Last month Flyte released This Is Really Going To Hurt and proved once more that ‘second album syndrome’ is a medical fallacy with no scientific grounding beyond the word of mystic hacks who should have their license revoked. The record was a perfectly poignant piece of music to herald in the slow, but hopefully steady transition to normal life.
Now with live music so tantalisingly close that you can almost hear the sanguine hum of sound-checked amps, we caught up with the frontman of the London trio, Will Taylor, for the latest instalment of our Doctor’s Orders feature in conjunction with the mental health charity, CALM.
With the band set take This Is Really Going To Hurt on a UK tour starting this August and including a show as part of this year’s scintillating All Points East Festival line-up, we touched base with Will Taylor to discuss the records that inspire him and his bandmates along their musical journey.
Continuing with our Mental Health Awareness campaign, Far Out Magazine has teamed up with the suicide prevention charity CALM to help connect you with your favourite artists and hear how music has helped them during their darker times and day-to-day lives.
The organisation, with the full working title of ‘Campaign Against Living Miserably’, offer a free, confidential and anonymous helpline for those most in need of mental health support. Now lockdown measures are starting to ease, the impact of the last twelve months has led to CALM seeing a huge spike in their workload.
We at Far Out believe in music’s ability to heal. It could be the moment that the needle drops on your favourite song and provides respite from a chaotic world, or, conversely, it might be the fanatic conversation you have with friends about which guitarist was the greatest. Music, it’s safe to say, has always allowed us to connect with one another and ourselves.
In support of CALM, we’re asking a selection of our favourite people to share nine records that they would prescribe for anyone they met and the stories behind their importance. Doctor’s Orders sees some of our favourite musicians, actors, authors, comedians and more, offer up the most important records, which they deem essential for living well.
With a selection of absolute classics in tow, Taylor eulogised a range of emotive masterpieces, some of which are detectable within Flyte’s mercurial oeuvre. The mix is a joyous collection of records that Will and the band clearly cherish, and you can find them all wrapped up in a playlist below.
Flyte’s Will Taylor’s 9 favourite records:
David Bowie – Hunky Dory
The first pick from Taylor is somewhat of Doctor’s Orders favourite. As the precursor to the birth of Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie’s Hunky Dory was the record that prognosticated his journey into the kaleidoscopic side of rock ‘n’ roll.
Before diving headfirst into the great musical mine of history, Taylor was quick to assert that he holds his modern contemporaries in great regard, even if they don’t feature amid his finely tuned selection. “Before I say a word on these albums I would like it known that mine and my band mates’ taste for contemporary music is alive and well, despite what this list might suggest,” Will began. “But if you’re asking about albums, rather than artists or stand-alone songs, I would be lying to you if I chose anything other than these predictable choices. They are classics for a reason, more than that, they are albums that have saved me — time and time again.”
Before adding, “With that out the way… Hunky Dory would have to be my Bowie choice. It has everything from the towering anthem that is ‘Life On Mars’, to the dark, spiritual confusion of ‘Quicksand’, to the early glimmer of glam rock on ‘Queen Bitch’, to the drawn-out experimentation of ‘The Bewlay Brothers’. There’s almost nothing this album can’t do. ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’ I would like it played at my funeral, thank you.
“The fact that even through the whimsy of ‘Kooks’, he makes you feel like an outcast, singing, watery-eyed and clench fisted at the normies of society, is all the reason I ever needed to love him till the end of time.”
Radiohead – Kid A
When it comes to Radiohead, a fan favourite simply doesn’t exist. Throughout their back catalogue, they have thrown up a menagerie of different records tied together by their ever-emotive edge. For Taylor, this made the selection tricky, but he opted for seminal millennium record Kid A.
“Hard to choose with this bloody band. I’ve gone for Kid A because it’s one of those records where every time I go back to it, I find a new reason to love it,” Will declared of its evolving beauty.
“I dare you to listen to those opening four tracks and not drop your jaw a little. No band has ever been so bold. It is – whether you’re a fan or not – a masterpiece. And if it doesn’t grab you at first, give it time, it definitely will do.”
Joni Mitchell – Blue
Since its release back in 1971, Joni Mitchell’s Blue has established itself in the pantheon of truly great break-up records. When we’re low, music provides an inviolable sanctity for escape and comfort, and Taylor was quick to assert the wonderous healing potential of this heartfelt record.
Taylor declared, “Most people with a heart and ears would probably have this on their list. It’s almost certainly the album that has got me out of the most emotional scrapes.”
Later adding, “It’s superior to most things in more ways than one: the skill of the performance is unbeatable, the production — which she did herself obviously — is pitch-perfect. It’s simultaneously a break-up record and a falling in love record, how did she do that? Its poetry is beyond Dylan or Cohen because it’s honest, vulnerable and empowered in the same breath. It’s all the seasons of the year. Don’t fuck with this record, don’t even try.”
Bell & Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister
It would seem that at one point in our journey to adulthood we all have that one album that comes along and changes the picture. For Flyte, that journey culminated in the propagation of melodic indie, which is reflective of one of the first albums to prick Taylor’s ears.
