Möbius Strip's record release
Pitt: Vinyl brought us together.
Mark: It's true. Pitt and I met at work, but we were in different departments on different floors, so our paths didn't cross that often at first. It took months for us to figure out that we listened to the same stuff.
Pitt: He's never the one to bring it up, but Mark is a living music history almanac, especially when it comes to the underground scene in '80s-era DC. He knows every band, every member of every band, every side project. One day at work, Mark shared his most recent discovery with me: our straight-laced boss had been the guitarist in an early '80s DC band that used to open for Government Issue or something. Better yet, Mark had managed to get his hands on a sealed copy of the band's only LP.
Mark: At the time, I didn't have a record player of my own anymore, but I had to hear to this record. I figured Pitt had to as well.
Pitt: My record player was a bit of a Frankenstein, but I loved it. I got it from a friend who had hardwired his turntable to a boombox that played CDs and tapes. He'd cut the wires that connected the tape deck to the speakers and spliced in the output from the record player. It was so loud and so raw—I always felt like the band was in the room with me when I played records on that thing.
Mark: After work one night, we took the bus to Pitt's apartment for the album's inaugural playing. In almost ceremonial fashion, we inspected the jacket, the insert, and then the vinyl. Yes, that appeared to be a photo of our boss on the back cover. And yes, that was his name printed on the jacket, insert, and center label. But was it really him?
Pitt: I had no idea what to expect, but what we heard was a collision of new wave and jazz fusion. Even though the vocals were in multiple languages, there was no mistaking our boss's voice. That was the beginning of my friendship with Mark--we had breached the bounds of office camaraderie, and we had learned our boss's secret.
Mark: It was a pleasant surprise to meet someone else who still appreciated vinyl. Like everyone born in the mid-70s, I grew up with it. When I was a kid, my parents' records were on constant rotation, especially on the weekends when my dad loved to blast the instrumental portion of Boston's "Foreplay/Long Time." Another repeat offender was "Afternoon Delight" by the Starland Vocal Band, one of the few DC bands to have a big radio hit. My first record was the "Ballad of Davy Crockett" single, which I listened to over and over again on my portable Mickey Mouse record player. Appropriately, one of my first full-lengths was the Mickey Mouse Disco record. I still have that one--it's a classic.
Pitt: My earliest memory of vinyl is from the late '80s or the early '90s. I guess my older sister had these 7-inch Star Wars records--or, I don't know, maybe they were mine. Anyway, there was this kid down the street who I was always getting into trouble with. I don't remember much about it except that we were slinging them at each other like ninja stars. We threw them so hard that the edges stuck in the walls. You couldn't pull the records back out; you had to break them off. I bet there's still painted-over vinyl in the drywall of my sister's old room. My parents were pretty pissed.
Mark: When I was maybe six years old, my mom told me that when I got to be a teenager, I would sit in my room for hours with the door closed, listening to records. At the time, I thought she was nuts. But sure enough, that's just what happened.
Pitt: I didn't come to really appreciate vinyl until I was much older. CDs had already taken over the world when I became interested in music. I know it's weird, but for a long time I didn't like any music at all. I don't know if I liked being different or what, but I was the kid at school who out-obscured my indier-than-thou classmates by eschewing music altogether. I just didn't like any of it... until I heard They Might Be Giants. The Johns became my religion. I actually felt betrayed when I learned that some of my friends were listening to bands other than TMBG.
Mark: The centerpiece of my record collection was a complete set of Kiss albums that I kept up-to-date through the mid-90s. I had the U.S. first pressings with all of the inserts intact, along with a few radio-only promo samplers, all in nearly mint condition. Those records were as much fun to look at as they were to listen to. The flashy artwork, gatefold sleeves, and gimmicky inserts made for an interactive experience that no other musical format offers. I can't tell how you much fun I had with one oddball--it was a 12-inch single with a double-grooved A-side and autographs, but no music, etched into the B-side. When I later discovered The Misfits and other more obscure music, I moved on to increasingly expensive purchases of limited edition colored vinyl in hand-numbered sleeves. I loved that it was possible to personalize every single copy of a DIY release.
Photos: William Rivas-Rivas
Pitt: For me, I think the original appeal of vinyl was economy. 7-inches were a great way to check out a band you'd heard about without committing to the price of a full album. Split releases were even better. You paid to hear the band you already knew and loved; then you got to flip over the record and discover something new. The other side of the 7-inch was like an unopened pack of baseball cards. Would you end up with a bunch of commons; a Ken Griffey, Jr. rookie card; the rare Billy Ripken "fuck face" card? It wasn't long before I was hooked: colored vinyl, marbled vinyl, the buzzsaw-shaped "Coup d'État"/"Amoeba" 7-inch split I ordered in the early days of online mail-order (it never arrived). I spent a fortune collecting Servotron 7-inches--they had so many songs that never made it to CD, and the album art alone was worth the astronomical price. On at least one occasion during college, my record spending went so far as to endanger the monthly rent check. I guess it was sort of a reaction to the Napster thing. I needed to have something in my hand.
Mark: People have been listening to music in this format for more than a century because it provides such a great listening experience. I had a strict vinyl-only policy for years, and I always assumed that my band, if I ever had one, would release its stuff on vinyl. Thankfully, I wasn't alone.
Pitt: Had to be vinyl. There was never any doubt that whatever we released would have to appeal to the record nerd in me. Our debut album is a limited edition release on 180-gram marbled vinyl with a full-color insert, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
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Möbius Strip - My Museum (Mp3)
Möbius Strip - Pez Dispenser Head (Mp3)
Authorized for download!
Enter to win Möbius Strip's brand new 'A Knee in the Back' on vinyl by simply asking for one in the comments to this post. We'll award one winner a copy who suitably impresses us and the band. Remember to leave us a contact email address—important!—and we'll choose a winner a week from today, Wednesday, 8/4.