Independent Record Labels Need To Be Counted

Independent Record Labels Need To Be Counted

By Robert Benson

With vinyl record sales up more than fifteen percent over last year’s totals (858,000 ‘units’ bought in 2006 versus 990,000 in 2007, according to Nielsen Soundscan), has the comeback of this historical audio medium reached its pinnacle? No one can say for sure, but one thing is certain, these sales figures are not a full indication of just what is happening in the ‘vinyl world’ and how many records have truly been sold.

These sales figures may be underestimated and under represent the exact sales figures because they don’t always include the sales at the smaller ‘indie’ record shops where vinyl does the best. I spoke with Virgil Dickerson, owner of one of these ‘indie’ record shops, and Vinyl Collective (based in Denver, Colorado) about what he is noticing about the trend to go back to vinyl records.

“Certainly, my CD sales have dropped off, and I have seen an increase in the sales of our vinyl records. People want a tangible product to go along with their music. The record album artwork and the great sound of vinyl are also factors in the resurgence,” detailed Virgil. “Digital music lacks the ‘soul’ of a record and there is almost a therapeutic ritual when you experience playing vinyl, the act of physically playing the record, the smell, turning the record over to hear the other side- are all factors as to why people are in love with the format.”

But, is the vinyl resurgence just a passing fad, what do you see for the future of the vinyl record?

“Some of our customers are what I term as ‘lifers,’ people who will buy records whether they are popular or not and may even have an extensive collection of records. And then there may be some that are just jumping on the ‘vinyl bandwagon,’ buying records to be cool or because they are popular now, but there will always be a place for vinyl within the music community,” said Virgil.

As previously noted, Virgil is the owner and operates Suburban Home Records, a record label that signs and releases music from bands from all over the world as well as Vinyl Collective, a unique vinyl friendly web store. And with such an eclectic array of musical genres to choose from including punk, alternative country, heavy metal, rock and roll and just about anything in between, his customer base is as varied as the musical styles that they offer.

We discussed some of the vinyl record formats that are being manufactured, including audiophile vinyl, picture discs, limited releases and colored vinyl.

“With regard to colored vinyl, we do it because we want each pressing to be distinctive. Colored vinyl is more prevalent now than, lets say, ten years ago and is highly sought after; people want it, so we appease our customers by releasing it,” explained Virgil. “We have some that are just one color, clear vinyl and we have added some with speckles and swirls.”

“Picture discs are also highly sought after as well, but are much more expensive per unit to manufacture. They are usually released with no jacket (they are kept in a clear re-sealable package) so that helps to reduce the cost. And the sound quality can fluctuate from good to bad depending on the pressing plant that is used. Audiophile records are more expensive as well, manufactured as 180-200 gram records instead of our norm, which is 140-160 grams,” said Virgil.

We also discussed the difference in sound quality between audiophile records and the normal standard vinyl releases.

“Audiophile records have a better sound quality because a higher grade of vinyl is used and the grooves are cut deeper into the vinyl, producing a much clearer sound. I would think that they are also less susceptible to scratching and scuffing and withstand the normal wear and tear that a record gets form use, because of their thickness,” related Virgil.

We talked about ‘limited releases’ and why these are not only popular, but profitable as well.

“Well, instead of pressing, let’s say, 5,000 copies of a particular recording, we may only press 500. This helps to keep our costs down and collectors love this type of release; they will own an uncommon or rare record, which can affect the resale value of the record, depending on various factors such as the artist, condition etc.”

What other marketing ploys are utilized in the record business?

“We are starting to sign up bands for a 7” ‘split’ series. We will do a pre-order for each 7” and have several artists already committed to the project including Chuck Ragan/Tim Barry, William Elliott Whitmore/Josh Small, Fake Problems/Look Mexico, Rocky Votolato/Chad Price (of Drag the River), just to name a few. The artists will do a cover of a song that has influenced what they do today. We not only have our own artists from Suburban Home Records, but other record labels and artists as well. And this is not so much a marketing ploy, as it is a unique opportunity for artists to be heard by other fan bases that may have not heard of the artist before the split and may also introduce the listener to another kind of musical genre that they may not listen to. With luck, we hope to have customers be interested enough to collect the whole series,” detailed Virgil.

We have just met the man behind the scenes at Suburban Home Records/Vinyl Collective, one of hundreds of independent record labels that produce quality vinyl records and allow independent musicians to be heard by the masses. Why these sales are not tabulated with the ‘big box’ record stores or major labels is food for thought. But if Suburban Home Records/Vinyl Collective keeps releasing quality vinyl records, it is just a matter of time, before they too, will become a “major label” and be counted, as the sale of vinyl records continues to move upward.

Author Robert Benson writes about rock/pop music, vinyl record collecting and operates, where you can pick up a copy of his ebook called

"The Fascinating Hobby Of Vinyl Record Collecting."

Seven Inch Project

Seven Inch Project Releases Vol. 001-003!!
Limited Collectors Edition 7" Vinyl.

(Matte Finished Gate-fold Jackets, Heavy 70 Gram Coloured Vinyl, High Quality Digital Downloads Included! & All Hand Numbered. Limited to only 500 copies per Volume!)

