Awesome Tape from NYC: Sleigh Bells Share Songs That Shaped ‘Reign of Terror’

Derek Miller / Photo by Nick Haymes

After SPIN spent more than a few afternoons lurking around Sleigh Bells for our March/April 2012 cover story and logged more than a few headphone hours with their essential album Reign of Terror, we really hoped to probe deeper into its inner workings. Thankfully, like any true romantic, guitarist Derek Miller was kind enough to make us a mixtape of the songs that influenced the record our Jessica Hopper calls “11 tracks of casual hate served in a pearly-pink candy shell.” The mix of crushing and sweet is achingly apparent in his choices, running the gamut from black metal misanthrope Burzum to Eurobubblegum stalwarts Roxette. Listen to the 10 tracks below, along with Miller’s explanations, and learn the fascinating origin story behind one of our favorite albums of the year.

Burzum, “Det Som En Gang Var”
“Just the first two minutes from their 14-minute track, with ?a low-end boost and some of ?the highs rolled off. Really harsh and melancholy.”

Acme, “Blind”
“German band, ?really hard. Got this from the Edison Records catalog when I was 15 ?or so. I would sit in my truck every morning before school and blast this, which usually made me ?late for assembly. My favorite ?metal record.”

Cathy Dennis, “Too Many Walls”
“Wore this cassingle out when I was maybe 11 or so. Hands down one of my favorite songs. Great snare and string arrangement. She is still writing killer songs for a bunch of freaks — check Wikipedia.”

Derek Miller's ultimate mixtape

Belinda Carlisle, “Mad About You”
“Along with Madonna, my mother played this constantly. Probably has a lot to do with why I’m obsessed with the female voice.”

George Michael, “Father Figure” ?& Mariah Carey, “Vision of Love”
“What forces/voices! I’m a huge George Michael fan.”

Roxette, “It Must Have Been Love”
“Roxette fell off my radar for a while, but this was playing when I was shopping for food or beer about a year ago and I rediscovered their music. I don’t understand how people get this talented.”

Chicago, “I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love”
“Diane Warren cowrote this with Albert Hammond. Love her. Fierce woman. Always up for Chicago.”

The Sundays, “Blood on My Hands”
“When I briefly went to Florida State University in the fall of 2000, I only listened to Morrissey’s Vauxhall and I and the Sundays’ Blind. I must’ve been ?a ton of fun to hang out with. This record is one of my favorites. I love [lead singer] Harriet Wheeler.”

Def Leppard, “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak”
“These are my dudes. This is from High ‘n’ Dry, but Hysteria is the one for me. ?Def Leppard never got enough credit for how emotionally resonant they could be. And Mutt Lange is a dangerous man.”


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