Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives


Patti Smith – Easter

The images that she evokes lyrically are like a film from her head and we get to watch the film. She’s so righteously committed to her vision and she’s been so uncompromising. She’s probably the artist who’s compromised the least. I hate the word ‘career’ but she’s compromised the least, and that’s why I have such great admiration for her. There have been points in my life where I’ve compromised or given up the ghost – ‘You want me to go and mime on a TV show? Yeah, fuck it… whatever…’ You become complacent and take the easiest path. When I find myself doing that then I get fired up.

See, I was always in the audience and I was always a fan and I bought the records and I watched the band play, that’s just the way it was. Then you get to join a band and it took me about ten years to realise that people were actually into the music I was making, because I thought it was modest as best. When I was looking at the Nick Caves and the Patti Smiths and the David Bowies and the Iggy Pops I was going, ‘I’m not at that level’ and then I began to dissect it in later life and I realised that they were all individual performers and I was like, ‘Ahhh…’ because I was in a band and part of a collaborative effort and that’s a different dynamic. I was musing over these individuals and their individual lives and that became very important. But it’s hard to step back and be objective about yourself. It’s difficult to pull back.

I still like Patti Smith and I still go see her as a fan, but I also go for an education. Whenever I hear a Patti Smith record I feel enriched. I feel like I’m listening but with a learning desire to take something away from it and to apply that to my craft. I’d like to be on that platform where they are with that command of language and the ability of arrangement.

Patti Smith is someone who I’ve worshipped since the early 80s. There’s something about New York artists; they just have better style. They seem to be a little bit more confident and a bit more cocksure with a great sense of style and language. They came with so much more authority and they weren’t shouting at me. The Pistols shouted at me. Ian Curtis didn’t shout at me, but then again, have a look at what he was listening to when he died. He was listening to the Americans and he was considering the Kerouac modalities and the beats and their offspring, which is very much where Patti Smith is from.

She’s getting older but I’m still really looking forward to her new album. I got the single, ‘April Fool’, which I really love. The Cult actually played with her recently – we played on a bill in Belgium: The Cult, her and Diamanda Galas. What the fuck?

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: Lord Spikeheart, Tom Ravenscroft
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