Volume 001 – Agent Ribbons
And The Star-Crossed Doppleganger

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Volume 002 – June Madrona
Isabelle's Paintings and Two Fantasies EP

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Volume 003 – Half-Handed Cloud
Winding Currents On A Spool EP Out Now!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

You can get more info or purchase the records here!

More to come in 2008!!!

We’re having a vinyl revival  


We're having a vinyl revival

Pirate-proof … Phil Thomson of The Vintage Record says he took a punt on the fact you can't download a record - and it has paid off.

Pirate-proof … Phil Thomson of The Vintage Record says he took a punt on the fact you can't download a record – and it has paid off.
Photo: Steven Siewert


Kelsey Munro
February 5, 2008

Page 1 of 2 | Single page

EVERYWHERE you look, dark clouds are gathering over the music industry. Sales were down 10 per cent last year. The number of songs illegally ripped off the internet outnumbers legal downloads 20 to one.

Last week, the musician Peter Gabriel told an industry conference in Cannes: "It's time to put the corpse of what we know as the record industry in the ground and let some other beautiful things start to grow out of it."

At the same conference, U2's manager, Paul McGuinness, saw things differently – even if he agreed on the death bit.

"The collapse of the old financial model for recorded music will also mean the end of the songwriter," he warned.

As REM once sang, "It's the end of the world as we know it".

Yet there is a bright spot amid all this gloom: specialist vinyl shops are experiencing a mini-boom, and they're feeling fine.

"Vinyl record sales aren't affected by downloads," says Phil Thomson, the owner of The Vintage Record in Annandale, which specialises in vinyl LPs from the 1940s onwards, with a classic rock bent. He bought the shop two years ago, and doesn't stock CDs.

"It's all doom and gloom if you're selling CDs now," Thomson says. "I figured you can't download a record, you have to go out and buy it. So I took a punt, and it's paying off."

The mood is similarly buoyant at many of Sydney's other specialist music shops, from Newtown's Egg Records (second-hand vinyl, CDs, DVDs and memorabilia) to Birdland (jazz, soul and blues) in the city and Erskineville's Revolve Records Relics ('50s to '80s vinyl, prog, funk, jazz and hip-hop).

A steady stream of analogue purists, collectors, diehard fans, DJs and young converts keeps business turning over nicely. "Rumours of our demise are [exaggerated]," says Kieran Stafford, the owner of Birdland since 1991.

To a certain extent, specialist outlets are insulated from the effects of illegal downloading because of the type of customers they attract by offering deep back catalogues, rarities and knowledgeable staff.

"The downloads market is predominantly the Top 40 market – which is why singles don't exist any more," Stafford says.

"They're the kind of people who think they've got a record collection when they've got two records. Our average customer probably buys one or two albums a week."

The appeal of LPs is not only nostalgic; it is also tactile and aesthetic. You lose sound quality and the romance of the object with downloads, say the store owners. Coveting a limited-edition green vinyl 12-inch of the Cure's song The Forest? (That's $80 at Revolve.) An original local pressing of INXS's Listen Like Thieves? ($16 at The Vintage Record.) The complete On The Corner sessions by Miles Davis in an embossed metal box? ($180 at Birdland.) To teenagers used to getting their music for free, the maths doesn't add up; but for fans the price is beside the point.


"I'm finding that kids are starting to come back into the shop thanks to bands like Wolfmother citing their influences as Led Zeppelin, or similar," Thomson says. "There's also been a bit of an '80s revival – Duran Duran, Adam and the Ants, the Eurythmics – kids are coming in and buying them on vinyl."

Barry Scott, the owner of Egg Records, has also seen a surge in vinyl sales. "Business is fine," he says. "We also sell reconditioned turntables, and I sell one every week or two. It figures they're going to buy vinyl."

CD sales are only a tiny fraction of the business at Revolve – the bulk is vinyl and memorabilia. Employee Peter Prifunovic says: "The boss tells me vinyl sales have been growing over the last three years. It was one of the reasons he hired me.

"We get fairly young customers, anywhere from 18 up, and generally male. Younger guys don't collect so much, they come in to buy records to sample."

The vinyl market is not only second hand: reissues are good sellers, and such acts as Radiohead, Bjork, the White Stripes and Ben Harper have released their latest records on vinyl. Recently, a boutique pressing plant called Vinyl Factory Australia opened in Marrickville. Thomson talks about unsigned bands offering songs for download on MySpace and then pressing a seven-inch when enough people have shown an interest.

It's not all good news. Graham Nixon, who has run the punk and hardcore specialty shop Resist Records in Newtown for 10 years, says downloading has had an enormous impact on his sales. "I'd say 80 per cent of customers under 20 come in and they don't look at music, they go straight to the T-shirts," he says.

Stafford thinks the future of music retailing will include physical and digital sales.

"I think it won't be one or the other but a mixture of both," he says. "Not everyone's interested in downloading. The quality is not as good. As for the big stores – whether or not they survive, I don't care. We'll still be here."

Time they are changing

The recorded music industry has changed enormously in the past five years. In 2003, there were about 30 legal download services available; now there are more than 500.

People can legally access about 6 million songs online.

The digital music share of the global music market has moved from almost zero in 2003 to 15 per cent or $US3 billion last year.

In 2003, customers could buy an artist's release in only a few formats – typically on CD.

