Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 65: Lenny Bruce

Dust Bolt’s Lenny Bruce on stage in Tokyo in 2018. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Lenny Bruce is the guitarist and lead vocalist for the German thrash metal band Dust Bolt, a band known for its high-energy stage shows. They released their debut album “Violent Demolition” in 2012 and their fourth and most recent album, “Trapped in Chaos”, came out in 2019. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson talked with Lenny about the five albums that changed his life.

“I tried to mix it up a little bit with musical styles, which probably describes my personality and taste in music best. I am a metal lover, with the blues in my heart, that grew up with the 90s grunge era music around me when I was a kid.”

Slipknot “Iowa” (2001)

“I remember getting into heavy music basically through this album. After exploring bands like Green Day and Nirvana when I was 11 or 12, I suddenly felt the need to find something more aggressive and more absurd somehow, without knowing that something like that would exist, you know? Back then there still wasn’t the internet or smartphones where everything is available. I didn’t go into records stores yet because I actually didn’t know what I was looking for. One late night I put on the TV and saw Slipknot’s ‘Before I Forget’ as a music video, which is on the 2004 album ‘Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses’, and I was blown away. I’ve never heard something like that before and I didn’t know there was music where people would just scream. My sister told me that fans of that music are really insane and that I should stop asking. But one day she brought a CD with Slipknot songs which turned out to be the ‘Iowa’ album. I would listen to nothing else for three years straight. The songs and lyrics, the aggression, pain and anger were exactly what I felt and needed at that time. This definitely changed my life. This might have been the beginning of exploring and actually playing metal music afterwards.”

Pearl Jam “Ten” (1991)

“I am an absolute grunge kiddie when it comes to the music and bands such as Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Mudhoney and more. But the band I found out about later was Pearl Jam. A friend put on the music in the car on our road trips and the songs just wouldn’t get out of my head. Later on, I found their Pinkpop live performance on Youtube and that was just it! Great drumming, bluesy guitars, extraordinary singing and beautiful lyrics. This is how emotional rock music can get. At least that’s how I feel. They are still probably my favourite band when it comes to their message, behaviour, responsibility and political encouragement. I won’t go into details at this time, but this album definitely saved my life and gave me hope when I needed it.”

Jackson Browne “Running on Empty” (1977)

“Such a classic! I love Jackson Browne and 70s music! This album is just beautiful. It’s crazy that it’s all been recorded live! I just love the simplicity of the songwriting and performance. The songs are so strong and they tell a story. I just love that. I you don’t know that record, get into your car, drive down into the sunset and get yourself some Jackson Browne, trust me!”

Jack White “Lazaretto” (2014)

“Uff… It’s hard to say anything about this one. It speaks for itself. Such a beautiful piece of art! This album got me into being interested in music production and recording. I love how Jack White breaks all the modern rules of production – because there are none! And that´s what makes the music sound so organic, special and beautifully imperfect. It’s about the mistakes, the heat of the moment. And not about quantizing and make humans sound like robots.”

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble “Texas Flood” (1983)

“Last but not least – Stevie! I actually wanted to list a punk record here, as I’m a great 80s punk and hardcore punk fan, but Stevie won the race as this is probably one of the records I´m listening to the most. When I first heard Stevie Ray Vaughan´s ‘Lenny’, I knew how I wanted to play the guitar. His music gives me goosebumps every time, any second. He’s just my favourite guitar player in blues next to BB King. Could listen to him all day long.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 64: Brittney Slayes

Brittney Slayes. Photo: Shimon Karmel

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Canadian vocalist Brittney Slayes is one of the most powerful voices in heavy metal in recent years. She co-founded heavy metal band Unleash The Archers in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in 2007. The band debuted in 2009 with the album “Behold the Devastation” and its most recent release was the album “Abyss” which came out via Napalm Records in 2020. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Brittney to find out about the five albums that made her carry the flame of metal.

Megadeth “Countdown to Extinction” (1992)

“This is the first heavy metal record I ever heard. My brother had ordered it from a Columbia House Records mail order catalogue and liked it but wasn’t the hugest fan, so he passed it over to me and said ‘maybe you’ll like this’. He was right. I remember putting the cassette into my little boombox and sitting on the floor with the lyric booklet in my hands and just falling in love with the album. I loved everything about it, from the cover art to the heavy chugging guitars to the overly theatrical vocal performance. I still think it’s one of the greatest metal records to this day!”

