Australian pop-rocker Ivan Beecroft shares a wealth of similarities with many classic-rock artists. He comes from a working class background, suffered tragedy in his life — and has a sound that belies any residual trauma.
During his stint as a steel worker, Beecroft witnessed the gruesome injury of a colleague on the job site. Later, one of his bandmates was left partially deaf after an attack, rendering him unable to continue playing bass. To top it off, Beecroft also lost someone near and dear to him: his father.
Though these circumstances surely left an imprint on this multi-instrumentalist, they don’t define him. On “Believe,” his latest single, Beecroft juxtaposes his lyrics with a sunny, even bouncy melody, evoking the sunshine pop of the ’60s capped with a ’90s alternative vocal.
Because influences impact artists just as strongly as life events, we wanted to dig a little deeper to find out what five tracks helped Beecroft inform his sound. And, like most other musicians who’ve had to undertake the same task, Beecroft adds a disclaimer. “I really wish I wasn’t restricted to five,” he says, “so that I could add a few more recent artists that have inspired me, such as Post Death Soundtrack and a band called Red Star Deluxe from country Victoria here in Australia whose music greatly inspired what will be my next release.”
1. “Anarchy In the UK” by the Sex Pistols
“‘Anarchy In the UK’ was probably the reason I even bothered to play in bands or stay into music in general. The first band that I played in was called ‘the Sic Boyz’ whose song list consisted of all the songs from the Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols album. I was the drummer in this group, which was pretty much my introduction to punk rock.
“We had no singer for about six months until I spotted ‘Wheels’ (Darren Wheeler) in the local milk bar. You couldn’t mistake this tall, spiky-haired guy in a leather jacket with a hand-painted picture of Wattie Buchan from the Exploited on the back. He walked right past me and went to the counter and asked the shopkeeper for a can of dog food. The owner handed him a can of Pal. He then reached inside his jacket and pulled out a can opener, opened it then grabbed a handful and to my shock started eating it and leering at the bewildered owner. After he left the shop, I chased him down the road and begged him to come and play in our punk band, thus beginning a long musical collaboration.
“I think what really appealed to me about the Sex Pistols was their anti-establishment attitude and the accessibility of their songs. We used to request ‘Anarchy In the UK’ at the local Blue Light disco and go nuts: clearing the dance floor by hurling ourselves at each other, slamming each other and occasionally bouncing off the speakers. I always felt ‘Anarchy In the UK’ showed what a great lyricist John Lydon was, not to mention also being a charismatic frontman. The sarcastic delivery of the vocal I found very appealing at the time and still get inspired by it now.
“Initially, Paul Cook had a very big influence on the way I approach drums in a composition and to a certain degree still does now. The drums in this song are quite simple and Paul Cook’s drum fills were very tasteful and work really well in it. Steve Jones’ guitar solo in the track was also simple but very well constructed. Everyone we knew who was into guitars wanted to achieve the same type of rich distortion that Steve Jones had; even now I still aim for that in my songs.”
2. “Love Me Two Times” by the Doors
“When I first heard the Doors, I was instantly attracted to Ray Manzarek’s keyboard playing and particularly the harpsichord solo in this song. It jumps out at you and draws you in. I have always had a huge respect for Robbie Krieger not only as a musician but also as a songwriter. To think up the riff in this song alone is amazing; it’s just so catchy. Add in the clever mixture of seventh chords, especially the C7 in the chorus, and I’m convinced that this guy was a genius.
“The big factor for me in this tune is Jim Morrison’s distinctive baritone and the way it adds a perfect depth not only to this song but to all of their songs. I especially like the way Jim Morrison used the deeper tones of his voice in the verses then kicked it up a gear in the chorus. It’s simple and dynamic but really works well with most songs to make the chorus stand out. I use this type of dynamic a lot as I am right into the simple but effective mindset when it comes to a vocal part in any of my songs.
“One thing that has always intrigued me about the Doors was their impeccable taste and musical knowledge to have such great and slightly unusual chord progressions and arrangements. I remember learning to play ‘The Crystal Ship’ on the guitar and being in total awe of the chord progression.”
3. “In Bloom” by Nirvana
“I like nearly all [of] what Nirvana did, so it was such a hard choice; all their songs were great. The reason I chose ‘In Bloom’ is that it is such a great example of the effective use of dynamics. The deadpan vocal in the verse attached to a great melody is truly inspiring. Keeping the guitar dynamic matching the vocal adds to the contrast in this track. The brilliance of Kurt Cobain’s skill as a songwriter can never be overstated: you only have to look at the way an artist treats a simple idea to know how great they truly are. Right down to the choice of chords and simple arrangement, this song has it all.
“My first reaction when I heard this song was to go running to the nearest amplifier, pick up a guitar and start playing along with it. What was really inspirational to me, and probably a lot of other musicians, was not only was it simple, it was totally accessible, as was a lot of their music.
“You can’t ever talk about being inspired by this band without mentioning Dave Grohl’s drumming. He was the drummer everyone wanted in their band, me included. It was, again, the simplicity of even the drums that made me sit up and take notice, but it was delivered in such a ferocious manner that the energy coming off the stage would send you reeling. The simplicity of Nirvana’s music has definitely had an effect on the way I write songs.”
4. “Firewoman” by the Cult
“A housemate and work colleague first introduced me to this song. I still remember him driving us to work in a two-door V8 Holden Monaro with this song cranked up to 11. At the time, I was playing a lot of guitar, so this tune became a great way to let off steam after working all day in a steel factory. It just rocked so hard it had me bouncing off the walls.
“I always loved the distinctive flanger on the guitar in the intro to build into the power chords to kick this song off — great classic build-up for a rock song. I’ve always been a huge fan of Bob Rock, who produced this track, right down to the work he did with Aerosmith and Motley Crue, he is just a fantastic rock producer. The lead singer, Ian Astbury, ended up touring with the Doors later in his career — another good reason to give him the number-four spot.
“I watched the video for ‘Firewoman’ recently and was reminded what a charismatic frontman he was in this band. His vocals have this raw energy about them and an unmistakable tone. The Cult has left a lasting impression on me due to the way they managed to capture this raw energy in a guitar rock song like the way they did in ‘Firewoman.'”
5. “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd
“A girlfriend introduced me to this song when I was heavily into punk rock. My first reaction was I thought it was very slow, and I didn’t get what was so special about it. After a few listens, I began to appreciate how talented these guys were.
“The first thing that stood out was how incredible the lead guitar is in this song. I truly believe that Dave Gilmour is one of the best lead guitarists on the planet. ‘Comfortably Numb’ has one of my favorite lead solos in it. Dave Gilmour’s choice of notes and phrases still blows my mind every time I listen to it. So when it comes to playing a guitar solo, my aim is to try to get it to sing like Dave Gilmour does in ‘Comfortably Numb.’
“This song and, in particular, the sound of the guitar itself has inspired me often to really look at a guitar solo in terms of an art form in itself and to really search for that kind of emotion that ‘Comfortably Numb’ evokes. It also makes me wish he was my next door neighbor so he could drop in for an English Breakfast tea and lay down some of that magic on my latest track.
“I also picked this track due to the sense of space that seems to be created by Nick Mason’s laid-back drumming and Pink Floyd’s ambient sound in general. It has been very influential on the way I approach the recording process and how [I] create space and ambiance in some songs that I’ve recorded.”