Ed Gamble: The 10 songs that changed my life

Comedian, podcaster and heavy metal fan Ed Gamble guides us through his musical history – from System Of A Down to Bell Witch.

Ed Gamble: The 10 songs that changed my life

Ed Gamble bloody loves metal. He might not look it, and has often described himself as having a "Coldplay face", but take one look at his record collection and you'll see it's as grim as Mortiis' dungeon. In fact, listeners to his Radio X show will hear just how savage his music taste can be, with his regular Metal Alarm Call featuring the likes of Pupil Slicer and Every Time I Die.

And when Kerrang! calls Ed to chat about his favourite songs, we find he's spent the past 24 hours reading other people's choices and carefully planning his answers in advance.

"I take this sort of thing very seriously," he tells us. "I can’t drop my cred at this stage. People still don’t believe that I actually know what I’m talking about or that I actually like heavy music, so I need to keep reassuring everyone that that’s the case."

So let's see how his rep holds up…

The first song I remember hearingQueen – Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)

“I’ve got songs I remember hearing that are proper songs, but also there’s obviously absolute bullshit songs like kids’ songs. If you want the truth, I had a tape called Junior Choice Volume 4 that had loads of kids’ songs on it… but if we’re talking proper songs that were exciting, my mum had a tape of Bohemian Rhapsody and I remember putting that on, and I think it was on both sides. I remember just listening to that over and over again on cassette, just flipping it and listening again. There’s nothing else like it – it just completely blows your mind and shows you the possibility of what music can be. It’s barmy that it was ever popular; it’s insane. The only other time I felt like that was the first time I heard System Of A Down: just that eccentricity and the ability to spin off into something completely different, clearly just doing it for themselves rather than appealing to any mass market.”

The song that turned me on to metalSystem Of A Down – Sugar (1998)

“I got into metal via Kerrang!, actually. I just picked it up like, ‘What is going on here? This is a community that I’m completely unaware of.’ I remember reading a System Of A Down live review in there that really took me by surprise. I bought their album based on that live review and the pictures. I just thought it looked absolutely mad so I went and bought it, and Sugar’s obviously the first song on the album, and that got me into heavy music. Then Obsolete by Fear Factory was the album that got me into a different level of metal, rather than just enjoying the nu-metal that all my friends were listening to.”

The song that reminds me of schoolSoulfly – Eye For An Eye (1998)

“Do you remember when everyone was into metal? There were two sweet years in 1998/99, certainly for people my age, where most people in my school were into metal. There was a band who formed in my school called Kalus and they played a gig in my school dining hall one lunch break, and I don’t think the school were expecting the reaction that it got because shit went crazy. People were diving off trestle tables, there was a mosh-pit, it went barmy. The song they opened with that tore the roof off was Eye For An Eye by Soulfly, so that song really reminds me of school. That feeling of school being quite a boring place but then suddenly we were all going absolutely mad – and that song’s absolutely banging. I listened to the album again recently, and I don’t think it gets the credit it deserves.”

The song that reminds me of my first heartbreakNatalie Imbruglia – Torn (1997)

“I remember really, really fancying a girl and I don’t think I did anything about it – I just decided that it would never work out. I went through the whole relationship in my head in one afternoon and decided it would never work out so there’s no point in trying. There was the heartbreak of that, and the heartbreak of having no commitment or gumption to even ask her, and the song that was out at the time – that I bought on single – was Torn by Natalie Imbruglia [Natalie's version is a cover, the song was originally written in 1993 by Scott Cutler and Anne Preven with producer Phil Thornalley – Fun Fact Ed]. The ultimate heartbreak song and still a banger. I went to buy Place Your Hands by Reef and the shop had sold out, so I bought Torn instead. Can you imagine that? They’d sold out of all the Reef!”

