Five Albums That Changed My Life: Alan Robert of Life of Agony
Life of Agony bassist Alan Robert's art education background has really come in handy these past few years. In 2010 his comic book series, 'Wire Hangers,' became a favorite with horror lovers and this year he unveiled 'Crawl to Me,' his latest foray into the gory fiction universe. Robert also started a production company called Wasted Talent Entertainment to help realize a live-action film of the 'Wire Hanger' story. Besides his work in fiction, the Brooklyn-bred artist has been keeping busy with Life of Agony, touring Europe just this past summer. Noisecreep caught up with Robert and asked him to take part in our 'Five Albums That Changed My Life' series.
'Retaliation,' Carnivore (1987)
'There would be no Life of Agony without the existence of Peter Steele's Carnivore. Long before Type O Negative, Carnivore were local legends where I grew up in Brooklyn, NY and they helped shape the scene for all of us. 'Retaliation' was so influential for me because it was the first time that I was exposed to such violent and raw sounding music. They were pioneers in a sense, because they were combining their incredibly fast thrash sections with half-time breakdown parts. A lot of other bands from the area followed that same formula, including Life of Agony and my friends, Biohazard. But the thing that sucked me in especially were Peter's guttural vocals. His lyrics were controversial, cutting edge and completely memorable. His delivery was unreal. One of my favorite lines from the record is from the song 'Inner Conflict' where Pete screams, "Every hole in my body drips blood." It's completely awesome stuff.'
'Double Platinum,' KISS (1978)
"This double-album collection had me hooked from the first note of 'Calling Dr. Love.' As a kid, this was the first record I ever bought with my own money, so I'll never forget it. It was sitting in the bargain rack at the local McCrory's five and dime. I think it was going for like $3.99. Evan Seinfeld from Biohazard was a few years older than me at the time (I was about eleven) and he was way into KISS. We were good friends growing up and he'd actually watch me after school when my parents were still at work. Anyway, he had Gene Simmons posters all over his bedroom, so that's pretty much how I got turned on to KISS. I remember cracking open the piggy bank and buying that vinyl. I ran home to throw it on the turntable when no one was home. I cranked the volume as high it could go. It sounded so incredibly heavy to me when Ace's guitar punched in. 'God of Thunder' was up next and basically blew the house down. From then on, I started wearing those spiked wristbands whenever I listened to the record and would play air-guitar, jumping around my room. Man, I still get a great feeling hearing those songs. It brings me back."
'The Final Cut,' Pink Floyd (1983)
"This is one of those albums that I used to listen to in my cassette Walkman and just zone out to. Roger Waters' vocals and lyrics struck a nerve with me, especially in songs like 'The Gunner's Dream' and 'Paranoid Eyes.' Lyrically, this album was a huge influence on what I wrote for Life of Agony's debut, 'River Runs Red.' There was a kind of desperation in Waters' voice that is rarely captured on albums today. It's that vulnerability and raw passion that I gravitate to. I know 'The Wall' is considered Pink Floyd's all-time classic, but for me, 'The Final Cut' is the best of the bunch. I love the all the Floyd records, but this one was definitely the most influential in terms of my own songwriting."
'Walk Among Us,' Misfits (1982)
"As a kid, while listening to Metallica I'd always see James and Kirk constantly wearing Misfits shirts in the rock mags back then, so I got curious and went to my local Brooklyn record store (Zig Zag Records) and bought two Misfits albums on vinyl. I picked up 'Walk Among Us' and 'Earth A.D.' This was my first time hearing anything like it. It was trashy, punk, melodic and completely catchy all at the same time. From the opening chants of '20 Eyes' I was hooked. I dug the whole look and imagery associated with the band, too, from the Crimson Ghost logo to the band member's devil-locks and custom-built guitars. The band seemed larger than life and each of them was like a comic book character to me. I remember hunting down bootleg VHS tapes of their early concerts (with Glenn Danzig on vocals) and even though the recordings were fuzzy and barely audible, I couldn't stop watching them. Life of Agony ended up touring with The Misfits (with Michale Graves on vocals) in the nineties and it was awesome seeing and hanging with Jerry Only and Doyle every day. I still have a Doyle action figure which the guys gave me, sitting on my desk in my office."
'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols,' Sex Pistols (1977)
"The Sex Pistols were my introduction to punk music and Sid Vicious made an everlasting impression on me. He's probably the main reason why I picked up the bass in the first place. Yeah, I realized early on that he couldn't play the bass to save his life, but his punk rock attitude overshadowed his inabilities. Songs like 'Pretty Vacant' and 'Bodies' were my favorites, but I would play this record non-stop growing up. Seeing the movie 'The Great Rock & Roll Swindle' further ingrained the whole Sex Pistols attitude into my brain and I did my best to learn all I could about Sid Vicious. I visited the infamous Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan (the place where Nancy Spungen was murdered) just to try and get a glimpse of punk rock history. A few years ago, I got a Sid Vicious tribute tattooed on my arm... God Save the Queen!"