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Deafheaven’s George Clarke: The 10 Songs That Changed My Life

Deafheaven frontman George Clarke shares the most memorable music from his life

An exploration of the key points on the musical map of Deafheaven frontman George Clarke‘s life so far. Warning: contains gloom…

The first song that I remember hearing…

Duran Duran – Ordinary World (1993)

“I remember hearing this Duran Duran song specifically, because my mom had a CD single that had the song and a remix on it – back when they still sold CD singles. I remember jamming out to that in our living room, which is one of my very first life memories as well.”

The song that reminds me of my childhood…

Radiohead – Karma Police (1997)

“My mom was quite young when she had me. She was still in her youth in the mid-’90s when I was a kid, so she was really clued-in on music. Radiohead has always been her favourite band, so I remember [1997 album] OK Computer being played all the time in our house. The video for this song was such a big deal when it came out, and I remember us watching it together.”

The song that got me through high school…

Sigur Rós – Untitled 4 (Njósnavelin) (2002)

“High school was the biggest time for my musical exploration. Before then, I mainly listened to punk and metal, but then I got this record. When it came to my attention it had been out a couple of years already, but it showed me something new, that I totally didn’t understand. It was me moving beyond metal and beyond things that I’d read about in magazines, to find my own path and my own music tastes. This was a breakthrough record for me.”

The song that made me want to be in a band…

Slayer – Seasons In The Abyss (1990)

“This song and album sticks out in my head. My friend Miguel and I were obsessed with it. It’s still my favourite Slayer record. When I heard it for the first time I was like, ‘I have to do this, or be a part of music in some way.’ It was so fast, and when you’re a kid and you hear something like that for the first time, it feels completely crazy and inspiring. Seasons… has a real dark feel to it, but in a way, it’s also mature compared to previous Slayer stuff. It’s the one that I jammed the most and I think because of that ferocity, it triggered something deep in me to create music myself. I fell in love with the frantic, frenzied nature of it all.”

The first song that I ever learned to play…

Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train (1980)

“Technically, I didn’t even learn the song, I just learned the main riff, because it is the riff that every young guitar player wants to learn. I don’t even know where I got them from now, but I was getting guitar tabs off some website when the internet was still a bit primitive. It’s a testament to [late Ozzy guitarist] Randy Rhoads that this riff is so iconic. How many people get to say they’ve written an iconic riff?”

The hardest song to play live…

Deafheaven – Canary Yellow (2018)

“It’s between this and Vertigo [from 2013’s Sunbather], and it’s because they’re both so long (laughs)! We always make sure to put them in the middle of the setlist. We get to about 20 or 30 minutes in and I look at what’s coming next and I’m like, ‘Oh man, here’s a fucking 14-minute bruiser!’ I mean, they’re both great and I love playing them, but they’re crazy songs.”

The song I always nail at karaoke…

K-Ci & JoJo – All My Life (1997)

“I honestly don’t know why, but for some reason I’ve always gravitated towards doing this song, and probably will for many more years to come. It’s actually pretty touching, but it’s also really cheesy. I remember the video quite clearly, where they’re dressed in suits and there’s this amazing grand piano. It’s a classic, but I’m sure there’s a bit of irony to it as well.”

The song that picks me up when I’m down…

Hilary Woods – Kith (2018)

“When the seasons start to change, the weather turns a little colder and the mood is a bit more melancholy, this record is totally perfect. I absolutely love it, and Kith is my favourite song from it. Hilary Woods is excellent.”

The song I wish I had written…

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – And No More Shall We Part (2001)

“This is just an amazing song. It has a trio of singers that are doing this chanting, poetic verse at the end of the track over and over. It’s totally mesmerising. The lyrics to that section especially are also beautiful, and they’re very Nick Cave. In my view, this is an absolute classic.”

The song I would like played at my funeral…

Max Richter – Dream 3 (In The Midst Of My Life) (2015)

“This is a real downer, but it’s a great song. There are no frills about it. Like the Hilary Woods record, it’s actually a go-to song for me when the weather starts to change. It makes me feel kind of sad, but in a quite peaceful way, so hopefully my funeral will reflect that a little bit. It’s definitely a real tearjerker of a song.”

Posted on May 4th 2020, 4:00pm
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