We asked the 'Whiplash' star about the songs that shaped his life.

The song I play before I go on set

Otis Redding – ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay’

“Music helps when I’m feeling drained and can’t conjure up emotion on my own. Otis Redding was inspired by the hippy movement when he wrote this. I love that era: Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Stax Records – the African-American experience of coming through slavery and the civil rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s… All those guys singing songs about a brighter future. I love all that soul. And gospel. It’s inspiring.”

The first gig I went to

Bowling For Soup

“They were opening for Jimmie’s Chicken Shack [post-grunge alt-rockers from Maryland] and I was, like, 10 or 11 years old. Me and my friends went with our parents. It was kinda like a pop/punk show and I remember thinking we were pretty badass.”

The first song I remember hearing

Roger Miller – ‘King Of The Road’

“[Sings] ‘Trailer for saleor rent, rooms to let 50 cents. No phone, no pool, no pets, I ain’t got no cigarettes…’ My mom had these ‘Oldies But Goodies’ compilation CDs. I discovered a lot of music that way – early Elvis and ‘Great Balls Of Fire’ by Jerry Lee Lewis.”

The first album I bought

OMC – ‘How Bizarre’

“OMC [’90s Kiwi pop-rappers] were a one-hit wonder but I loved that song when I was a kid so I bought the album from a mail- order club to start my collection, along with Sublime’s self-titled third album, Blues Traveler’s ‘Four’ – the one with ‘Run-Around’ and ‘Hook’ on it – The Wallflowers’ debut, and Smash Mouth’s ‘Fush Yu Mang’. The ’90s is cool now, right?”

The album that changed my life

The Grateful Dead – ‘The Grateful Dead’

“In the holiday between my freshman and sophomore years in college I went to this music festival called Gathering Of The Vibes, and Bob Weir [founding member of the psychedelic rock legends] was playing Grateful Dead classics with Dark Star. I went, took some ‘elements’ and had a truly spiritual experience! From then on, that was it. I was sold. And I’ve always enjoyed live albums.”

The song that reminds me of home

John Denver – ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’

“I grew up in a pretty Southern town. I used to reject that because I’d moved there from the North East [New Jersey] and got planted in this small backwoods country place [Citrus County, Florida] with people wearing camouflage and riding around with rebel flags. But now I really love that genteel Southern stuff.”

The song that makes me want to dance

Brett Dennen – ‘Must Be Losing My Mind’

“I was at a Brett Dennen concert last year at the BottleRock festival in Napa Valley. Had a few drinks, started dancing and ended up on YouTube.”

The song I do at karaoke

Bon Jovi – ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’

“I did this in a bar at college and loved it. I’m not sure I could get away with it again! If I was really gonna go for it now I’d do ‘Mustang Sally’ by Wilson Pickett. But my lucky song that got me through a few auditions is that Tom Jones classic ‘It’s Not Unusual’.”


Bleed For This is in cinemas December 2