Sound & Vision with Stephen Babcock

The prism through which we form our understanding of the cornerstones of the human condition is a perpetually shifting lens that only enlarges its gaze with the passing of time. The older we get, the more it is formed by our experiences, from the bitter to the sweet, the heart breaking to the joyous, the mournful to the celebratory. Stephen Babcock’s sophomore record, When We Were Kids Ourselves, is shaped by this more mature view, and tries to come to peace with the fact that despite expectations, it is ok not to have it all figured out.

Stephen spoke to us about the art that shaped his music, in the latest installation of our Sound & Vision feature:

Three Albums you love

 In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 – Coheed and Cambria

As a 13-year-old kid living in Upstate NY in the mid-2000s, this record was my first foray into teenage emo angst. Throughout my childhood, I had the opportunity to play various musical instruments, but I discovered this album around the same time I started playing the drums. This record immediately made me want to start a pop punk band (shout out to my childhood band ‘Subject to Change’) and it was one of the first albums that I personally bought with money I earned mowing the lawn and doing chores around the house. There’s a special place in my heart for 2000s pop punk that I don’t think will ever go away and this album is certainly the reason why.

Room For Squares- John Mayer

I first heard this album when my older brother bought it back in 2001. I remember sneaking into his room at our parent’s house and taking it when he was out and listening to it in my Wal-Mart CD player my parents got me. I was 10 years old, but the album made me really understand music in some strange, profound way. It’s the first album I also remember actually choosing to listen to on my own over and over again (not just a CD my parents put on or gave me as a hand-me-down). Most importantly of all, this record is the reason why I picked up a guitar and started writing music. John Mayer has plenty of amazing albums, but to me, this is a perfect album and one I could always listen to.

The Walls are Way Too Thin- Holly Humberstone

When I first heard this album, I knew I wanted to make a record in a very similar fashion. My new album, When We Were Kids Ourselves was really inspired by the sonic landscaping that this album brings in. I think Holly is a really great rising talent and someone I really respect as a writer. I feel like each song on this record was also perfectly crafted to be where it needs to be. It’s not often I put on an album and then am shocked it’s over; this is one of those records.

Favourite film:

Lost in Translation

Throughout my life, I have had an obsession with Japan. Everything about the culture I find extremely interesting, and it’s the one place around the world that I desperately want to visit. When I first saw this movie at about 15 years old, I was overwhelmed with awe at the visual scope of the film. As I got older, I started to really identify with the feeling of ‘being lost in a crowd’ that this film brings. Especially as a touring artist, life on the road is a very lonely experience. I may not be Bill Murray staying at the Grand Hyatt in Tokyo, but, as an artist, I really identify with his plight of trying to find ones-self in a strange land. This may be the only film I could watch every day and never get tired of. To me, it’s a masterpiece.

Favourite book:

Post Office – Charles Bukowski

After college, I moved to New York City with a few friends. As anyone who lives in NYC knows, the commutes on the subway can often be long due to the terrible MTA service, delays, and general mishaps that occur daily. My roommate Jesse had an entire library’s worth of books, so I asked him if he could recommend a book to borrow for my commutes each day. He handed me Post Office by Charles Bukowski and, let’s just say, I never looked back. Within the span of three months, I had read every single novel by Charles Bukowski, as well as a few of his poetry books. His work was so inspiring to me that I even wrote a song on my last record called Bukowski in honor of him. It’s hard to choose a favorite amongst the crass realism of Bukowski’s novels, but Post Office was the first novel of his I read, so it holds a special place in my heart.

A song they couldn’t live without:

Happy to Be Stuck With You – Huey Lewis & the News

I chose this mainly because of my dad. I have so many special memories of him putting this song on in the car on the way to the beach or while doing yard work around the house. My dad has always been my main musical inspiration and was the person who got my brothers and me involved in music at a very early age. Every time I hear this song, I am immediately transported back to being seven years old, in the car, with my dad’s voice singing along to the chorus. I couldn’t live without this song because it’s just a pure time machine back to my youth and I love it for that.

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