by Jarrod Jones. It’s 1994, and music is in a strange transitional period. Kurt Cobain is dead, and thus, grunge is dead. A wee Manchester set going by the name of Oasis is about to explode all over the place, even so far as the Californian shores where Home Sick Pilots, a new Image Comics series by Dan Watters, Caspar Wijngaard, Aditya Bidikar, and Tom Muller, is set.

But don’t you go worrying about Oasis. As far as music and Home Sick Pilots are concerned, Britpop need not apply. (To this writer’s chagrin.)

Anyway. Back to California. Specifically Santa Manos, the fictional town whose music scene, by the way, is thriving. Enough that there’s a turf beef between warring bands The Nuclear Bastards and the Home Sick Pilots, the latter of which features Ami, Buzz and Rip, the terrible trio at the core of this neon-tinged comics ode to wantonly misspent youth. And this beef is about to take a gnarly turn for the worse.

The mood Home Sick Pilots wants to establish is a punkish one, an eldritch one. Haunted houses, leviathans, ghosts, possibly even those dimensions which lie just beyond the veil of this reality. (I’ve only read the first issue, which is out this week, so it’s too early to confirm that last bit. Just a feeling I’ve got.) So, with music, think of the stuff from 1994 that was warping the young minds who were coming up back then: skate thrash, hardcore, Gilman Street pop-punk. Then remember what was on the radio in 1994, the poppy, goofy Top 40 stuff. It’s all a part of the foundation upon which rocks Home Sick Pilots.

Enough preamble. Dan Watters and Caspar Wijngaard, the braintrust behind Home Sick Pilots, have assembled a playlist of tracks that inspired their latest creator-owned pop confection. With the release of Home Sick Pilots #1 this week, Dan and Caspar asked DoomRocket to share said playlist, along with commentary from the creators so readers have a better understanding of how to navigate this creative crossroads of teenage rebellion and next-level horror.

Dan Watters & Caspar Wijngaard share their 'Home Sick Pilots' mixtape
Cover to ‘Home Sick Pilots’ #1. Art: Caspar Wijngaard,

Dan: We’ve been asked about it a whole bunch, so here it is at last! The Home Sick Pilots playlist, assembled by me and Caspar. 

This is a combination of what we think the Home Sick Pilots would be listening to in 1994, and what we were listening to ourselves while making the book.

The first half of the playlist is mine; a bit of skate thrash, a bit of Gilman Street pop-punk, an awful lot of songs I listened to when I was 15. I wondered if I was skewing a little old with some of my choices here—a lot of these tracks are from the 80s or even the late 70s… but punk has always had a nostalgic edge it tries to hide (look at any mid-40s psychobilly at your favourite dive bar, seeking after a mythical 50s through pomade and sailor tattoos). And these are the things I was listening to as a teenager; I played in bands all the way through high school and was always pushing to play Ramones and Fugazi songs rather than Funeral for a Friend. I was the bassist though, so my pleas went ignored.

 The track it took longest for me to pin down was the Ramones song. I could have picked almost anything off the first three records. They have so many songs about being bored teenagers; I circled Beat on the Brat, Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue, and Loudmouth before landing on I Just Wanna Have Something to Do. Even that song’s title crystalizes how it feels to be young, angry, directionless, and probably about to get into a shitload of trouble, simply because you are all the above. That’s exactly what’s about to happen to the Home Sick Pilots. It just might happen on a bigger scale…

Caspar: Second half of the playlist are my picks. I didn’t have much preference to music as a child—the 1990 TMNT soundtrack was probably as broad as it got. In ’95 I moved Santa Monica to live with my father. I was 12, and kids in school were all really into skate culture and the alt-rock radio station KROQ.

I fell into that in a big way, I had a chance to create an identity somewhere new. Punk/rock/metal and the culture around it shaped who I was for the remainder of my teenage years. 

These picks are reflective of the songs that were popular around that time, mostly songs I heard a lot and helped transport me back to the era of which Home Sick Pilots is set.

Having said that, these aren’t necessarily tracks the HSP would listen to personally, Dan’s pick most reflect them as a band, these are a little less pretentious (not you, Dan) and more mainline driven, probably more suited for HSP rivals the Nuclear Bastards. 

Without focusing purely on Punk, I‘ve attempted to go full circle throughout a few genres. This list covers popular indie sounds from the 90s era, or at least a taste. Hopefully this helps build an idea of the vibe I was attempting to create in the pages of issue one and beyond.

‘Home Sick Pilots’ #1 is available now.  Contact your LCS to score a copy of your own.

Check out this 4-page preview of ‘Home Sick Pilots’ #1, courtesy of Image Comics: