Thursday, November 7, 2019

9 songs: Joe Caithness (What Price, Wonderland?, Plaids, Zochor)

Joe Caithness is a prolific member of British emo-scene. He played in a number of bands such as PlaidsWhat Price, Wonderland? and Soul Structrure. His most recent project is called Zochor and you can check their debut EP here.

Hello! I am Joe Caithness a music nerd, mastering engineer and sometimes punk rock musician. Here are my 9 songs which got me into emo!

At the Drive-in – Hula Hoop Wounds

Although it was Relationship of Command and it's hype in the UK (the infamous live sets on TV shows such as Jools Holland and festival slots) back in 2001 pre proper internet music we had to just remember a band name and go buy all their CDs from the shops at the weekend. At the time I used to do some landscaping/cleaning work for a local chiropractor clinic (probably illegally come to think of it?) as my parents made me and brother work and didn't give us pocket money. Each weekend I got paid 9 quid cash and went to HMV.

In/Casino/Out with it's more classical sounding 90s punk production was a big turning point for me, the fact is sounded like they were even playing in a room to my alt rock trained pre teen ears, blew my mind. Still sounds as explosive to me today and I regularly revisit it.

Fugazi – Epic Problem

Having become an overnight obsessive with ATD-I I listened to everything they name dropped, mostly via Napster downloads in hilariously poor quality, the band they name-dropped the most perhaps unsurprisingly was Fugazi. I initially downloaded the song “Strangelight” off their recently released The Argument, but it was too weird for me, my brain couldn't hack it. It was only until someone later forced me to sit down with the album I got why this was punk music. All Fugazi albums are wholes and building on my ATD-I revelations this was another game changer. As if a band that sounded like this played big venues?!

Rites of Spring – For Want Of

Now I was fully down the Dischord rabbit hole I started buying and downloading anything I could, which at the time wasn't actually much in my small town of Stratford-upon-Avon. Once I started reading the websites like Fourfa (aka *what the heck is emo anyway?*) names would appear several times and these would also be on the Dischord Records site. Unsurprisingly I moved straight from Fugazi to Rites of Spring...

Embrace – Dance of Days

…and within a week of having another 9 quid from the landscaping I got this masterpiece. I was very lucky to be 13/14 and have people pushing me in the right direction. I had this put on a mini disc (yep) at super low quality along with the Minor Threat discography and the first Fugazi album. I used to listen to that minidisc pretty much every day one summer riding my bike.

Yaphet Kotto – Torn Pictures

What blew my mind once I had got deep into the forums (specifically the Kerrang emo/post-hardcore and hardcore forum) is that there bands not only making this music, but releasing albums, which I had presumed was pretty much a dead thing from 100 years ago, as you do when you are a kid. The band I feel was most popular and influential at the time was Yaphet Kotto. They were releasing albums, touring, doing splits, all that emo stuff. The fact they mixed intense melodic vocals and guttural shouting and sounded like the Rites of Spring album in how hard and insane they must have been playing while recording was awesome. Shout out to Keef at Rhythm Thief distro whom I purchased this off on CD!

Assfactor 4 – Free Tibet and Pussy

One of the cool things about the early internet is that there wasn't much context. You could read a website and band with the name ASS FACTOR could be an emo band and you were just like “aight?”. Although I'm not sure they would really be that keen to be lumped in with that stuff now there were a bunch of insane 90s hardcore bands who used a lot of emo in their music, none so much as A4. I got their SPORTS album on vinyl (one of my first vinyl records, still have it!) from Tempest Records (Birmingham, RIP) simply because it was on I had no idea what to expect and I had that experience you have when you something so insane that you are actually scared of it on first listen, yet keep going back. I've stolen more riffs from A4 than any other band.

Braid – Please Drive Faster

An excellent way to find bands in the early 2000s was to check early curated music downloading sites such as Audiogalaxy and Epitonic. For whatever reason Polyvinyl had uploaded this one everywhere. To my brain which was digesting deeper 90s emo and Dischord records this just sounded like the perfect blend and the J Robbins production on their later records meant it was very easy for someone with crap equipment to enjoy the music.

Indian Summer – I Think Your Train Is Leaving

Myself and Andy Hemming from many bands including What Price Wonderland and Arkless used to go to Birmingham on Saturdays to go buy emo and hardcore records we'd be recommended. Indian Summer kept coming up so Andy picked up the discography CD in all it's elusiveness from Tempest Records. We listened to it in my brother's bedroom on a little boom-box and we literally couldn't understand it, it sounded like some kind of cursed found tape. Which is fuckin awesome. The mythology of this band still resonated today and at the time we found it utterly addictive.

La Quiete – La Fine None é la Fine

Once we had fully become emo nerds we started buying everything we could, especially bands who would come over to the UK. La Quiete stood out from other bands for their evolution of the 90s emo sound which took heavy influence from bands like Portraits of Past and Jeromes Dream but added this really specifically Italian sound, or at least that's how we perceived it. La Quiete were the first band I ever followed on tour. I had bid on a test pressing of a 7” from their guitarist Roccan and won it, but being a fucked up little teen I didn't pay for it. I realised I would be seeing Rocco on tour and quickly emailed him to apologise and to tell him how much I loved his band. He then brought the 7” on tour and gave me it anyway! What a sweetie. Roccan now performs as Congorock and is hugely popular DJ.

Long Live – Hidden Behind Time

A deep cut. It would be wrong to not put a UK band on this. I saw Long Live a few times and their demo and 7” were regular spins with the WPW gang. I absolutely adored this record and it still holds up. I love how slinky and swung it is but retains the raw emo feel. Ace dual vocals. Also love the clean guitar filling space by keeping busy, a big influence on me.

Joe C

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