Iron Maiden “Best of the Beast” (1996)

“I discovered Maiden later in my life, after I had graduated from high school and lost my way a little bit when it came to music. A friend put this CD on in the car on the way to a party one night and the metalhead in me was immediately reawakened. The duelling guitars, the soaring vocals; it was like I had finally found my calling. After the ride he gave me the CD. He said ‘I have a feeling you’ll listen to it more than I will’ and once again, he was right. That album started my journey into truly rediscovering my love of heavy metal. When I was younger, I listened to a lot of heavier stuff; White Zombie, Tool, Incubus – their early albums, but in high school I stopped. This album was the first time I had ever heard anything like ‘power metal’ or ‘trad metal’ or whatever you want to call it, but it changed me forever.”

Judas Priest “Painkiller” (1990)

“Again, I discovered this album late. After, illegally, downloading the entire Iron Maiden discography, I started to look for other bands that had a similar sound and inspired me in the same way, and of course that brought me to Judas Priest. ‘Painkiller’ introduced me to the ‘falsetto’ style vocals of Rob Halford and was the first time I started saying to myself ‘hey, I bet I could do this’ regarding fronting a band. I started going to more live shows, and checking out local bands, and seeing what the local metal scene was like. This album is hands down one of the greatest heavy metal records of all time, and if I ever had to show a non-metalhead a record to get them into metal this one would probably be the one I used.”

Queensrÿche “Operation: Mindcrime” (1988)

“The year was 2008, Unleash The Archers was finally complete with five members, we had a name, and we had our first show booked. We had five songs written but I was still struggling with finding my ‘metal voice’ after having sung classical and chamber music my whole life.  We had found our second guitar player Mike online and he was a bit older than us and knew the local metal scene really well, he was so awesome at the business side of things and as a brand-new band we were so lucky to have found him. He and I were talking about my struggle one day and he suggested I listen to Queensrÿche. I respect him a lot so I found them online right away and was blown away by Geoff Tate from the first listen. ‘Queen of the Reich’ and ‘Warning’ were exactly what I was going for vocally, but it wasn’t until I heard ‘Mindcrime’ that I really began to study his vocal style and emulate what he could do. His control and tone are just so rich and warm, and the emotion he is able to convey is still unmatched to this day in my opinion. My falsetto style is based solely on Geoff Tate, and I still strive every single day to achieve the extraordinary level of storytelling he did with this record.”

Soilwork “The Living Infinite” (2013)

“I had heard amazing concept records before, but nothing so cohesive and complete as this one. I had heard somewhere that this was the first time the vocalist Björn had taken on a lot of the writing himself and had a huge part in the entire direction of the record and that was why it sounded so much like one whole just split into twenty tracks. I had never heard of them before but got asked to fill in as their merch person at their Vancouver show last minute, so my first time hearing them was live and they were AMAZING. Björn was amazing. I had never heard someone go from such beastly screams to such a full clean voice like he does and I still don’t think anyone compares. OK, maybe Tomi from Amorphis, but they are equals in this for sure. A friend of mine came by the merch booth and I was like ‘are you a fan of these guys? Which album should I buy?’ He pointed to ‘The Living Infinite’ without a second’s hesitation. I am so glad that he did. This record directly inspired ‘Apex’ and ‘Abyss’. It is the reason they were originally going to be a two-disc record, and the reason I decided to write the story out in an outline with very distinct directions to the boys on how to write the guitar riffs. I wanted a record as complete as this one in sound, feeling, and tone, and I can guarantee you that ‘Apex’ and ‘Abyss’ would not exist without this album having existed first!”

Honourable mentions: These records may not have changed my life, but they were huge milestones for sure! Lost Horizon “Awakening the World” (2001) and “A Flame to the Ground Beneath” (2003), Iced Earth “The Crucible of Man” (2008), Fleshgod Apocalypse “Veleno” (2019), Dragonland “Under the Grey Banner” (2011).

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 63: Bernie Marsden

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Bernie Marsden is best-known as Whitesnake’s co-founder, guitarist and songwriter. Prior to Whitesnake, Bernie played with UFO, Wild Turkey, Cozy Powell’s Hammer, Babe Ruth and Paice Ashton Lord. He has also had an active solo career playing both rock and blues and has played with Ringo Starr. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson talked with Bernie about the five albums that changed his life.

