THE CALLS – Lucky 7
LUCKY 7 is the feature where we ask artists to name their 6 favourite songs by others, and a lucky 7th song of their own…
Emerging from the thriving hotbed of Leeds, THE CALLS are a vehemently DIY band who write, record and rehearse all their music in a converted barn and travel around in an old window cleaner’s van.
The band are driven by the unconventional songwriting of frontman TOM FULLER, who puts an introspective slant on social observations through cryptic wordplay and subtle use of metaphor. Lead guitarist WILL JOHNSON is a film maker and visual artist who creates all the band’s videos and backdrops and whose unrestrained, versatile and often highly unusual sound is due to the fact that, remarkably, he had never picked up a guitar before joining. Bassist MARCELL HASLEWOOD, a lifeguard finding his way through life via a spiritual combination of ambience and dub, completes the trio with a unique approach to playing that can subvert expectations and lock into catchy grooves in equal measure.
Over to Tom with what is one of the most honest and insightful Lucky 7s we’ve ever had. Influences aren’t just worn on his sleeve, they’re pinned to his heart. If you don’t know the band, after reading this you’ll be compelled to check them out…
1. THE JAM – Man in the Corner Shop
I figure with this list, the best place to start is at the beginning. My Dad’s always been a massive influence on me and his music collection was my entry point into music. I never felt any need to rebel against my parents’ music because I thought it was so great and I still do. His favourite band was The Jam and it was the soundtrack to my childhood – the brilliant lyrics and melodies that Paul Weller wrote then were what made me want to pick up a guitar and write my own songs. There’s so many to choose from but this one always stands out to me as such a brilliant track. The melody is elegant in its simplicity and I love the production on the whole album. This song really sets the foundation for the music I try to create – the great jangly guitar line, Beatlesy melodies and poetic lyrics.
2. THE SMITHS – Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others
Another band with such immense consistency in their output, that I could pretty much pick any song of theirs and it would be fantastic, but there are a few in particular that really made me fall in love with them. This track is quite a divisive one because of the whimsical lyrics, which I think are brilliant, and in my opinion the cynicism in Morrissey’s lyrics get so much attention that his sense of humour is massively overlooked. Whenever I’m stuck for lyrics I always come back to Morrissey and there is always so much to dig up, and he has great melodies too (this track being a case in point). More than anything, though, the reason I pick this track in particular is for Johnny Marr’s guitar work, which is so sublime in its melody that it just mesmerises me every time. Honestly, just about every guitar part I write is an attempt to imitate him in this song.
3. THE STONE ROSES – I Am the Resurrection
Probably my favourite band of all time for so many reasons, and again so hard to pick a track here. John Squire is the other massive influence on me as a guitarist along with Johnny Marr, because of his brilliant sense of melody as well as his use of effects in creating a soundscape in the studio mixes. Songwriting-wise they’re also a really important band for me because they showed me that you can write really uplifting melodic songs without sounding cheesy and tired. I’ve ended up going with ‘I Am the Resurrection’ because of the massive five-minute jam at the end, which was really important for me as a musician because I’d always associated jamming with prog bands like Yes or ELP. I’d never considered that a band that wrote catchy pop songs could show off their musicianship in such a way and absolutely nail it, which is so inspiring for me. They’re fantastic players who can groove as well as anyone, and this track shows it.
4. TAME IMPALA – Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
This song holds a very special place on my list because it’s the only one that’s from a band that’s really ‘my era’. I discovered this track in around 2013 during my first year at university and it completely changed my life. The production was unlike anything I’d ever heard before and with headphones it’s like entering another universe. It felt like guitar music but hardly had any guitar in it, instead there was just this incredible soundscape. I’d always thought of synthesisers as sounding like the Human League or Gary Numan but this completely opened me up to what they can do. After hearing this record, I showed it to the guys and we all went out and bought a synth and a ton of guitar pedals. We’ve been trying to sound like Tame Impala ever since.
5. PRIMAL SCREAM – Loaded
I discovered Primal Scream around the same time as Tame Impala, and this is another one that massively affected my attitude to music. This made me realise that rock music and dance music don’t have to be completely separate but can be integrated with each other – music can have both melody and groove. Remixes can be songs; songs can sound like remixes. It made me want to make music that people can dance to, which had never entered my mind before. The way they crossed over Stones-y rock with acid house and psychedelia was a real eye opener, so this is an album I come back to time and time again. Almost all of their later albums are brilliant too, but Loaded was what started it all off for me.
6. RADIOHEAD – 15 Step
I never used to really like Radiohead when I was younger, and then at university I really started to understand what they’re all about. ‘OK Computer’ was my entry point but it was ‘In Rainbows’ that really hooked me. The whole album is just exceptional in its composition and feel, without a weak track and full of variety without ever losing its focus. The opener ’15 Step’ really hit me from the off and what really grabbed me was the drum machine part. As well as being a great song, it made me see how drum machines can be incorporated into rock music and used alongside guitars. You’re definitely gonna be hearing some drum machines in The Calls’ music in the future so watch this space.
LUCKY 7: THE CALLS – Fall Inside
It’s so much harder to talk about our own music than it is to talk about other peoples! I was listening to a lot of early Happy Mondays stuff at the time of writing this tune, and I think that vibe comes through on the record. At the same time, I think we’ve managed to put our own spin on it too. I think it’s a lot more expansive sonically, with the ambient guitars, particularly at the end of the track, which are more influenced by Radiohead and Slowdive. Lyrically it’s about people trying to change but falling back into the same old mistakes. It’s not a criticism of people being unable to change because we all do it, it’s more of an observation. It’s critical at times but also sympathetic. I know that’s a bit contradictory but then so is life.