Rupert Stroud – Along the Low is available @ Apple Music.
My first experience of music was through my parents – they loved to listen to great music. I am the second youngest of four brothers and my two eldest brothers are 9 and 12 years older than me, so I grew up in a home where music was always blasting out from my older brothers’ rooms. I’ve carried that through my entire life. There is a wide range of influences on my new album ‘Along The Low’, and these are some of the albums that have had the most impact on me as a songwriter.
LEONARD COHEN – Songs From A Room
My parents are huge Leonard Cohen fans and played his tapes regularly. In particular Songs From A Room. My mum saw him live in Leeds in the ’60s when he played to a small room of students (how cool is that!) & I own a few of his poetry books. A couple which I bought in Chelsea Market in NYC – Book of Longing and a book of Poems and songs. I cherish them. Sometimes on a rainy day, I’ll sit in the living room with a cuppa and read them out loud in his voice (I think I do quite a good impression!). His way with words is just magical. My parents and I had the pleasure of seeing him perform live when he visited Leeds Arena in 2013 (a few years before he passed away) He was sensational! It was the most mesmerizing performance I’ve ever seen in an Arena. Sometimes when you watch a live gig in a big venue like that (13,000 at Leeds arena) you can lose that intimacy and power of the music. Not with Leonard and his band. It was simply stunning from start to finish. Leonard was so smooth in his movements throughout the show too, dropping down to his knees while in the moment…and in his 80’s too! Just wow! I have a great love for the man in my heart. I mean he wrote Hallelujah for goodness sake. What a song! There won’t be another like him.
BOB DYLAN – The Times They Are a-Changin’
The title song itself is the first Dylan song I ever heard. It’s been described as “the archetypal protest song.” He is the master protest songwriter. My parents were and still are huge fans of his. Along with an eclectic mix of Tom Petty, Leonard Cohen, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks to name a few, Dylan was a constant in my childhood. His storytelling is what really resonates with me whenever I listen to his music. What I love about this album, in particular, is how sparse and acoustic the album is as a whole, just one man and his guitar singing a song about what was going on in America in the ’60s. Talking about social change, war, poverty, and racism. He was the trailblazer of the 60’s protest music movement. You get a feeling, when you hear his songs, that transports you in your mind back to 60’s America and the protests against the Vietnam war…well, it does for me anyway. I love his way with words and a few of my favourite quotes of his are “ I accept chaos, I’m not sure whether it accepts me”, “behind every beautiful thing there is some kind of pain”, “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do”.
NIRVANA – MTV Unplugged in New York
I remember watching this show on MTV when I was about 14 years old and the next day I went to HMV and bought the CD album of it. I’d already become a fan of Nirvana through my brothers blasting it out their bedroom stereos during my early childhood. My favourite songs on the album are the covers “The Man Who Sold The World” originally by David Bowie and “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” originally by Leadbelly. Many will say Kurt’s voice wasn’t the best but the passion in his voice smashes through. Hearing those grunge tracks from Nevermind stripped back in an acoustic set was a bit of a music education for me in my early teens. It was an interesting contrast and certainly made me love the band even more.
THE ROLLING STONES – Sticky Fingers
This album takes me back to summer drives in the back of my Mum’s car to my Grandparents house on the weekend. Brown Sugar is one of those songs which gets you moving no matter where you are. For me, it’s that definitive “Rolling Stones sound”. I was absolutely made up to finally get to see them perform live last year at Old Trafford Manchester! I think they’re the greatest band in the world still! Mick Jagger – what a dude! He was running around that stage like a teenager…in fact, all those old boys have more energy than me right now!
THE VERVE / RICHARD ASHCROFT – Urban Hymes
My 2 older brothers used to blast this album out of their bedrooms when I was a kid (they’re 9 and 12 years older than me) so I absorbed a lot of my musical taste from them. Bitter Sweet Symphony is still one of my favourite songs of all time. I must have heard it thousands of times since my first ever time hearing it when I was 10 years old in 1997. I had the pleasure of meeting Richard Ashcroft a couple of years ago when he gigged at Leeds Arena. I told him that I’ve been listening to his music since I was 10 and to meet him 20 years later was an incredible honour…I then said, “could we take a photo together so I can make my older brother jealous?” He gladly obliged, wearing his sunglasses of course.
“I recently heard somewhere that writing the lyrics which scare you the most are the ones that mean the most,” – Rupert Stroud