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 Love Letter To A Record 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.
Ollie Miller, DRESS CODE – The Strokes, Is This It(2001)
The first time I heard this record I was 5 years old. I was sitting in the family ute when my dad (the original indie kid) popped his dub of ‘Is This It’ into the cassette player and set the course for the rest of my life. After the first song, I knew exactly what I had to do. I had to become Julian Casablancas. I spent most of my childhood sitting in cars listening to this album with dad. Anytime he drove anywhere I would jump at the opportunity to sit in the passenger seat and imagine it was me playing the guitar solo in ‘The Modern Age’, or screaming ‘Soma’ to a sweaty club crowd. Where does this music come from? And how do I get there? I was on a mission.
As I was growing up this record defined me. None of my friends knew this music, most of them found The Strokes as we entered our teenage years. But as pre-teen this music made me special, it was my thing. I thought I was the coolest kid in the Adelaide Hills because I would work around the school saying things like “New York cops ain’t too smart”. Of course, I had no idea what I was saying, but it was fun to pretend. It was me and my Sony Discman against the world. That was my comfort blanket, in a way. I was a sensitive and anxious kid, but every time I heard the tape rewind at the start of Is This It all of a sudden I felt like I was the coolest kid in the room. It was like Julian and the gang would pick me up, dust me off, and say things like “tomorrow will be different”. I knew the music would always have my back.
I didn’t know what a lot of these songs meant until I was a bit older, lines like “I missed the last bus, I’ll take the next train” resonate a lot more when you’re 17 years old and stranded after a night of sneaking into gigs. Instead of imagining, now I was the one playing the guitar solos, I learnt them all. I would don my skinny jeans, strap my guitar up as high as it would go, and suddenly Adelaide was New York. And I was Julian, the king of cool.
Nowadays I listen to a lot more music, and I don’t wear skinny jeans. But if I ever find it hard to pick up my guitar I put on Is This It and try to remember the feeling I had when I was 5 years old, sitting in a car with my dad, falling in love with music.