James Domestic ist einer der umtriebigsten Musiker Englands. Wenn er nicht mit The Domestics tourt, dann veröffentlicht er Platten mit Tokyo Lungs, Pi$$er, Botched Toe oder einfach, wie kürzlichst, ein Soloalbum.
Kaum ein Mensch hat musikalisch so viel Output und liefert gleichzeitig so gute Qualität ab.
Meist veröffentlicht er seine Musik in UK über sein eigenes Label, Kibou Records. In Deutschland bekommt man seine Musik via Amok Records.
Nun erzählt er uns was ihn so beeinflusst:
1Jack Hammer – Down in the Subway (7”, 1966)
Oh man, if you’re a songwriter, you always want to write that perfect song that just has everything – the perfect tempo, the perfect chords, the perfect instrumentation, the perfect arrangement, the perfect vocal, perfect lyric…I could go on…when you hear a song like that it’s actually rarer than you might think. One, that when you hear it a few times, you’re thinking “there is not one note out of place here; nothing that’s too long, too short, too fast, too slow; not one thing that could be changed – even just a little – to make this song any better than it is”. Down in the Subway (sometimes titled Down the Subway) is such a song. A great raw vocal, great lyrics (“jump on the train tracks and die”), brilliant Hammond organ…just total perfection in every way. If you like ballsy soul/rhythm and blues/rock ‘n’ roll you need to check this song out if you don’t know it already. Small side-note: Jack Hammer co-wrote the massive Jerry Lee Lewis hit, Great Balls of Fire.
2Circle Jerks – Group Sex (LP, 1980)
I don’t think I heard this record until about 2008, almost 30 years after its release, and I will confess that a few short years later it made its presence felt as part-blueprint when I formed THE DOMESTICS. Short songs with not an ounce of fat on them; absolutely pared down to the bone. The whole album (fourteen songs) is done in under sixteen minutes; it’s just a total howl of frustration at the world around them. For me, this is the record where Keith Morris really comes into his own. I never really felt he sat that comfortably in Black Flag, and despite it being number one in “the least cool things to say about Black Flag”, for me, they didn’t really become the Black Flag I love until Rollins joined and made them a more primal force…Ron, Dez, Keith…they just didn’t have the edge for me. BUT, when Keith gets into Circle Jerks he puts his foot on the gas and no one else could do these songs better. Listen to the Black Flag and Circle Jerks versions of Wasted back to back– there’s no comparison! The Circle Jerks version totally slays the BF recording…and shaves a full eleven seconds off the original’s 50 second running time! Shout out also for the drumming of Lucky Lehrer too…there’s some cool shit going on here (Red Tape is a particular favourite).
3Discharge – Why? (12” MLP, 1981)
The template for an entire subgenre of punk. No Discharge, no d-beat (even if the drumbeat itself was first used by John Maher from Buzzcocks)! The most savage, brutal thing I’d ever heard when an older punk mate gave me a taped copy of this in around 1993. It’s still my favourite Discharge record, despite the first few 7”s and the Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing LP all being great too. Its raw as fuck, it’s fast – although actually I’ve always been particularly enamoured with the slower Discharge songs like Ain’t No Feeble Bastard or A Look at Tomorrow from this record or Protest and Survive and State Violence/State Control from Hear Nothing… and the 7” of the same name respectively – and it was like nothing I’d ever heard. Totally blew my head off! From here I got into a lot of other bands I’d missed, like Extreme Noise Terror and a lot of American crusty hardcore too. Once your ears become accustomed to this kind of thing, they do tend to crave it! Why? Was my gateway drug. All downhill from there really.
Dave Ellesmere plays drums on this, and I was lucky enough to meet him, play with his band of the time – Machete Fuck – and stay at his house on the second euro tour THE DOMESTICS did a few years ago. A smashing bloke, who has been living out in Berlin for years making (mostly) electronic music under various aliases and has produced some brilliant remixes of tracks from my Carrion Repeating album.
4LCD Soundsystem – Losing My Edge / Daft Punk is Playing at My House (both 12”s, 2002 and 2004)
Arguably I’m cheating a bit here, picking two records as one choice, but in my mind these records feel like a pair and each hits me as hard as the other. Also, I’m punk; fuck you and your rules! Haha!
Losing My Edge is captivating lyrically to any music nerd on a number of levels – you give yourself a silent pat on the back for knowing all the bands mentioned (and vow to check out any you don’t), but equally you know that there’s always someone that knows more than you, and that as you get older you’re perhaps losing touch to a greater or lesser extent with what “the kids” like and this is concerning to you as you don’t want people to think you’re some old irrelevance! So, you boast about your musical war stories – “I was there in 1974 at the fist Suicide practices in a loft in New York. I was working on the organ sounds…”, “I was there when Capitan Beefheart started up his first band. I told him “Don’t do it that way, you’ll never make a dime”” – however embellished and exaggerated they may be, to reassert your importance to the musical firmament. This song makes me feel cool and desperately uncool at the same time, which is pretty unusual I guess.
