Mark Holcomb is possibly the happiest nerd in the world, and being one of the three guitarists of progressive metal act Periphery is just a small indication of that. From his hilarious onstage antics, having his own signature PRS 6-string guitars, to holing up in his room playing video games for days on end, and coming up with the strangest (though impressively creative) Snapchat video stories, Holcomb surely loves where the tides are taking him.
Born in Clark, Pampanga in 1982, Holcomb holds great pride in being Filipino-American, and has a soft spot for adobo. “My mother is Filipina,” he tells BillboardPH. “She raised me to be close to all of the Filipino side of my family. When I was young, she constantly cooked Filipino food, and encouraged me to stay in close contact with my relatives in the Philippines.”
Four years before releasing their fifth studio album Periphery III: Select Difficulty, which peaked on the Billboard Independent Chart at No. 2, Periphery visited the Philippines for the first time to perform at PULP Summer Slam 12, finally giving Holcomb the opportunity to return to his motherland since relocating to the US in 1991. “It was a bucket list dream of mine to come back and play music in my home country,” Holcomb says. They’ve since returned in 2014 to support their second full-length record Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal, and will be dropping by Southeast Asia again in February 2017, just missing Manila on this leg of the tour.
Today (Oct. 21), Holcomb celebrates his 34th birthday, and surely he’ll be coming up with another set of weird Snapchat videos and more importantly, new tunes and riffs to bless the world of heavy metal. But what records steer Holcomb into writing the music he makes? Or at least, the albums that led him to be the nerd he is today? Here are the ten albums you can blame Mark Holcomb’s life on…
The first album I ever bought was…
In 1991, I moved to Los Angeles and became obsessed with hip hop. It was actually the first genre of music I became infatuated with. I don’t listen to too much of it anymore, but at the time I was blown away by the catchiness, lyrical prowess, and focus on rhythm.
The album I wish I’d written is…
STRAPPING YOUNG LAD
(Century Media Records)
Alien is a big, chaotic masterpiece of a metal album. It was, and still is, the heaviest thing I’ve ever heard. When it came out, I was already heavily into Devin Townsend’s music, but Alien redefined the way I looked at extreme metal. If it weren’t for SYL or that record, I would never have started Haunted Shores or maybe not even been driven to pursue music professionally.
The best album to drive to is…
BRING ME THE HORIZON
That’s the Spirit
I’ve loved this album since I heard the first song they released. I know it’s easy to give them flak for going a more commercial route, but to me, the songs, production, mix, presentation, and everything about this record is appealing and a step in the right direction. I liked this band before, but this album pushed them over the top.
The album that made me fall in love with metal was…
Master of Puppets
No question about this one. I liked a lot of rock music before I heard this. Foo Fighters, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, and so on. But this album made me want to STUDY the guitar; to sit in my bedroom and learn every single riff. Of course, the aggression of it was something that took getting used to, coming from hip hop and rock, but I was hooked.
The album that takes me back to my childhood is…
Anything Prince ever did, even his later stuff, brings me back to childhood memories of my mom blasting his music in our living room in the Philippines. She loved to play ’80s pop music loud in our house; everything from Phil Collins, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Michael Jackson. All of it was the soundtrack to my childhood.
The album I listened to a lot while writing Select Difficulty was…
I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It
I don’t really listen to much music when I’m writing and recording for Periphery. BUT, this album came out as we were wrapping up recording and it has mesmerized me ever since. The slickness of the songwriting and production are so addicting, and because of that, it has become my go-to album for any occasion these days. This band can do no wrong.
If someone asks what metal is, I would recommend…
Live After Death
They’re the greatest, and this captures them at their best. You can feel the energy of the crowd through the live recording, and some of Bruce’s banter has become iconic at this point. They also happen to play every hit they’d had up to that point. I prefer a lot of the live versions of these songs to the studio versions.
The album I can have on loop forever is…
This is my favorite Devin album. It got me through a somewhat difficult part of my life, and hearing it now it brings back feelings of triumph and happiness knowing that I got through it, but also this strange sentimentality that transports me back. That’s how powerful the music is. I don’t know if Devin has any clue how much this record means to me, haha.
No one will believe I have a copy of…
THE CROW SOUNDTRACK
I thought the movie was cool, but the soundtrack was incredible! It actually got me into some bands: The Cure, Pantera, Helmet, and so on. I know the movie is hailed as this cult favorite and as Brandon Lee’s defining movie, but I still love the soundtrack dearly.
The album I’m totally hooked on right now is…
(Bieler Bros. Records)
We just toured with these guys in the States, and I’ve been such a huge fan of them for a long time. They put out this EP last year and it became obvious they did not lose a step in the least. They are one of the biggest reasons Periphery does what it does.
This article originally appeared on Billboard Philippines.