Last year, Justin Timberlake's Future Sex/Love Sounds was released in 115 products or formats (including ringtones, mobile full-track downloads, video, iTunes and others) which sold a total of 19 million units. Only 20 per cent of its sales were CDs.


Legend Johnny Marr to Work With THE CRIBS; New 7″-Vinyl

SOURCE: Warner Bros. Records


Feb 21, 2008 09:00 ET

THE CRIBS Release New Digital EP With Exclusive Remix by The Postal Service; Letterman Date Confirmed; Ex-Smiths' Legend Johnny Marr to Work With THE CRIBS; New 7"-Vinyl Single Available on Tour Only

BURBANK, CA–(Marketwire – February 21, 2008) – Yorkshire punk-rock upstarts, THE CRIBS, will descend upon the U.S. yet again next month in support of their Warner Bros. Records album debut, "MEN'S NEEDS, WOMEN'S NEEDS, WHATEVER" as well as a brand new digital EP. On February 26th, a new, exclusive five-track digital EP will become available for purchase through iTunes. It will include the original album version of "I'm a Realist," as well as a new version of the track remixed by the band's friends The Postal Service. Two new recordings — "Don't You Wanna Be Relevant" and "Kind Words From the Broken Hearted" – – have been unavailable in the U.S. until now. The fifth track is a live video for "Our Bovine Public" taken from the album. On March 4th, the EP will be made available to a wider audience through all participating digital retail outlets.

At the beginning of the tour, The Cribs will make a stop in Austin, Texas to perform shows at the annual SXSW Music and Film conference. The band will perform twice on Friday, March 14th, at the Village Voice/New Times/Dallas Observer show at La Zona Rosa with The Black Keys (daytime) and again that night at Stubbs. Immediately following SXSW, The Cribs will head to New York City to perform live on "The Late Show with David Letterman" for the first time on March 18, 2008.

As reported in the U.K. press, The Cribs have begun recording new, collaborative material with former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr in Manchester. Bassist Gary Jarman and Marr, both currently residing in Portland, OR, met at a party, became fast friends and ultimately decided to write, record and perform together. Thus far the sessions have yielded so many songs that it has yet to be decided whether the recordings will result in an EP or a full album. Jarman described working with Marr as a "dream" and revealed that the possibility of Marr taking a break from playing with Modest Mouse and joining The Cribs as a fourth member could become a reality. "It's been going well," Jarman says. "It's great to have a new member, especially when the new member is your favorite guitarist."

During a February 2nd show at the Manchester Academy, Marr joined The Cribs onstage for two songs: The Smiths' classic "Panic" and "I'm a Realist" — the current single from The Cribs' album "MEN'S NEEDS, WOMEN'S NEEDS, WHATEVER." No word at this time whether Marr will join The Cribs on their upcoming U.S. tour.

In other news, collectors and vinyl enthusiasts will be pleased to learn that a special limited-edition, one-time only pressing of "I'm A Realist" (album version) b/w "I'm A Realist" (The Postal Service Remix) will be made available for purchase exclusively at the band's U.S. shows. This is a tour-only item and will not be sold anywhere else at any other time. Arrive early or start checking eBay after March 8th. The Cribs' U.S. tour dates are as follows:


Sat    March 8   Mexico City, MX    Beat Festival
Tues March 11 Houston, TX The Engine Room
Wed March 12 Dallas, TX The Loft
Thurs March 13 Austin, TX SXSW
Fri March 14 Austin, TX SXSW
Sat March 15 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jacks
Mon March 17 Athens, GA 40 Watt Club
Wed March 19 Washington, DC Black Cat
Thurs March 20 Brooklyn, NY Williamsburg Hall
Fri March 21 Boston, MA Paradise
Sat March 22 Philadelphia, PA North Star
Sun March 23 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
Tues March 25 Chicago, IL Double Door
Wed March 26 Minneapolis, MN Varsity Theatre
Fri March 28 Denver, CO Bluebird
Mon March 31 Seattle, WA Chop Suey
Wed April 2 Portland, OR Doug Fir Lounge
Thurs April 3 San Francisco, CA Pop Scene
Fri April 4 Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theatre

Finally, The Cribs have scored four NME Award nominations in the UK, including "Best British Band," "Best Live Act," "Track of The Year: Men's Needs," and "Hero of The Year: Ryan Jarman." The Cribs will play the NME Awards show on February 28th at the 02 Arena in London along with Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party, Manic Street Preachers, and the Klaxons. For details, please visit Until then, see you at SXSW!

Vinyl as investment  


Old vinyl records are rapidly emerging as a high yielding alternative investment, it has been reported.

According to Stephen Maycock, a specialist in rock and roll memorabilia affiliated to Bonhams auction house, during the "past few years some records have soared tenfold in value, but when first released they could have been picked up for pennies".

Among the records which command high prices are early or rare releases from British rock giants such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd, The Smiths and The Beatles, whose seven inch single recorded as The Quarrymen 'That'll be the Day' can fetch up to £100,000.

Also commanding high prices are soul singles, such as a first pressing of Frank Wilson's 'Do I Love You?', which was last sold for £15,000.

Mr Maycock told the Telegraph: "The Beatles are the giants for collectors as they hold universal appeal, but there are still plenty more which can prove to be great investments."

