Knuckle Puck’s Joe Taylor: The 10 songs that changed my life

Knuckle Puck frontman Joe Taylor takes a dive into his record collection – from AC/DC to blink-182…

Knuckle Puck’s Joe Taylor: The 10 songs that changed my life
Jake Richardson

Joe Taylor might be the vocalist of one of pop-punk’s finest outfits, but that doesn’t mean his life in music has solely revolved around Warped Tour veterans. Here, the Knuckle Puck leader talks us through everything from classic rock to indie-pop, as well as a smattering of punk, of course…

The first song I remember hearing…Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1971)

“My grandma played a lot of rock and blues when I was a kid. In terms of the first riff I can remember, I think Layla sticks in my mind because the melodies are so strong throughout. When you’re so young, you obviously can’t appreciate the melodic qualities of a song, but it always stuck with me, and thinking back on it now, those undeniable melodies are the reason why.”

The song that reminds me of my childhood…AC/DC – Moneytalks (1990)

“Before I got into punk, I listened to more mainstream rock stuff as a kid, particularly AC/DC and their album The Razors Edge. Moneytalks is such a sweet song, and it reminds me of the fact that Angus Young was the reason I picked up a guitar. I know I can’t play anywhere near as well as him or even in his style, but it’s because of him that I wanted to play.”

The song that got me into punk…The Suicide Machines – New Girl (1995)

“I first heard this song when I was in third grade. It was on the Tony Hawk soundtrack, and when I was playing on my N64 I’d always wait for the minute-long edit of it to come on. I loved it so much that I kept saying to my mom, ‘I need to know who this is.’ This was pre-internet, so she called the record store down the street – I think it was called ‘Coconuts’ – and read them some of the lyrics I’d written down from the song, which they somehow figured out was The Suicide Machines. They had their Greatest Hits CD in, so I went and got it, and that’s how I got into punk rock.”

The first song that I learned to play…blink-182 – Happy Holidays, You Bastard (2001)

“My reasoning behind picking this to learn first was, ‘This song has to be easy, because it’s a joke.’ I couldn’t read tabs, and I tried looking up songs like Josie but they seemed too complicated, so I settled on Happy Holidays, You Bastard. That was the song that made me sit down and think, ‘I can do this,’ and that’s how I ended up being able to play guitar.”

The song that reminds me of young love…The Format – Matches (2006)

“This song has some orchestral elements – it’s got a Wurlitzer and is a little waltzy. It’s the intro track to The Format’s album Dog Problems, and it’s got a real sombre feeling that reminds me of being young and driving around in my crappy car when it was cold outside. Matches really leads me to romanticise that time in my life.”

The song that was the hardest to perfect…Knuckle Puck – the entire Shapeshifter album (2017)

“This whole album was hard, because we hadn’t played a lot of the songs together before we went into the studio, and then we ended up changing a lot, particularly guitar-wise. The songs on Shapeshifter are very intricate, and in practice we’d really have to comb through them to perfect our playing, which made things more difficult when it came to performing them live. It took us a while to feel comfortable playing any of the songs off Shapeshifter.”

My favourite song to play live…Knuckle Puck – What Took You So Long? (2020)

“I really enjoy playing this one. We’ve probably only played it live a dozen or so times at this point because of the world’s circumstances, but What Took You So Long? is definitely the one that comes to mind. It just really feels Knuckle Puck, you know? Across the board it’s got a dynamic to it that’s very ‘us’ – things always feel right when we play that song.”

The best song I’ve ever heard…The Beatles – A Day In The Life (1967)

“This is interesting, because I never used to like The Beatles at all, but then I heard this when I was about 20, and I was like, ‘Whoa, what’s this?’ It really grabbed my attention because of how it’s like two songs in one and it has such a dramatic build – it blew my mind. After that, I went and listened to loads of Beatles songs, and it really flipped my perspective on music. A Day In The Life was a really powerful song for me, and really opened me up in terms of my listening. It really is something else.”

The song I’m proudest of writing…Knuckle Puck – Earthquake (2020)

“It has to be something off our album 20/20, and I think I’d go for Earthquake, because it’s just a really good song. I feel like you could play it anywhere and even people who don’t like rock music would be like, ‘Oh, this isn’t a bad song.’ It’s the kind of song you could use to show off your band at a family dinner party without it feeling really awkward – I can imagine my friend’s mom snapping her fingers to it. Basically, if you’re going to introduce someone to Knuckle Puck, play them stuff off 20/20 before you show them our heavier material.”

The song I want played at my funeral…Weezer – Memories (2010)

“Friends have asked me this question before and it’s honestly such a hard thing for me to think about. So I’m going to approach this from a slightly different angle and go with a song that I feel would soundtrack a video of my life, and that’s definitely Memories by Weezer. It’s crazy fun, a little introspective, but overall a good vibe. Weezer have always had good songs – you can rely on them to deliver the hits!”

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