Sunset Neon,
The TVD First Date

“The first record I remember hearing as a kid was the soundtrack to Top Gun. I know that my mom had other records because I remember seeing them stacked up, but the only one that blares out in memory is that Top Gun soundtrack. I’d run around the living room like a little madman and couldn’t believe it could possible to be any more hyped than rocketing off the couch to “Danger Zone.” (I was 100% correct, too. Try it now. Loggins compels you.)”

“I was super into aviation and any form of airplane dogfights as a kid, so not only did the movie get watched over and over, the soundtrack would hit the turntable at every opportunity. I didn’t fully have an appreciation of how special vinyl was at that point because it was just the main way that I knew you listened to music at home, versus the cassettes for traveling and my grandparents car with an 8-track of the Oak Ridge Boys permanently lodged in it (which is fine…”Elvira” rules).

After moving around a bit, my mom no longer had the record player or the vinyl. I was still into playing cassette tapes on my little Walkman until they died (and making my own tapes of stuff off the radio, or holding a Radio Shack mic up to the TV to record parts of soundtracks I liked).

The house we wound up spending the most time in (and was the biggest part of my growing up) was walking distance to the world’s greatest music store, Zia Records in Phoenix, Arizona. I would save up any money I had, walk down to Zia, and immediately become overwhelmed with the sheer heaven of how much music was now available to me. The gig with the CDs at Zia was that, while they had brand spankin’ new unopened discs there, it was primarily stocked with used CDs anywhere from $7 and below. This became my main way of learning about music and discovering what I loved.

Being able to get at least 4–5 discs at a time with my meager teenage earnings meant not only amassing a bunch of really unique stuff like every conceivable UK techno compilation or Skinny Puppy single, but also fostered my appreciation for having the physical thing to pour over while in headphones. The fact that it was entirely based on what weird stuff people would bring in meant exposure to stuff I would never find in a traditional music store. I’ve since gone back and been practically moved to tears to see that they had brand new copies of my other project, Blue Stahli. This was sacred ground, after all.

Years later I find myself in Los Angeles (where I now bounce back and forth to Detroit a bit) and digital has fully taken over. I was having some trouble getting acclimated to the city, so a friend took me on a “Here’s Some Stuff You’ll Dig In LA, Vol. 1” which resulted in a trip to Amoeba Records. At the time of entering the store I still had no record player, but knew that I eventually would, so I went a bit nuts getting the albums I knew I wanted to just be enveloped in and spend a night with the lights off and the warmth of an actual record filling the world with music—Swans The Seer, Ministry The Land of Rape and Honey, Wovenhand Refractory Obdurate, Sunn O))) Black One, Godflesh Messiah.

The funny thing is that the very next night, a friend comes over to the apartment with a belated wedding gift and says “Here, I meant to hook you guys up with this a while ago, but the important thing is you have it now.” And of course it was a record player.

Also, I’m now going to use this space to encourage the hell out of you to go to Zia Records in Arizona and see all the amazing stuff they have (tons of vinyl, and now expanded with a treasure trove of interesting books as well). Seriously, it’s magic, and truly unique…something the world needs a hell of a lot more of. The one on Thunderbird will always be special to me.”
Bret Autrey

Sunset Neon’s debut album Starlight arrives in stores on December 1, 2017.

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PHOTO: KYLE DANLEY

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