Here at PlanetNotion we care about bands. We realise they probably sit for hours doing trillions of interviews during which they’re asked where their name comes from and how they’d describe their music in one word. We realise this must be really boring. So in an effort to make musicians’ press experiences a little more interesting, we’ve come up with ‘My Moodboard’. Everyone’s doing that Tumblr thing nowadays – even us – posting pictures, quotes, videos and the like on their microblog. So PlanetNotion has turned that idea into a feature, asking acts to pick their fave bits of mixed media that inspire them and the music they make.
First up we have The Bronze Medal, a beautiful band who make luscious music – hi-fi, Bon Iver-inspired sorta stuff that wouldn’t look out of place on the soundtrack of The OC. We’ve taken a liking to them, so here’s a selection of things that influence members Chris, Rory and Danny. Have a gander.
Sun Kil Moon – Glenn Tipton
Chris: I started listening to Mark Kozelek when a friend of mine gave me ‘Have You Forgotten’ on a mixtape in my first year of uni. When I bought the first Sun Kil Moon album, this song just knocked me out. He’s got this great stoicism to his voice that, coupled with what he says, makes the song feel like it’s coming from a very real place. All the right details are used so economically and it’s a great example of how much one word can change the game. At first you think Mark is recalling some romanticised nostalgia about growing up with his Dad – you’re lead through what seems like some warm memory of them bonding, until he caps the verse off with “Staying up late / Staying up alone” – and with that final word the perspective tilts, and the picture he’s just painted for you changes.
‘One of my Kind’ documentary
Dan: Documents the formation of the Mystic Valley Band, follows the band on tour & gives an insight to the writing and recording of the first and second albums. When I watch it, all I want to do is pick up an instrument and play music. It’s so inspiring to watch individual song ideas flow so effortlessly and naturally into a collaborative song. They left for tour with one album, came back with two, and went straight back into the studio on the back of playing together for months. It’s amazing considering they never intended to write a second album or even meant to be a band; it just happened. Now the five of us have geography on our side and the opportunity to play together more, I’m excited to work on new songs and grow as a unit.
Chris: When Danny (Rodgers, keyboards) and I were 15 he was given a copy of Either/Or by an older friend that turned out to be an integral part of our collective musical development. This album, along with the early Bright Eyes catalogue, was our gateway into listening to a whole new body of music – and into Dan buying a four-track. From then, we started recording our own demos on in his bedroom. There was something simultaneously precise and approximate about Elliott’s playing style, and the production was so bare and brittle on his early records that we thought the CD player was faulty. This video is from a dark period of his life and his career when he was struggling with drugs and depression. It always reminds me of how lost he had became and what a great loss he was.
Chris: Jazz is a friend of ours and a photographer from Bath that we’ve worked with a lot. I don’t know much about photography; but as a musician, when you’re on stage I find there’s an acute combination of visceral, emotional expression and your specific intentions and anxieties. I think when Jazz shoots live music he captures some great moments of concentration and deliberation in the musicians he photographs. In some of Jazz’s stuff you can really see the music being ardently flushed out, without any hesitation – but in others you can see the musicians looking all calculated and exposed. Jazz manages a very human exposition of that duality that’s found in performing live. Song writing and photography are both about capturing a moment or an idea honestly, and for that reason I find Jazz’s work very inspiring.
Yo La Tengo – And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out
Chris: Yo La Tengo are like that guy at school that all the girls fancy and he’s in the top set for Maths and he’s the captain of the rugby team and he plays drums in the school band and somehow he can pull off anything he wants whilst still being better than you are at the only thing you’re good at. I find their general prolificacy really inspiring. Any band that can sit ‘I Feel Like Going Home’ next to ‘Mr Tough’ on one album and get away with it obviously have the confidence to follow through with any idea that takes their fancy without too many reservations about stylistic restraints. And Then Nothing… is my favourite of their albums.
Echo and the Bunnymen
Rory: Part of what constitutes our musical make-up comes from the bands that started it all off for us, whether we still listen to them now or not. The only reason I started playing and listening to music was due to watching footage of my late uncle Pete playing drums in Echo & The Bunnymen that I was shown when I was young. Despite never meeting him, my family encouraged me to follow in his footsteps and take up the drums. Early memories like this are directly attributable to our musical personalities, and are still the things that inspire us today.
Chris: Norman MacCaig is a genius. He understands all of our world’s amorphous, untouchable details and can describe the ambiguity of them so clearly that they no longer feel ambiguous. He lets you see, with great clarity, the nature of your own bewilderment. My girlfriend bought me some of his old collections that are out of print for my birthday this year and amongst them is a selection of poems dedicated to a friend he lost. Loss is obviously a difficult subject to breech articulately, but he does it so beautifully and wrestles with his struggle to understand it and succeeds. I wish I could be so poignant with words.
Chris: Like a lot of people, I came across Nels Cline by listening to Wilco, but growing up I’d gotten into Jaco Pastorious and Derek Bailey and when I heard Nels’ solo work – I felt it followed in that same lineage of sporadic, occasionally discordant, improv stuff that utilised harmonics. Nels is just such a versatile guitar player it makes me want to keep trying to play my guitar in a different way. And for me he demonstrates how guitar pedals don’t have to be just a gimmick – they are actually a great creative tool that give you more scope with the instrument.
Chris: I think the Union Chapel is one of London’s most beautiful venues, and I’ve seen some really memorable performances there. Maybe it’s because of the grandiose nature of the room – or just because it reminds me of nativity plays – but everything feels much more formal in a chapel. I also think rooms with quite boomy acoustics make people shut up and listen too, because if you speak, your voice carries and reverberates under the high ceiling – so you usually get nice quiet shows there. I saw Jeff Mangum play earlier this year and Louis Theroux was in the audience – I couldn’t concentrate. It’s just obviously a very magical place.
Chris: He was the greatest writer of all time. I’m savouring what I have left to read of his work.
The Bronze Medal’s self titled EP is out on 2nd July