Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Down The Rabbit Hole: Will Sergeant’s Favourite Albums

Echo & The Bunnymen’s Will Sergeant takes Richard Foster through thirteen favourite albums from The Residents to Love, recalls making records with his dad’s electric shaver and a stringless guitar, explains why it’s time to stop bashing prog rock, and much, much more

The sight on my laptop screen is mildly surreal. Will Sergeant, guitarist and founder member of Echo & the Bunnymen, is sitting behind a table packed full of bric-a-brac, presided over by a full set of figurines from Star Trek’s USS Enterprise and a large metal toy kingfisher. During our talk, a figurine will be repositioned when Sergeant wants to make a point. The kingfisher, for example, is waved around to inform me that Will’s off to Martin Mere nature reserve after we’ve finished talking. “I’ve got so much cack. It’s getting beyond a joke really. I need to sort a big sale or a big skip, one or the other, really. You put something down in this house and it just vanishes. I’ve got loads of record players. And you can’t see it, but in front of me now, I’ve got a Wurlitzer, a record player, a thing for bog roll and a radio. And thousands of singles.”

Despite knowing him for almost two decades, nothing can be ruled out when it comes to dealing with Sergeant, one of a handful of people who shaped the sound of British popular music for his generation. His unorthodox, resolutely non-rockist approach to playing guitar was also shaped by a pronounced artistic side which was often kept out of the spotlight during the Bunnymen’s imperial days, but has found form over recent decades through his intriguing sound and mixed media collages.

We are here to talk about his favourite records, mostly from the 1960s and 1970s, often signed and stuffed with extras such as signed postcards and tickets, which he regularly waves at the camera. The chat is a roundabout way to talk about Sergeant’s forthcoming book, Bunnyman, published by Little, Brown and Company on July 15. The book chronicles his formative years on a council estate outside Liverpool and his immersion in that city’s legendary ‘Eric’s scene’, ending just as Echo & the Bunnymen, drum machine and all, achieve lift-off. I ask Will, was this an instance of the fabled ‘writing a book in lockdown’ project? “Not really. There were all these Bunnymen re-releases coming out on coloured vinyl. They asked me to do the liner notes. I did the first four. I really enjoyed doing it. It just took off from there and here we are now, ninety thousand words later…”

Sergeant is not a nostalgist, rather someone who is clearly hooked on buying interesting sounds on record. “I recently got into Jane Weaver. I’d never heard her stuff, but I kept seeing her name popping up here and there. So, I bought three albums of hers and they’re all really good. In one of her pictures, she’s got an omnichord. I’ve got a couple of these things too. I also really love Rats On Rafts, and their new one is a great record. But I don’t know it well enough yet to be ingrained in my soul. It’s your late teenage years that form you. That’s the time you really want to remember, so this selection can be a nostalgic trip, for me.”

Will Sergeant’s new book Bunnyman is published on July 15 via Little, Brown and Company. To begin reading his Baker’s Dozen, click the image of him below.

First Record

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