The Beatles “With the Beatles” (1963)

“Having been totally smitten by the arrival of the Beatles on television and radio with ‘Please Please Me’, I was a confirmed Beatles fan. But it was their second UK album that I believe made my decision to play the guitar as a job, even at the age of 12! From the opening guitar line of ‘It Won’t Be Long’ I was hooked. I first noticed the songwriting credits on an album, wondering what those bracketed names meant. The simplicity of the line-up was important, two guitars, bass and drums, and crucially on both early Beatles albums it clearly stated who played individual instruments, and so the magical words ‘lead guitar’ entered my life. Each day after school I would rush home to play the album. I didn’t have a guitar at the time. I now realise that it was at this point I wanted one very soon. I’m still trying to perfect George’s solo in ‘All My Loving’ and the rhythm guitar of John Lennon all through this album is still mesmerising. It was also the first album I ever took notice of the cover. Still timeless.”

John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers “Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton” (1966)

“By the time this seminal album was in my hands I had been playing guitar about three years. I had discovered Eric Clapton when he was with the Yardbirds. I had their live album featuring him. I was a Yardbirds fan, so when he quit, I was concerned. Jeff Beck entered my life, I was quite pleased! Hearing the ‘Blues Breakers’ album for the first time was THE turning point really. Such spectacular guitar playing, the sound, his phrasing and overall feel was daunting. I was about to be 16, but this Clapton guy was barely 21 and already playing incredibly good guitar. Even at 16, I inherently knew this was very special indeed. His playing is flawless, inspiring and still unbelievable for me.”

The Jimi Hendrix Experience “Are You Experienced” (1967)

“Next, Jimi Hendrix touched down in England. So, after the emergence of Clapton as ‘God’, where do you find new heroes? Jeff Beck, who I feel should be in my five, was rapidly getting followers and rightly so. A friend of mine quietly passed me an album to ‘check out’. I had heard Jimi Hendrix on the radio with ‘Hey Joe’. The word was quietly out about the unknown American who just might be as good as Clapton. Nobody believed that, until this LP arrived. I wasn’t prepared for the next 40 minutes, from the opening feedback of ‘Foxy Lady’ I was in a state of audio shock! I of course was fully committed to Cream but this was difficult to take in. Could this be as phenomenal as I first thought? I immediately played the album again. It was. And I’m still of the opinion it might be THE greatest debut LP of all time. I saw Jimi Hendrix first in 1968 at the Woburn Festival, and everything I expected from him was delivered. A unique artist, I was privileged to see him and be one of my generation to witness from start to finish of his important, but so short, career.”

Led Zeppelin “Led Zeppelin” (1969)

“There has always been a debate about Jeff Beck’s ‘Truth’ album and the 1969 debut Zeppelin album. I can understand the comparison. I had ‘Truth’ and was amazed at Jeff’s sound and style. A friend was raving about Led Zeppelin. I was aware of the names Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones through their involvement with the ‘Truth’ sessions but knew little about them. Crucially I had never heard the names of Robert Plant and John Bonham though. Their contributions are why this album is in the list. Jimmy was very clever post his input on the Beck record to put a line up together and produce this great sounding record, it was Plant that made me listen. I still listen today to all his records. A class act and great person.”

Steely Dan “Can’t Buy a Thrill” (1972)

“Still today, just the title of this album makes me smile. It takes me straight back to my first year as a pro musician, cruising and flying along the autobahns of the then West Germany. I was with UFO, a band so far musically removed from Steely Dan as you can imagine. Each day during my first tour I would hear ‘Reelin’ In the Years’ on US Forces radio, booming out of small and large car speakers! I could never at first make out the lyrics, but all I cared about was the first parts, and then THAT solo. Take a bow and much respect to this day, Mr Elliott Randall. The song made me realise the importance of being a good songwriter. As soon as I could I obtained ‘Can’t Buy a Thrill’. I was amazed, each and every song was original. I had never heard of Becker and Fagen, and yet here was a whole album of their music and a band of brilliant musicians to match. It confirmed a short part of my history with UFO, listening to the Dan and then playing heavy metal was never going to work. I resolved there and then to be a writer in a band I wanted to be in. It took a while, but it was Steely Dan who opened the doors.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 62: Christian “Speesy” Giesler

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

German bass player Christian “Speesy” Giesler is best known as a long-time member of thrash metal band Kreator. He left the band in 2019 after 25 years of service. Speesy is now a member of punk rock band FORE. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Speesy to find out what five albums changed his life.

