My Life in Music… Claire Sutton (All Ears Avow)

Look Sharp – Roxette This was the first album I remember being totally nuts about. It came out when I was only about a year old so I don’t actually remember the first time I heard it, I just remember it always being there in my childhood and thinking Marie Fredriksson was the coolest woman ever. I wanted to cut my hair short and have it bleached like hers. There’s footage of me somewhere when I was about 3 or 4, with a guitar in one hand and holding a mic in the other singing along to Dressed for Success. It wouldn’t really be something I’d listen to if it came out now but it definitely started things for me and is the absolute defining moment of where my love for pop rock started.

Tragic Kingdom – No Doubt There’s so much about this album that I love. I loved it when it came out just because the songs were catchy and Gwen Stefani is such a force of nature – she has an incredibly original voice. Tragic Kingdom is one of the few albums that came out when I was a kid that I’m not sick of and still listen to over 20 years on from its release. I appreciate it on an entirely different level now that I understand more about music. The different genre influences – ska, pop, rock, pop-punk, reggae and how incredibly intricate all the parts are that you don’t necessarily notice at first – I love that. Massive pop hooks but musically really interesting are qualities that I look for in everything I listen to nowadays as well as try to put into my own songwriting.

What’s The Story Morning Glory – Oasis I can’t actually really stand Oasis now if I’m being totally honest. They really lost all their charm over the years but I can’t deny the influence they had on me in the early days. When this album came out and I first heard it, when I first heard them… I don’t really know how to describe it. It wasn’t like I hadn’t heard loud ‘heavier’ guitars before I was growing up on Led Zeppelin, Queen and Bon Jovi, it’s just that everything I’d heard up until then was based on what my parents introduced me to from ‘back in their day’. Discovering it for yourself and getting to hear it first time round and being able to go to their shows was just something else and completely impossible for me witness with bands like Zeppelin.  I’d already been playing guitar for a few years when this came out, but it completely stopped my interest in ‘getting better’ at being a guitarist and all I wanted to do was write songs like Noel Gallagher. As long as I could play what I needed to for the sake of the song and as long as it sounded cool then that was good enough for me.

Stoosh – Skunk Anansie If you know Skunk Anansie, and you listen to anything I’ve ever written but particularly anything from us in All Ears Avow… this probably is the most obvious influence on the whole list. It doesn’t belong at the top of the list purely because if it weren’t for the others I wouldn’t have arrived at this album I don’t think, but this definitely impacted on my/our style more than anything. Skin had the same thing that Gwen Stefani did – you couldn’t compare her to anyone else and she sounded like her and only her and I love that. The songs were catchy but full of angst and just generally darker than anything I’d really been into before this. The guitarist Ace is the embodiment of how I now approach playing guitar and really lead me into the world of effects. He’s not showy or arrogant but plays some of the most beautifully simple lines and has the ability to move me to tears in just one note.

The Colour and the Shape – Foo Fighters This is a real collective influence for us not just for me as the songwriter of the group. So many massive songs that are timeless and we still all love to date. There’s nothing pretentious about it it’s just balls to the wall rock and when it comes on in the van when we’re out on the road it’s instantly turned up and we’re all singing along. A classic!

Showbiz – Muse Again, this is another strong collective influence and also another one where the band themselves, despite how huge they’ve become, have lost their charm in recent years. However when they first appeared with this album it was a total game changer. Yeah, they kind of sounded like Radiohead, except to me it was like Radiohead on steroids and reigned in at the same time with a far more radio friendly edge to them. Matt Bellamy played guitar like no one else, the bass lines carried as many hooks as the guitars and vocals did and they just stepped outside the norm for rock music. Matt screeching down the microphone in Muscle Museum instead of taking a guitar solo was a big tick box for me as I was always so bored by conventional guitar playing that I was more impressed by that sort of thing.

Free All Angels – Ash A female guitar player! A female guitar player that wasn’t playing acoustic guitar or just rhythm guitar. Charlotte Hatherley was the lead guitarist and she played a Gibson SG and she was totally my hero for a while. Not only did I love every song on this album absolutely packed full of pop-rock bangers, but I actually had some kind of a role model. I learnt to play every song and saw them play a bunch of times. I don’t normally think of this as an influence until the album comes on and I realise how much I’ve drawn from them, particularly in the way our songs are structured.

Hybrid Theory – Linkin Park Another collective influence. For most of us this album was the start of leading us into heavier music, particularly nu-metal bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach. Linkin Park are the kings of combining electronic and sample based stuff – something that we really love to dip our toes into. A lot of our earlier stuff was really down tuned in drop B as well and this was obviously something that came from our love for heavier genres that we undoubtedly wouldn’t be into if it weren’t for Linkin Park.

Audioslave – Audioslave I sort of missed Rage Against The Machine and found them through Audioslave, otherwise they’d probably make the list. I think in Rage’s hey day I was mostly listening to what was filtering down from my parents and my parents weren’t into rap metal. So when Audioslave appeared with all the riffy goodness of Rage but with Chris Cornell’s voice, I was in love! Tom Morello is another great example of the sort of guitar playing I love and the rest of the guys love too. Neither me or our other guitarist Jake have ever really been into shredding and doing what’s expected and really love the players that approach it in a different way. Guitar effects pedals have been a really big thing for us and Morello is highly responsible for that. Audioslave’s groove ridden riffs are exactly what we go for when we want to riff out in a song.

 A Crow Left Of The Murder – Incubus We’re all massive, massive fans of Incubus. They’re actually the band we all bonded over when we first started playing together and our first jam was an Incubus track. Although 3 quarters of us had been listening to Incubus for a while when they released A Crow Left Of The Murder, I don’t think any of us thought they were really doing anything that ‘out there’ for the 2 albums prior to this. Science was mental and then they chilled out a lot and found a sound that carried through Make Yourself and Morning View that was incredible but didn’t necessarily stand out from all the other bands of the time. When their 5th album came out it was really different to anything else. Mike Einziger’s guitar playing on that album was really weird in a brilliant way. The songs were really catchy but then would stray off into a pretty odd instrumental that was just so cool and original and really quite jazz. But we loved it and still do. Every member of Incubus really shines on that album and I think they’re a band that just generally inspires each of us to be better musicians and keep pushing ourselves

All Ears Avow release their new EP, Edge of This on April 28th

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