Nate Leavitt,
The TVD First Date

“I was fortunate to become interested in music just at the tail end of the vinyl record’s popularity and transition to cassettes. There’s nothing that compared to the excitement of going to a record store, flipping through the bins of albums, and looking at the album cover art. Sometimes a selection would be made based solely on the front cover without even knowing who the artist was.”

“My very first vinyl record was discovered by using this superficial method and opposite approach of judging a book by its cover. That record was KISS Dynasty. I don’t remember if I was a KISS fan at the time? I mean, I must have heard “Beth” or Dynasty’s disco tinged hit song “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” on the car radio in my mom’s station wagon. She always had music on in the car. What I do remember about this life changing moment is this. One day my dad, sister, and myself went to our hometown record shop, Phinney’s Radio and TV. I eventually find myself in the “K” section of the alphabetized bins.

Flipping through, I imagine I must have seen albums by K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Kenny Rogers, The Knack, or Kool and the Gang. Stopping me in my tracks though was that cover art for Dynasty! The four members of KISS, a black background, showing only their painted faces staring back at me. It was equally cool and scary. Just look at Gene Simmons and imagine being around 7 years old. I had to have it! So I picked it out of the bin and met up with the others. I’m sure some of you are thinking KISS, really? Yeah I get it. I know that nearby in that same section were albums by Led Zeppelin or John Lennon. Don’t worry I’d discover those eventually.

What I also remember from buying my first album was the distinct sound it had. I’d come to realize later that most vinyl had a warm tone to it. Specifically speaking about Dynasty though as I remember dropping the needle on the record. Hearing that bass and guitar galloping along, followed by the group vocal “Do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do….”

The drum beat was familiar and reminded me of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack my sister played a lot. It was the disco, four on the floor, kick drum pattern but different. This song had electric guitars and an attitude which was new to me. That was the moment guitar and rock music entered my brain. I’d go on to buy more records to play on my parent’s old stereo. Learn to enjoy the crackle, hiss, and sometimes warped sound records made. I would experiment with the RPM speed by slowing it down or speeding it up. Even trying to rotate them backwards.

Some of my best memories as a teenager involved shopping for records. I had a neighbor who was a few years older than me and he introduced to me to a lot of cool music. In fact he was the one who got me into guitar too. We used to take the train from the suburbs into the city. Go to the used records shops in Boston and Cambridge, MA. We’d hangout in stores like Mystery Train and Second Coming to search for collectibles, bootlegs, and imports. Going to flea markets was a great time too.

I discovered a lot of influential music on record. The Duane Allman album, An Anthology, was hugely inspirational to me. The version of “Hey Jude” he did with Wilson Picket comes to mind. I was equally influenced by the album Graham Nash and David Crosby with songs like “Where Will I Be?” and “Southbound Train.” I once found a collection of vinyl someone left behind in the basement of an apartment I was living in. In that box was a copy of John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band and Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changin’ both of which I had never heard.

Music on vinyl has always been a part of my life. Call it fate, but one way or another I found it or it found me.”
Nate Leavitt

Nate Leavitt & The Elevation’s new EP, “Someone Send a Signal” arrives in stores on April 22, 2016.

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PHOTO: JOHNNY ANGUISH

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