Harold and Maude soundtrack

Attention vinyl nerds: Harold and Maude soundtrack to be re-released by Light in the Attic

Light in the Attic Records, the local modern day Sub Pop of cool and obscure re-releases (Betty Davis anyone?) and cool up-and-coming Seattle bands (Saturday Knights and The Blakes), is re-releasing the Harold and Maude soundtrack on vinyl.

Described as "the Holy Grail" of unreleased soundtracks, this LP includes tons of extra goodies. While I am not a Cat Stevens fan, I am a fan of the obscure and rare (plus I also enjoy finding great vinyl records) and this puppy seems to be both.

The details from LITA's Web site:


Vinyl Films Records has just release the Holy Grail of unreleased soundtracks, Harold and Maude!

Thirty-six years after its initial release, every one of Cat Stevens' masterful songs from the film are compiled in one incredible package. In addition to such classics as "Miles From Nowhere", "Where Do The Children Play?" and "Trouble", the album includes the two songs written specifically for Harold and Maude, "If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out" and "Don't Be Shy", along with alternate versions of both Harold and Maude tracks.

Over two years in the making, the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to Harold and Maude comes with an extensive 36-page full-color booklet filled with never-before-seen photographs and an oral history of the making of the film and the music, as told by the filmmakers and participants. Also included is a bonus 7" single with unreleased versions of "Don't Be Shy" and "If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out", two suitable-for-framing posters, and much more!

Available only on 2500 copies of Limited Edition Vinyl.

LP Package also includes –
– 2 foldout 18" x 24" posters
– Bonus 7" with previously unreleased tracks


1. Side One:
2. Don't Be Shy
3. On The Road To Find Out
4. I Wish, I Wish
5. Miles From Nowhere
6. Tea For The Tillerman
7. I Think I See The Light

Side Two:
1. Where Do The Children Play?
2. If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out
3. If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out (banjo instrumental)*
4. Trouble
5. Don't Be Shy (alternate version)*
6. If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out (instrumental version)*

Bonus 7"
a) Don't Be Shy (demo version)*
b) If You want To Sing Out, Sing Out (alternate version)*

* previously unreleased

Here is the plot summary of the movie from for those not familiar with the film.

Harold is a depressed, death-obsessed 20-year-old man-child who spends his free time attending funerals and committing suicide in front of his mother, but he does not die. At a funeral, Harold befriends Maude, a 79-year-old woman who has a zest for life. She and Harold spend much time together during which she exposes him to the wonders and possibilities of life. After rejecting his mother's three attempts to set him up with a potential wife, and committing fake suicide in front of all of them, Harold announces that he is to be married to Maude. However, Maude has a surprise for Harold that is to change his life forever.

Vinyl Pursuits  


After 5: Collector's Series: Vinyl Pursuits

Brett Childers has more than 8,000 records in his collection, and he stands to inherit his parents' collection of 7,000.
Brett Childers has more than 8,000 records in his collection, and he stands to inherit his parents' collection of 7,000.

Musical passions spin into serious hobby

Record collectors appear to have at least one thing in common: a love of music.

Of course, collectors also include dealers and those who buy rare finds to make money on the next sale. Most record collectors, however, have never sold any of their prize possessions.

Mark Harrington, president and CEO of Old Missouri National Bank, started collecting when he was 11 years old, using his “pop bottle money” to buy records and baseball cards.

“I love the sound of dropping that stylus down in the grooves,” Harrington says. “That got me when I was a kid, and it still does.”

He has never sold or traded one of his 2,000 records – not even when he accidentally purchased a duplicate.

Brett Childers, owner and president of Springfield Inventory Service Inc., has a collection of a little more than 4,000 12-inch albums, 4,000 45s and about 100 78s. He also knows he’ll inherit his parents’ collection of more than 7,000 records eventually. Even so, he’s not one to sell his records either.

“I collect them because I not only like to have them, I like to play them, too,” Childers explains.

Childers listens to records every day. He often puts a stack of three on the turntable while running on his treadmill. He likes all styles of music, but leans toward rock ‘n’ roll. Harrington also likes pop and soul music.

Wes Nichols, owner of Stick It In Your Ear in Springfield, says the demographic for record collectors is across the board – from 13-year-old females to 55-year-old males.

“A lot of people that we think would come in for a pop CD end up going to the back and buying a stack of old (Jimi) Hendrix records,” Nichols notes.

Nichols says 20 percent of his business is from vinyl sales, and he buys 30 to 40 records per day and sells about the same with average retail prices of $4 to $6. One-third of his vinyl sales are from new vinyl while the rest is used. Nichols lets Childers know when a new batch of records hits the store and also when record shows are scheduled.

Childers and Harrington also search garage sales and flea markets for records and will search online when looking for specific albums. Childers says he looks for things he didn’t buy when he was a kid and for unusual items like misprints on labels.

So where do they keep all these albums? Both Harrington and Childers have closets or shelves specifically built to store their collections, but both have outgrown these custom spaces and have stacks and crates full of overflow.

