The digital age is cool and all, but the CD made its impact on our shelves and in our early music years. Pentimento drummer Mike Hansen takes us through his early CD collection, from Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” to early AFI.

Mike Hansen: In my time as what I like to think of as an “avid music listener”, I’d like to imagine that there’s nothing that I’ve gotten into that I’d be embarrassed about if someone were to browse through my music collection and catch me with. I try to put it into perspective like this: No matter what I used to listen to, it got me where I am as a musician, and human being, and that’s enough to consider every band, artist, or song I’ve listened to as an influence to some degree. I should be proud of the things I enjoy listening to, because it’s helped to shape me and my ambition as someone who plays in a band. However, when I reflect on my younger years, there’s a few things that come to mind that I sort of cringe at.

The first time I had any sort of music in a tangible form was in elementary school. My good friend Jake stole his older sister’s TLC “Crazy, Sexy, Cool” cassette tape and gave it to me because he thought I’d think it was cool…which I did…and still do. I listened to that tape in secret for weeks, until my 10th birthday. I got a new bike, Mortal Kombat 3 Ultimate for SNES, and more pogs than I knew what to do with, and a personal CD player. I was probably more excited than I’d ever been in my life. It was clear, so you could watch the disc spin around. As if that wasn’t enough, my parents got me 3 CDs to go with it. Alanis Morissette “Jagged Little Pill”, No Doubt “Tragic Kingdom”, and Green Day “Dookie”. I don’t think I stopped listening to those CDs at all until they became so over-used that they stopped working. After that, I was completely hooked. I NEEDED CDs, and lucky for me – I had the most awesome baby sitter in the world who was a bit older, a bit more mature, and certainly WAY cooler. She got me into hanging out at the mall, wearing nothing but black, and bands like KoRn, Limp Bizkit, and Sevendust – which led me to a bunch of other shitty nu-metal bands that I loved so much as a kid. A little while down the line, Jackie started to change. She started listening to music that was a lot faster, more aggressive, and just plain different than what I thought was the pinnacle of music as I knew it. Around that time, I also started getting into playing the drums and hanging out with friends outside my neighborhood. Those friends, along with my genre-trading baby-sitter shared one thing in common: Punk rock.

For my 13th birthday, a friend of mine named Jim gave me my first AFI album. He told me he figured I’d enjoy it because the singer and I both dressed like idiots. After some much needed musical cleansing, I got into what I felt was my foundation as a musician and music listener alike. AFI was the band that changed the game for me, and I’ll never ever stop appreciating the impact they had on me as a kid, and still today. I got into bands like Rancid, NOFX, Hot Water Music, Small Brown Bike, and a million others thanks to the doors that AFI had opened up for me. Without their initial spark, or the fact that I’m lucky enough to get music in some form on my birthday, i’m not sure the influences that I hold so close would exist.

Admittedly, I still check up on the bands I listened to back in the day just to see if they’re still around or still making music. Every once in a while, my curiosity seems to lead me to these dark corners of the internet where Mushroom Head and Slipknot videos are watched with a silent sense of shame…like getting caught masturbating by your parents or something. You know what happened, you’ll never feel comfortable with it, but it’s not gonna stop you from touching yourself. I guess my point is that the idea behind “guilty pleasures” shouldn’t really be something to keep secret. At the least, admitting your shitty taste in music will get some laughs, so why not bask in the glory of your JNCO jeans and jelly bracelets? We were all young and impressionable once. You shouldn’t need to make excuses for what you enjoyed as a kid, or now for that matter. Music is a universal language that has the power to bring out the best in people, to heal people, to relate to people, and to offer people a place to go to mirror their feelings and know that someone else in the world has felt the exact same way, be it good, bad, or indifferent…even if that language involves incessant mumbling while a bullet chases you or whatever that video was about.

Written by Catherine Powell