“I turn 29 in a week, I’m five years older than the rest of the guys in the band and I’m guessing that I’m the only one who still remembers vinyl as a main musical format before CDs were introduced… only just, mind you.”
“Having said that, I don’t exactly have the those warm fuzzy memories that people talk about (usually in the lead up to Record Store Day) of being a young kid digging through their parents’ record collection and the excitement of hearing the crackle when the needle hits the vinyl. If I’m being honest, my first experience with vinyl was a yellow 7″ of ‘The March of the Bunnykins’ by the Royal Doulton band and the Thunderbirds theme tune on flexi-disc cut off the back of a Frosties cereal box.
Music wasn’t such a big deal in my house when I was younger—my old man definitely got me into Pink Floyd, but that wasn’t until he bought his first CD player and his first order was Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here—2 records that definitely drove me to pick up a guitar in the first place. The only vinyl record I remember playing a lot of was Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which would have been played so often that I probably wore the grooves out.
“Like many people of my generation, my introduction to vinyl was through my parents’ dusty record collection. They had what seemed like hundreds of LPs in boxes, on shelves, and in various piles throughout the house where I grew up.”
“Even as a five-year old, I was allowed to use the record player myself and was free to pick out and play whatever I liked. Records in our house were not forbidden “adults only” objects; they were meant to be played with and thoroughly used.
Both of my parents came of age in New York City during the folk revival of the 1960s, and their record collection very much reflected that era. Their shelves were full of albums by Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Dave Van Ronk, Joan Baez, and of course Dylan. My mother also had a vast collection of bluegrass and country records: Flatt and Scruggs, Doc Watson, and a little Johnny Cash. These cornerstones of American folk and country music were the first musicians I ever remember hearing.
As a young child, it was very easy to get interested in these records. We had things like Peter, Paul and Mary singing “Puff the Magic Dragon,” and Woody Guthrie’s album of children’s music, Songs to Grow on for Mother and Child. As I listened to these records, I began to understand that in addition to the kid’s stuff, these same voices also sang songs of a completely different nature. Something I recognized as strange and even a little bit scary. Words like “blood” and “chains” occasionally crept through the music. My parents would often attempt to explain the deeper, sometimes concealed meanings in certain songs.
“For us, Roladex is a kind of science project. Our music is produced mainly with analog synthesizers, and when we started recording our first album, Anthems for the Micro-Age, there was no question—we were recording for vinyl. We hadn’t even really considered other formats.”
“The ‘sound in a room,’ like the sound that plays off a record, is analog by definition. Now the way a digital recording works is by taking millions of tiny binary snapshots of the sound, really just estimations at a predefined rate (for CDs it is 44,100 times per second.) In the end, this means that a digital recording is not really capturing the complete sound wave—it’s more like a Xerox copy of audio that uses clusters of ones and zeros as pixels.
Vinyl, on the contrary, has a continuous groove carved into its surface—an imperceptible squiggle that mirrors the waveform of the original sound. This makes the analog format more accurate and rich, very little sonic information is lost when the analog output of your record player is fed into your amplifier, carried out your speakers, and transmitted through the air—to you.
With vinyl, you are only limited by the mechanical parts of your turntable, the quality of the amplifier, leads, and speakers, and the physical material of the record itself, which can invariably add character. We hope this character is augmented through the packaging of our album.
“Vinyl represents an appreciation for artistry that certain people really value and pursue.”
“As modern culture gets more fast paced, quality can easily be drowned out by convenience or immediacy. Vinyl is a medium that makes patience, artistry, and intention a necessity.
Friends Divide is a very personal collection of songs, so Jeremiah and I wanted the vinyl release to be as personal and analog as possible. The design process was a true collaboration that started while we were in Mexico writing and recording. Jeremiah did the initial drawing for the image in the center of the cover, and I drew the text and symbols for the back and front.
For the vinyl release, I took these layouts and carved them into 9″ x 12” linoleum blocks. I did a couple of test-pressings on paper (see video), then printed the images directly on blocks of pine. We hand wrote the lyrics for the songs and photographed them, along with photos taken in the studio. These were arranged on some aged wood that we found on our property. The final images make up the 8-panel booklet included in the album sleeve.
