"I read these on MusicRadar and often think what I'd have in mine..."
We’re going to level with you here: sometimes, in conducting these '10 records that changed my life' interviews, you run into an artist that has not been briefed on the format and has to wing it. Other times you chat with artists that have slaved over their choices. You Me At Six guitarist Max Helyer most definitely falls into the latter category.
“I read these on MusicRadar, so I’ve seen other people’s lists and often think about what I’d have in mine,” he says. “When I was asked to do this interview I looked at all of my record collection - I’ve got a lot of vinyl. I wanted this list to reflect the journey of my life. It’s a story in music of where I came from.”
So, just as his band drops their brand-new record Night People (out on 6 January via Infectious Music), Max got his thinking cap on and shared with us the 10 albums that shaped his musical path.
1. Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)
"I listened to this a lot growing up, especially with my dad. I’d listen to it a lot in the car with him - it was part of our father-son bond.
"It helped shape the music that I listen to today and it really drew me into guitar music. My dad would always crank it up when Money came on, and he’d say what a great intro it had. This was my introduction into real music made by real musicians that really cared about what they did.
"I kept going back to this record as I got older and took in the concept and the meanings behind the songs. If it wasn’t for this record then maybe a lot of the music I listen to today wouldn’t be around."
2. Nirvana - Nevermind (1991)
"I discovered a lot more rock music as I got older. I remember hearing Smells Like Teen Spirit and the guitar opening. It was rebellious straight away to me.
"It was like nothing I’d ever heard before. I was probably about 10 or 11 when I first heard that and I remember thinking, ‘Why am I just hearing this now?’ Nirvana defined a genre of music, and this is the biggest grunge record of all time.
"This record changed a lot of things in music and the way people looked at music. You can’t ask for much more from a record than going from Smells Like Teen Spirit to In Bloom to Come As You Are. As an opening three tracks that’s not bad, is it?"
3. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication (1999)
"I’d heard the Chilis' singles before, but in secondary school, a friend’s dad gave me two records, one of which was Californication.
"John Frusciante’s playing at times is so wild and out there. Listen to Around The World: there is no time signature to that guitar part. I remember thinking, ‘How the fucking hell do I play this guitar riff?!’ It was jazz, almost. This album taught me that music can be anything - it’s art.
"You go from Around The World to delicate songs like Scar Tissue and Road Trippin’. Those songs resonated with me.
"At low times in my life I’ve gone back to Scar Tissue and then at high points I’ve gone back to the title track, with its uplifting chorus.
"That record is full of singles. That album made me want to go on adventures with my guitar and try different styles. Plus, the complicated basslines showed me that as a guitarist you don’t have to be the main man all of the time."
4. Queens Of The Stone Age - Songs For The Deaf (2002)
"This was the other record that my friend’s dad gave to me. I had this mainstream rock album and then this stoner, sludgy rock record. It sent my mind AWOL.
"I thought ‘What the fuck is this?’ I didn’t get this record at first. But if I hadn’t been handed this record at the same time as Californication then I wouldn’t listen to the music that I listen to now, because it sent me into more of an experimental side of rock.
"I put the first song on and thought, ‘Wow, this is a seriously loud record.’ Then you have No One Knows -that song has stood the test of time. There’s so much aggression to this record.
"This record defined rock music for me, I have no idea how this record has not made more people’s lists. This is an album that really grows with you over time."
5. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm (2005)
"I remember hearing Banquet as I was ending my secondary school life, and this helped open me up to indie rock 'n' roll.
"This album led me to really getting into UK indie music like Oasis, Blur, Kasabian. I was at the time listening to a lot of American music like pop-punk and emo. I went to see Bloc Party when they played two nights at the Astoria on this album and it was amazing.
"The balance in the guitar work on this album really appealed to me: it’s constant back and forth - they would bounce riffs between each other, which I had never really seen players do before."
6. Brand New - The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me (2006)
"When I put this record on for the first time it was totally different to anything Brand New had done before. I needed something new, and this album caught me off guard.
"I was growing older and losing grandparents around this time, and the record had this sentimental feeling of losing people that you loved.
"The lyrics are dark and meaningful and they helped me look at life in a different way. I remember going to see Brand New shows and it was like a reunion of friends - if I went to see Brand New, I knew I would bump into 30 or 40 people that I knew and we’d watch the show together in arms, singing our hearts out."
7. John Mayer - Continuum (2006)
"This record is something I come back to again and again. I’ll have it on while I’m cooking at home, while I’m on the tour bus... I’ll even put this on when I’m going to bed.
"The other guitarist in You Me At Six, Chris and myself, if we’re sitting down drinking we will put this record on and just chat about life. There’s such good musicianship on this album between John Mayer, Pino Palladino and Steve Jordan. This was the first time I really looked at individual musicians and digested what each person was doing.
"I have a connection with the song In Repair. My dad had a heart attack and that song got me through it; he was in repair."
8. Bon Iver - Bon Iver (2011)
"This is very different to the other records on my list. It’s a delicate album.
"I come back to this record on tour and when I’m travelling. I travel a lot with my job and I like to sit there and digest what I’m doing at that point in time. I listened to this record a lot when we were travelling through South East Asia and Australia.
"This record showed me a chilled side of music and made me look outside of the box a little more because it’s not a big rock record with guitars. It’s more about the dynamics and the vocal. It’s quite a spiritual album."
9. Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007)
"I’d heard older Radiohead stuff growing up, but I never really clicked with it.
"I had one day where I was so hungover and walking in the rain and I decided to listen to this album.
"You’ve got something like Bodysnatchers, which is this punishing song, and then something like Weird Fishes, which has the ultimate groove drumbeat - it was so fast but the music was so delicate at the same time.
"I thought, ‘How the fuck have I not got into this band yet?’ I don’t know if being really fucking hungover helped!"
10. Childish Gambino - Awaken, My Love (2016)
"This is a curveball. I put it on and instantly it had that feel like when I listened to Pink Floyd with a big intro and massive songs.
"It reminded me of someone like Prince in a year where we’ve lost so many great artists. Since this record was released, I’ve listened to it at least twice a day.
"It has swagger, jazzy soulful groove and then something like Boogieman which almost has a '70s bluesy, Jimmy Page feel to it. This could be a timeless record."