“This was my bus-to-school album,” Will told us. “A constant reminder that I wasn’t alone in my precocious, waif-like tendencies. You could enjoy reading alone under a tree and not be Martin from the Simpsons. You could smoke and have a girlfriend and enjoy walking around graveyards simultaneously. You could have it all!
“There’s certainly no duds on this album and if his voice isn’t too strong a flavour for you, there are layers of glorious word play for you to revel in. It’s an epic, even if it is a quiet epic.”
Neil Young – After the Gold Rush
The rich tapestry of Neil Young’s vast back catalogue has a clutch of albums that reside in many people’s favourites. For Taylor, it is his heart-strung reflective 1970 masterpiece After the Gold Rush.
Will suggests that this is the master songwriters greatest work, stating: “It’s far superior to Harvest in my opinion. Beautiful song after beautiful song. Dry and lean and heart-breaking.”
Taylor also touched upon the fact that the Young tracks ‘Southern Man’ and ‘Alabama’ helped to spawn the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic, ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, stating: “If ‘Southern Man’ was responsible for the retort of ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ then thank you for that Neil, but more than that, thank you for changing up the syncopation for your unreasonably long guitar solo.”
Speaking of the depth of the record Taylor added, “I even love ‘Till The Morning Comes’ and ‘Cripple Creek Ferry’ – both not much longer than a minute each.”
The Beatles – Revolver
The influence of The Beatles is so overarching in the world of indie that it almost seems obligatory to include one of their records and Taylor was quick to joke about this fact, quipping, “Yes, yes The Beatles. But also, yes The Beatles. And yes of course Revolver.”
For many, Revolver represents a divergence in The Beatles back catalogue as they continued to venture into more experimental terrain away from their poppy Promethean works, and it is a record that proves to be another Doctor’s Orders favourite.
“It’s got ‘Taxman’ followed by ‘Eleanor Rigby’ as the opening two tracks for heaven’s sake. It’s got ‘Here, There and Everywhere’, a melody that should accompany everybody’s walk down the aisle, not just Mike and Phoebe from Friends. They discovered acid and Ravi Shankar but they’ve mixed it in with Paul’s study in buttoned-up England.
“They more or less invent a genre with every track. Would we have the Chemical Brothers if we didn’t have ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’? Would we have Jeremy and Super Hans from Peep Show if we didn’t have the Chemical Brothers?”
Pixies – Doolittle
Within the growing circuit of alternative rock that sprung up in response to the synth saturation of the mid-eighties, Pixies represented a very singular presence. For their 1989 sophomore record Doolittle they coupled references to surrealism with biblical overtones and brought the whole mixed up milieu together in interesting but undeniably melodic music that Taylor can’t get enough of.
“Some people prefer the Steve Albini production on Surfer Rosa [their debut record],” Will began, “But I just think Doolittle has the songs. For a 90s record, its sound is still pretty timeless — not a pingy, grunge snare drum in sight.”
He then went on to eulogise the scope of the album and applaud its lyrical content, stating: “It’s a long record and it’s got no skippers. It’s deranged and it’s angry but it’s intelligent and cerebral, even tender at times. And if the devil is 6 then god is 7… this monkey’s gone to heaven’, bravo.”
Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends
The beauty of first getting into music is all the wonders that await you are out there in the ether like some mystic teenage candy shop. Bookends is such an affirmed classic that it is hard to remember a time when you hadn’t been exposed to its majesty, but Taylor’s nostalgia should take you right back.
“Yes, this album was introduced to me via [the movie] Almost Famous,” he joked, “but I was 10 — allowing it to take its form in the context of my tormented adolescence.”
“From the back of a lesson, I would put one headphone through the sleeve of my blazer, lean on my palm and listen secretly to ‘America’ with my eyes half-closed. Visually manifesting a tour bus driving across wide, open country, something that years later would come good.”
He shared his adulation for the lyrical content and production technique of interspersing the record with the recollections of folks in a care home, “With interviews from inside an old people’s home. Lines like “‘Kathy I’m lost’ I said, though I knew she was sleeping”, it’s a prematurely middle-aged masterpiece.”
Elliott Smith – Elliott Smith
Perhaps the most detectable choice within the sound of Flyte is Elliott Smith’s self-titled heart-tugger. The soft and rhythmic vocal take on tracks like ‘Losing You’ on This Is Really Going To Hurt share a kinship with the late master’s work.
“It’s tough because his self-titled second album isn’t necessarily his best. But it’s my favourite. He’s still stark and under-produced at this point which keeps it feeling like a secret only you know about,” Taylor said.
“The way he twists the melody and chords together is fascinating. Technically it’s beyond what most songwriters would care to admit they were capable of. Don’t let that petulant west coast accent fool you, he’s a full-on genius and knows exactly how to rip your heart out of your chest.”
You can catch Flyte at this summers All Points East Festival over the August Bank Holliday weekend and you can check out the rest of their tour dates here – https://www.flytetheband.com/#live
Flyte perform at All Points East on Monday 30 August, visit www.allpointseastfestival.com