Author Archives: Special to TVD

Ty Richards,
The TVD First Date

“I’ve never been good at first dates or surface conversations so I’ll just awkwardly dive right into it and either scare you off or make you fall in love with me. I have one true musical idol and its Mr. Frank Zappa. Mostly out of pure envy though. His music is good, but really I love him because that son-of-a-bitch put out 60-something albums and I haven’t. And he only made it to age 52. If I could choose to be like anyone it would be him. RIP.”

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love me some warm gooey vinyl. As a producer and gearhead, I really enjoy seeing the resurgence that is happening of all-things-analog. I cobbled together my first demo as a 13-year-old kid by recording on an old ’90s Sony 2-channel Karaoke machine straight to cassette tape with the stock microphone that came with it, an old Squier Stratocaster, and a fifty-dollar practice amp.

I even picked up my dad in the background of one of the songs yelling like he always did, “TURN THAT THING DOWN, GODDAMMIT!!!!!” As a third wave analog nerd, I’m proud to say I’ve finally kissed 15 years of digital recording goodbye and come full circle to invest in a mid-’80s Tascam 388 tape machine that I bought off my good friend McCullough Ferguson of Whit.

That said, I’ve learned to be good friends with the digital era too, living a life that embraces the good of both worlds while leaving out the bad. I think this cliché of living a “hipster” lifestyle, as a mere recreation of a Wes Anderson film is dumb. I don’t want to use a typewriter and I don’t need a messenger hawk. I like my Mac and I prefer texting, thank you.

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Lowland Hum,
The TVD First Date

“We have a somewhat long distance relationship with vinyl. Well over 75% of our time is spent away from home, flying down some highway, packing and unpacking, sleeping in foreign beds, or hunkered down in the windowless green room of a bar somewhere. By the time we get home from a tour we are fully spent.”

“I say all of this not to complain about our lifestyle. I love the freshness and stimulation of being in new places and meeting new people, and to do it all together is truly a gift. It is simply a by-product of living so much of life away from home that I have grown to savor the sorts of things that can be best enjoyed at home.

Vinyl has become to us a symbol of rest, slow time, home time; a sigh of relief to finally be in our own domain once again. Our faithful vinyl is always there to welcome us home when we finish carrying the last load of gear and luggage up the four flights of stairs to our apartment. No matter how many times we leave town, or move to a new town, or new apartment, our vinyl has always aided us in the ceremonial transition into being home.

Growing up I was aware that my dad had a hefty collection of vinyl and that he was meticulous about its care and preservation, but it always had this far-off, mysterious lore to me. He kept them all lined up on a high shelf in my big brother’s closet. I don’t recall us listening to them. While it took me a while to catch on to the beautiful vision of vinyl, by the time I began collecting my own, I knew I wanted it to be listened to.

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Pere Ubu,
The TVD First Date

“The first albums I heard were from my father’s collection, among them the red vinyl The Lighter Side Of Lenny Bruce and the Nonesuch Vachel Lindsay album. I was mesmerized by The World Of Harry Partch, but it was a Kingston Trio record that had the most enduring impact. On it was a version of “Worried Man Blues” and, to this day, I can’t get the song out of my head. I suspect that I’ve been trying to rewrite it for the last forty years. Ten to fifteen years ago I had a long conversation with Greil Marcus midway up a flight of stairs at a Dutch festival about the lineage of that song back to Babylonian times.”

“As a teenager, my favorite pop group was Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass. The first record I bought was the single “In The Year 2525” by Zager & Evans. Then I bought “Lay Lady Lay” by Dylan and then Uncle Meat happened. It was my first trip to a “real” record store, located in the local mall—the first in Cleveland and the biggest east of the Mississippi. My high school buddy had been an advocate of the Mothers and I went to buy Uncle Meat. Hot Rats was just out. I bought that, too. I considered briefly a John Sebastian record. Flipping through the bins was an intoxicating experience, looking at the sleeve art and reading the liner notes.

I got up the nerve to approach the guys at the cash register. They were elevated on a dais behind a monolithic counter. They were high priests. I was sweating bullets that they’d sneer at my purchases. That afternoon I listened to Hot Rats and was intrigued by the singer on “Willy The Pimp.” The next day I returned to buy everything I could find by him—Trout Mask Replica and Mirror Man. The latter is still my favorite Beefheart record. Trout Mask is a work of genius but not as likable.

