good as Eddie Van Halen ever was. If there’s a guy who knows how to write a song it’s Prince, and the thing that makes it so authentic is that you can tell he is putting every ounce of his energy and emotion into every note. This is why when we play live I give everything I’ve got to the performance. Again this is another album that blends genres and makes them not matter.
Escape- Journey Steve Perry’s voice is just something else. Lay It Down from this album is him schooling everyone else on how you lay it down. The guitars also teach any band an important lesson. There is a time to shred and a time to be melodic. I’ve always felt like the guitar solo should be a song within a song and should always have a part that can be sung along to. A lot of people think Journey come off as cheesy but to be able to write a hook like Don’t Stop Believin’ that just gets people to have a good time take a certain amount of skill.
Blue- Joni Mitchell Simple yet brutal and so honest it almost feels like you are intruding. I am a rocker through and through but the vulnerability of Joni’s songs and voice cuts me to my core. Everything I write tends to happen on a beat up acoustic guitar and I really believe that a good song can be played just with guitar or piano and voice. Joni really taught me that as a songwriter you have to connect, when I listen to this album I almost feel like she’s telling me her secrets. It reminds me that despite writing songs about rock and roll that showing your vulnerability in song is nothing to be afraid of.
Permission To Land – The Darkness
When this album came out I was a geeky, slightly too weird for friends teenager who was known for liking a band that wore make-up and high heels. All of a sudden everyone got a glimpse of what I’d loved since I was a kid and to enjoy it with other people was great. To mirror Appetite it’s a bit dangerous, sexy and the guitars are stunning. This one though had added humour and really didn’t take itself so seriously. You should definitely be able to take the mic out of yourself. The thing I love most about rock music is that more often than not it is fun to listen to and fun to play. More than anything and like every other record I’ve mentioned the song writing is the core foundation that you build everything else on and this album is full of hooks and melodies that melt your face off.
Band photo by, and courtesy of, Dave Hill.