Google+ Little Bird: How Music Shapes A Musician: An Interview with David Challenger

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

How Music Shapes A Musician: An Interview with David Challenger

Every musician will have an idol, whether that's a band, a solo artist or even a street performer they once walked past and gawked at. They will have grown up listening to various artists and even various genres which will have one way or another shaped they way they approach their own musical adventures. 

I am really interested in finding out about this; everyone has their own unique background story. Heck, my boyfriend who is bloody intense about his music went through a phase when he was younger when he absolutely hated music and wouldn't listen to it. Now, he's completely immersed in it. 

I was in touch with ex-Kennedy Soundtrack guitarist/vocalist (you'll know by now they are one of my favourites) to find out about his influences and how they affected him. The Kennedy Soundtrack were a strange blend of sounds to I was intrigued to know...

I'm now in my early 30's and I'm thinking, how did this happen? We're meant to be young forever right? No-one warned me it would happen (they did), but happened it has. As I think back to my musical past, the bands I've been in, the songs I've written, and the music I've been into all these years, I realize there's so much in there. Out of the albums I own and love to listen to, what could I say is my favourite? Do I even have one?

Yesterday evening myself and a friend of mine (A Chirs Pontius lookalike, also in his 30's and I'd say a typical South Wales metal head) took a walk up Mynyddislwyn (Islwyn Mountain) en route to the the Church Inn Pub to sink a few pints and to thrash out our musical opinions. During the walk up we talked about whether Margaret Thatcher was good for the country, the pros and cons of capitalism and that the Manic Street Preachers had recorded their early demos in a small studio somewhere around here . Well, we didn't come to a conclusion on politics but we did share some memories of youth and music.

I'd say there are many ways to think of music and albums. There's the music that has shaped me musically, influenced my singing and guitar styles, such as Yes, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and U2 (My Dad had a big impact on my childhood listening habits). Then there's the albums and bands that have a profound emotional connection, which can take me back to my teenage years in the 90's, that gets me all excited and nostalgic. That's what I'll talk about now.

Nirvana - Unplugged In New York
When this album was released I was a skinny, awkward, red Doc Martin wearing, long haired 15 year old, typical of the 90's grunge scene. Kurt had been dead for around 6 months or so, but the hype was very much still alive. There's many a drink fuelled (if we could get some) teenage house party where we'd all sing along to Kurt's haunting voice. What I love about this album is the simplicity of it, almost anyone could just grab an acoustic guitar, play and sing along. One of my favourite tracks is probably "On a Plain", but there's many other gems in there too. Actually, the ones that stick out most for me are probably the songs that Nirvana didn't even write. The songs they covered, such as "The Man Who Sold The World" (David Bowie) and "Lake of Fire" or "Oh Me" (Meat Puppets). Another song "Where Did You Sleep last Night?" was another favourite of mine and my friends, as we'd enjoy singing it to one of our mutual friends (who was a Girl) after many of her boozy snogs with hormone laden boys. The girl in question who is still a friend of mine, is now a very successful GP and she hasn't changed a bit. (In event of her reading this, Sorry x)

Stereophonics - Word Gets Around
You may well be thinking, how original?! A Welshman that likes the Stereophonics. Well I can counteract that stereotype with, I don't particularly like Rugby and none of my family have ever worked down a coal mine. However, the one stereotype that may well be valid here, and I've already mentioned this in my Nirvana piece above, is the fact that it is a very sing along kind of album. We do love a good sing song. "Check My Eyelids For Holes", "Last of The Big Time Drinkers" all amazing sing along tracks. Not only that, when this album was released I hadn't long turned 18, so it was around this time I was heading out to the usual Alternative venues of the Newport scene such as TJ's (legend has it Kurt Cobain proposed to Courtney Love here, I have no idea if that's true) and Le Pub. This album, I feel that I can identify with the sentiment and what these guys are about. It was an exciting time for welsh music. I know we had the Manics (I do love James Dean Bradfield's Voice and his guitar work) but the Stereophonics, I think, are perhaps a little more accessible. I felt that they were just like me and my friends, valley boys (2nd stereotype).

U2 - Rattle & Hum
Another Live album (mostly) and again containing many of their classics from Joshua Tree and also cover versions of Beatles and Bob Dylan. I wouldve been 8 or 9 years old when this was released. I think it pretty much past me by, as did most things, including Bros (yuck) & Kylie Minogue (yum). This album, along with the film that was released along side it, I discovered a few years later. It was around 1992, I started to learn guitar after watching Guitar Legends. This was a series that ran on BBC 2 and part of the Expo 1992 from Seville, Spain. There were all sorts of guitarists from blues to metal. Two of my favourite guitarists from this live series was B.B. King and Steve Vai.....anyway Im off topic a little. I liked U2 anyway but when I saw the Rattle & Hum film and B.B.King was playing with U2, that sealed it for me. I was into blues when learning to play guitar, and this album does go back to the USAs Rock n Roll Roots.
            My favourite track of this album, without doubt is Bullet The Blue Sky and its way better than the studio version, though having said that, Im pretty sure the live version is overdubbed quite a bit, but I dont care. I love the fact theres slide guitar in there, funk riffs, a rolling bass line and vocals which are almost spoken in places, its also quite dark.

Now, are these really my favourite albums? Well maybe, maybe not, I dont think I have one. If you asked me to write about this next week, I could well have come up with different answers.

As far as The Kennedy Soundtrack goes, Im sure we were all trying to get our influences into that album. Thats why it is so eclectic. Of course there were other bands and musicians just from my point of view that I havent mentioned, but theres also four other individuals in The Kennedy Soundtrack that brought so much to the mix. Their musical choices are probably a whole lot cooler than mine, though we all made our mark.

You can check out some of his personal musical adventures on his soundcloud

I love hearing these sort of stories, if you have one feel free to share...

H xx

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