CLASSIC GRIT WEEKEND PLAYLIST 07
Hey CG Fam!
We're back again with a brand new playlist, and we are HYPED on this week's guest -- none other than the legendary John Axford! The Ax Man is a veteran of 11 MLB seasons as a reliever (most notably with the Brew Crew and the Jays), he's got 144 career saves under his belt, and he's also amassed a history of epic facial hair, expert Oscar picks, fantastic photography, and culinary wizardry to boot. That's all well and good, but the real reason we've asked him to be here is because he's a outstanding dude with phenomenal taste in music -- a rare breed in MLB circles.
John shared some of his current faves, and gave us some great answers for our Q&A segment. Links to the playlist and the transcript of our chat are below. Enjoy!
A Q&A WITH FORMER MLB CLOSER JOHN AXFORD
- Why baseball? What about the game spoke to you and drew you in back in the day?
I was a hockey player who played baseball. Played from Tee Ball age, but I was going to be the next Rob Blake … at least in my head. Then, the Blue Jays won the World Series when I was 9 and 10 years old. It was life-changing. Really. I fell in love with the game. It also turned out I was better at baseball and was getting some attention in that regard; so I gave hockey up in 10th grade and focused entirely on baseball. My dad also had old gloves from his father who used to play. These old-school flat gloves from the ‘40’s and 50’s, and I remember loving them and wanting to hold and touch them, but I was respectful enough to just look most of the time. There was also a black and white/sepia-toned team photo of the Delhi Tobaccomen, a championship team my grandfather played on. My dad had it framed. I never got to meet him, but it felt like The Sandlot (came out in 1993 so it was prime time baseball days for me) and I loved the lore of the game from pretty early on.
- You’ve got 11 big league seasons under your belt, played in both leagues, and have an eye for photography … what’s the best yard in the bigs? Doesn’t necessarily have to be the place with the best facilities or staff or clubhouse spread, just a place where you’re out on the field stretching or shagging BP and you look around and your jaw drops.
Top 3 Parks for me are: Oracle, PNC, and Petco. Give me a view … Mission Bay/San Francisco Bay views, a park incorporated into old parts of the city with great city views, and a two-tiered stadium with bridges, a river, and an entire city beyond the outfield wall … those are what it’s all about to me. I also really enjoyed any park I could walk back to the hotel from. Coors Field (gorgeous sunsets) and Busch Stadium fit that for me too, but aren't necessarily my favorite parks.
- You started using Refused’s “New Noise” as your walk-in music in Milwaukee in 2011. The second I noticed that, I was like “whoa … this guy *gets* it”. There’s literally a single handful of players in the league who have ever heard Refused. How’d you discover them? Did you catch any shit from teammates for using something so left-of-center?
In 2010 I used Audioslave's "Cochise". Good tune, great build-up, exactly what a closer needs. But I wanted to switch it up in 2011. It was early social media days and I liked engaging with fans, and people just suggested different songs to use, so I decided to put it to a vote. "New Noise" was put in based on one single recommendation from a Brewers blog. I loved the song and loved the idea. So I added a bunch of other tunes and had the people decide. It’s more of a true testament to the bad ass people of Milwaukee, and that once that song was added to the list, a literal campaign began online to get people to vote for it. It literally couldn’t lose! It did, however come close. It was between "New Noise" and RATM's "Bulls On Parade" by the end. Both would’ve been sick intros, but the "New Noise" is just that incredible cut above. It won … and quite frankly, I’m overjoyed that song still has an attachment to me for a lot of people.
And I have no clue where I heard "New Noise" first. I feel like it was on one of those crazy compilation albums that would come out in the 90’s and early 2000’s that were designed to get you into new music. I actually didn’t get into the album itself (The Shape of Punk to Come) until years later.
- Your musical tastes lean far more punk, hardcore, and metal than your baseball contemporaries. Have you always had an affinity for heavier music? Was there a gateway band (or bands) that opened that world up for you?
My first favorite band was Queen. No real idea how that happened. Maybe Wayne’s World did it! Haha. But my dad would play some super fun and wild stuff for me when I was younger. He played Sabbath's "Iron Man" for me for the first time. My first real “Wanna hear the Beatles?” song was "Helter Skelter", and then there were all those incredible 90s movies with unreal soundtracks and 90s compilation albums. I just started scooping them up and listening and the harder and heavier the songs got, the more I wanted to hear. Soundtracks and compilations are where I heard Pantera, Deftones, Sepultura, Gravediggaz (what an intro to hip hop!), Machine Head, Ministry … all for the first time. That combined with the hockey locker room, and getting dressed and ready while listening to Green Day, The Offspring, Nine Inch Nails, Korn. I just wanted heavy riffs all the time. Then, in 1996, I took a go at Sepultura’s albums Roots and Chaos AD, and that’s all I wanted to listen to from then on.
I almost dismissed punk because it wasn’t heavy enough for me. Same with some hardcore. I needed metal. Like all the time. I’d still listen to other genres, but I just wanted the heaviness. I’ve certainly worried and scared many teammates in the past with what I’d listen to the weight room, which is why i would just listen with headphones 95% of the time! Haha.
- Last one … you had your second Tommy John Surgery in September. How’s your wing? Is there a comeback on the horizon? If so, when can we expect to see you on the bump again?
I just started throwing at the beginning of June. It’s been a loooong road to get there and will be an even longer one to be able to get off the mound again. My hope is to just get strong and feel like I did before the injury. The World Baseball Classic is next March…things may time up quite well with my recovery! 🤷🏼♂️
SPECIAL GUEST: FORMER MLB CLOSER JOHN AXFORD
- PUP - “PUPTHEBAND Inc. Is Filing For Bankruptcy”
- Wet Leg - “Oh No!”
- Zeal & Ardor - “Death To The Holy”
- Foals - “Wake Me Up”
- Alexisonfire - “Conditional Love”
- Spiritbox - “Rotoscope”
- Momma - “Tall Home”
- END - "Eden Will Drown"
- Museum of Light - “Cal”
- Pet Fox - “Only Warning”
- Be Well - “Hello Sun”
- Chamber - “Carved In Stone”
- Free The Robots - “Aswang”
- Samora Pinderhughes - “Rise Up (feat. Marcus Gilmore)”
- Russian Circles - “Conduit”
- One Step Closer - “Pringle Street”
- Praise - “All in a Dream”
- Botch - “Thank god for worker bees”
- Bonobo - “Rosewood”
- Turnover - “Wait Too Long”