Vinyl Records Are Dead (Long Live Vinyl Records): A Few Questions  


Vinyl Records Are Dead (Long Live Vinyl Records): A Few Questions


Yesterday Seattlest took a few minutes out of a "working at home" day to run up to 45th and the taco truck in the Winchell's parking lot (man's gotta eat), and since the Seattlest household got a turntable for Christmas and Golden Oldies is right there we stopped in after eating (man's gotta rock out). Our record collection is pretty thin, consisting of maybe a dozen or twenty records which is great because we have absolutely no desire to amass those huge boxes of vinyl that DJ's and nerds tend to acquire, but, you know, maybe one box wouldn't be so bad. One box of rotating content, maybe?

records.jpegGolden Oldies has a ton of great stuff unless you're looking for something pressed in the past ten years, or, surprisingly, blues. Their folk, jazz and country sections are packed full of goodies. We didn't really get to rock (had to get back to the home/office), but it looked like they had a wall full. We also have to drop some bonus points on them for maintaining numerous "northwest" sections. They had The Cowboys, which we should have grabbed, in hindsight, in lieu of Enumclaw's "Fiddling Engineer" that we bought out of the "northwest bluegrass" section. We got out of there in about half an hour having spent around $25 for four records. We'll definitely be headed back for more, but, again, the blues section was poorly stocked.

Our question to Seattle vinyl shoppers, though, is where else should we go? Sonic Boom's expansion store in Fremont (RIP, Fremont News) has a pretty good amount of newer stuff, but not a lot of older records, and we're pretty sure there's something else on Fremont Ave somewhere. Jive Time in Wallingford is gone and we're rarely on Airport Way at a time that Georgetown Records is open. What else is there?

Our other question arises from a transaction we witnessed in Golden Oldies while peering into the boxes. A guy came in, pronounced himself homeless ("homeless, basically," he said) and shared his intention to buy an iPod. He doesn't have a computer, though. Where can he rip his CDs and records? This question also pertains to Seattlest because while we have a turntable and a computer and an iPod, we did not get the fancier model turntable that includes a USB out. We're looking for someone in town that will rip records.

Somebody’s been raiding my record collection  


Somebody’s been raiding my record collection


(Created: Sunday, February 10, 2008 10:47 AM EST)

| Text Size | print | e-mail

    If you’re old enough to get mail from AARP, you remember vinyl records.

    In our teenage years, we treasured those 12-inch, black discs above anything short of a ’65 Mustang. We’d race home after school, stretch out in someone’s slovenly bedroom and groove to the newest music from The Rolling Stones, The Doors and The Beatles.

    While we listened, we admired clever artwork on the record albums’ square, cardboard covers and studied the lyrics and photos inside.

    Records gave way to cassette tapes and then compact discs, both with teensy illustrations. If they provided any information about the music, it came in print too small for our aging eyes to make out.

    Finally, music became mere digital downloads with no packaging at all.

    My record albums sat neglected in a crate upstairs, or so I thought.

    I was talking tunes with my sons one day when someone mentioned a Miles Davis record from the Sixties.

    “I have that album,” I said, glad to be sounding hip for a change.

    “You used to have that album,” my youngest son, Dan, informed me with a mischievous grin.

    That led to a shocking discovery that my record collection had been shrinking. Most of the really good ones had gone bye-bye.

    Parents all over America might want to check their attics. Today’s generation is raiding mom’s and dad’s closets for LPs from the golden era of rock ’n’ roll.

    Record albums are cool again.

    Teens and young adults are discovering they like big album covers, fascinating liner notes, booklets and lyric sheets.

    More to the point, they think vinyl records sound warmer and richer than digital music. And they like sitting around a turntable with friends better than listening to digital players solo through earbuds.

    Big-name artists are making vinyl records, sales of new and used albums are rising and even has started a vinyl section on its Web site.

    Which brings us to Super Bowl Sunday, when Dan walked into our house with an armful of two dozen used discs he bought at a hotel lobby show in South Bend — some for as little as three for $1.

    Offering an olive branch, he handed me copies of Crosby, Stills and Nash and Steely Dan’s “The Royal Scam,” replacing albums that had found their way to his apartment. They’re in better shape than the ones he “borrowed,” he assured me.

    I gratefully slipped the new records into my storage case and began taking stock. A week earlier, he’d started making peace by returning my Stevie Wonder album. But I still hadn’t accounted for Fleetwood Mac, I complained.

    Dan disappeared upstairs and returned moments later with a ’70s artifact bearing the image of Stevie Nicks in her 20s. The cover had held up better than Miss Nicks herself, due to better care.

    Great, I said, but now I can’t seem to find my copy of Beethoven. Who would have taken my longhair stuff?

    Up the stairs again. Back down with Ludwig von.

    “I’ve got them squirreled all over,” he said, sheepishly.

    Reaching into his sack, he produced Sunday’s prize purchase, a copy of “Are You Experienced?” — the world’s introduction to Jimi Hendrix. He’d paid a whopping 10 bucks.

    Disappointment ensued as my turntable found flaws he hadn’t noticed. I remembered the reason we thought tapes and CDs represented progress. Vinyl damages easily. You can’t take it in the car or on a walk. You have to care for it fastidiously.

    Then again, I can’t remember when I’d sat around with my kid listening to music for four hours. Or the last time he’d cared about tales from my teenage years.

    Of course, he was stuck hanging out with me if he wanted to hear his new platters, because he hasn’t unpacked his turntable from his latest move.

