“With vinyl, it took just a little bit more time out of your day to get the record out of the sleeve and on to the player, drop the needle and sit down to listen. It was far more inconvenient trying to skip through an album to find your favorite song, so most of the time I remember listening through albums in their entirety, start to finish, totally sinking in to the vibe of the songs as one piece of work.
My earliest memories of listening to vinyl go to two places; my mom’s record player and my grandma’s basement.
My mom’s player sat in the living room. She actually had very few records but they all had designated moods. There was some Swedish ’70s and ’80s pop, and of course, being in Sweden, there were a few standard ABBA records, even Agneta Faltskog’s Wrap Your Arms Around Me. She had this thing where she loved to absolutely blast Motown compilations when she was vacuuming. It was hilarious as she would try to drown out the noise of the vacuum cleaner and get it done by the time the record was over.
My grandma had a bit more of a collection and as I recall a quite a nice player as well. I can’t remember what brand it was, but she had a lot of Swedish folk and classical music. At the time, those records didn’t really interest me much but somewhere in there she had a huge gem, The Beatles “White Album.” I remember being so bewildered by this album. At that point I didn’t know much about the Beatles, I just thought that they wrote pretty love songs, so songs like “Back in the USSR” and “Helter Skelter” were just mind-blowing. It really shed a new light on them for me. I’d sit in the basement and go full circle with it, taking in its rich and full experience. Only as I’ve gotten older, however, have I fully realized it’s greatness.
I must have been 8 or 9 when I got my very own turntable from my great uncle, an old Sony I believe. I couldn’t believe it, I loved that thing. It became the centerpiece of my room. Later, I found out that it had an aux-in. I plugged a guitar in and used it as an amplifier. That old turntable turned out to be my very first guitar amp.
At the beginning, my personal collection of vinyl records was very small and very specific. A select cream of the crop. There were very random pieces in there, including Plastic Ono Band by John Lennon, my very first vinyl purchase.
I think I was allowed to get one record for my birthday or something, so my mom took me to this record store in town and I just couldn’t decide what to get. “He likes The Beatles,” she said, but I think that was just her way of trying to save her own ears from the other things I used to listen to. The guy behind the desk said, “You’ll love this,” and handed me Plastic Ono Band. My mom was very excited because she said she loved John Lennon. The reality of it was, however, that she actually really just liked the song “Imagine.” I don’t think she ever really took to the “Plastic Ono Band” experience.
I loved that album though, and I have no idea why it translated so well to me at that particular time. I’ve found that today my love for it is for all different reasons than when I was a kid. That’s something I really enjoy about a great record, it grows with you and takes on new characters within your life.
Another great piece in my vinyl collection and one my mom was definitely not a fan of was Come Out and Play by Twisted Sister. I really think I just liked it because it was the only “real” rock album I’d ever owned. Also, the cover was a picture of a manhole in the street that you could fold open and the singer, Dee Snider popped out. It was one of the greatest things I’d ever seen. That was actually probably why I bought it in the first place, but I played that thing ’til it barely worked and to this day I know every song on that record. I loved all the weird songs on there, like the cover version of “Leader of the Pack” sung from the man’s perspective. I also loved all of the sound effects in the opening track “Come Out and Play.” They were so cool in headphones.
I started playing guitar more seriously and joined punk bands. Everyone was putting out 7″ records, so I started collecting really bizarre records from bands that we’d play shows with or whose I’d attend gigs. One noise project I played with had just finished a 7″ when I joined and it seemed like magic to me, it was huge!
For the past few years I’ve bought only vinyl records and I’m slowly getting a great collection together. I live in LA now and it has a really incredible selection of stores to visit for vinyl. I love that about living here. You can walk into Vacation in Silver Lake and they have a ton of releases, and they’re really nice and knowledgable people too. Amoeba on Sunset Boulevard is a favorite of mine as well. It’s a more widely known place where I can easily kill a few hours browsing the vinyl section and spending all of my money.
I recently picked up Dirty Three’s new album Toward the Low Sun. I can’t imagine listening to it on anything other than vinyl. It’s just so beautiful. I also recently picked up a bunch of Mars Volta records which I hold very dear. When I first heard their stuff on vinyl it was almost like hearing it for the first time, the sound coming off of the vinyl is just so perfect. I’m really excited that more and more bands are releasing on vinyl and I hope its comeback just keeps growing.
Basically, I love vinyl and the whole experience, I always did. In the beginning I think it was just because that’s how you listened to music in your house, that’s how music was brought in to my world, but since growing up and devoting my life to music I just simply love vinyl more than any other format for the sound. I will forever love and appreciate the vinyl experience.”
The Vitals’ debut album Qualia is on vinyl and on stores shelves now via ORG Music.