Daft Punk…is really about the joys (or otherwise) of setting up a house show and the tune just fucking pumps with excitement, expectation, and joy. I played both tracks out when I DJd last Saturday in a local pub for Rhodes’ (THE DOMESTICS bassist) birthday party, and they both sound double-awesome played loud through a PA system. To paraphrase singer James Murphy, I played it at The Brewery Tap; everybody thought I was crazy.
5Out Cold – Permanent Twilight World (LP, 1996)
Nineties punk was the absolute worst, right? Well, almost. Whilst there was a lot of boring crap labelled “punk” in the nineties and that whole post-Green Day frenzy for the big bucks produced a lot of terrible cheesy bands that all sounded much the same, there were still great punk bands on the fringes. This is evidenced recently by the Amok Records Diggin’ Up The 90s series of compilation LPs and of course, the mighty Out Cold!
I’m not afraid of losing punk points by admitting I came to Out Cold pretty late in the day; probably around 2011, the year after their frontman, Mark Sheehan died (not that I knew that then; I just got a copy of this album and was diggin’ the music). As time has gone on and I collected all of their output, and got to know people that knew them well, like Henk Kangaroo and a lot of that Amsterdam crowd, I began to realise that this band really means something to a lot of people. OK, not on a huge scale, but on a super-cult level people LOVE Out Cold. I do too, and I guess this reached its peak when I helped to release the euro version of the final album Living is Killing Me (tracks laid down years before, and completed by their original, pre-Mark singer, Kevin Mertens, who sang on their debut self-titled LP) in 2019.
But enough waffle, what’s so great about Out Cold, eh? Commitment, quality, rage…I could have picked almost any Out Cold record, but this was my first and therefore holds a special place…yaddayaddayadda. It’s totally my kind of hardcore – fast and memorable, with a big dollop of nihilism and intensity. They were a bit of anomaly in the nineties, and by all accounts, despite the love they inspire in many hardcore fans around the world now, were often playing to fifty people a night on tour by all accounts. A classic HC band. If you don’t know them, and you have any interest in hardcore punk, check them out.
6III Guerra – III Guerra (MLP, 2017)
Eight songs on this 12”, the only record these guys from Mallorca made, and every one is a winner. Full disclosure here: I helped to release this with a couple of other labels. If me putting my (limited) money where my mouth is isn’t enough of a recommendation then I don’t know what is!
I loved this when they sent me the songs. Despite some obvious de rigueur aspects of the time (loads of delay on the vocals for one thing), this had a charm about it that was irresistible. I’m sure those guys won’t mind me saying that it’s not the tightest record ever made (by far not the sloppiest either), but that looseness really adds something and may be one of the things that makes it feel – to me at least – a very human record.
Someone said to me that it reminded them of Japanese legends, Gism, but I don’t see that so much myself. Sometimes fast, sometimes chugging, with cool 1-2 tuppa-tuppa beats, grinding bass and just dripping with a degree of personality few bands in a similar ballpark could conjure. They featured members of Orden Mundial, Trau, Usura, Cop De Fona and other ‘known’ bands, and in 2018 I got them over to the UK for a short tour with The Domestics, which was great fun – a really nice bunch of guys to hang out with. Unfortunately, the ongoing shitstorm that was/is Brexit put paid to our visit to play with them in Mallorca/Spain, and Martí sadly died in a motorbike accident in 2019, which was a real shock. R.I.P.
Anyway, if you have any interest in modern hardcore, Spanish punk (or both) this is totally recommended. Of all the records I’ve helped release on Kibou, this is easily in my top 5 of ones where I think “I really need to hear that record right now!”.
7Kraftwerk – The Man Machine (LP, 1978)
When I was a kid growing up in the late eighties/nineties I’d sometimes hear a Karaftwerk song on the radio or on TV and it didn’t really move me much either way. I didn’t hate it and I didn’t love it; it made no real impression. Then one day, at a mates’ house in around 2014, we were sat around drinking, eating and playing records, and one of the guys there put Kraftwerk’s Autobahn LP on, and like a lightning flash I suddenly “got it”. The melodies, the warmth – I’d always thought Kraftwerk were a cold, robotic entity; I guess through their highly cultivated image – it totally turned my perception of them on its head. I think it took hearing them on vinyl to really hear them properly…and I was hooked! Instantly!
