Andrew McKeag,
The TVD First Date

“The first record I remember buying was Boston’s self-titled debut, purchased at The Source Record & Tapes in Cedar Mill, OR in 1978 or so. At least I think that’s what the store was called—it’d disappeared by the early 80s.”

“The babysitter brought his copy over one night and I thought it was the most badass thing I’d ever heard at 8 years old. At the time, the album had already been out for a while, but he’d just seen them live and I had a ton of questions about what a ‘real rock concert’ was like. I remember him telling me, ‘Well, just stick your head in front of this speaker…’ after which he proceeded to totally crank the volume and my head exploded with the ripping guitars of ‘Smokin’.’

I had to have my own copy, so within a few days I’d gathered enough allowance money and spare change to buy one. I still remember the smell of that store—a combination of new cellophane, incense, and whatever the employees were probably smoking in the back room.

The artwork and the liner notes on LPs were like a little mystery that you could never solve—the less info provided, the more intriguing it was to try to sort out! I was never a stoner, but I had lots of friends who’d sit around and clean their pot on gatefold records. We’d all check out the artwork and liner notes for hours, wondering what the band was thinking about with each detail.

What was the exotic studio they’d recorded really like? Who are all those mysterious names with funny titles like Organic Advisor (Steve Paul’s credit on early Johnny Winter records… I get it now!). On the back of Boston’s debut there was a little story about how the band and album came together. It was cryptic, and kept returning to the phrase—’listen to the record.’ I remember thinking that was so cool. I was like, ‘Okay dudes, I will… again!’

I’ve got great friends who are insane vinyl collectors. They have thousands of records and are obsessed with labels, promo copies, etc. I’ve always loved actual vinyl records but I don’t really collect anything with a passion like that. I like to have stuff I use, and I certainly appreciate all the crazy details, but I’m far from obsessed.

When I started buying records you only had three choices—LP, cassette, or 8-track. We didn’t have a cassette player or 8 track player at home, so that decision was easy. That changed later when my folks sprung for a new tape deck and I got a Walkman. Then I started making and receiving mix tapes, which I always had to make directly from LPs because we only had a single cassette deck.

As time marched on, I wound up working in record stores and CDs took over… but I never stopped grabbing LPs here and there. Usually used stuff—yes, kiddies… it used to be way cheaper to buy old catalog albums on vinyl. A couple bucks would get you a clean US release version of Led Zeppelin II or some old Shelter Records Freddie King album. They pressed 1000s of them back in the day! Nowadays they act like that stuff is made of gold.

Due to the return to the ‘singles only’ style of music consumption, music can easily float past most listeners without much thought. Listening to a vinyl LP in its entirety forces me to sit and listen in a more focused way, just like I did when I was a kid. When an artist puts together an album, there is a huge amount of thought and consideration put into the flow of the tracks. That vaporizes when you’re listening to playlists, especially when they’re chosen at random by Spotify or Pandora or the like.

When I began playing in original bands and making recordings, we always tried to get labels to do a 7” single or at least do a 100 copies of our full length albums on vinyl. Sometimes it just wasn’t possible due to the expense. It’s a huge regret to me that we didn’t do vinyl for the second Uncle Joe’s Big Ol’ Driver record or either of the Shuggie full-lengths—so the new Andrew McKeag Band album will be released on LP for sure! On colored vinyl no less, with plenty pressed in the first run. I’m excited to open the first fresh box and hold it in my hands. Then I’ll get comfortable, check out the liner notes, and ‘listen to the record!'”
Andrew McKeag

The debut solo release from Andrew McKeag of The Presidents of the United States of America arrives in stores on Friday, November 17, 2017—on vinyl. It can be pre-ordered here.

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