“I have been a huge Jack Kerouac fan since the 10th grade. By 19 I had read just about everything he had ever written, when I found Windblown World, Kerouac’s journals from 1947—1954. I decided that any time he would mention an album he was listening to in his journal, I would go out and find the artist on vinyl and experience the music that had influenced and inspired so much of his writing.”
“I was no stranger to vinyl. My Dad introduced me to Neil Young, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, via vinyl when I was 7. I quickly learned how to handle them carefully, clean them, flip them, stow them away. I relished the process. But I had never actually bought a vinyl record of my own until I was 19, living in L.A., and on the hunt for some of Kerouac’s favorites.
That was when I discovered Counterpoint, a small second-hand music and book shop. Here is where I found everything I was looking for, and then some. My favorite part of the shop was the $1.00 record pile. For $1 an album, there was really no risk in purchasing potentially bad or potentially life-altering music.
“My mom was the first person to introduce me to vinyl. I think it may have been a My Little Pony turntable with matching 45. I wore the thing out and wanted to know about the larger discs I’d see her pull out once in a while.”
“She told me these were called LPs and handed me records from The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Elton John. I flipped through them excitedly. I turned the volume way up while dancing and singing along. This was somebody’s job? Someone wrote songs, played them with a band, recorded them, and sent them off into the world? Yes, please. I’ll have that! I became a young rock ‘n roll scholar absorbing knowledge through playing records, reading biographies and watching documentaries. I knew more about The Beatles than most Boomers. It was my field of expertise and my absolute joy set in motion by this formative event.
When I left my hometown of Miami for Boston with Henry in hopes of starting a band, we had no stereo. I was offered an old record player which I gladly took. Like most kids my age at the time I had amassed quite a CD collection, but this used turntable got me right back to where I started. The first new LP I owned was The Strokes’ Is This It. It’s amazing it still plays given how much I spun it. The romance began all over again and slowly my records overtook the CDs I would eventually digitize and give away.
“I think I have to come on out and say it; as the only child of a working class family in far West Texas, I didn’t grow up with vinyl. I’ve always loved music, though, and we listened to the radio a lot.”
“That was back in the days before Marfa Public Radio. There was one country station in Alpine that streamed from 6am to 10pm. I would lie in bed past my bedtime and quietly listen to those last songs around 9:45 before they would play the national anthem. Then the waves were down until dawn.
I do remember the first time I saw a record at age five. It was that sexy scene in Dirty Dancing where Johnny puts on an Otis Redding song and things heat up with him and Baby. I fell in love with soul music then and still am obsessed with Otis Redding.
I left West Texas for the Pacific Northwest in 2000 and got into the independent record store scene pretty quick. It just sort of happened. I must have been good at convincing the owners to hire me. So I began collecting. New, used, inherited, found, classical, rock and roll, whatever. If it was good, I kept it.
“Hancock’s Fabric Store. Hancock’s Fabric Store always met my young ears to the score of a Sunday morning B-3 organ.”
“You see Hancock’s meant Sound Warehouse. My mom might have said we were headed to the former but I heard the latter. All other weekly errand runs were met with great despair except this birth mother of burlap table runners and Perisan silk scarves. For while my mom would weed thru the cornocopia of assorted imported fabrics before ultimately settling on something that fit comfortably within a middle-income electricians’ budget.
I would rocket to the other end of the strip center to the aforementioned expansive wood-panel-walled mecca of music. Sound Warehouse stirred something up in me. I would start at one corner always in a quiet rush; ever conscious that it wouldn’t be long before my mom would end her bolt rifling and short-circuit my sonic window shopping.
And there with bated breath I would invade all their orderly CDs caged in excessive amounts of plastic. Perusing over the cover art work like a “vacationer” in Amersterdam and reading the listing of songs imagining what they would sound like. I would start in the more contemporary contingent before always ending up in front of that white plastic separator with “bluegrass” written across the top of it in black Sharpie. The stepchild of all genres no doubt—a victim of my granddad’s vast but one note vinyl collection.