Sex Pistols “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols” (1977)

“There would be Sex Pistols’ ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’. I was only seven years old at the time, but because my family listened to things like Queen and so on, punk came along quite quickly and there were the Sex Pistols!”

Nina Hagen Band “Nina Hagen Band” (1978)

“A little later, Nina Hagen came into my life with her album ‘Nina Hagen Band’, which was also punk rock from Germany at the time.”

Venom “Black Metal” (1982)

“Then there was the breakthrough. What an album! I couldn’t really believe what I was hearing on Venom’s ‘Black Metal’. The album back then to us was just dark and evil.”

Slayer “Hell Awaits” (1985)

“And then the unbelievably good album by Slayer, ‘Hell Awaits’, which is still one of my favourite albums today. The sound back then was so overwhelming. What a milestone in music history!”

Iron Maiden “Live After Death” (1985)

“And which album I think influenced me the most is very clear. Iron Maiden’s “Live After Death”. From then on, I started practicing the bass. Playing the bass was more like noise…”

“There are so many more things, such as KISS’ ‘Alive II’ (1977), Pestilence’s ‘Testimony of the Ancients’ (1991), Cro-Mags’ ‘Alpha Omega’ (1992).and so many more.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 61: Steve Conte

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Steve Conte is best known as the former lead guitarist for the New York Dolls and a member of Michael Monroe’s band. But the New York City guitarist, singer and songwriter has played with many artists during his career, including Billy Squier, Willy DeVille, Suzi Quatro, Crown Jewels, Company of Wolves and many more. He has also worked with Japanese composer Yoko Kanno on soundtracks to many anime series. Steve’s new solo album “Bronx Cheer” will be released on 5th November via Wicked Cool Records. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson talked with Steve about the five albums that rocked his world.

The Beatles “Revolver” (1966)

“Since birth, I had been hearing jazz and classical music in our house – along with pop and early 60s rock’n’roll on the AM radio. But one night in 1966, my mom and dad invited a young, hip couple over for dinner and they brought with them something that would totally change my life forever, ‘Revolver’. The sound was nothing like I ever heard on record or on the radio. Sure, I was just a kid with a small number of years listening to music at that time, but I knew this was special; the innovative tape loops and droning of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, the psychedelic lyrics and guitar sounds of ‘She Said, She Said’, the string quartet on ‘Eleanor Rigby’, the French horn solo on ‘For No One’ – even the way the album started with ‘Taxman’ and the count off with room noise and coughing. Rock’n’roll records hadn’t been made like that before. Everything I had heard up till then was clean and careful compared to this. I stared at that cover artwork and those photos for hours, listened with headphones and sang along with it until every note of music on that record was engrained in my consciousness. It remains my favourite album of all time.”

Wes Montgomery “Tequila” (1966)

“One of the earliest jazz records I can remember hearing. The sound of Wes playing those octaves with his thumb had such a vibe. Little did I know back then that this would be considered his ‘commercial sell-out’ period where he was covering pop tunes and barely playing any single note lines. Later, when I would become interested in playing jazz guitar myself, I figured out his tune ‘The Thumb’ off of this record, which is the song that I sent in on an audition tape to get me in to Rutgers University where I would study with Wes’s protégé, Ted Dunbar. While studying there, I got turned on to the early Wes recordings where he was playing bebop and jazz standards, hardly using any octaves, mostly single-note lines at fast tempos – and that was mind-blowing! Although it has schmaltzy string arrangements on some tracks, this album still has a special place in my heart. It’s Latin-flavoured and is not as overly produced as some of the albums that would follow. Most tracks were just a quartet with Ron Carter on bass, Grady Tate on drums and Ray Barretto on percussion – his first album without a keyboard laying chords down behind him as he soloed. I still listen to it regularly as it is THE album that made me want to play jazz.”

