“A young child of the 80s, I grew up watching a lot of MTV when it was almost entirely music videos. It seemed like every video was Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff, Run DMC, House of Pain, or the Beastie Boys spinning and tearing their records up. I could care less about what a “B-Side” was. Monkey see, monkey do—and after destroying a few prized LPs, I finally learned to appreciate the music my mom and dad had held onto for so many years.
My earliest memories beckon lots of Motown, Doo-Wop, and disco (don’t judge.) “I Want You” by Marvin Gaye, “Blue Moon” by Franki Valli, “Where Did Our Love Go” by the Supremes, and of course the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever by the Brothers Gibb. Oh, and there was also some Nat King Cole in there. Later on when I was about 9 or 10, or whenever Free Willy came out, I was hooked on Michael Jackson and eventually discovered an LP of Thriller. After that, I got really into my Walkman and only listened to cassette tapes until CDs made their debut.
I went through a bit of a renaissance with vinyl in my late teens when my mom passed down an old, portable turntable. She had stolen it years ago from her elementary school when she was a kid. It has built in speakers and is complete with instructions pasted on the lid, just in case you forget how to actually play a record. I still have it although it doesn’t work anymore.
The first LP that I ever purchased was Led Zeppelin II because I couldn’t find a CD of it anywhere. I remember being annoyed that I had to reset the needle so I could get Jimmy Page’s guitar solo down. When I finally heard “Whole Lotta Love” on a friend’s I-Pod, I remember thinking that it sounded really thin for some reason, almost like a different band recorded it. I guess it was in that moment that I decided to crossover to the dark side of audiophilia.
I began blowing my cash at Lou’s Records in Encinitas, CA, a little mom n’ pop, record store near my hometown. It wasn’t long before I had a nice little collection of the Beatles, Ryan Adams, Zeppelin, and some obscure soul records. I am fortunate in that I now have a nicer turntable, a good amp, and a decent set of speakers. Incidentally, my apartment is only a few blocks away from Amoeba Records so I won’t be opening a savings account anytime soon.
If I had to put the experience of listening to vinyl into words, I’d say that there is a physicality to it that rewards the listener more than an MP3 could ever do. As a musician, I relate to the instrument of the needle and turntable very closely. Nowadays, it’s somewhat traumatizing when your MacBook or I-Pod stutters for a few seconds before playing one of the thousands of songs that you have at your fingertips. It’s too easy. With LPs, you have to handle them with care and focus while you listen. You can’t strap them on your arm while you go for a jog. You really have to sit down and pay attention.
With each record I adopt, I feel like there are portions of a conversation that I would miss if I were to listen to the same piece of music in a compressed file format. Vinyl is quite possibly the purest way to hear music, short of a live performance. It magnifies every detail of an artist, for better or for worse. I’m excited for the day when I get to release my own music on vinyl. It’ll be like seeing my reflection for the first time.”
The Tin Drums’ debut EP “Before the Evening Falls” is available now.