Charles Epting (2) As our year-end lists have been proving, 2012 was stellar…
- Posted on Aug 9th 2011 5:00PM by Dan Reilly
1. Smoking Popes
The Popes were the first punk band I ever saw play. I was 13 years old at the time and they were playing at a VFW hall in Elgin, Ill. My mind was blown! I had been playing around with a guitar for a couple years at that point but I never actually thought I could be in a band, until that show. The other bands were OK, and I was just stoked to be out at this weird type of show that I didn't even know existed. Then the Popes went on and I was hypnotized. These three young dudes were just tearing it up with crazy good guitar leads and unbelievable pop melody. I bought a 7-inch and went home knowing that I now had to be in a band.
2. The Smiths
After being into punk rock bands pretty much exclusively for the next year or so, I met some people at school that opened up all kinds of new doors for me (We're talking 1991-ish, pre-Internet obviously, so we kinda had to rely on word of mouth). They introduced me to all kinds of British bands, and more alternative type stuff, like My Bloody Valentine, the Stone Roses, Teenage Fanclub and the one that really grabbed me, the Smiths. The songwriting style was like nothing else I had ever heard. Super-clean and intricate guitar lines, and very honest and awkward -- yet beautiful and poetic lyrics. They made me realize that angst wasn't everything, and after that, I felt more comfortable with the thought of expressing actual emotions.
They're one the most important bands that ever crawled into my ears. Such unbelievable songwriting that kind of blends in such a beautiful way the styles of the two previous genres that I mentioned. It's punk rock in production, and tones and all that. But it's beautiful and sad poetry in lyrics and sentiment. Blake's words can paint a picture in such a way that you almost feel like you're watching a film, you can put yourself right into the scene and laugh or cry with the characters. 'Chesterfield King' is the ultimate example --such a well-told story woven through beautiful melodies in a three-minute rock song.
This really inspired me to try and write something for myself that others might be able to relate to as well. So now when I perform, it's not just me singing a song, it's me sharing these words and stories with the crowd. I want us to all feel it together, for better or worse.
4. Elvis Costello
So at this point my music collection had grown quite a bit, I was in a band that was doing well and having a good 'ol time. But I felt like I needed to dig a little deeper and start exploring the artists that inspired the artists that inspired me. make sense? So I went back in time and rediscovered bands like Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, the Who, David Bowie and on and on. But one songwriter of yesteryear that I really got obsessed with for a while is Elvis Costello. The man has written so many albums, explored so many different styles and his lyrics are genius.
They're beautiful and angry and honest and sad. In my humble opinion he's one of the greatest songwriters of all time. He challenges me to always try and get a little more interesting, and to never stop working.
5. Ryan Adams
In the grand scheme of things, It wasn't that long ago that I got into Ryan Adams, maybe four or five years ago. And dude has a lot of stuff out there. Talk about prolific, it's amazing the amount of quality tunes he can put out in such a short span of time. I pretty much love every album for different reasons, as he makes every album sound a little different, and that's the best part.
As a guy who's been in a band for most of my life I've realized there's always one thing you can count on. When you make a record, people will inevitably complain that it "doesn't sound like the old stuff, man!" Well, for me that's kind of the point. If I was a painter, and I painted the same thing over and over again, I would consider myself to be a s----y and unimaginative painter. So I'm not gonna make the same records over and over, that would be hell. Listening to Ryan Adams records helps me to remember that I don't really give a s--- who says what. I'll always make the record I feel like making at that time.