The Rolling Stones “Through the Past, Darkly” (1969)

“I got this album for my 9th birthday and it was for me, the perfect introduction to the Stones. Their most recent single at the time, ‘Honky Tonk Women’ was on it, as well as two other singles that weren’t on any albums; ‘Dandelion’ and ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’. Those three songs alone would’ve been enough to convert this diehard Beatles kid into a Stones kid – and this is where my musical schizophrenia began – bright pop melody vs. dark blues. I never participated in those wars – ‘Are you a Beatles fan or a Stones fan?’ People thought that you couldn’t be both…but I was. ‘Street Fighting Man’, as we all know now was started on cassette tape and then transferred over to proper studio recording gear, but as a kid, it boggled my mind, ‘why does it sound so cool?’ Then there was the dark pop of ‘Paint It Black’ (with its world music influence) and ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ sitting alongside the power pop of ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’, ‘Ruby Tuesday’ and ‘Have You Seen Your Mother. Baby, Standing in the Shadow?’. And like with ‘Revolver’, I was hypnotised by the psychedelic moments; ‘She’s a Rainbow’ and ‘2000 Light Years from Home’. Again, there was nothing else out there that sounded like these tracks, thanks to things like John Paul Jones’ haunting Mellotron on the latter, the sound of which would figure in my later love of Zeppelin. It’s a bold compilation; the mix of all those styles – not unlike The Beatles’ ‘White Album’ which had come out the year before – is what turned me on and made me think it was just fine to like different styles of music, even if it was all by the same band.”

Led Zeppelin “Led Zeppelin II” (1969)

“The album of MONSTER riffs. ‘Whole Lotta Love’, ‘Heartbreaker’, ‘Moby Dick’. Epic songs, complete with mid-song excursions into sonic freak-outs. The guitar tones are incredible; warm and creamy, the drum sounds are live and full of air, the vocal wailing is unparallelled and the bass playing as funky as an old R&B man from the southside of Chicago. The light and shade here are fantastic, mellow verses contrasted with bombastic choruses like ‘What Is and What Should Never Be’ and ‘Ramble On’. I know every little sound on this record, from Plant’s breath before the start of ‘Whole Lotta Love’, the first song on the album, to the last harmonica slide up at the end of ‘Bring It On Home’ that finishes it. Page’s production, layering of guitars, panning of instruments, reverb and the sound of the room are all groundbreaking and there is a reason that to this day, the record is like a holy grail for musicians, singers, engineers and mixers. Sure, Page and Plant ripped off some of the songs from the original bluesmen – again, as they did on the first album – but they did something so original with the end result that I can almost forgive them for it.”

Prince “Sign o’ the Times” (1987)

“Prince’s finest…his ‘Double White Album’. So many different styles, genres, moods and characters. From the funk of ‘Housequake’ to the power pop of ‘I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man’ and every shade of rock, soul and balladry in between, it is a sonic feast…a true masterpiece. He goes Beatles on the surreal ‘Starfish and Coffee’ and on his religious ode ‘The Cross’ and then in complete opposition to that, gets down and smutty on ‘Hot Thing’ and ‘It’. And he doesn’t just deliver the goods musically, Prince sings his goddamn ass off on ‘Slow Love’ and ‘Adore’. Add to that the lyrical content – genius things that nobody had ever said before; ‘If I Was Your Girlfriend’…come on! How did nobody else ever think of that? Because they weren’t Prince Rogers Nelson. The same goes for ‘Strange Relationship’ and the title track. When this album came out, I was the guitarist and musical director for his singer, Jill Jones – of The Revolution – and we were gearing up to go out on tour with Prince, to support him on an American tour in the summer of ‘87. But that tour never happened, due to poor sales of the album here in the US. Successful sales have never been the measure of a great album to me – and this one stayed on my turntable for many, many months during that time period and for years after. To this day it is still one of the most inspiring records ever, to me.”

“And that’s it! Thanks for listening to me ramble on. Please support original music!”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 60: Akira Tominaga

Akira Tominaga of United. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Akira Tominaga is the drummer for Japanese thrash metal band United. The band, named after a song on Judas Priest’s “British Steel” album, was formed in 1981. Akira took over the drum stool in 2004. In addition to releasing its own albums and touring extensively, United has acted as the backing band for former Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di’Anno for some shows in Japan. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Akira to find out about the five albums that changed his life.

Megadeth “Rust in Peace” (1990)

“I bought this album after reading magazine reviews as there was no internet when I was a student. Nick Menza is a drummer who has been an influence on me. The melodies and song compositions on this album changed how I looked at things at the time. It was shocking and I felt that my brain, still developing, was constantly shaken.”

