Influences play a big part in the development of an artist. Their influences shape their music and allow them to inculcate elements they like and mould them into their own unique style, although some bands take this too seriously and lift entire segments in the name of “paying homage” (I’m looking at you Avenged Sevenfold). Blatant copying aside, it is always interesting to listen to a band and try to guess which artists, within and outside rock, have influenced them.
We all know the influence that legendary bands like Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin have had and their continuing legacy. But there are a lot of bands who have gone on to be huge influences despite their relative lack of success. We take a look at some of these bands:
King Crimson: King Crimson are probably the most influential progressive rock band to ever exist. They laid down the rules for future prog bands like excellent musicianship, extended instrumental sections, fusion of various genres and increasing use of technology. The list of bands that have been influenced by King Crimson is like a who’s who of prog rock including older prog rock bands like Yes, Rush and Emerson, Lake & Palmer (each of whom themselves further influenced countless bands) and modern legends like Tool, Porcupine Tree, Primus, Dream Theatre and Between the Buried and Me. Suffice to say that every prog band today has been influenced by them, directly or indirectly.
Diamond Head: Diamond Head are most famous today for being the biggest influence of heavy metal legends Metallica and Megadeth. The two bands regularly cover Diamond Head live. The band has been influential in the development of the thrash subgenre as every member of the Big 4, that also includes Slayer and Anthrax, has admitted to being influenced by them. Combined these four bands have sold over 150 million albums and covered Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil?” during the Big 4 concerts. Their influence gave rise to one the most popular sub genres of heavy metal.
Sonic Youth: Sonic Youth are a noise rock/experimental rock band that formed in 1981. Their unique mix of ambient music with noise rock, space rock and avant garde elements and their hardcore punk inspired ethos have inspired a wide range of modern bands. Bands as diverse as grunge acts Nirvana and Garbage, alt rock band The Smashing Pumpkins, and other bands like Hole, Medicine, AC Temple etc. have all admitted to being influenced by their music.They ushered the use of alternative guitar tunings in rock.
Fear Factory: In a genre as irreverent as metal, Fear Factory are one of the few anomalies as they are highly respected due to their excellent musicianship and ever evolving musical style- ranging from industrial metal to death metal to thrash. They were one of the pioneers of using concept albums to tell a single story, an idea picked up Mastodon, Coheed and Cambria and are regarded as the gateway to heavier music. Bands that have admitted to being influenced by them include Black Sabbath, Machine Head, Chimaira, Strapping Young Lad etc.
The Velvet Underground: Legendary producer Brian Eno underlined their influence best when he said “while the first Velvet Underground album may have sold only 30,000 copies in its early years, everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band”. Lou Reed was always willing to push the boundaries of creativity like using the “ostrich” guitar or penning lyrics on topics such as sexual deviancy, prostitution, drug abuse etc. While total commercial failures at the time, The Velvet Underground’s albums would go on to become underground classics and influence a wide range of bands like The Beatles, The Pixies, David Bowie, R.E.M, Television and every band in the 70’s that you could think of.