You’ll notice that despite my Autobahn revelation, that I’ve actually picked The Man Machine (Die Mensch·Maschine) and I guess in truth it’s probably a more accessible album than Autobahn. But again, I could’ve easily picked Trans Europe Express for similar reasons. The Man Machine includes the “big hit”, The Model (covered by everyone from Big Black to Prince fatty, David Byrne to Messer Chups, Ride to The Divine Comedy…amongst many others!), plus Space Lab, The Robots and more. I’m not someone who’s generally into ‘production’ – in all honesty I like punk records that sound like they were recorded in a dustbin! – but the best Kraftwerk records demand active listening. There is so much going on here, despite the deceptively simple melodies, and it’s beautiful stuff. I pick up on something new almost every time I listen to one of their records. It’s just sublime music made by – and I do not use the term lightly – geniuses. Their influence is still evident today, which is testament not only to how far ahead of their time they were, but to the quality of their output. To me, Kraftwerk is, in its own way, punk. They did everything in the Kling Klang studio in Düsseldorf at their own pace, not chasing some formula, but inventing a formula of their own!
8Gene Chandler – There Was A Time (7”, 1968)
What’s funkier than James Brown? Not much! But…Gene fucking Chandler! Mate! I love a lot of James Brown stuff (this is originally one of his songs), but this pisses all over it from a great height! Much like the Jack Hammer song I’ve also chosen, this song, and recording, could not be improved one bit! Twice as funky as the James Brown version, horns perfectly placed and squealing when they need to, a vocal – and band – that brings it down and brings it waaaaaay back up effortlessly. A faultless sense of dynamics. Coasting with more grit, grunt and groove than most bands can manage at full pelt in the more laid back parts so when it kicks up a gear it really kicks up! Holy shit! Every time I play this out someone comes up and asks me what it is without fail! It’s that good!
9Extreme Noise Terror – Holocaust in Your Head (LP, 1989)
Oh man, ENT! Like I said when talking about Why?, E.N.T. roared into my world off the back of Discharge really…and the fact that they were kind of local (well Ipswich was thirty miles away when I was growing up in Clacton-on-Sea) just seemed completely unreal to me. It couldn’t possibly be true, right? Up the road? In Ipswich? Crazy! Haha!
Anyway, again taped for me by an older punk mate, this has the classic track Murder on it, plus other total bangers like Fucked Up State, Conned Thru Life, Deceived, and Another Nail in the Coffin. All of them served up with the jet engine/cement mixer vocals of Phil Vane (R.I.P.) and Dean Jones respectively. Dean was really the first person to be doing vocals that extreme and what I like about them is they don’t veer into that total “cookie monster” indecipherable grunting like some bands following afterwards did – it still sounds human (just); I think I need some kind of human connection in music, whatever the style. Plus it sounds like it was recorded in a cement mixer.
This was also one of the records that really got me into the DIY side of hardcore, along with Electro Hippies’ The Only Good Punk… LP and a few others. You could see that there were no fancy designers doing the sleeves and that the band members just had their home addresses on the lyric sheets; it was like a little cottage industry (where no one made any money! Haha!) and that just seemed so cool to me as a teen.
For me, this was the sound of anger and frustration pointed at fully justifiable targets – racists, corrupt governments, the meat industry. Not that I knew much about politics or vegetarianism/veganism back then (I’ve only been veggie for around three years now…it took a long time to break the meat habit…giving up 40 cigs a day was way easier!) but it felt right. It’s far from a perfect comparison, but some of the reggae I like has lyrics that have religious elements to them and I’m an atheist, but I totally get the conviction and the, I don’t know, righteous feel of it (by the way I’m not talking about some of the homophobic dancehall shit from a few years back; that stuff can fuck off!).
Anyway, my favourite E.N.T. album, and a good place to start digging into them if you’re not aware of them. Also, much to my eternal delight, Dean did some vocals on the song Fuck Your War from THE DOMESTICS’ Routine & Ritual album.
10Ian Dury & The Blockheads – What A Waste (7”, 1978)
If you don’t like this song, you must be dead. If you’re in a band and you don’t like this song you must be double-dead. How could anyone not enjoy this? Great music and some of the best lyrics Dury every did – and he wrote a lot of good lyrics!
He starts off lamenting the things he could have done with his life; the careers he could have had if only he hadn’t got seduced by rock ‘n’ roll…and the chorus comes in and it’s like fuck all that boring shit; I’m glad to be a rock ‘n’ roller!
It’s a song for outsiders; outsiders having the confidence to say “I don’t care about what you do, or what you think about what I do. This is me, and I’m going to pursue maximum me-ness!!!”. And let’s not forget that The Blockheads were some of the best musicians around too; not the fancy show-off kind, but just 100% amazing at what they did.
Also, a shout out for Baxter Dury, Ian’s son, who has been making some great records these past few years.