Like QR codes and pints in milk bottles, 2020 has been a great year for Children of the State. Soundtracking our summer with Big Sur, they’re round of the year with a new EP that challenges all other bands to try harder with album names. Tragic Carpet & The Magical Wasp Gang From Notre-Dame shows us exactly where the band are at, flowing from big indie bangers like Hot Money, through to the vintage-inspired vibes tunes that they’ve become known and loved for. Now settled in Manchester, this new release is polished and perfected, ready to welcome them into what will undoubtedly be another big year of the state’s kids, whenever the world will let them take to the stage again.
In the meantime, we caught up with them to see what films, books and albums had been spinning around their minds to influence the EP.
Around the age of 20 I became fascinated with mid-century New York, its artists, its writers and its happenings. I eventually discovered a scene in the early 70s that started in a small dilapidated bar named CBGB’s. Richard Hell was there from the beginning, being a formative member of television and a regular of the scene. I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp follows his life from a troubled schoolboy to a penniless artist looking for like-minded people in his endeavor to write and explore NYC, just as I did moving to London. His whimsical and unconventional approach to life has stuck with me since.
Musically speaking I could have picked something more niche or obscure, but an album that genuinely inspired me and the people around me was 180 by Palma Violets. This was the first time an album had come out with hype where I was surrounded by people who had the same taste and interests, this record didn’t just make an impact on me but us collectively. The songs are melancholic yet powerful and in a live setting Chilli Jessons vocal howl and electric presence had me sold. All in all its an album that embraces youthful energy, emotion, passion and a DIY attitude, perfect.
Not much to say other than a perfect depiction of one of the greatest stories ever told. Lord Of The Rings started my love affair with film as a kid which led me to go on and study film at university.
At the start of lockdown my George Harrison fascination grew and grew. Of course the music is the start of any interest of a musician, but some entice you further to search deeper into their life aside of the music, George being one of these. I Me Mine tells the story of Harrison’s life through his own words and words of Derek Taylor. Derek Taylor is a journalist who gave The Beatles support in the early days and soon developed a great relationship with George after their collaborative effort on a newspaper column and who in no time being a close and trusted friend of the band. Telling the story of George’s life you read through his lower class but love filled upbringing through to the high flying glory days of The Beatles, to his solo career and to his spirituality and all sides of life that have surrounded that. Aside from the glamour story of success that you’ll see in other musicians of his stature you also see more into his perspective, view point, attitude to fame and so on. His philosophy. One I thought was very humble, inspiring and one which I think everyone can learn from, myself included. Also in the book there are many rare and scrubbed up photos of a lifetime and an extensive collection of handwritten notes of 141 songs written by him.
My first memorable introduction to The Doors was around the age of 13 when my dad lent me his iPod. There amongst a vast selection to choose from I chose this album. To me at the time it was peculiar looking and sounding due to my young teenage taste of what we’d now call generic indie. I was hooked on Break On Through pretty quick and throughout the years after took on the rest of The Doors catalogue. Aside from the Beatles and Bowie songs you grow up with as part of British culture The Doors were the first 60’s/70’s band I was really into and opened up a whole new world of psychedelic ,blues and rock from that era. Much like cannabis is called a ‘Gateway Drug’, this Album certainly had the same effect inspiring me to dig further down the rabbit hole of music and culture.
Certainly no narcissism in this choice but when it comes to what’s inspired me, School Of Rock would definitely be something to mention looking back. From a young age my cousin and I would constantly watch his videotape of this film leading to me soon getting my own. I was at the young age of 6 or 7 when I first started watching it, I can’t say it had me as a Motörhead fan straight away. However, over the years I can its effects having swayed me over to this side of music. It introduced me to bands such as The Ramones, The Modern Lovers, Cream and the list continues. Perhaps not a film that’s a regular on my screen now or one that I’d recommend is a must watch, but one that has inspired me in my life.
Post Office was Bukowski’s first novel, though not the first chronologically in the semi-autobiographical series following Henry Chinaski. This was my introduction to Bukowski and I would urge anyone who has not yet read any of his work to do the same. This story follows the life of a down-and-out alcoholic over the years between working as a mailman to living off of his winnings at the race track, back to being a mail clerk; Chinaski drifts from place to place, fuelled by destructive relationships and alcoholism. I saw an interview with Bukowski where he says that “each line must have its own power, its own feeling”, which is something that has since inspired me greatly when writing – no line should be a throwaway or a filler.
Through seeing interviews with John Maus I very soon got the impression that he, much like many artists, is not a fan of genres. However, if I had to shoehorn We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves into some sort of musical description for the most part it would have to be ‘Dracula Disco’. The reason being I saw a fan made music video on YouTube by David Dean Burkhart which put his song ‘Streetlight’ to a scene from 1981 movie ‘Ms. 45’, though I have not seen the film the video depicts a disruptive incident at what seems to be a Halloween disco set in this period. The images of 80s vampires, witches and ghosts is something that’s stuck with me every time that I listen to this album. ‘Quantum Leap’ is a standout track for me with a really driving rhythm, reminiscent of Joy Division’s ‘Isolation’ paired with John Maus’s baritone, Ian Curtis-esque vocals – it makes for a thrilling few minutes.
The 1999 horror Audition, directed by Takashi Miike was recommended to me a couple of years ago by a good friend, though it wasn’t until lockdown that I finally sat and gave it my full attention. The story is based on a widow father who begins wife-searching, through the savage idea of a friend, by auditioning women supposedly to find an actress for a new project. The father is love-struck by one of the females, though things become increasingly twisted and bizarre before climaxing into a monumental ending. An intense psychological horror that I would not recommend to the easily-disturbed.
‘Reading The Alchemist was like getting up at dawn and seeing the sun rise while the rest of the world still slept’ – Harper Collins.
A book of going in search of your dreams and ideals, taking that leap of faith into the unknown and reaching underneath what we see on a first basis. It details the ideology of making your own myth. This might not be for everyone but I found it quite an inspiring book when I came across it.
Shane Macgowan has been in my life since the day I was born. He was always around my childhood because of my father and Celtic FC. Not until I entered my early twenties did I realise the beauty and genius of the man himself.
Singing for the broken hearted and the drunks and the lost souls on The Pogues’ Rum, Sodomy & The Lash, Shane is one of the greatest writers of the last century. You don’t need to look any further for a masterclass in songwriting than ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’. Shane’s songs are songs to learn and live your life by.
Paris, Texas is a film of simple measures and complex emotions. The person emerges from the American desert almost biblical and in search of there lost love. A highway production they search for their soul mate against the beautiful backdrop of the protagonist lost in the depths of there own grief. This film really spoke to me at a time when I needed it, it’s almost like Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks in film form, detailing the American landscape and the strangers and people you meet along the way.
Amazingly written, horrific and insightful, A.A Gill’s Pour Me A Life is an encouraging story about how an alcoholic managed to give up drinking and make a worthwhile and often-happy life for himself. The journalist really explores the gory details in this one.
Jake Thackray – La Di Dah
Yorkshire bloke telling silly kitchen sink dramas with a lovely orchestral backing. Perfect
Stylish and unforgiving, Dario Argento’s most famous horror masterpiece Suspiria follows Suzy Banyon (I read somewhere they based her on Snow White) on her trip to a ballet school in Germany. It’s best to leave the most part of this film unsaid as it is most effective when taking you by surprise, pole-vaulting you into 99 minutes of sheer terror, it’s also got my favourite film soundtrack ever courtesy of Goblin.