Stephen Taverner is a friend of the independent music sector.
These days, the East City Management founder looks after the likes of alt-J and Wolf Alice – two acts who have achieved what so many in our community aspire to: top-level commercial success without ever selling out on their independent principals.
East City also manages the fast-emerging Will Joseph Cook, but Tav will be well known to many in the industry as the man who looked after Ash through their rise towards the top of the charts.
Below, we present the 15 tracks which Tav says changed his life for your listening pleasure.
But before that, he explains why five of these songs mean so much to him…
Aged 10 years old, I found this 7” in my stepmother’s record collection.
I figured out how to work the record player (when she wasn’t around) and played it over and over.
I don’t know why I became so addicted to this song, but maybe something in the lyrics resonated with me.
Either way, it was the start of an education that continues to educate me today.
After leaving school, I went to New York to stay with a friend who had recently moved there from Sheffield.
We would blag our way into clubs like Danceteria and World, using our English accents and ridiculous hairstyles as a means of skipping the queue to get in for free. One night, we used this form of currency to blag our way into a sold out Ramones show at The Ritz (now known as Webster Hall).
I had been mildly into their music as a teenager and now, seeing them live for the first time, I couldn’t believe how much violence there was from the stage-hands towards any fan that dared to get up on stage.
It was a pitched battle that raged throughout the entire show.
Throughout, the band just played on, no breaks between songs and I just couldn’t get enough. It was punk theatre at its best.
I left Sheffield and enrolled in a Production and Audio Engineering course at SAE on Holloway Rd towards the end of 1984.
An unknown Tim Simenon was in my class and we paired-up for a tape editing session one day. We were messing around with tape loops and he asked me if I wanted to hear a new tune he had just recorded at home.
I stuck my headphone jack into his Walkman and we pretended to be editing the tape loops, whilst I listened to the song. What he played me was a really long version of ‘Beat Dis’. He said he was going to try and get it released.
It sounded incredible, cut-up and pasted bits of hooky vocal samples over the top of a really strong beat.
Little did I know, the following year, I would be packing boxes with thousands of copies this song (and subsequent album) to ship all over the world from the Rough Trade Warehouse…
In the Rough Trade Warehouse, there were two massive speakers, a turntable and an amp.
All of us that worked there would sometimes literally fight to get records on the turntable. Racks full of the most incredible music surrounded us, with new albums arriving daily from labels like Creation, Blast First, Mute, and One Little Indian etc.
Then, one day, an album called, ‘Come On Pilgrim’ by Pixies arrived in the warehouse. It stopped most of us in our tracks. Quite a few of us at Rough Trade became obsessed with them.
This song is from the follow-up album. I have fond memories of various punks, hippies and skinheads screaming along to this as they packed record boxes.
My first management clients were Ash.
I managed the band for 17 years and I guess, like your first love, I still get a bit misty-eyed when I hear songs like ‘Shining Light’ being played out somewhere.
It was a song that brought the band back from the brink of being dropped by their label.
The recording of the album it spawned, ‘Free All Angels’ and subsequent touring schedule, would almost kill us all and, regretfully, killed a number of personal relationships.
Listen to Stephen’s life’s playlist below, and check out other playlists put together by our friends in the independent music community through here.
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