“Like most kids, my early experiences with vinyl consisted mostly of what was available in my parents’ record collection. My folks had a lot of great stuff – Cat Stevens, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Fleetwood Mac, and Procol Harum. We had the obligatory copy of Carole King’s Tapestry. But groing up in Sydney, we also had a lot of Aussie rock like Doug Parkinson, Russell Morris, and The Easybeats and a lot of stuff from overseas that was making it’s way to Australia through the 60’s and 70’s.”
“That being said, I was definitely a child of the 90s and brought up in the age of CDs. My first was Eternal Flame by The Bangles. Not too bad, for a seven year old. As a teenager my tastes were pretty diverse, and like most musicians, I was searching for new stuff all the time, so I used to scour all the second hand music stores around Sydney for used records and CDs. I was regular along the Pitt Street strip of stores – places like Lawson’s, Phantom Records, and Ashwoods, which I’m not sure exist anymore.
Being able to grab something really obscure, that you had never heard and just taking a chance on it – I remember getting really excited by that. I still love that feeling. I live in Brooklyn these days, and luckily the scene there still allows me to still get it from time to time – there’s a good number of great record stores like Academy and Permanent Records and also a lot of thrift stores; there’s a place in Greenpoint called “The Thing,” which has an entire floor to ceiling basement of vinyl. There’s no method to the madness but it’s a great place to get lost in.
Early on, I recall pretty vividly hanging with some friends when one of them put on Donny Hathaway’s “Song For You” from his 1971 LP. I remember sitting in the dark, hearing that piano intro and Donny’s voice and subsequently having my mind and heart blown apart. God, it sounded so beautiful. It still gives me shivers and takes me back to that moment every time. Kind of a nice reminder of how powerful music is and I guess why I try to make it.
I had a similar experience with Coltrane’s A Love Supreme – but on the second listen. I don’t think I was ready for it the first time around. But the second? That was so cool. I grew up playing saxophone and was listening to a lot of jazz, so the music just kept expanding and opening up. That was, and still is, entirely awesome, hearing someone take music that far.
I’ve bought more vinyl than ever over the last few years. My last couple of grabs were Dr. Dog’s Be The Void, the new James Blake and a self-titled record from 1990 by one of my absolute favourite bands to come out of Australia, The Divinyls. They are so good. Chrissie Amphlett is a killer.
I guess vinyl still just sounds like the best thing to my ears. I’m so happy to see people coming back to it. I do think it’s the responsibility of musicians to make sure that music sounds the best it can moving forward, and being able to hold music in your hands, idolise liner notes, stick a pencil in a cassette or wear out a vinyl – there’s something pretty special about that.”