    On our TV, an upstart team from New York was upsetting the favorites in the Super Bowl. On my stereo, Hendrix was bending sound into new shapes. For one evening, it was 1969 all over again. Never mind that I still don’t have my Miles Davis back.

DAVE KURTZ is the editor of The Evening Star. He may be reached at Vinyl File.  


You're the lucky reader of the 30th edition of the Vinyl File. This column aims to keep you informed with upcoming releases as well as spotlighting interesting releases, your favorite bands' own collections and labels with a history of vinyl releases worth talking about. As always, Vinyl File is brought to you by Ben Conoley.

This week's Vinyl File features an interview with Less Than Jake lyricist/drummer Vinnie Fiorello. Last week we took a look back through some highlights from the band's extensive vinyl catalog. We also have information on records from Lifetime, Gaslight Anthem, The Decemberists and more.

That's not all though, we've also got what has to be the coolest contest we've ever run at Vinyl File, as we will be giving four readers a Less Than Jake test pressing. You can check out the Vinyl File by clicking Read More.

Click Read More for the scoop.

Vinyl File is extremely excited to be able to offer four readers a test pressing of one of four early Less Than Jake 7"s. When the band released the Cereal Box collection, they did new presses for all the albums. We've got one copy each of Smoke Spot, Unglued, Pez Kings and Rock-n-Roll Pizzeria. So here's the deal, email ben (at) punknews (dot) org with your name and address as well as a photo proving why you should win one of the test pressings. It can be a photo of your Less Than Jake collection, or perhaps a photo of the void such a collection would fill. Get creative and prove to us why you deserve one of these rare treats. Winners will be announced here next week.


Did you have any interest in vinyl before starting Less Than Jake?

Oh yeah, my brother collected 7"s and 45s so it's funny. As I was growing up my brother was into punk. We were living in New Jersey at the time and he was kind of taking care of me because my mother and father were working nights. He was in that scene, but after a while he drifted more into heavier music and metal, so I acquired his collection. So I had a bunch of Misfits and Damned 7"s that he gave to me as he moved onto other genres of music. So from that point on, that was what I listened to. I didn't know any better, it was the radio or listening to music on vinyl. There was no other way to listen to music in the house.

It’s funny, it seems like a common theme, before the Internet people got into punk rock through their older brothers

My older brother is four years older than me and he is responsible for getting me into the music I love. Over half my life has been spent in the punk community, it’s weird.

How important was it to release your music on vinyl from the beginning with Less Than Jake?

100%. The first thing we did as a band aside from cassette tapes that you gave out for free, the format was putting out a 7". That was, as a band when we first started, we sort of went, “we want to put out a vinyl 7".” That's kind of trippy now when you think about it because people want to release CDs and then it moved to online and digital format. For us, out biggest sort of goal was to have a 7" and we wanted it to be on No Idea because at the moment they were more of a magazine than a record label, we were fans of the magazine so we wanted it to come out on No Idea. We said we'd pay for it, do the art work, hand screen the covers. Var said, “Oh yeah cool,” but it's something we really wanted. We wanted to have a 7” and for it to come out on No Idea.

And of course you continued to work with them, and a bunch of other small labels throughout your career.

For us, we just wanted to work with as many labels as possible. I think I tallied it somewhere and it was 20 different labels or something like that. We just wanted to put out the music and whoever wanted to put out the records, that's where it floated to. We had records on Far Out records, World Records, What Else, Snuffy Smile, No Idea, Asian Man. It's kind of a crazy thing, some labels, let's say Far Out Records who put out the first Against All Authority record and who put out our Making Fun of Things You Don’t Understand 10", the Crumbs Records, those were great records and big bands at the time. Against All Authority, when Destroy What Destroys You came out was massive. That label isn't around anymore.

As someone who collects records yourself, how do you feel looking back over your catalog and having all these random records all over the place that are so tough to find?

Early on there was a comp called Make the Collector Nerd Sweat. That's been our mantra as a band as far as our vinyl output but also as toys and other rare things. We wanted to do cool projects weather it be records, toys, hand screened tours. We just wanted to do that because it is the culture around our band, we do it in our own right. I collect records and toys and put out collectible toys.

I was talking to Var from No Idea Records and one of the things he said about releasing so many colors of their records was that it simply keeps things interesting for them.

When you're doing it, it's not what other people are going to think, you're just doing it because it's fun. A die-cut cheese record, you're not thinking people are going to go crazy, I am just thinking “we have a fucking piece of cheese for a record.” It's fun for us and for people who like our band.

Is that why you have released your own vinyl for a little while now?

We've had a few things with different labels, in the UK we worked with Warner UK and they did a lot of vinyl pieces for some reason. Var did a lot of represses of old records and I have been handling the duties putting out Les Than Jake stuff here. Regardless of how convenient it is to go to my computer and download the new Crimpshire, you can find those records, that's great. But when you do vinyl and you have that physical aspect, the reason why you are doing it, it's art, it's more than the music, it's this other thing that’s attached to it. You want something physical besides the song, that's the cool thing about doing vinyl. It might not be as convenient, but it's something that you have forever. You are holding a die cut record in your hand unlike something you've ever seen before. Then you put it on and it's got great songs as well.

I wanted to ask you about a number of your records specifically. Let’s start of with the Megadeth split.

