# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Miscellaneous - Commuting to Lightning Bolt

  by Mark Rowland

published: 30 / 9 / 2006

Miscellaneous - Commuting to Lightning Bolt


In the first in a new series, in which our writers write about the importance of music at memorable times in their lives, Mark Rowland explains how Lightning Bolt has kept him sane throughout commuter hell

I’m starting this series in reverse chronological order, because music has played a very important part in the last week of my life. I have just started a job in South London, the first step on the ladder of my career after my graduation. It is an incredibly exciting and scary time in my life, but at the end of my first week I can say with all certainty that I absolutely love my job – it may not be on a popular film or music magazine, but it’s great all the same. In general, I should be in a fantastic mood right now, and at several points this week I have been. But, it seems that every time I allow myself to enjoy my new position, London public transport stomps up to kick it over. In order to get into work each day, I have to commute from a small, smelly Kentish town called Chatham, which means getting two trains, two trams and a bus. There is a more direct route into work which cuts out one tram, but due to waits for connecting trains, I would end up getting in half an hour late. To describe the people in those trains and trams as "packed in like sardine"’ wouldn’t do it justice. It’s more like trying to pack ten blue whales into the kiddies’ pool at Mote Park Leisure Centre, Maidstone – at least, that how it feels. I have also noticed that generally, most commuters are wankers – like the guy on the tram today, who had a go at some kids because he couldn’t solve his sudoku puzzle. Hardened commuters seem to have very little regard for other people. They push people out of their way without prejudice. They play with their state-of-the-art phones and blare music through their iPods and then shoot judging looks at other people that do the same. The journey home is worse. Currently I am getting home between seven thirty and eight. In between then and five o’clock is a further gruelling battle with public transport and the commuter hordes, generally involving confusing cancellations at inappropriate times. If this piece seems so far like one long rant, that’s probably because it is. There is a point to my ramblings though, and that’s the important role that music has played in defending my sanity from the hard world of commuting. I have tried several different bands to raise my spirits on those long journeys, and three seem to have come out on top. Here they are in reverse order of effectiveness: In at number three is Miles Davis. The textures and subtle moods of Miles’ music are very relaxing in most commuter situations. Unfortunately, this feeling rapidly disintegrates when the tram you are travelling on stops in the middle of nowhere for an age, then spontaneously decides to terminate at the next stop. Parliament are in at number two. ‘One Nation Under a Groove’ in particular is quite good for helping you forget where you are and what’s going on around you. Again, however, they fall down on one small point – when you get off your chosen mode of public transport and start walking to your next waiting point (be it a train station, tram, or bus stop), getting rained on kind of puts out P-funk’s fire. So far, there is only one band that I have found which seems to withstand all that commuting can throw at it, and that’s Lightning Bolt. Their relentless bass-heavy thrash can even brighten up journeys on packed out trains, trams and buses when you are running half an hour late on your second day of your shiny new job. Perhaps the noise helps you channel your frustration at the situation. I have learnt a valuable lesson this week; when commuting, always listen to the heaviest, noisiest music possible – it’s the best way to survive the unbelievable stress of the long London commute.

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