FOTM – Alan McKeage

This issue’s Fan of the Month is Mr. Alan McKeage! He has worked as a Reverse Engineering Tech for a Seattle patent troll, and as an Xbox Engineering Tech at Microsoft. It sounds like a cool gig on paper, but no, he does not sit in his underwear at home all day playing video games. Alan is a recovering gearhead and builds beautiful guitars and all-tube guitar amps when time permits. On a sunny day, you might catch him out on Seattle country roads riding his trusty Suzuki Bandit. Alan’s favorite thing to do, though, is spend time with his family. Today, we’re here to discuss the music that moves him. Thanks for your time, Alan!

One Louder Magazine: The desert island question: if you could take the collected works of five artists, who would the five be?

Alan McKeage:
1. Queens of the Stone Age
2. Led Zeppelin
3. The Doors
4. The Beatles
5. The Clash

OLM: Oh man, great list…I love all those bands! Let’s talk about The Clash. Why do they make your desert island five?

 AM: Like all of the bands on my list, they stood out at their time by being somewhat eclectic, yet really powerful. Because they had co-lead singers/songwriters in [Joe] Strummer and [Mick] Jones, they were able to expand by sounding like completely different bands sometimes.  Compare “Lost In the Supermarket” with “Know Your Rights”. That’s a wide spectrum. The Beatles and Queens of the Stone Age also fall into that multi-singer field.

 OLM: Do you remember when (and how) you were introduced to them?

AM: The Clash got me when I was just a kid. Back before MTV and Muchmusic, there was a half-hour show in Canada called The New Music that aired interviews and videos. It was on at 11:00pm, so I’d sneak out of bed to watch it. One night they were interviewing Joe Strummer and showing clips of the movie, The Clash: Rude Boy. They followed up with the video for “London Calling” and I was hooked. I eventually scraped together enough dough to buy the rather expensive double-album masterpiece, London Calling. I even used Clash lyrics for a poetry assignment in high school English.

OLM: Have you had the pleasure of witnessing The Clash live? If so, did the live show live up to your expectations?

AM: No, they never came to my town and I was too young to travel for shows. I did, however, watch them blow everyone away on the first televised US Festival in 1983. This was apparently Mick Jones’ last appearance with The Clash. They made Oingo Boingo seem even more ridiculous.

 OLM: Are there any Clash songs and/or albums that stand out from others?

AM: Well, until I heard Queens of the Stone Age Songs for the Deaf in 2002, London Calling had been my favorite album since 1980.  It’s a double album of nothing but amazing songs. Some people don’t like politics in their music, but I ate it up. Sweet melodies and blazing rock power with a social conscience from start to finish. Awesome!

OLM: The band members were in various post-Clash projects: Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, Mick Jones with Big Audio Dynamite and Paul Simonon with The Good, the Bad and the Queen to name just a few. Did any of these (or other post-Clash projects) do anything for you or is The Clash where it’s at?

AM: I was disappointed in where Mick Jones went artistically. B.A.D. was just bad.  To me, everything they did was based on the [Clash] riff for “Should I Stay Or Should I Go.” I was indifferent to Simonen’s stuff. I liked most of Strummer’s output, but nothing could match early Clash. “Lightning in a bottle”, as they say.


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