We had been on Capitol Records for Losing Streak and Hello Rockview. Megadeth had been on Capitol around the same time we were and one of the people that work at Capitol knew we were metal-heads. They knew we did the Slayer thing before. They said “Dave Mustaine really likes your band.” We said, “Can you get in touch with Dave about doing a song?” They had a new record coming out and we were offering to pay for the whole thing. A mutual friend at Capitol that also knew Megadeth, it was a simple and painless process. We had ‘All Our Best Friends are Metal Heads’ on the a-side and they had ‘Disintegrator’ on the b-side. We had green vinyl and the four flaps that fit together for the European version and the Pentagram cover in the US.

Speaking of Slayer, how did that 7” come about?

The Slayer one, we did two covers of Slayer songs. As a fluke when we did the Grease soundtrack we learned two Slayer covers and never thought of doing anything with it, and then Var listened to it and said “We should do those songs.” If you listen to those covers, it's a bit of a reach for the band, a departure, but at that time we were doing a lot of covers. We were doing ‘80s pop covers like Twisted Sister, so it wasn't foreign to us. I am a massive Slayer fan, so being able to go in there and cover those songs and put your own twist on it was cool.

Do you know If they ever got back to Slayer?

Have they heard it? We played the Eagles Ballroom in Milluake and Machine Head was playing upstairs. Their crew head worked with Slayer and we gave them a bunch of Less Than Jake Slayer shirts and vinyl, so I am sure they heard it.

How about the food related records such as the Cheese and Cake ones?

The Cheese ones came from our friend Cheese who was in Pittsburgh. We did an early version of the song that ended up on Hello Rockview. We had a few songs such as ‘Scott Farcas Takes it on the Chin’ and ‘Cheese’ was another one, so we decided to do the cheese shape in honor of our friend Cheese. I called up Erika Records and talked to Liz and said “I want to do this record and I want it to be a cheese block and have holes drilled in it.” She laughed and came back and said “I can drill this many holes in it and have it this shape and you can have these many songs.” I said, “That’s great, I’m stoked.”

The Cake record was a celebration for us, it was our 50th release, so I just put some songs that were hard to get at that moment. We had some out of print records that I just let get farmed out.

Continuing on with the food theme, what about the cereal box set?

Smoke Spot, Unglued, Pez Kings, Pung/LTJ split, Rock-n-Roll Pizzeria, Crash Course in Being an Asshole, Kemuri/LTJ split It was a blast. It was represses of our first 7"s. Unglued, Pez Kings, Pung spit, Rock-n-Roll Pizzeria, Crash Course in Being an Asshole and the Kemuri split. We packaged those with a t-shirt and I did these small little skull toys and we did some of these gold toys and if kids got those they were guest listed for life. There is one guy, I don't have his name in front of me but he still emails me and I put him on the guest list. He has used it four times. He had sold that toy to a collector of Funcom, the company I had the toys made through, for an obscene amount of money, something like $600. The cereal box is the highest priced thing I have seen as far as Ebay – that, the toy and everything wound up being something ridiculous like $630. One toy that we did that we were giving away to people with Less Than Jake tattoos, it went for $800. The pie tin had the same records.

And the final food record, the Rock-n-Roll Pizzeria.

That was really cool, we screened the pizza boxes in our apartment and put it together with a magnet and a guest check, and we went through with the whole thing. We were nerdy and meticulous with the things that were in there. On the b-side was an etching from Armadillo. We also did the Rock-n-Roll Pizzeria on a repress from Snuffy Smile in Japan, but that didn't have the box, just a sleeve.

What I have a hard time understanding is just how something like that comes to fruition

It's weird, you have this song, you're looking at it, and looking around for a unique way to release it. We weren't going out of our way to make it unique, but it was a way of keeping ourselves entertained. We just though, “Wouldn't it be cool to put it in a pizza box?” and before you know it after a bunch of coffee and a lot of missed sleep we called this pizza place and got these boxes and another place told us where to get cheap magnets. You just go with it, it’s a project.

You also did a few flexi-discs, which you almost never see anymore.

We did three. One was with Boris the Sprinkler, on was ‘I think I love You’ for the Scream soundtrack and another one after that that just had some live songs on it. We did “I think I love You” with Capitol Records because the soundtrack came out on that label and we said we wanted to do some weird promo. They said, “Do you want to make stickers?” We said, “No, we want to do some flexies. They only cost 30 cents a piece,” and they said “Do it.” So we made an insane amount of records just threw them out .They don't make them anymore. The company that made them stopped making them, I don't know why. I called them five years ago to make clear flexi and they were like, “We don't do that anymore.” I tried to pry, but they weren't having any of my nonsense. Before they stopped making flexies they turned into a weird religious company and they went through your music and if you had any swearing they wouldn’t do it, but “I think I Love You” was a Partridge Family song, so it was ok. I think we were one of the last people do a record with them.

Lately you have released your albums as a series of 7” records, is that something you’re going to continue to do?

