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How big an influence are your influences? - The Hero Complex

With a wide array of individual musical tastes, the members of The Hero Complex can draw upon elements from a lot of styles to write songs which are varied in their tones. This is definitely reflected in the range of their songs, from the slower, more melodic song of 'Waves' to the head-bobbing groove of 'Don't You Know'. Each member gives their story here on what has influenced their music writing and how this has helped them in The Hero Complex.

Bill Hughes (Guitar): My first musical memories came from a lot of what my Dad listened to. He was a big fan of The Who, Rush and Pink Floyd among others and he was the one that first got me started on playing guitar. As I got a bit older, I noticed some of my Dad’s other records. Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Paul Gilbert all opened up new world of possibilities on the guitar, and to this day as far as I know there is no better demonstration of Rock guitar playing than on ‘Passion and Warfare’. Going through high school lots of other kids got me into metal, with bands like Opeth, Megadeth and Killswitch Engage becoming some of my real favourites. And so began my journey to try and become the best guitar player I could be. I’d come home to spend hours and hours over my guitar trying to master the art of true shredding.

But it wasn't until I discovered Pearl Jam, a band who came along after a decade of over the top, shred-filled bands and took things back to basics, that the memories of playing along (badly) to those old records, just strumming the chords came back to me and I remembered that great song writing and attitude is what makes good rock n roll, not pretentious technical wank.

Yes there are still little bits of hard riffs that can only come from an adolescence with copious amounts of Pantera. There’s also still a fair bit of Nuno Bettencourt in the guitar solos. But it’s listening to the old alternative records that have really helped me understand song writing again, which is what The Hero Complex is all about.

Jamie Ollerton (Guitar):
When I was younger my songwriting was mainly influenced by bands like Maroon 5 (who I must admit are my guilty pleasure, Songs About Jane was the first album I bought!) and Franz Ferdinand.

However, as I got to about 14 my music taste evolved quite a lot to heavier bands like Metallica, Trivium and Iron Maiden. Songs by bands like these are usually driven by big guitar riffs and great solos which I think really appealed to me as it helped me to explore what I could do on the guitar. In particular though, the likes of James Hetfield and Matt Heafy have really inspired me with their immense rhythm playing and riff writing and I owe a lot of my own style as a guitarist to them.

More recently my influences seem to have become even more diverse, ranging from the French metal band Gojira to Bastille, who have really opened my mind to arranging songs differently to most metal songs. I think being able to draw on various influences can be a real bonus because you can keep things varied and fresh in your song-writing.

Josh Holgate (Bass): My early memories of music are of the many painful hours being forced to endure the sound of my mother’s bad (my opinion obviously) musical taste in Northern Soul. This was also coupled with her terrifying love of everything Paul Weller (I’m still led to believe that an outstanding court conviction still restricts her to be nowhere within 200 metres of the poor man), which, dare I say it, may have lead me down the road of wanting to play the guitar.

After a somewhat extraordinary journey in musical tastes, which can only be described as rather bizarre, and looked somewhat like the following chronological list: Steps, Five, Linkin Park, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Kanye West (oh God, why?), Ocean Colour Scene, The Libertines and now settling on The Beatles, I finally came to the following conclusion: John Lennon is a hero and inspiration to all song writers. Why? His range in music and writing is extraordinary, granted he may not have been the Jimi Hendrix of guitar playing but he certainly knew how to put a good song together; and I am still yet to match anything as wonderful as ‘Help!’ let alone ‘Imagine’ or ‘I am the walrus’. I see his work as the benchmark for what I believe ‘The Hero Complex’ can produce; and although being within a completely different music genre the basic core of his methods still apply to our writing. That is, don’t write for the fame or for others, you should play music because you love doing it. At the end of the day as long as you yourself are truly happy with the finished product then at least someone is happy.

Rick Blackburn (Drums):
Since finding my feet in terms of musical taste around the age of 12-13, I’ve had a big love of pop-punk. I think one of the main reasons for this was after buying my first bass guitar I could play along with Blink 182 songs relatively quickly. This really first sparked my interest in joining a band – thinking: “That’s something I can do, I mean I can play along to Dammit on bass, I’m halfway there already, right!?”

Leading up to this revelation of my impending musical stardom, I’d bought my first proper album – Offspring’s Conspiracy of One. I went to my first gig at 14, Offspring at Manchester Apollo. I’ve never been graced with height, so as a 14 year old standing proud at maybe 5 foot 5, it was certainly eye-opening to be carried forward as hundreds of people heard that first bass note of Bad Habit. I’m relatively new to playing the drums, and am happy to concede that I play what I can which suits our songs! I’d love to say you can hear elements of Travis Barker in my contributions…but that may (hopefully!) be seen further down the line. I’ve grown older, my horizons have broadened, but I still feel like a 12 year old dreaming of playing on a big stage whenever I listen back to the first album I bought.

Rick Wilson (Vocals): I may be expected to talk about the way a certain band or artist has influenced me here. But I’d prefer rather to explore the concept of influence. Musical influences are an interesting topic, and are always placed on a pedestal as somehow representative of the identity of a band. It sometimes seems that every band can be dissected to reveal an anatomy of organs transplanted from a shared inventory of other artists.

But the real beauty of musical influences is that most of the time you don’t even realise they’re influencing you. You’re fully aware of your admiration for an artist, and you listen to them every day, but you’re never actively trying to emulate them. But countless times I have been told, “That bit sounds just like Eddie Vedder”, or “That sounds like a Red Hot Chili Peppers song”. And at first I often don’t see it, but then I think about it... and it makes sense. Musical influences are at their best when they’re entirely subconscious.

But influences don’t have to be strictly from other music. Influences can be from a myriad of sights and sounds. I’m often influenced by the world around me; nature, people, history can all weave a story through song. And of course emotion can be the greatest influence of all. Every one of your favourite songs is fueled by anger, love, hatred, sadness or ecstasy, or indeed a combination of the above. And so an artist’s greatest influence is always themselves. Without that we’d all sound the same.

You can check out The Hero Complex on Facebook at www.facebook.com/theherocomplexmusic and the trailer for their upcoming EP at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYu2w5S9ZPk


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