It's always interesting to find out a little bit more about somebody involved in the music business. Whether they are a performer, label owner or venue manager, they'll all have their own favourite moments, influences or experiences, which can be a little dry when teased out in interview form.
So we reached out to a number of people around the industry for their personal Top 10s and let them choose the theme.
In the coming weeks we hope to have contributions from members of The Red Stains, Cold Water Swimmers and the busiest drummer in rock - Rob Haynes (Membranes/Goldblade/Inca Babies/Harry Stafford)
First up is Benjamin Corry - Lead Singer of MANCANDI faves, The Battery Farm, to kick us off on the subject of songwriters. The bar has been set very high folks! These are Ben's own unedited narratives.
Pic: Lucille Darklight
No single artist has at various times shaped my thinking and my outlook more profoundly than old Steven Patrick. I number among millions who clutched his lyrics to their soul and had them as a life-raft in difficult times. They are the songs that saved my life and I can never forget them. Songs of empathy, songs of compassion, songs of beauty. Songs that influenced my own writing to probably too great an extent at times. There is little of that stuff in his latter-day material, nor indeed in his repugnant latter-day worldview, but he will always be the artist who enriched my life more than any other, even if those glorious songs are hard to listen to now. He will always be the man who opened up new worlds to me - who introduced me to Wilde and Housman; to James Dean and Elvis and Shelagh Delaney; to vintage Coronation Street and Elizabeth Smart! He will, more than anything, always be the man who taught me how to accept myself. The man who taught me that being me, for all my perceived inadequacies, flaws and awkwardness, was ok. I miss him as I thought he was. It takes guts to be gentle and kind.
Paul Simon is the greatest American songwriter. That is a fact, not an opinion. He has produced of a body of work whose breadth, beauty and consistency is incomparable. In terms of the actual sound of my own writing Paul Simon isn't a massive influence. However, there is a particularly raw, particularly human kind of beauty that he conveys in his lyrics. Songs like Renee and Georgette Magritte, Overs, American Tune and, of course, Bridge Over Troubled Water are staggering in their starkness and poignancy, as are many others. That's something I've tried to capture in my own lyrics when I've been in the mood. That mood hasn't showed up much in the burning agony that has characterised The Battery Farm's early releases. Ultimately though I want to be the kind of writer Paul Simon is; a writer of deep and multi-faceted richness who expresses powerful human truths. I can dream!
Lieber & Stoller
Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller were songwriters for hire in the early days of Rock n' Roll and Bebop. They wrote some of the most perfect pop songs ever conceived. Jailhouse Rock, Stand by Me, Trouble, I Who Have Nothing, King Creole, Hound Dog... the list is endless. No one wrote songs that captured, then enhanced, the electricity, the dynamism and - probably without meaning to - the raw, animal sexuality of Elvis Presley in his early days. Others did a great job, but Lieber and Stoller gave The King an unrivalled platform to be extraordinary. That's not to mention the work they did for The Drifters, Perry Como and Peggy Lee among hundreds more. I love Elvis more than you can imagine, and Lieber and Stoller are a big part of the reason why.
Kurt Cobain - Nirvana
Kurt Cobain was my first hero. It's a big fat cliche but hearing Smells Like Teen Spirit for the first time was a year zero moment for me. Everything changed and I became obsessed with Nirvana and guitar music in general. My obsession with them and Kurt tapered off a little over the years but Kurt's impact on my writing and my life in general has been inescapable. In recent years I've returned to Nirvana in a big way and fallen in love with them all over again. That desperate, pained howl that made me want to sing from my soul all those years ago still sends shivers down my spine. Nirvana are the bedrock of everything for me and, consciously or not, Kurt Cobain's influence still runs through my own songwriting to this day.
Jason Williamson - Sleaford Mods
No one addresses the state - the absolute fucking state - of things with more ferocity, succinctness and intelligence than Jason Williamson. The way he twists metaphors and plays with words and spouts endless astonishing lyrics relentlessly dumbfounds me. The way he eviscerates political and cultural charlatans; the way he holds to account with desperation, venom and vicious humour every bad, hateful bastard responsible for the hellscape we have inhabited over the last five years... it's unfathomable. Sleaford Mods are another one of those bands, like IDLES, who emboldened me to write the first songs I wrote for The Battery Farm. They taught me how to articulate the despair, the emptiness, the sense of waste and fury I was feeling and still feel at the world that politicians and far-right fucknuts have created around me, my family and my friends. As with IDLES, Strange Bones, Witch Fever, Frank Carter, Calva Louise and so many others from recent years I'm grateful to Jason Williamson and Sleaford Mods for giving me a voice. I don't always agree with him personally, but I'm grateful nonetheless. Without Sleaford Mods, as with IDLES, I don't know if there'd be a Battery Farm.
