Hello and welcome to another edition of our “The Anatomy Of” series, where we give bands the figurative microphone and let them talk about their biggest musical influences. The merits should be clear: through these picks, we can get an insight into what makes bands tick, stressing the reality that music and art always exist in context. The picks are not always straightforward or obvious and that’s where things get interesting; how does folk influence a thrash metal artist? Where does pop or hip-hop come in a black metal artist’s education?
The time around, we have Druids of whom we’ll hear more in the coming week. They’re set to release a brilliant album titled Monument on the 19th of April. It is a work chock full of riffs, raspy vocals, and enough feedback to set your ears to ringing for weeks to come. Thus, it’s no wonder that Mastodon‘s Leviathan appears as the band’s final selection or that High on Fire opens it. However, the inclusion of The Smashing Pumpkins is a tad more left field, opening up some questions about melancholy, heaviness, dreams, and how much can spawn all those feelings and states of mind. Likewise the inclusion of the masterful The Mars Volta makes sense in retrospect, when you listen to the album in full and hear all the tasty bass nuggets that were thrown in there.
All in all, this list should tell you a think or two about Druids. The main takeaway should be: “damn, I need to listen to these guys” because you absolutely do. Their brand of progressive stoner metal is exactly what 2019 needed (more on that tomorrow) and exactly what you needed to get you through the week.
Luke Rauch – Guitar/ Vocals
High On Fire – Death is this Communion
I got this record for Christmas from my parents when I was 21. I was in between bands and jobs. Living with my parents. I clearly had no idea what the hell I was doing with my life.
I saw the ‘Rumors of War’ video on Headbanger’s Ball late one night. It blew me away. The riffs and vocals spoke to me. It inspired me to pick up my guitar and start writing. In short, that record played a huge part in the beginnings of Druids.
Keith Rich – Drums
The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness
When I think of the album/band that definitively made me want to play in a band, I always go back to The Smashing Pumpkins and their masterwork, Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness. They were my first concert in 1996 and, as an 11 year old, that really shapes your brain in ways that are difficult to put into words. All I knew was that this was the best thing I had ever seen and I wanted to do what they were doing on that stage.
The appeal of Mellon Collie is not only the scope of the record, but the fact that a band could be stoney, loud and fuzzy but also write really beautiful pop songs that were just as effective or evocative. Between a nice snarly vocal with super heavy feedback and intensity (“Fuck You [An Ode To No One]”) and a gentle, soothing wash of light, swirly shoegaze-y guitar and lullaby vocals (“Thirty-Three”), the spectrum of their songwriting prowess was on full display here. As far as live performances go, few have rivaled the intensity and grandeur of the Pumpkins for me personally.
I think the main impact it had on me was the fact that a band could balance so perfectly their rock side with their more melodic, psychedelic side and find a perfect middle ground. As a kid, you have this misconception that musicians only do this or that, but they opened my eyes to the fact that possibilities are endless. Mellon Collie felt classic the minute you put it on and it really has stood the test of time. If I had to pick a soundtrack to my youth, this is, without question, the one for me.
Plus, Jimmy Chamberlin is a beast on the drums: who wouldn’t want to have those chops?!
Favorite Songs: “Thirty-Three”, “Here Is No Why”, “X.Y.U.”, “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”
Drew Rauch – Bass/Vocals
The Mars Volta – De-Loused in the Comatorium
I was always a big At the Drive-In fan growing up, so when I heard the members were starting a new band I was very excited about it. De-Loused in the Comatorium is still, to me, one of the best overall records to come out. It had intense rhythmic grooves with drums and bass that caught my attention right away. The psychedelic sound and multiple guitars soloing at the same time was a crazy sound that I loved. Definitely opened up my musical taste. Luke and I used to watch Control Freak on MTV2 every week so we could wait a whole hour just to vote for one of their songs to come on so we could see their videos.
Metallica – Master of Puppets
Master of Puppets is the ultimate metal record for us. It gets played in the van quite often. I feel that the record perfectly captures the raw energy and talent that the band had in that exact moment. They were unstoppable at the time. This was also the first cassette we threw in on our first drive of our first tour as a band. It’s pretty crucial listening.
Mastodon – Leviathan
Leviathan is what happens when you take a heavy band with sick riffs, add a heavy dose of the ocean and really up the songwriting ante: this is what albums should feel and sound like. The way they wrote in a conceptual way and fused together melody and dynamic with straight up power…it’s just such an intense record. It feels confident, a killer, huge sound and great tunes.