Jeremy Underwood of Gold-Bears weighs in today on Day 4 of our Slumberland Records Week. When his former band, Plastic Mastery fizzled out, Jeremy got a few of his friends together as an outlet for his stockpile of songs, and Gold-Bears was born in 2010. The guitarist’s desire to keep making music continues with the jangly, noise-pop of Are You Falling in Love?, Gold-Bears’ latest LP, released last year.
At one time, Underwood tells us, vinyl was DIY. Given his early obsession with the 7″ single, it was only natural that Gold-Bears’ first single was on 7″ vinyl and they included a song called “Record Store” on Are You Falling in Love?. Jeremy had the luxury of having a “cool older brother” to introduce him to the ways of mail-order vinyl and independent labels early on.
“I’ve been purchasing vinyl since I was about 13 or 14. Fortunately, I had/have a very cool older brother. He got into The Lemonheads and other pop bands—Velocity Girl, Flop, Teenage Fanclub, Redd Kross, etc.—in addition to the Ramones and other punk bands. I latched on and become obsessed (as did he). I have very fond and vivid memories of sitting at the end of his bed and listening to 7″s he bought directly from labels. My first date with vinyl was through direct mailorder. I still purchase A LOT from mailorder.
One of the first labels he introduced me to was Brilliant Records. One of my favorite records was Fudge’s Bomb Pops EP. I still listen to that record and it still kills me. So awesome! Hooks, fuzzy guitars, harmonies! Another 7″ that is very influential is Black Tambourine’s “Throw Aggi off the Bridge” on Audrey’s Diary (another label we obsessed over). I can’t get the opening feedback from “Can’t Explain” out of my head. I’ve tried to replicate it but to no avail!
At that time I also discovered K Records, Merge Records, Slumberland Records, SpinART Records, Harriet Records, Teenbeat Records and the Elephant 6 movement. The late ’90s were truly a great time for pop music!
When I first started discovering indie pop/rock in high school I hung out mostly with punks. My best friend (still to this day) was (and still is) a huge rocksteady/ska/soul fan.
We would go record shopping together because, at the time, we weren’t competition. He would talk to the record store guy about Zouk and I would devour each and every indie pop/rock record I could find. We did this every weekend. Flipping through stacks of vinyl was comforting. Telling eachother about the awesome records we got on the way home was fun. I still email him about cool records I get. He does the same. That bond will never cease.
I don’t fetishize vinyl. I don’t really think it’s cooler than any other format. It just happens to be the DIY format of the bands I listened to when I was younger. It was just what bands released and what I choose to buy and support. I always knew I was more punk than the punks I hung out with in high school.”
— Jeremy Underwood