Motörhead “Bastards” (1993)

“It’s impossible to ignore the impact of this legendary band on me when I grew up. Lemmy’s performance on this album which includes the fantastic song ‘Burner’! Mikkey Dee’s drumming! Playing drums in both a dynamic and delicate way is a lifelong theme for me. When I heard that Tony Dolan, The Demolition Man of Venom Inc, also started a band because of Motörhead, I felt very empathetic.”

Mötley Crüe “Shout at the Devil” (1983)

“This album changed and broadened my perspective on music as I had previously known only domestic music. The band I started playing music with was a tribute band to the Japanese rock band ZIGGY. I was completely absorbed and addicted to ZIGGY, which is reminiscent of Mötley Crüe. As a result, I found Mötley Crüe. I was longing for Mötley Crüe too and switched my drum sticks to a Tommy Lee model.”

Rage “Extended Power” (1991) EP

“It’s no exaggeration to say that this album has shocked me the most. As a teenager, I couldn’t think of a ballad-style song with double bass drums. I was shocked. It made me realise that music is free, and I feel respect again when I write this sentence. Even now, creating original songs is important to me.”

Show-Ya “Ways” (1986)

“Show-Ya is Japanese female metal band with a drummer that played double bass drums. I was shocked by the powerful sound coming into my ears without being aware that it was a woman playing.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 59: Johanna Platow Andersson

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

German vocalist and songwriter Johanna Platow Andersson fronts Sweden-based doomy heavy rock band Lucifer which also features her husband Nicke Andersson on drums. Lucifer’s fourth album, “Lucifer IV”, will be released on 29th October via Century Media Records. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Johanna to find out about the five albums she listened to on her Walkman in Berlin.

“Here are five records that had a huge impact on me as a young girl. This is my sonic journey transitioning from a child to a teenager. It would take me some more years to get into my parents’ music. 70s heavy rock. But this is how it all started.”

Madonna “Like a Prayer” (1989)

“First came the 50s rock and roll compilations and the Vivaldi cassettes that my mom gave me and the mixtapes my older brother made for me, who was a punk, consisting of Sex Pistols, Ramones, The Cure, Public Enemy and lots of other 80s gems. Then I discovered Madonna, somewhere around the age of 7, and obtained quite a collection. I wish now I wouldn’t have given away all my vinyl later. But it was the ‘Like a Prayer’ album that really got me with its spiritual imagery. The crosses and Madonna dancing in a church, kissing a black Jesus and kneeling at her mother’s grave in the videos. This is what really led me aesthetically to all the things I would come to love later in life. But it was also Madonna herself and all the things she represented and that I wanted to be. Extremely expressive, clever, a liberated female artist putting a middle finger in the face of anyone who’d tried to stop her. And in a way I still carry her pale image, my idolised version of her from back then, within me. Favourite songs: ‘Like a’ Prayer’, ‘Oh Father’.”

Metallica “Master of Puppets” (1986)

“This was my first Metallica album that I bought as a teenager when I finally got into heavy metal. Metallica was also one of the first bands I saw at the age of 13. I Still have those old tickets. Most people would pick another Metallica album to be their best but this is the one that I’m most sentimentally attached to. I didn’t have much money then and could only afford to buy one record to start with. So, of course, I picked the album with the cemetery on the cover. Surprise, surprise. Favourite songs: ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’, ‘Orion’.”

Danzig “Danzig II: Lucifuge” (1990)

“Also, one of the first metal bands that I got into at the age of 13. I still love the first three Danzig albums to death and count Danzig as a major influence on my work with Lucifer and The Oath. When I was 14, I saw Danzig live for the first time in Berlin and they totally pulled me over to the dark side with their satanic rock and roll. I started walking around dressed in black from head to toe, topped off with an inverted cross. Little girl with long blonde hair turned EVIL. My mother told me back then that this is just a phase but not that much has changed since then. Here we are almost 30 years later. Favourite songs: ‘Devil’s Plaything’, ‘Blood and Tears’.”

Type O Negative “Bloody Kisses” (1993)

“Then came Type O Negative and their album ‘Bloody Kisses’. That’s when I dyed my hair black. I spent countless days in my all-black room listening to Type O Negative back then. In my teenage loneliness I felt very at home in the lyrics, when the outside world didn’t understand me at all. Around the same time, I started singing in local underground death and black metal bands. I loved all the Type O Negative and Carnivore albums but ‘Bloody Kisses’ was the key for me that really got me into them first. Later on, I got to meet Peter at a show. Still have his number and the backstage pass. He was a very kind soul and it’s a tragedy he left so early. Favourite songs: ‘Christian Woman’, ‘Summer Breeze’, ‘Can’t Lose You’.”

