Julia Jacklin, Tim Rogers and More Reflect On The Records That Helped Shape Their Lives
Happy Record Store Day! To celebrate, we’ve asked six Australian musicians to ruminate about a crucial record from their life: those CDs and vinyl acquisitions that helped forge friendships, soundtracked their youth and which, more often than not, paved the way for their own musical careers.
Tim Rogers - The Replacements, Tim (1985)
"The ritual would be that my brother Jaimme and I would meet with merely a grunt after our part-time night jobs (he working in a motel, me washing dishes at Pizza Hut) and share a couple of sixers of Coopers Red and watch Rage. I must have been fifteen and he seventeen. We were living in the house left to our own devices, our parents were splitting and had their own stuff to deal with.
Whatever was played before or after The Replacements’ clip for “Bastards Of Young”, there is no memory. Black and white, the camera fixed on a stereo, dude or lass puts an LP on the stereo (you just see the lower half of their body), song comes on, a cigarette is lit, at the end of the tune the stereo is kicked over and our protagonist leaves the frame in disgust or exaltation. The song first reminded me of some early Aerosmith records I loved, but with none of the sass or sleaze, just the desperation, the guts. (Aerosmith were great. Talk to me about their first five records, not what happened later on.) My jaw closed after a few minutes. It was the best thing I’d ever fuckin’ seen or heard.
Next day after school I went to Collect Records in Parramatta which was run then by John Encarnaco, who I knew played in bands in town - one called Smelly Tongues - and though he queries it now, had quite the presence, and I’d feel his judgement weigh on me pretty hard. Though I’ve got to know John a bit and adore him, I’d get flustered back then. I remembered the name of the band wrong and bought two Residents records. If you’re familiar with both, or either band, you’ll recognise that they are entirely different entities. Two weeks later I’d saved enough money (and been corrected by my brother about nomenclature) to go back and buy Tim, the Replacements record that “Bastards Of Young” was on. I’d found a band to love. I really liked the Stones, The Pretty Things, The Hard Ons, Hellmenn, Happy Hate Me Nots - but this band altered me. I found one photo of them in a Creem Magazine and it was on every wall of every room I lived in for the next ten years. The record kicked through sludge and punched through rain, it wasn’t brash and shiny. Even then I recognised it sounded… like it was a bunch of dogs fighting under a blanket. But it was a sound, and it had songs that explained my own little life back to me somehow. It was bruised but still brawling, tough but tender. And I’m no record reviewer.
The band I’m in played with The ‘Placemats in London a year and a bit ago, twice, and after the second show Paul Westerberg, the band’s songwriter and singer, and I shared a hug and I said with wet eyes: “Thanks for giving me a life”. Ugh. I’m sure he gagged, but I’d already turned and had to go walkin looking for a bar to be alone and think about the past thirty years. Because it was true."
Celeste Potter (Ouch! My Face) - Yoko Ono, Walking On Thin Ice (1981)
"I first saw the music video for Yoko Ono's "Walking On Thin Ice" at about 3am on Rage. I went out the next day and bought a best of Yoko compilation which featured the song.
I grew up in the church. You do a lot of singing when you grow up in church. I've always been told that I can't sing. I have a weird high-pitched voice, I stutter and I'm basically tone deaf.
I never would have thought I could sing in a band if I didn't hear "Walking On Thin Ice". Yoko sounds fucking weird. She also sounds perfect. She taught me that power comes from making your own sound. From making your true sound. Make a noise with your body that echoes how you feel."
Ecca Vandal - Radiohead, OK Computer (1997)
"OK Computer was a very special album for me. I was given this record as a birthday present and it was my first introduction to Radiohead. I simply couldn't get enough of it and took it everywhere with me. From home stereo, to car, to discman, to home stereo, on repeat. From one home to the next. Somewhere along the way, I lost it. The day I couldn’t find it was the day I bought a copy of my own on CD - I had to own it. I bought the 2016 reissue on vinyl on Record Store Day last year.
The compositions on this record are next level and so forward-thinking. It combines all the things that I love about music in one brave alternative, experimental piece. Psychedelia, beats, a jazz influence, stunning melodies and distorted guitars all embellished beautifully with exquisite orchestral arrangements by Johnny Greenwood. From this record on, my love for Radiohead grew and I fell in love with Thom Yorke's vocals and lyrical style.
I particularly love his exploration of dystopian themes and observations on human nature and its inevitable demise caused by an increasing dependency on technology. It was almost prophetic, as technology played a very different role in life back in 1997, when this record was released. It’s crazy how his lyrics reflect the future downfall of the ‘permanently online‘ times we’re living in now, and the negative side effects of personal/private space invasion online, loneliness and social disconnect, identity theft, social media and malicious hacking and doxing.
