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Albums That Changed My Life: Nick Diener (The Swellers)

This week's slice of "Albums That Changed My Life" goodness comes from The Swellers frontman Nick Diener!

The band are currently on tour in support of their recently released "Running Out Of Places To Go" EP. All dates and ticket information can be found here.

Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell II // Michael Jackson - Dangerous

The year was 1992. I was 5 years old and just discovered what a compact disc was. I was so excited by the idea that my parents went out and bought my brother and I a Michael Jackson and MC Hammer CD. Needless to say, one stuck a lot more than the other. We'd never heard anything like it. The King Of Pop had us captivated.

A year later, when I turned 6, my friend Ray came over with some more CDs. Times were simpler back then and we'd just sit around next to my stereo, headbanging, waiting for swear words. The record that got us the most pumped was Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell II. I'd say it was my first real taste of rock and roll. Granted, the songs were almost all at least 10 minutes long, but we didn't notice or care. The songs were the definition of "epic", a term that idiot kids throw around FAR too loosely these days. Bat II was the first CD I bought in the store with my own money. The record store clerk was pretty baffled at how much this 6-year-old loved him some Meat.

Nirvana - From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah

Soon after my Meat Loaf kick had started (it still hasn't ended), I discovered Nirvana. A band that played a style of rock music that sounded so big and loud. Seeing them play "Lithium" on one of the MTV awards made me realize that rock songs didn't need to be 10 minutes long, and you were allowed to smash your guitar at the end. It seemed so cool how apathetic Kurt Cobain was while he sang his heart out at the same time. Now, I could have said "Nevermind" changed my life, or even "In Utero", but "Wishkah" was their live record and to this day I prefer a lot of their live versions of the songs to the album versions. My desire to make raw, loud music came from these 3 guys. It was a shame I got into them months before Kurt passed.

Nada Surf - High/Low

I was in 4th grade and it was the first time I went out and bought a record based on a friend simply saying "you should go get this". The song "Popular" was very huge at the time, and definitely a weird song, but I figured the rest of the record couldn't be that bad if that song was so cool. Well, the rest of the record did NOT sound like Popular. It was more Nirvana-esque than the music that was coming out at the time, so I was immediately drawn in. The melodies were cool, and the dynamics were all over the place. It got really quiet and emotional, then really loud and abrasive. To be honest, I skipped half the record's songs whenever I listened to it. They didn't do anything for me until 15 years later (sounds crazy, but it's true). Zen Brain is one of my all-time favorite songs. I would listen to it every single day before I rode my bike to school. A weird turn of events.. years later I discovered Nada Surf was still a band and making records. Turns out, I love every single one of their releases and I finally got to see them play live recently. Top three favorite bands of all time, hands down.

No Use For A Name - More Betterness

If you've heard The Swellers, it's obvious that we all discovered punk rock music at some point. For me, it was really early on when cousins showed me that there was more out there than what was played on MTV. I loved that so much. I loved that I could have my "own" music without every jerk at school knowing about it. I loved that the bands could sing about whatever they wanted, not worrying about if it got on the radio or not. I quickly became a fan of dozens and dozens of great punk bands, but No Use For A Name really stuck out to me. It was fast and aggressive but it had the best vocal melodies I had ever heard. To this day, Tony Sly is one of my favorite songwriters. When The Swellers started, we decided "let's sound like No Use". Then the band was formed. Took us awhile to learn how to play fast and tight enough, but "More Betterness" is probably the reason my band exists. The reason I get to tour the world and continue making songs. Such a tragedy to lose Tony Sly. The death of a musician has never effected me so much. It was great to see so many people coming out of the woodwork that really loved his songs and his band. On this tour, we've been collaborating with Strung Out and played two No Use covers during our sets. In Oklahoma City, No Use's bassist Matt Riddle came to the show and joined us onstage for these songs. There's no words to describe how that made us feel.

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