Dead Can Dance “Within the Realm of a Dying Sun” (1987)

“For my 15th birthday my two best girlfriends left me surprise gifts at my door and they went all in: A home-made black birthday card, that they glued a picture into of me standing in a crypt; a stolen cemetery flower bouquet consisting of white lilies and red roses; a gravestone and a vinyl copy of Dead Can Dance’s ‘Within the Realm of a Dying Sun’. At the time I’ve been wandering around the old overgrown cemeteries of Berlin, daydreaming and trying to wrap my head around death, life, love, magic and my inner universe. A few weeks prior we had a sleepover and listened to the album in the dark and it blew me away so profoundly, it’s difficult to describe it in words. Nothing I heard touched me this way ever before. My heart was pounding like crazy. It was ethereal, extremely eerie and so morbidly beautiful. This is when I truly heard my calling. I still have that vinyl. Favourite songs: ‘Summoning of the Muse’, ‘Cantara’.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 58: Jakob Samuel

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jakob Samuel first made a name for himself as the drummer for the Swedish melodic metal band Talisman, fronted by American singer Jeff Scott Soto. Later on in his career, Jakob was the lead vocalist for bands such as The Poodles and Kryptonite. On 3rd September, he released his new solo album “CoExist”. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Jakob to hear what five albums changed his life.

Peter Gabriel “So” (1986)

“There were so many important songs on this album for me. ‘Sledgehammer’, ‘Don’t Give Up’, ‘Big Time’ and ‘Mercy Street’ have inspired me both melodically and vocally, but most importantly, lyrically. Deep, honest and engaging lyrics with a twist. Really strong songs made with golden work gloves. It would be hard to beat this even today.”

Rainbow ”On Stage” (1977)

“This is a band on fire! Such an unbelievable energy and know-how that it floors me. One can notice that they are unbelievably eager to demonstrate what live music and individual performance can be. A bunch of top musicians that outperforms most and with a collection of songs that has become a blueprint for the genre ever since.”

Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack (1973)

“There’s been numerous versions of this masterful musical but the one, in my opinion, that is outstanding is the film version with Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson that came out in 1973. It has vocal performances that in my opinion are unrivalled and with such a feeling that I get goosebumps just thinking about it. The casting is fantastic. This was a landmark for me and it started my interest in musicals.”

The Police “Synchronicity” (1983)

“This was a band that was constantly in motion. It’s hard to pick just one of their albums but I think this one is their crowning moment. I was 14 and unhappily in love when it was released. A formative period of time in my life obviously. Stewart Copeland’s drumming became a recurring source of inspiration for me as a drummer. My admiration for Sting’s songwriting skills and vocal style has constantly followed me through the years. One song that became especially meaningful for me from that album is ‘Synchronicity II’ and, of course, ‘Every Breath You Take’.”

The Poodles “Metal Will Stand Tall” (2006)

“It is obviously this album that fundamentally changed my life most of all. It was the success of The Poodles that suddenly enabled me to write songs with anybody I wanted to write with and it is something I have taken advantage of ever since. I was well-prepared as an artist and composer for this album and it is probably this album that many will associate with me, just like they associate many other artists with their breakthrough albums. Even though there are other albums in my back catalogue that I personally like better and feel are better made, I am very proud of how we made ‘Metal Will Stand Tall’. It is a time capsule for a special time in my life.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 57: Chris Laney

Chris Laney in Tokyo in 2017. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

The Swedish artist, songwriter and producer Chris Laney plays the guitar and keyboards for the Danish heavy metal band Pretty Maids since 2016. He has performed as a solo artist and as a member of bands such as Randy Piper’s Animal, Zan Clan and others. Chris has also been active working with many artists as a producer and engineer. Roppongi Rocks; Stefan Nilsson talked to Chris to discuss the five albums that influenced his future world.

KISS “Unmasked” (1980)

“This is the ultimate pop album. There is not a bad song. I remember buying it at the Domus supermarket with my granny. The store owner must have been a KISS fan since the store was covered with KISS albums all over. I already had the albums released prior to this but had no clue ‘Unmasked’ had been released so I freaked out and did my best begging. Never has Gene and Ace written such good songs.”

