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.
Stefan Babcock, PUP – Built To Spill, There’s Nothing Wrong With Love
The first time I heard Built To Spill’s There’s Nothing Wrong With Love I was 14. It was summer and I used to spend every night in my first girlfriend’s attic listening to CDs her older sister had burned for us. Mostly it was shit that was too weird for me at the time, that I’d eventually grow to like – Nada Surf, The Constantines, and The Microphones. But one night we put on There’s Nothing Wrong With Love.
That album changed my life. It sounds really dumb saying it now, but at the time I honestly didn’t know music could sound like that. I had never thought about writing songs because all of the bands I was listening to were so flawless and sterile and overproduced. I couldn’t imagine ever being able to make something like that. But when I heard There’s Nothing Wrong With Love something weird happened in my brain.
The album is raw. At times it sounds bad. A lot of the playing is kind of shit – like some of the guitar solos sound like they are learning to play guitar the first time, and a lot of the vocals are out of tune. And it is fucking incredible. Every single song, every single melody is so beautiful and just deliver this dagger of emotion into my gut.
It’s like they wrote these unbelievable parts, but were barely capable of competently playing them. Yet they do it with such conviction, and such feeling that every single moment sounds way more real, way more vital than anything I’d ever heard before.
The songs are all incredible, and unlike all that polished stuff, I could actually hear these guys PLAYING. Like really playing. I could hear what every single instrument was doing, and how they all came together to create this magical thing. The record was awesome because the songs were awesome, and not because of a bunch of fancy studio tricks. It made me want to learn to play guitar and write songs. That summer I picked up a guitar for the first time and learned almost all of that record. And then I started writing my own songs (most of which sounded like Built To Spill ripoffs).
I still remember that attic and that first girlfriend of mine whenever I listen to the record. I’ve listened to the song ‘Twin Falls’ thousands of times, and I still get a disgusting pit in my stomach every time. It’s crazy what music can do to you.