Hi, this is Love Songs, a feature in which I talk to people about the first song they ever loved. For the inaugural launch of this dumb idea, I talked to John Adams, who is both the bass player for the Rochester, NY punk band Sexy Teenagers and my younger brother. If you’d like to tell me about a song you loved, tweet at me.
Loved Songs: “Down” by 311 and “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” by The Smashing Pumpkins
Do you remember where you were the first time you heard either one? Is there a specific memory attached to hearing either one?
I remember “Down” was the first song on a cassette tape mix that (our older brother) Chris made for me. I can’t place the Smashing Pumpkins as specifically, but I first started doing chores to earn my allowance so I could buy the double tape of Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness, ironically, also from Chris.
How old were you when you heard these songs?
Seven, maybe eight.
Do you remember what else was on that mixtape?
A couple of Live songs, maybe “Lakini’s Juice.” Some Pumpkins, Metallica, Sublime. Green Day, I think?
So, what drew you to “Down?”
I liked the pace and speed of the song, and it was also my first real exposure to rap. Many other styles, too, as I bought more 311 CDs when I was young. Plus, the hook is pretty damn catchy.
Do you feel like it influenced your taste in any lasting way?
I suppose so, in that it helped shape the other bands and types of music I would consume in my single-digit years, which would inform the bands I listened to as a tween, and so on. The mix tape it was on probably had a larger overall impact, though.
What kind of chores did you have to do to get the Pumpkins tape?
I had to take out the garbage and recycling as needed, take the cans to and from the curb. I had to buy the tape in sections because Chris charged $2 per tape, which just happened to be my allowance at the time.
What a dick.
I remember really liking tape one, being less thrilled by the second. “Bullet” was the favorite, for sure, but the first eight songs really stuck with me as standouts on Melancholy.
What was it about “Bullet” that stuck with you?
It was my first real rock song that I was into. I liked the drums and the guitar. Corrigan’s voice was a favorite of mine for a long time, probably until I entered my Korn / Limp Bizkit era.
Do you feel like either of these songs informed your songwriting?
No, I don’t think so – only in as much as they are part of my musical history. I didn’t start trying my hand at [songwriting] until about five years after [those songs].
How do you feel about “Down” and “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” now, almost 20 years later?
They still hold up! I would listen to either any time, although it is a little embarrassing on the 311 front.
What is the last song you’ve loved?
I’ve found myself listening to “Worthless Original” from (The Holy Mess’s) Comfort in the Discord and “I See Failure” from (Antarctigo Vespucci’s) Leavin’ La Vida Loca a whole lot recently. I’ll have to get back to on “why” after I think about it some more, because I don’t want to say ‘because I do’ and I haven’t given much thought into the why of liking those songs.
I’m just going to quote you as saying “because I do.”
Sexy Teenagers released Look What This Cheesecake Has Done to Us in 2014 (thats yours truly on the cover) and had a song appear on this Rochester NY-specific comp that same year. The band is currently writing it’s next album, A Time for Teens, which will probably come out sometime in 2017. The band’s Facebook page is a unique experience, because, while most of what is discussed there is focused on Rochester punk music, every now and then a horny teenager will post “anyone up?” on there. That’s always a treat.