My favourite karaoke songJohnny Cash – Hurt (2002)

“During the first lockdown, my girlfriend and I bought a karaoke machine-type thing, and it turns out that my favourite thing to do at karaoke – even if it’s just at home in private – is to sing the most depressing song I can find to really kill the mood. My favourite one is the Johnny Cash cover of Hurt, which I did on New Year’s Eve. We were in a really good mood just doing karaoke, I did the long version of Bat Out Of Hell – which really drags in the middle but is still upbeat – and then at half 11 at night I did Hurt by Johnny Cash, and I think we went to bed before 12. Absolutely spoiled the atmosphere. Part of me really wants to do it at a karaoke night, just to see what I can do to the mood.”

The first song I ever moshed toKorn – Falling Away From Me (1999)

“The first proper gig that I went to was Korn at Wembley Arena in the year 2000. That was an amazing experience and we’d get there so early – I’d never do that now! We used to get to gigs two hours before the doors opened to queue outside, and it was a proper community of people in the queue. Now I’m getting there five minutes before doors open. I’m rushing over from Nando’s to go to Brixton Academy when I see that the queue’s moving. I remember queuing outside Cradle Of Filth and being told that I was going to hell and everyone cheering. I remember queuing for Korn and someone set fire to their pubes. It was a little sideshow out there – someone pulled their trousers and pants down and set fire to their pubes with a cigarette lighter then we all went in and had a great big mosh.

“Before you’re in a mosh-pit, people will tell you that you’re going to die. Especially the general public who don’t know about that sort of thing. Everyone who doesn’t know or like rock music thinks the mosh-pit is just where anyone is standing up. They say, ‘Did you go in the mosh-pit?’ And they mean, ‘Did you stand?’ I had a live Slayer video where they sent someone into the mosh-pit with a camera and it looked like the worst place in the world. Then you realise that’s just a Slayer gig. When you get to Korn it’s fine, people are just excited to be in there. It’s just aggressive hugging, really. When I got in there I remember thinking it’s not that bad and there’s people smaller than me that I can bully!”

The worst song I’ve ever heardEdguy – Lavatory Love Machine (2004)

“This is one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard, but I still quite like it. For a while I waded into the mucky waters of power metal and found Edguy. I saw them support DragonForce at Newcastle University once, and they had a song called Lavatory Love Machine, which was a song about having sex in a plane toilet. Lyrically, it is one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard in my life. They’re primarily a serious band, they’re a power metal band, but to suddenly decide to become Steel Panther with no warning and also no irony, it’s one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard… but when I saw it live I sung along to every word.”

The first song I stick on at a partyIron Maiden – 2 Minutes To Midnight (1984)

“I’m never allowed to be in charge of music at parties: people know that I can’t be trusted with that privilege. If I am allowed a song, Limp Bizkit is the only crossover in you can get away with. But I’m going to pick 2 Minutes To Midnight because when my friend and I were really into Iron Maiden, when we were 15, we thought it would be great when we were at a New Year’s party to put on 2 Minutes To Midnight at two minutes to midnight, thinking everyone would love it, but forgetting that no-one else at that party liked Iron Maiden and that the song is longer than two minutes. By the time it finished, midnight had passed and the whole party was ruined.”

The song that I chill out toKnoll – Callus Of The Maw (2021)

“I feel a lot more chilled out if I’m listening to something horrific. It is the least-chill music ever, but I’m genuinely relaxed when something horrible is happening. It puts me at peace when I listen to the heaviest music imaginable. This is really quite extreme, relentless music, but they will occasionally throw in a more chill-out bit."

The song I want played at my funeralBell Witch – Mirror Reaper (2017)

“The entirety of Mirror Reaper by Bell Witch: it’s a 60-minute song, basically. I want that and I want them to slow down the crematorium curtains, so over the course of an hour they slowly shut. It’s an absolute funeral doom masterpiece and I don’t think my family have heard it before, so my friends and family will be forced to listen to Bell Witch for one full hour as my coffin goes into the crematorium. I’d also like to record a cameo that we can edit in on a bit where it sounds like it’s going to end like, ‘Sit back down it’s not finished yet.’”

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