In the future, I don't know if we'll do it. The Anthem set was really cool, I was stoked on that. We did the In With the Out Crowd vinyl ourselves, but I don't know if we'll do it again. But I definitely plan on doing an interesting thing for the new record that I don't want to say, but it will be like two records in one. But instead of packaging, it will be based on the audio side of things. Stay tuned for that. I have heard of people doing it once or twice, but I have never heard one. Consider this, even when we were on Warner and Capitol it's not like they were interested in vinyl anyways, especially from Less Than Jake, so it was really easy to do it ourselves or have someone else. But for us to do stuff ourselves now with Sleep it Off, expect more collectibles. When we want to record songs we don't have to worry about anything else. We don't have to worry about clearing songs and the red tape involved.

It must be a relief to be at a point where you can do this now and not have to worry about label support.

It really is. After a certain point on our last record it was really evident that it was time for us to do it ourselves and just step away from Warner Bros. Luckily Warner was cool enough to say “OK, we're going to part ways”. That gave us the opportunity to start sleep it off and redo

are you going to be re-releasing any of your back catalogue now?

I don’t think I'm going to reprint anything, but I am going to do anything that Less Than Jake does from now on. I have toyed with the idea of just doing a live record that is just on vinyl. I had a hair-brained scheme of doing every LP that we have ever done in one box and the extra record would be a live record that you can only get with this. But thought of doing 9 or 10 12" and boxing them, and then, is someone going to pay $135 for a set? That's nuts, I don't know. I would like to do it, but if you do it and it doesn't go anywhere you are in the hole a lot of money. But it's on one of those drawing boards.

Did you manage to keep one of everything that you have released over the years?

I kept two or three extra copies because inevitably there is someone writing a letter saying “My house burned down and this record was in it, can you send it to me?” That happened with the Muppets 7", this girl emailed me and said “My house burned down, and do you have any extras? It was my favorite record.” So I went into my collection and pulled it out, and that happens all the time. But right now I still have like two copies and test presses for every record that we've done.


The Isis 10th anniversary box set, which collets all the bands LPs inside specially designed sleeves and original artwork went up for sale and sold out from the European distro, Conspiracy Records. However, their American partner, Robotic Empire says they will have their 300 copies on sale in the next two weeks.

In other news that might interest Isis fans, Japan's Boris have released a new 7" through Southern Lord Records. Statement can be ordered here. The 7" is limited to 3,000 copies with 1,000 available on yellow/gold for mail-order.

Those who missed out on The Loved Ones' latest release, Build & Burn, can rest easy knowing that the band has a limited number of the record with them on tour. Word is the band is limiting their remaining copies, so you might have a chance yet. For a time, the band also had special tour editions of the record featuring a screened cover insert, but those are since gone.

Against Me! are playing some club dates while tagging along with the Foo Fighters. On these dates the band will have copies of their latest 7" in support of New Wave. The single for 'Stop' is available on yellow vinyl limited to 500 and black vinyl limited to 5000. The 7" is backed with the unreleased track 'Gypsy Panther.'

Young Vampires of New Hampshire is the latest 7" from Transistor Transistor. It's the first release since the band's 2005 full-length, Erase All Name And Likeness.

Don Giovani Records has launched a pre-order for The Ergs!' Dorkrockcorkrod. You can pre-order the record along with other releases from the label here. While it had been pressed once before, it has been a pretty tough find, leading to this repress.

Polar Bear Club's debut full-length, Sometimes Things Just Disappear will be getting a vinyl release care of Kiss of Death Records

A number of Ramones records have been repressed in limited quantities on red vinyl. The albums available include Leave Home, Road to Ruin, End of the Century, Rocket to Russia and Ramones.

Rhino Records has released the Juno soundtrack on orange vinyl. Although the label says it is a limited release, they have not announced any pressing information.

Mae Shi's HLLYH has been printed as a 2xLP and is up for pre-order at the Yosada webs store. 250 have been printed on color vinyl with the first record on white.yellow swirl and the second on light blue/green half and half. It is also available on black.

We announced some time ago that No Idea Records is going to be re-releasing Lifetime's latest self-titled album, but news has just come in that they will also be re-releasing the band's Jade Tree albums Jersey’s Best Dancers and Hello Bastards. Jade Tree has long since stopped printing copies of their Lifetime albums, while the band's self-titled effort on Decaydance was a disappointment with poor quality concerns and the lack of a lyric sheet.

Still waiting on your Gaslight Anthem 7"? No need to rush to your mailbox yet. Señor and the Queen has been delayed in both CD and vinyl formats. Seems the band had a particular type of paper in mind for the inserts, one which the pressing plant did not carry. Once they get the sheets printed up and inserted, they'll be shipping them out.

Dead Meadow's Old Growth is now available on vinyl from Matador Records. It is limited to 500 copies on white 180 gram vinyl in a gatefold jacket and each copy comes with an MP3 download for the album.

Colin Meloy of The Decemberists recently did a solo tour and recorded some of the songs for a live album about to be released on Jealous Butcher Records. The 2xLP is available for pre-order from the label with the first 100 orders having received autographed copies.

Gilead Media has a bunch of things in the works. They have repressed mewithoutYou's first two albums on color. The second pressing includes 500 Catch For Us The Foxes and 500 A->B Life. Exactly what the colors are has not been announced yet. They also have releases in the works from indricothere, Thou, Of Sinking Ships, Moouth of the Architect/Kenoma and He Who Corrupts. Furthermore, they will be releasing the Rocky Votolato 10" in May.

If you have anything you want to see posted in Vinyl File, get in touch with ben (at) punknews (dot) org.