Albums that inspired The 109s

Smashing Pumpkins – Gish

I have always been extremely fussy about my musical tastes, and as a young man refused to listen to anything recorded post-1975.

Gish changed all that. From those first ringing F# chords of I am One, this listener was 1gishhighreshooked. Over the course of the album’s ten tracks, Billy Corgan did everything I wanted to do with the guitar: brilliant riffs mixed with melodic, powerful lead guitar lines; interesting guitar tones and textures; and the brilliant use of a truly brilliant drummer. Corgan is a great guitarist and songwriter, but the real heart of this album lies in Jimmy Chamberlin’s ferocious drumming.

So, what did The 109s learn from this? As a guitarist, Gish showed me how to take influences from the classic decades of early rock and contemporise them. Corgan also uses a technique where riffs are played on the fifth and third string, sliding the resultant octave up and down the neck to create a distinctive, thick sound – you can hear that technique all over The 109s’ music.

Finally, Gish drove home the truth of the saying that a band is only as good as its drummer: it was no accident that the first musician with whom I got together when starting The 109s was not a singer or bassist, but the best drummer I knew, and the interplay between Steve Collings and I is still the aspect of the band’s music I most enjoy.

Top Tracks: Rhinoceros, Snail, Tristessa

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