James Gunn evidently knows a thing or two about music. The soundtrack to his epic space odyssey Guardians of the Galaxy has sold over 1.75m copies in the US alone and it ensured that Redbone’s ‘Come and Get Your Love’ would experience a rebirth on commercials the world over.
However, the hook-heavy soundscape that he crafted for the glitzy world of space travel with composer Tyler Bates, doesn’t offer that much of a hint at his personal favourite record. Admittedly, it might share the same upbeat sonic energy, but it’s a lot more of a headbanger than a hip swinger.
“I saw the Sex Pistols on TV when I was a young child, and they shook my world,” the Slither director once said. But like most people that world-shaking introduction was a perturbing one, as opposed to one of instant endearment.
“I didn’t like them,” Gunn added. “I was freaked out by them, actually. But they made me see over the rim of my simple suburban Missouri existence into the wild cultural world of punk rock. I couldn’t forget them. A few years later, as an early teen, I bought their album for a buck or two in a used record store.”
Gunn continues to explain how Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols went on to shape his worldview: “I felt guilty listening to it for the first time – as a Catholic kid, the chant of ‘I am an Anti-Christ!’ didn’t sit easily… but it was forbidden and exciting. All in all, it was part of an internal revolution that soon included the Ramones and the Jam and especially The Clash, turning me from a nerdy middle-schooler into the punk rock kid I pretty much still am today. In addition to being life-changing, the album is catchy as hell, and there isn’t a loser track on it.”
From this early exposure to the devil-may-care maelstrom of snarling punk, the director’s love of it only grew. The Sex Pistols led him onto a journey that culminated with what he now calls “the big three.” His three favourite bands are Sex Pistols, The Jam and The Clash.
His punk obsession was mainly related to the early British oeuvre of the genre. As he describes the Spotify playlist that he lovingly handcrafted below: “There have been many times great music has struck a specific area in the world, all at once – but my favourite of all of these may be Great Britain (mostly London) in the late ‘70s. Punk has influenced the core of everything I have created from Tromeo & Juliet to Guardians of the Galaxy.”