The Hazey Janes,
The TVD First Date

“I’d imagine that most record collectors’ first experiences of the medium are with their parents’ or an older relative’s collection. Probably fewer come as a result of hearing the unmistakable voice of a parent from their home stereo. As was the case with the first time I heard my father’s Gaels Blue album. I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but I was young enough to think he must have managed to crawl inside one of those speakers to sing to us. A quick schooling from my mother later, I was a vinyl enthusiast.”

“Not long later, I adopted their clear vinyl 45 pressing of Dave Edmunds’ ‘Girls Talk’ as my record, something which is evident to this day with the cryptic code I seem to have scribbled on the sleeve. I can’t remember much else from their collection making an early impact on me, looking through stacks of sleeves featuring long-haired, earnest-looking men and women, these records were clearly none of my business.

Yet. Instead, I took an interest in the pop music of the day, my first purchase being ‘A Little Respect’ by Erasure—a single which still gets the odd spin at certain DJ engagements to this day. As the pop singles continued to pile up, I found myself drawn to a few things I’d heard around the house – Weather Report, Bob Marley, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’—and my horizons began to expand as I neared my teenage years.

After a childhood spent in the Angus countryside, starting high school in Dundee was a revelation. In the urban environment, Hip Hop became a new obsession. From the early-to-mid nineties, classic records were coming out of New York weekly, and the 12” single became my format of choice as I took an interest in sampling and DJing. Concurrently, I’d been inspired to pick up the guitar after hearing The Stone Roses’ self-titled debut, a record which led to the discovery of The Byrds and classic ’60s pop. Meeting Andrew and bonding over a love of The Beatles, the formation of a band was inevitable.

Whilst discovering new sounds and styles as we progressed through our teens, those bohemian folkies on my parents’ records began to appear a lot more relevant. ‘Blonde on Blonde’ and ‘Solid Air’ both received regular spins, but the most interesting looking records were by a rather pensive looking figure named Nick Drake. We listened to ‘Five Leaves Left’ and ‘Bryter Layter’ over and over again, hastily amalgamating two of the latter’s track titles for our fledgling combo’s name.

Incidentally, an original ‘Pink Moon’ LP still eludes me. I could shell out for one from an online dealer, but when I eventually find one ‘in the field’ the victory will be all the sweeter. Therein lies the problem with modern collecting habits. Online purchases are often a necessity, yet the practice contains none of the joy that comes with getting your fingers dusty and doing your research in a real physical store. Many of my most prized items were found whilst on tour with the band, filling in the pre-soundcheck downtime by searching the quiet, off-centre streets where record and junk shops are usually found.

And those are the places I’d often be found as I entered my twenties. With Liam on board, we had another vinyl freak in the band and rehearsals were often followed by a trip into town to uncover further gems at Dundee’s finest Disc Exchange, Groucho’s. Hip hop had given way to the soul, funk, disco, and jazz records that we were spinning weekly at our friend Luke’s Soul Cellar club night. It was at this time that it started to become clear that I was on a never-ending quest, which is another one of the joys of record collecting. Essentially, it’s all about constantly learning, developing your taste, and having fun while you’re doing it. After all, The Beach Boys lead to the Ronettes, on to the Cookies, the Tammys and the Arizona Yodelers in the same way that one kiss leads to another…

The rest of my twenties were spent amassing all kinds of delights, from Italo disco and Detroit beatdown to Brazilian samba and NYC salsa. One particular highlight was actually visiting New York with the band and riding the subway, with ‘Illmatic’ on my headphones, to buy Blue Note jazz and P&P disco in the very city it came from. I was very tempted by several of the ‘holy grail’ pieces adorning the walls of some of the more boutique stores but, looking back, that may have been missing the point. These days, I’d much rather find worth in something that has been overlooked and give it new life, thereby making the collection that much more personal. Every individual’s collection is unique and represents their own journey, regardless of how many trophies their cabinet contains.

Recently, reflecting on this very subject matter, I dug out a few jazz records as a late night soundtrack. With Dollar Brand flying solo at the piano, beneath a thin layer of crackle, I decided that listening to this music on vinyl just sounds right. I can’t be sure, but there’s a fair chance my conclusion stems from that day, sitting on our old living room carpet and hearing the opening chords of Gaels Blue for the very first time.”
Matthew Marra

The Hazey Janes’ new album Language Of Faint Theory lands on store shelves June 2nd and the band will be embarking on a headline tour of Scotland in June.

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For John Louden 

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