Qui: The TVD First Date

“My earliest memories as an infant are of sitting on my father’s lap, listening to records.”

“There were no sports in my household. There was no church. My relatives all lived in different states, so visits from Grandma and Grandpa were a rare occurrence. My upbringing, especially in my earliest years, was fairly unconventional. My parents had been baby-boom hippies who were now raising a family. My mom stayed home and my dad was a social worker. I don’t think we had a TV, but my dad had a great record collection and a killer stereo and it was on all the time.

Generally I didn’t hear the more pedestrian fare of my parents’ generation. My folks didn’t have many of the Woodstock bands or The Grateful Dead (for which I am extremely grateful!), but I think they had a copy of Sgt. Pepper and some Dylan. Rather, I was weaned on a steady diet of Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, and, my favorite at the time, Tom Waits.

My mother still tells the story of me at two years old, carrying around a copy of Blue Valentine and insisting it be played whenever I was in the room. Eventually they had to buy another copy because I had chewed on the jacket so much that it fell apart. I still have a vivid memory of an evening with my dad listening to, “Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard,” at top volume. It was kind of scary; the snarling saxophone sounded so sinister and nasty, and Tom Waits’ bark even more so. It was thrilling. As I sit here today, recalling it gives me goose bumps.

I was snotty and opinionated in my tastes even then. If my mom wanted to listen to Paul Simon I would throw a fit. While I now enjoy Simon and Garfunkel, I still can’t stand that “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover,” bullshit. Same goes for Harry Nilsson. My parents had a copy of The Point, which still makes my skin crawl to this day. For me, it was Zappa and Waits, Beefheart at bedtime. Sometimes I still put on Trout Mask Replica when I can’t sleep.

I remember when I was three sitting at the kitchen table with my mom. She was listening to, “Beautiful Boy,” by John and Yoko. She played that song a lot when we were together. On this particular day, she was weepy and I asked her what was wrong; she told me that someone had shot the man who sang that song. I thought she meant he had to go to the doctor and get a shot like I had so many times. I really felt for the poor guy.

I am fortunate to have grown up in a city with a thriving music scene and thus, many fantastic independent record stores. Minneapolis is home to local mainstays like Treehouse (nee’ Oarfolkjokeopus), Cheapo, and my dad’s favorite, The Electric Fetus. He went to the Fetus after almost every payday and always came home with something new that he had never heard of. To be fair, it wasn’t always great but he got very lucky more than once.

When I was ten he brought home Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables by The Dead Kennedys, because he thought the band name and cover art looked interesting. He didn’t much care for the music but I did. I was at the time a huge fan of the heavy metal of the day; Motley Crue, Kiss, and Twisted Sister in particular. But once I heard the Dead Kennedys those other bands seemed silly, even to a ten year-old. Around this same time I got caught up in the skateboarding craze that hit the midwest in the mid-eighties and became friends with some older kids who hipped me to more punk rock. In hindsight, it wasn’t the best period for hardcore. Along with great bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat, I loved admittedly corny bands like DRI, Cro-Mags, and the Youth of Today, along with locals like Blind Approach, Misery, and the Libido Boyz. Ah, the folly of youth!

Throughout high school I was an avid record collector, much like my dad. I had a shitty job washing dishes in a Christian nursing home and my first stop on payday was always Down In The Valley Records, a suburban headshop that stocked, along with the bongs and such, all the hippest indie releases. The store had the added appeal for me that once I was deemed cool by some older girls who worked there for wearing a Husker Du t-shirt, they would sell me cigarettes even though I was only fifteen.

A couple of years later I got a job working in the parking lot of the Walker Arts Center in downtown, Minneapolis. It didn’t take long for me to figure out how to adjust the books so as to let me supplement my income by pocketing a little extra money and my ritual continued. After closing up the parking booth I would walk a mile down Lyndale Ave. to Oarfolk and pick up records; the Cows, the Minutemen, New Bomb Turks, Nation of Ulysses, the Melvins.

One day in the parking booth, I heard an especially abrasive and funny song on the college radio station that I didn’t recognize. I called up the station to ask the name and the girl told me the song was, “L Dopa,” by Big Black. After work I headed to Oarfolk in hopes of finding it. I found it on a copy of Songs About Fucking that I bought and took home. That record remains one of my all-time favorite, dessert island records. Everything about it was and is a perfect statement of a smart-assed fondness for poor taste; the music, the artwork and even the liner notes (“Dave Riley uses and endorses Alembic Basses and Trace-Elliot amplifiers. Steve Albini uses and endorses heroin.”).

I am sad to say my once admirable record collection has been decimated over fifteen or so years of lifestyle induced poverty, but what are you gonna do? Through lean times I sold most of my gems; an original pressing of Husker Du’s Everything Falls Apart, countless out-of-print Amphetamine Reptile releases, tons of bootleg Misfits singles.

I also gave away some collectables. Once I realized that I never really liked Rocket From The Crypt, and only bought their records because they were limited edition, I gave them to a friend who really dug them. I spent years bouncing from one crash pad to the next and haven’t afforded myself the luxury of collecting much of anything.

What’s more, I am not by any means an analogue/vinyl purist. I firmly believe that good music is good no matter how it is recorded or on what format it is played. I have listened to my dad’s Frank Zappa records in his den in a big, comfy chair, and I have listened to Zappa on my phone while riding the bus. I enjoyed them both, a lot. Certainly, in a perfect world all loud rock music would be played on a turntable through a tube amp and big speakers. However, I like very much that I can play my entire music library on a device the size a cassette tape. I think sometimes that too much importance is put upon formats, but if I had to pick a favorite vinyl would most certainly be it.”
Matt Cronk, Qui

Qui’s “Awkward Human Interest,” a limited edition split 7″ single with Mike Watt + The Secondmen was released in July via ORG Music. 

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