Lansing’s Heartsick has electrified Michigan fans with its melodic hardcore. Today, singer Alfonso Civile reveals the recordings that have impacted him the most.
EDITOR’S NOTE: All musicians trace their inspiration to key recordings that influenced their careers. Writer Ross Boissoneau today showcases music that changed the world for Lansing singer Alfonso Civile of the hard-rocking Heartsick. Scroll down for a Spotify playlist of his picks.
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Alfonso Civile, lead singer of Lansing melodic hardcore band Heartsick, says the group continues to grow and develop, some 20-plus years after its initial formation as Know Lyfe.
“We met in college and started in 2000. In 2014, our drummer passed away, and we changed our name to Heartsick. We’re all original other than the drummer.”
Somewhat surprisingly, Civile says he grew up on a diet of – well, everything. And he says it all contributed to his musical growth.
“I grew up in Miami. It was a real melting pot. My parents were into Latin music and classic rock. My dad loved blues. His favorite artist was Stevie Ray Vaughan, and I’ve seen all the (Stevie Ray) DVDs. There was Led Zeppelin, the Beatles. My mom was a big Celine Dion and Yanni fan. Then there was merengue and salsa. In middle school, I was into R&B: Bell, Biv Devoe, Boys II Men. In high school, I discovered heavy rock.”
After high school, he found his way north, settling in the Lansing area. “My parents went to college in the Dominican Republic, and my sister went to Florida State. I graduated from high school and had the idea to go ahead and step outside the boundaries and experience something new. I wanted to be an oncologist, and applied to a number of colleges: Tulane, Columbia, and MSU. It (MSU) was so far removed from how I grew up.” So that is where he went to school, and met the friends with whom he formed Know Lyfe, aka Heartsick.
He admits he still occasionally harbors thoughts of studying medicine, but can’t imagine giving up music. He’s actually re-enrolled at MSU, though studying film. Today, he discusses his greatest influences and inspirations — and where his ears are currently tuned.
1. Boys II Men, “Cooleyhighharmony” (1991) – Their first release solidified (my desire that) I wanted to be a singer. For me it encapsulated everything about the ’90s. It made me feel happy and safe. I grew up in a rough neighborhood and was bullied. It (music) was a way to be self-expressive and that I had a singing voice and enjoyed melody. I had an artistic purpose when I was feeling alone, and it gave me a sense of belonging. I formed a boy band in middle school and made connections with other guys. ‘Hey, this is something I have in common.’
Listen: “Please Don’t Go”
2. Various Artists, “The Crow: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” (1994) – “The Crow” was life-changing. I saw the movie. As kids, the only place to hang out was the theater. We snuck in. There were themes of sadness and darkness (in The Crow), and I felt so isolated and lonely. The (main) character was angry and had a vendetta; that was how I felt. It struck a chord with me. The music went so perfect with the movie. The Cure, Nine Inch Nails – it was how I discovered (music) outside R&B and traditional/classic rock, like Pearl Jam. When I found out my sister had it, I snuck in and listened to it. It changed my life.
Listen: “Dead Souls” (Nine Inch Nails)
3. Deftones, “Around the Fur” (1997) – Though it came out at the same time as other nu-metal, like Korn and Limp Bizkit, it was its own thing. It had aspects of heaviness and the moody ’80s sound. I heard aspects of hip hop in the inner city in Miami, and this had (that) and the tonality of melody and took me back into the ’80s with synthesizers and samples. It had a sexy darkness but was still heavy.
Listen: “My Own Summer (Shove It)”
Currently Loving: Chvrches, “Screen Violence (2021);” Sleep Token, “This Place Will Become Your Tomb (2021);” Deftones, “Ohms” (2020) – I’m going to give you three. I’m drawn to dark ambient and melancholy sound. This (Chvrches) is very ’80s. I was born in ’81 and I have great memories of that music: The Cure, Tears for Fears, Cutting Crew. Sleep Token, again it’s dark and broody. The music is done so well. It’s like Sinatra’s slowest songs with heavy metal. And the Deftones’ newest is very good.
Listen: “Asking for a Friend” (Chvrches)
ALBUMS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: Alfonso Civile’s Playlist on Spotify
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