My Life In Music, with Kettle writer Al Smith

For most people, music is one of the most important things in life. It can inspire you, fill you with joy or even make you cry. But different music affects us all in different ways. Each week, I interview one of our writers or editors about the impact music has had on their life. This week, I talk to Kettle writer Al Smith about his life in music.

Describe your taste in music in three words.

Pretentious, lyrical, excellent!

What’s your favourite musical genre?

Indie Rock and Roll-ish stuff if I can have that.

Your favourite band?

Arctic Monkeys.

What was the first album you ever bought?

I think the first album I ever bought myself was Demon Days by Gorillaz. It was certainly a very early album anyway.

First gig you went to?

Razorlight at the MEN in Manchester.

What was the last song you listened to?

As of right now it’s ‘Burn The Witch’ by Radiohead, their new track released a few days ago. It’s going to grow on me I think.

Which musicians do you admire?

I admire musicians as a whole actually. Most, if not all, just tour and gig because that’s what they enjoy doing. All start out not being famous and maybe not even working towards that goal. I think most people in life just get a job they don’t enjoy to get money. Musicians are often the other way around.

What’s your opinion on music videos?

I ascribe to Noel Gallagher’s thinking, that they’re a bit of a waste of time. It’s the song that’s the important bit. If someone makes something unique or funny I might watch it, but normally I just don’t bother watching them.

In your opinion, what’s the most annoying song of all time?

I don’t even know its name; that one with the bloody animal noises and it ends with the fox.

Who do you think is the most overrated band/artist out there?

I tend to think that the charts are a bad indication of what’s actually popular. I’m sure the top few songs are a fair indication, but streaming’s come a long way now and digital downloads are falling. It might be a bit of a biased view but I think most of what languishes near the bottom of the top 40 (and some at the top) is rubbish.

Where do you find new music?

Either Youtube suggestions on stuff I’m already listening to or reading about new music on NME.

Rock or pop?


Classical or heavy metal?

I don’t listen to either but I’d probably side with heavy metal if I had to.

What song will always cheer you up?

Anything off London Grammar’s album because it just reminds me that we must be getting closer to their next one, which has been ages in the making.

What song always makes you cry?

There’s a Sunderland-based band called The Lake Poets that I went to see recently and his songs are very emotional, but during his gig he told the backstories behind them and I was rather close then. If you’re interested give ‘Black And Blue’ a listen…he used to be a teacher so I’m sure you can figure it out.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?

Dave Grohl and Frank Turner have both said there’s no such thing. If you like it, then you like it and forget what anyone else thinks. I quite like that way of thinking.

What does music mean to you?

Hard to answer without sounding daft, but I think music is incredibly versatile. It allows you to remember people or places, can make you feel things or simply just be a time waster, it varies for different people and that’s the key thing about it.

What do you love most about music?

I love lyrics the most. It can have a catchy tune and I’ll listen to it a bit, but anything that lasts for me is something poetic or with a great story.

If you could sit down for a chat with any musician (dead or alive) – who would it be?

David Bowie. I’m currently writing my dissertation about him (I started it before he died!) so that would be useful, but he was such an innovator and from interviews I’ve seen he seemed like a very intelligent man.

Tell us your best musical memory.

T in the Park festival was pretty good, particularly when Noel Gallagher started playing Oasis tracks. Everything Everything were surprisingly good live this year as well.

What’s your best musical memory? Tell us about your life in music in the comments below!