Joe Talbot - Idles
There's a second batch of songs that saved my life. They were written by Joe Talbot and performed by IDLES. Joe's raw, blistering articulation of deep-seated pain on Brutalism hit me like an A-bomb, giving me a rush of adrenaline and catharsis the like of which I hadn't felt in years. His songs of community, solidarity and, yes, joy on Joy as an Act of Resistence, made me want to save myself. Hearing him talk onstage about grief and suicide and love made me believe again in Humanity's capacity for good. Seeing that almighty band grow inspired and invigorated me to write the pitch-black exorcisms that eventually became the songs of The Battery Farm. He made me want to turn the poison in me into something beautiful. I owe Joe Talbot so much, and I am thankful for him.
Richey Edwards - Manic Street Preachers
Richey Edwards is probably the songwriter in this list who has most influenced my style of writing as it is today. Fragments of hidden horrors stitched together to create an inescapable monstrosity. Breath-taking, fucking devastating stuff. Edwards' lyrics, especially on The Holy Bible, looked upon the world with nightmarish detachment, and yet somehow they felt and expressed everything. Disgust, nihilism, all-engulfing sadness. Hope. His writing was perverse and contrary because he wrote with blistering honesty, yet he never laid himself bare. When you listen to The Holy Bible or Journal for Plague Lovers you have to dig, you have to listen, you have to feel to understand the torments he was trying to express. Once you do that, those lyrics hit you in the gut with a savagery unlike anything else. He was a songwriter in a completely unique space, who wrote lyrics unlike anyone else before or since.
Gerard Way - My Chemical Romance
The Black Parade is to me what The Wall or Berlin or Ziggy Stardust might have been to teenagers in previous decades. A perfect concept, executed with bombast, wit, joy and pathos. My Chemical Romance were exactly the band I needed in 2006 and that album blew my world apart. Gerard Way was just the kind of frontman and songwriter I needed too. A compassionate, defiant, courageous writer and one of the best lyricists of the last 20 years. An endlessly conceptual and unceasingly creative mind. He articulated with kindness what it felt like to be a kid at odds with the big bad world and he made you feel as though you weren't quite so alone. He stood up for you. My Chemical Romance remain an extremely important band to me and through the years have influenced my writing no end. I love them to this day, and Gerard Way is the driving force behind that love.
James Allan - Glasvegas
Glasvegas are a band that mean the absolute world to me. The eternal underdogs who should have been huge, who are the soundtrack to no end of my happiest, happiest memories. James Allan is a wonderful writer and a captivating, enigmatic frontman. His songs speak emphatic truths about loneliness, family, sadness, confusion and working class struggle both internal and external. I can't tell you how much songs like SAD Light, Flowers and Football Tops, Whatever Hurts You Through the Night and Neon Bedroom have embedded themselves in my psyche over the years. I can't express how indebted my own desire to tell human stories in song is to James Allan. He is a songwriter of acute perceptiveness and empathy who sings from his soul. He's a maverick, he's a mystery and at times he's completely baffling, but I love him.
Steve Ignorant - Crass/Conflict/Slice Of Life
I'm a fairly late convert to Crass, I only really listened to them after seeing Steve Ignorant's Slice of Life supporting Sleaford Mods a few years ago. However, Steve's influence on my writing has grown exponentially over the last few years. The vicious, barbed vocals imparting venomous, acerbic, no-nonsense lyrics, daggers aimed squarely at the psychopaths in power who were as evil in 1977 as they are now. In Slice of Life Steve has developed into a towering, almost restrained presence, speaking the words rather than spitting now and hitting his targets with intelligence and precision. Steve Ignorant is one of the great lyricists of the 20th century. The more I discover about him the more his influence on my output grows. Although, my favourite Crass album remains Penis Envy, on which Steve was famously credited as 'not on this recording', with vocal duties taken over by Eve Libertine and Joy De Vivre. That fact alone makes his allure even greater to me. A true iconoclast.