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Aly Tadros,
The TVD First Date

“Where I grew up, record players weren’t really a thing.”

“I came of age in South Texas in a town where and Top-20 Radio ruled. The first tape I ever bought was Britney Spears’s breakout single, “Hit Me Baby.” The only music my parents we listened to at home was classical music on the local Catholic radio station or, on special occasions, the Gypsy Kings. My family’s music taste was, in short, tragically uncool. Outside of the occasional odd reference on Nick at Night, I never really understand the purpose of a record players. Weren’t CDs the wave of the future?

The first record I ever listened to was Tom Waits’ Blood Money, camped out in a my buddy’s apartment in downtown San Antonio, Texas. “There is NO other way to listen to this album. The fidelity is incomparable,” he told me; but to be honest I couldn’t really tell if it was the vinyl that intensified the croon in Tom’s voice in “Everything Goes to Hell,” or the massive amount of pot we had just smoked. I just didn’t get what the big deal was.

Then I moved to Brooklyn.

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ISLE,
The TVD First Date

“There’s something about vinyl. There’s something about that crackle and just-slightly-out-of-tune quality to it that gives it a warmth and instant charm that no other format manages to replicate.”

“As a kid, I grew up in a fairly musical family and we had a lot of vinyl. I remember my grandpa having a whole set of Pavarotti records that he would play, mostly at night, on an old oak-set record player that could’ve been stolen straight from the set of Mad Men. That sound of Luciano Pavarotti’s voice bellowing from a record player in the next room as you were falling asleep isn’t something you easily forget, and listening to it now instantly takes me back to being about 5 years old in that house.

At our own place, my parents’ tastes were a bit more modern and my dad had a few Police, R.E.M. and Depeche Mode records that we listened to all the time—as well as my mum’s Cyndi Lauper LPs and a heap of new wave stuff. It was these records that really set my attention to wanting to play what I was hearing. All of it just triggered a sense that this was something I wanted to do, every artist’s sound painted a different picture in my head and I wanted to paint my own.

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Air Traffic Controller,
The TVD First Date

“There were stacks of vinyl in my youth, mostly well-known, critically acclaimed classics, but I don’t need to go there because, number one, I did not purchase these hand me downs, and number two, they were acquired well before I knew I wanted to make music of my own. I hope you’re willing to read about an artist you may have never heard of. He unofficially refers to himself as an “author unknown,” but his name is Jason Falkner and the inspiring album I purchased was Can You Still Feel?.

“My brother showed me Jason’s first album, appropriately titled Author Unknown, and told me that he was one of the original members of the band Jellyfish, which we were pretty obsessed with for their likeness of The Beatles, Queen, Beach Boys, and Supertramp. Why anyone would exit a band as special as Jellyfish is a question that made checking out Jason a necessity. A few songs in, it was clear that his solo thing was way too awesome to not devote all of his time and energy. Whatever the case was, focusing on his own music was the right move.

His debut was a masterpiece in my opinion, so by the time this second record Can You Still Feel was released, I needed to have it right away, and I needed the vinyl. The artwork was cool as hell—Jason dressed in leather, sitting in an outdated airplane with orange interior, being served a drink by a sexy/ghostly flight attendant. I loved this album before I even played it.

The opening line “Take a chance with me…” had me on the edge of my seat, and this new mixture of raw ‘in the room’ sounds along with a signature scapey vibe, courtesy of producer Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Travis) made this album different yet still very much Jason doing what he does best—which is everything. He plays ALL the instruments on his records extremely well. His witty lyrics, catchy song melodies, and guitar hooks made this another fully satisfying journey.

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Jasmine Rodgers,
The TVD First Date

“I’ve been looking at all the First Dates and what I love is how many of these musicians have been drawn to music through their parents’ record collections. It’s not just a collection of records, it’s a record of their lives collected together. When I was a kid, cassette tapes were norm and CDs were coming up too. We were once given one of those that were the size of an LP—I don’t think my dad knew what to do with it so it got put on the wall as art/weird mirror.”

