Riffs. You don’t need a lot more than stone cold killer riffs to make your way into the halls of rock Valhalla. The riffs don’t even have to be clever. You don’t have to be Eddie Van Halen or Yngwie Malmsteen to cop a killer riff.
Sure other things are important too. Tone, how long you go on, you’re gonna need a singer and a song. But without a riff? Well there’s not much to work with in the rock world if you haven’t got one.
Lit had one for My Own Worst Enemy. They had a riff that would define their whole band, their album A Place In The Sun and elevate their little pop punk ditty to immortal status.
I went to see Lit in 1999 play this to around 70 thousand kids from a festival stage in glorious sunshine and it was a thrilling experience. The rest of their set was decent. They could play, they had other tunes. They had that ‘band in the ascending’ air about them and when they played My Own Worst Enemy it went OFF!
“Can we forget about the things I said when I was drunk? I didn’t mean to call you that. I can’t remember what was said or what you threw at me, Please tell me, please tell me why?”
Boom! Instant mosh pit. Bouncing happy faces and an undeniable truth. That riff is a classic. Like a killer Kiss, Deep Purple or Buzzcocks single right at the end of the century.
Cut to 20 years later. I’m at a kids party as a responsible adult and that song finds it’s way onto the playlist alongside indie floor fillers, current alternative pop hits and classic rock anthems. Boom! It goes off again.
Kids who are younger than the record themselves are singing every word and jumping around. I was not aware Lit had survived the Millennium. And yet here we were surrounded by dancing teenagers having it large to many of the same tunes that have done the business for the last quarter century.
My Own Worst Enemy is still on MTV Rocks in heavy rotation I’m assured. And Scuzz TV and Kerrang! TV. The video is a classic I’m informed.
“Lit are Lit” one high schooler tells me. For the first time in my life I make the connection between the current popular slang and the band name. Dang! Even these kids ‘cool speak’ is decades old.
Do they feel like they have nothing of their own or like everything in the full history of time belongs to them? Oh wait. I remember dancing to The Doors and Alice Cooper when their records were 20 to 30 years old. Nope. Things have always been this way.
I look at Doug who’s eyeing up the sandwiches while his daughter runs around the place having the time of her life. He’s crushing Walker’s Crisps into a cheese and white bread triangle like it’s the only thing that’s going to get him through this sobering experience. I’m necking Cherry Cola like it’s got rum in it. We’re holding it together as ‘grown ups’ to the children around us. Just.
“Do you remember Punk Day, Reading ’99?”
‘I was just thinking the same thing’
Dunna Nun Nun Nun Nun Nun Nun Nun, Dunna Nun Nun Nun Nun Nerr Nerr.
A Timeless Classic. And no mistake.