Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.
Dan Haggis, The Wombats: Foo Fighters – The Colour And The Shape
I could have written a few of these letters but I don’t want to be seen as promiscuous, so here goes.
I first saw your creator playing drums on MTV with another band in a school gym. He hit the drums so hard and, to my 12-year-old eyes, made it look like the best instrument to play in the world. At the time I was playing the flute in a Saturday morning orchestra. Whilst fairly cool, rock drums just seemed to have the edge over the flute at that point in my life. Fast forward a few months and I was playing percussion in the orchestra and having drum lessons in the short breaks we had on those Saturday mornings. I mentioned I could’ve written a few letters, one of them could’ve been to ‘Nevermind’ by your former band which features the song I saw on MTV but, instead, I choose to write to you, The Colour And The Shape by the Foo Fighters.
Of all the albums I went through in my head I kept coming back to you. You came along in 1997 and for the next few years you soundtracked many hours of homework (honestly mum!), foot and knee tapping bus rides home from school, house parties and mosh pits with friends and listening to you now, writing this, I can’t help but pause every few minutes to air drum along to you as I did before I even owned a drum kit. When I got my first kit for my 14th birthday and started a band with some school friends, ‘Everlong’ was one of the 1st songs we covered. I used to play along to you with my CD walkman and headphones in and pretend I was on stage! That sense of power and feeling in every drum hit just struck a chord in my scrawny chest and I pretty much knew what I wanted to do with my life from that moment on.
Your energy was infectious. Every cymbal hit felt like a punch in the face. The quiet/loud contrasts on songs like ‘Hey, Johnny Park!’ And ‘My Poor Brain’ felt so exciting and dynamic it was like an adrenalin shot to the heart. As well as giving me reasons to air drum and jump around my room, you also gave me a soundtrack to daydream to on those rainy melancholic teenage days with songs like ‘Walking After You’ and ‘February Stars’. Learning to play ‘Monkey Wrench’ and ‘Everlong’ on guitar was the first time I tried drop D tuning and it felt like a whole new world of possibilities had just opened up. I used to try screaming that “one last thing before I quit…” section in ‘Monkey Wrench’ all in one breath. I never quite made it but I liked how light-headed I felt every time I tried. You may be an inanimate object but you’ve been a great companion throughout my life and you’ve got great legs!
I’ll stop rambling now, you’ve probably got places to be, people to help.
To conclude, my Granny died from dementia a couple of years ago and music was one of the last things to go, even after she lost the ability to speak she could still be stirred into life through an old song. Music is like a time machine, a sonic photograph. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me a wormhole through which I can be sitting in this hotel room in LA at the age of 33 but suddenly I time travel back to my old bedroom in Liverpool, with a few acne spots on my face, my school tie around my head and blazer on the floor, my mum shouting that dinner is nearly ready and that I’d better stop listening to music and finish my homework.
Until next we meet, all my love.
The Wombats’ new album ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’ is due out on 9th February (and it’s likely we’re going to see the band in the country sometime soon). Pre-order the album here.