After going deeper into their catalogue and learning about their journey, it turns out that the success of OK Computer far exceeded the industry expectation. It was classified as 'too weird'. I love Radiohead for their boundary-pushing, longer-than-standard radio edit compositions, sonic excellence and ability to consistently shatter everyone’s expectations with brilliant art."
Cosima Jaala - PJ Harvey, Stories From the City, Stories From The Sea (2000)
"I've been getting really good at forgetting things that make me feel sick inside… like the memories of my youth. I close my eyes and imagine that a memory is in my hands, wrap it in old Easter egg foil, and throw it as far as I can throw, into the darkness. Although one part of my youth that I can't manage to throw away is the time I spent enjoying PJ Harvey's Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea.
I was a scabby-kneed, pimply, 13-year-old loser, and the only thing that excited me was listening to music and totally obsessing over it. There were nights where I'd just roll around on the carpet with the record purring away. There were fleas, heaps of fleas in that carpet, and I’d sing along to the music and pretend to strum a guitar. In my mind I was PJ Harvey: I had nice, dark, straight hair, and that special nose that could only ever be hers. It was glorious how deep my imaginings would go: I'd pretend to be breaking up with Nick Cave on a moonlit rooftop, or else gallivanting around dark recording studios in New York with that redhead from Queens Of The Stone Age. I had thought that he was the lover-boy-ranga who featured on "One Line" and "Beautiful Feeling", but later found out it was actually Thom Yorke.
I could never hit that high note in the song "Kamikaze," but I can now. Sometimes.
I would stare at the cover and think that it was really shit and wouldn’t date well. When I look at it now, I think “yes, I was right, the cover did date poorly.”
My world back then - suburban Queensland - was hot and boring. I was surrounded by big idiots telling we what to do, school sucked, and I didn't know the meaning of feminism, nor was it talked about. Looking back at this record and the time that I spent with it, I realise how important it has been for me, then and now."
Ali Barter - Sarah Harmer, You Were Here (2000)
"When I was sixteen I heard a song on Music MAX called “Don’t Get Your Back Up” by an artist I'd never heard of called Sarah Harmer. The clip showed her singing in a bathtub, and I just remember instantly loving the song. It was before the time of music streaming, so I had to go out and buy her record if I ever wanted to hear the song again. I bought You Were Here from a record store on Bridge Road in Richmond.
This record has turned out to be one the most influential albums of my life. “Don't Get Your Back Up” was the first song I learnt to play on guitar. I loved the simplicity of those songs; Harmer is incredible with melody. The production is natural; acoustic guitars, cello, clarinet, drums, Wurlitzer, some electric guitar and her beautiful voice.
When I listen to this record now, it reminds me of my high school bedroom, smoking out my window, when every feeling was intense and beautiful."
Julia Jacklin - Aldous Harding, Self-Titled (2014)
"I had just turned twenty-four, and I was backpacking around the States on my own. It was the second time I'd done this - just saved up some cash and spent six weeks travelling around on Greyhounds with no real plan.
It was kind of a strange time, this trip didn't feel as vibrant and exciting as my first, and I worried that I was just chasing that first-time feeling. It was a lot colder, and last time I had fallen in love with someone, so the whole trip was covered in that new love glow.
I was staying in Asheville, North Carolina, at this guy's house I met on Couch Surfing. Sometimes couch surfing can feel like you're imposing. Sleeping on a sofa in a share-house while people you don't know tip toe awkwardly around you. I was struggling a bit to interact, trying to do the whole 'young travel thing' where you just go out and get a tad tipsy and talk to strangers. But I just found myself going out, nursing a beer, hovering around people for a bit and then bailing.
I hadn't written much on this trip and I felt like I wasn't really achieving anything of note. I'd also just graduated from university and felt like I needed to figure out what I was going to do for the rest of my life.
I had seen the Aldous Harding record cover floating around a lot, and it had stuck with me. So one day I bought it and listened to it while walking in the snow, my feet completely wet, just waiting for my host to come home from work so I could go inside. The record just hit me so hard. The stark production perfectly supported her voice, it was somehow delicate yet powerful and unlike anything I'd heard before. When I got inside, I listened to an interview with her, Ben Edwards, who produced the record, and Marlon Williams, who sang on it. I found out she was from New Zealand and that the album was recorded in a town called Lyttelton. I was so intrigued by this little world I had stumbled upon.
On a whim I thought, well, maybe I should ask if he'd produce a record for me? I didn't have a clue how this kind of thing worked - I'd only ever played and recorded with my best friends. He replied with an enthusiastic “yes” and told me I should come to New Zealand and stay at his house for three weeks. That’s where I made Don't Let the Kids Win, my first record, and it's kind of changed my life. Right now I'm sitting in a hotel in Oregon somewhere in a forest on my first headline tour of the USA. So there you go."
Illustrations by Bella Venutti