“The ceremony attached to the playing of vinyl was never lost on me, there was such a buzz watching the needle pick up and play. At home the collection was very varied as my dad is a real searcher for good music. It started for me with Elvis though, Little Richard, The Beatles, and the Disney soundtrack (I kid you not, “We are Siamese” and Luis Prima singing Jungle Book? Incredible). We also had a 1950s jukebox which had been slightly updated with the odd single from the 1970s, so I know all kinds of wonderful tunes that your gran probably rocked out to (such as “The Stripper”—David Rose & His Orchestra—my grandma loved that) as well as “Tiger Feet” by Mud.

But it was the whole sensory experience, the artwork, the opening up of the cover and the feel of the cardboard, sometimes they had writing on them and you had a sense of them being held onto, through all the different times in my parents’ lives, so in a way they made me feel closer to my parents too. It was a real initiation being taught how to hold vinyl, take it out of the sleeve, all that.

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Brett Ferguson,
The TVD First Date

“I am the youngest of three children. My sister is 10 years my senior and gave me my first mix tape (yep, those actually existed) when I was 7 or 8 years old.”

“It had everything from Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to Pearl Jam’s “Alive” and even LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.” This small piece of plastic with 21 songs opened up the world to me. It was rebellious, it was lyrical, it was emotional, and it was raw. The artists didn’t all sing with pretty voices. They just sang with what they had. The imperfection in the artists did not matter and, if anything, were reasons for celebration.

I found this break from the norm glaringly obvious in Dave Matthews Band’s CD, Under the Table and Dreaming. Go ahead, laugh. Shake your head in disagreement. But to a ten-year old kid in 1994 when this album was released, it was revolutionary on the Pop/Acoustic Rock scene.

His guitar playing and song writing broke away from the 4/4 time signature, broke away from the four chord songs I was used to hearing, and created space for improvisation with unconventional instruments instead of your typical guitar solo. This influenced my desire to study jazz in college as a bassist. This influenced the instruments that I wanted in my band. It also influenced my song writing to pull out some of the darker emotions I felt and to write about my inner demons.

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Psychic Mind,
The TVD First Date and Premiere, “Day Trader” and “Wavebreaker”

“Nothing beats listening to my favorite albums on wax. I’ve always been an album guy, and vinyl records, for me, facilitate the necessary conditions for proper enjoyment of an album. The couch, the stereo system, the atmosphere, the lighting; everything bends to the will of the record once the needle drops.”

“Growing up in the ’90s, I experienced firsthand the minimizing and accessorization of the art and packaging (and ultimately the vibe) that was the unintended result of music going entirely digital by the early 2000s, and after going from cassettes, to CDs, to minidisks, back to CDs, onto to mp3s, and now streaming, it became clear that so much of the original context of people’s work gets lost in the details.

When all people have is a little track on their phone at the end of the day, something is missing. Records, to me, are the best way of retaining all of the integrity of an album and delivering the emotive experience to the listener as originally intended.

My record collection, while nothing to write home about, has become my little greatest hits of all my favorite bands. If I fall in love with an album, I feel compelled to add it to the shelf. Right now I’m really excited about my recent pick up of an original UK mono edition of Rubber Soul, and Nick is lending me a live Can record from France, circa ’75, which has some pretty insane stuff on it too. I also tend to keep Stereolab’s Mars Audiac Quintet next to the player as my go-to record these days for general life-living.

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The Adventures of
the Silver Spaceman,
The TVD First Date

“As a kid of the tape/CD generation, I’d frequently sift through my Dad’s records feeling slighted that the album art now was only a fraction of the size of what it used to be. A bunch of the jackets were all chewed up from when his dog got into them. Ray Manzarek’s face had been eaten right off of L.A. Woman.”

“He had all the cuts a Jersey boy from the ’70s should: The Flying Burrito Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, Warren Zevon, everything Springsteen ever did. Listening to “Thunder Road” with lyrics in hand is more than partially responsible for my hopeless Romanticism. He’d weave verse into cinema that would play over and over in my head. Though, I’d always get stuck on that line, ”you ain’t a beauty but hey you’re alright.” I mean, who says that? I’m positive this is something you should never say to a person.

Eventually we put the record player in the basement and got one of those five CD changers, but Dad got real defensive anytime Mom suggested throwing out the records. He wasn’t ready for that. Soon enough I inherited his collection and took it to Brooklyn where there was cheap used vinyl everywhere. Slowly I began to build on what the ol’ man had started.

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