Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Vinyl District First Date | Gabriel Mintz

"I have encountered Vinyl: I have encountered Vinyl at many pivotal moments in my development as an audio-attentive human. Of the records I can call my own, one that is very special to me, is my Monorchid 7” that my friend Paul gave me long ago. I remember the singer was the door guy at our local venue, the Black Cat. They sang a song called Red Red Meat that I heard on vinyl as a youngin’ and is probably one of my favorite songs in the world… I still sing it.

We grew up in the DC area, the nation’s capital of vinyl-releasing delinquents, and Paul was in a band called the Better Automatic for a time – they released their music on Vinyl. The place where I grew up seems to spawn musicians that both appreciate, and release their music on Vinyl . . . an inarguable fact of this universe, so I’m especially delighted to share some stories about Vinyl’s involvement in my life. Kids from the area who released music on Vinyl in the DC area include, and to whom I looked up to a lot were Mike Kanan of the Black Eyes, Jason Simon of Dead Meadow, and Dan & Hugh of Q and Not U among others. They put on great shows and had neat record releases, many of which I have held in my hands and inspected myself.

Living the high life the way I do, coming and going at all hours, in and out of town in an unpredictable fashion, never knowing what’s happening next, I store most of my records and delicate possessions 3000 miles away in my parents’ basement. It was in that house that I heard the greatest records of all, my Dad’s collection from the 60’s, which sits in near-mint condition on a shelf over the player in their family room. He and his friend were Martin and Gibson guitar dealers for a time in the early 70’s, so growing up we listened to lots of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, CSN, guitarists like Leo Kottke, and all kinds of magical-realm-level shit like that.

The poetry, the visual art, the sense of purpose and journey on those records all fired my imagination. Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s record “Tarkus” was the one I always reached for on the shelf. It was beautiful. The cover was an armadillo/tank, and the inside were these ferocious animal/weapon/machines that were going to battle… they were some of the coolest illustrations I saw as a kid, alongside Shel Silverstein and Dr. Suess, that Tarkus record was one of the most awe-inspiring visual masterpieces of my life. The music on it was crazy and mysterious beyond words, it would take a lifetime to grasp all that was on that thing. Illustration has since been as much a part of my life as music and writing songs, and I cite that particular record in a lot of conversations I have about album art.

As early as 8 years old I remember being across the street in my buddy Paul’s basement, listening to the Magical Mystery Tour a million times and playing BattleTech. I think that as my big brother-figure on the block, he felt responsible for introducing me to all the best rock and roll in the world before I could be corrupted by anything else, and I will always appreciate that. Praise the Lord, I done been saved. The Stones “Sympathy for the Devil” and Dire Straits “Sultans of Swing” were other songs I heard on that old, clunky, silver record player down there.

It was dark down there and it was like operating heavy machinery. Soon enough it was cool to skip school and release a vinyl record all around town, and there were kids with their new vinyl records everywhere. I watched, listened, and participated in their vinyl-centric shenanigans with glee – it was like a duty in my home town. It was the code.

I later encountered many vinyl-weilding musicians in Boston, where many of us worked on Emerson College’s WERS 88.9fm, a fantastic college radio station to have been involved in. My friend Fakts One would take a record and make it make noises unknown to humans…. He was a master at the turntables, I’ll never forget watching him do his thing. He gave me the healthiest respect one could have for the existence of and many uses of vinyl.

The music of Aphex Twin, Doctor Octogon, DJ Shadow, and DJ Spooky played in my room a lot. I remember hanging with friends, digging though weird useless piles of old records, finding the strangest thing for them to use later in something they were making…. Just the weirdest stuff sometimes. Vinyl became synonymous with treasure hunting, in a way, during my time in Boston."
—Gabriel Mintz

Gabriel Mintz - Desert Sky (Mp3)
Gabriel Mintz - Safeway (Mp3)
Gabriel Mintz - Western Days (Mp3)
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