Jellyfish “Spilt Milk” (1993)

“Now this is one of my all-time favourite albums. The production and musicianship are over the top good. It’s like you take The Beatles, Beach Boys, Queen and more and put them into your kitchen blender! I remember one of the first nights I slept at my now wife’s apartment and told her I had the best album to put on when we went to bed. I fell asleep during the first song (since I knew it inside out) but since my wife had never heard it, she stayed up for the whole album. Haha! Talking about information overload…”

Shotgun Messiah “Shotgun Messiah” (1989)

“This album is in my DNA. I know every note on this. I think this is the most important album ever made, for me! It doesn’t suck to have two of the members as my best friends today and also having the chance to tour, as bass player, with Shotgun celebrating 25 years of ‘Bop City’.”

W.A.S.P. “W.A.S.P.” (1984)

“This is a badass album for sure. When it came out, I was floored by the whole thing, looks, songs and attitude… This was so tough it was crazy back then. I have to say it was an honour to tour with W.A.S.P. back in 2010 and also making two albums with Randy Piper’s Animal (‘Violent New Breed’ and ‘Virus’). When we toured, we did a lot of songs from this album. What a trip!”

Pretty Maids “Jump the Gun” (1990)

“I have followed Pretty Maids since their first TV appearance back in the day and I have been a fan since I heard the first notes of ‘Fantasy’. Of course, I love ‘Future World’ but when ‘Jump the Gun’ came out it was just soooooo good. It sounds amazing and I love every track on that album. I am glad we have played a few tracks from this album live. It’s crazy how life happens sometimes.”

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 56: Freddy Villano

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

The American bassist Freddy Villano is best known for his stints with Quiet Riot (in a line-up with Kevin DuBrow, Frankie Banali and Carlos Cavazo) and Dee Snider’s Widowmaker. He now plays with The Rods. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson asked Freddy what five albums made him bang his head and join the brotherhood of metal.

Black Sabbath “Sabotage” (1975)

Black Sabbath “Heaven and Hell” (1980)

“I’ll discuss both of these simultaneously because they both feature Geezer Butler, unless you believe some of Craig Gruber’s bass parts/tracks remain on ‘Heaven and Hell’, and they both share a similar origin story in my life. When I was between 6th and 7th grade, my sister, who is five years older than me, dated a guy who knew I was into KISS. So, one day he came over with these two records (yes, vinyl-era!) for me to check out. Incidentally, I was a drummer at the time, and Peter Criss was my hero, but that was about to change. These two records made me want to be a bass player. It was that simple, really. I used to sit for hours on end, poring over the album cover details while listening to these records and I still feel the same about them today as I did then. I think they are two of Sabbath’s finest moments.”

Iron Maiden “The Number of the Beast” (1982)

“My sister’s boyfriend strikes again! He asked my parents if he could take me to a concert, which would be my first. Iron Maiden at the now defunct North Stage Theater in Glen Cove on Long Island, New York. The Rods – who I now play with, coincidentally – were the opening act! My first-ever concert was Iron Maiden on ‘The Number of the Beast’ tour! I still can’t believe I saw Clive Burr live! There was something about the kinetic energy between him and Steve Harris that I don’t think Nicko McBrain was ever able to replicate, and so I’m going with this record over ‘Piece of Mind’ for that reason. Though ‘Piece of Mind’ has ‘Where Eagles Dare’, perhaps my favourite Maiden tune of all time.”

Rainbow “Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow” (1975)

“Absolute underrated and essential listening for any would-be rock bass player. Craig Gruber’s playing is simply outstanding and ranks among the titans of rock as demonstrated by this list. Just listen to how he is able to improvise on a motif and continually develop an idea as he does with the bass line during Blackmore’s solo in ‘Snake Charmer’. It’s the kind of playing to aspire to. Simply brilliant.”

Led Zeppelin “Led Zeppelin II” (1969)

“Since this list essentially turned into my ‘top five essential albums for rock bass’, no list would be complete without John Paul Jones. This album features JPJ’s iconic performances on ‘What Is and What Should Never Be’, ‘Ramble On’, ‘Bring It On Home’ and of course, his epic tour de force, ‘The Lemon Song’. ‘Nuff said, really.”