‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ by Guns N’ Roses
I honestly don’t remember when I first heard this, but it was instantly cool. It’s dirty, raw and primitive, and if you do it right then people feel it immediately. There’s something to be said for primitive experiences. I’m not necessarily a fan of Guns N’ Roses themselves or any particular band, but I like this one. Personally, I like classical music – Mozart, Chopin, and people like that. But I know rock. I’ve been running this band for almost 20 years on and off, and we’ve played all over the world – places like Mexico, Canada and Hong Kong.
‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana
When Nirvana came out, they were truly inspirational and brought something totally fresh to rock music. It’s hard to pinpoint what makes this track work, though. The melody and hook aren’t as strong as ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, but it’s got some unknowable thing about it that makes it stay in your head. This is one of those songs we can do regularly. Whereas there are some, like ‘Zombie’, that are cool songs but you get a bellyful of them quickly. Would Kurt Cobain approve of me covering his work? I don’t know – he was a strange dude so it’s hard to know what he would be thinking, but I hope he would.
‘Summer Of ’69’ by Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams isn’t my favourite artist, but every time we play ‘Summer Of ’69’, people go crazy. I think the thing about him is that he’s down to earth. Nirvana are cool, but it’s kind of abstract and weird. Bryan Adams sings about everyday things that people can relate to. It’s got a strong melody and it’s easy to like. We play these songs to get the crowd in a froth.
‘All Summer Long’ by Kid Rock
One thing about Rock Bottom is that learning new songs can be a wasted effort because they want something that’s tried and true. But of the newer songs, ‘All Summer Long’ is huge. I don’t like everything Kid Rock does, but the ones I do like are way cool. He’s brilliant in this one – he’s mixed the song with ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, which is one of those songs that will never, ever go away.
‘Low’ by Flo Rida
I like ‘Low’ because it works – I don’t have to like a song, but if it performs well with the crowds I’ll learn to like it quickly. Nothing succeeds like success. What I like about ‘Low’ is that it will move audiences in a different way. People like straight rock all night, but if you mix R&B in there as well then the two complement each other. Rock is kind of intense, and people are into it, but if you play R&B then people will physically move and dance. The hardcore rock people might say, ‘What is this c**p?’ But that’s OK. They might not know it but it’s good for them, because when the rock comes back they can get excited as well.
James Wilkinson. Max Tempo play Rock Bottom Cafe every Sat-Mon and Wed-Thu