Words by WASTER Staff
Mystery, lore, devoted belief and blind faith. Historical depictions of the ancient World, and the bloodline of our tradition, are rooted within the pages of history’s longest lasting texts. It is from these very fables that we build the foundation of our civilization in the modern era. For thousands of years that human message was of religious nature. Medieval Europe was overrun by Christianity from a word of mouth tradition of Christ’s apostles who set out across the ancient countryside. As the centuries wore deep into the heart of the Dark Ages, the validity of the Gospel writers were marked by the preservation of Bible’s legendary relics. The Ark of the Covenant, which according to Christian myth held the original broken tablets of Moses’ Ten Commandments, and the cup of Christ, The Holy Grail.
As Europe was thrust into an epic religious Crusade, the preservation of the Bible’s mythical articles was entrusted to a secret society of devoted warriors, known as the Knights Templar. For 200 years, the Crusades raged for control of Jerusalem, the holiest place on the planet for the three major religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
If there is one thing that we can learn from the religious Wars of the Middle Ages, it’s no matter how far beliefs shall evolve, our core values should always remain rooted within tradition. With the digital revolution fully upon us, the factions of American music’s core round table who believe deeply in the craft, tonality and tradition of recording are sparking a resurgence of the audiophile’s Holy Grail: Vinyl.
This is their epic battle. The thunderous Vinyl Crusades!
Jack White and Third Man Records:
Jack White is not only the music industry’s strongest traditional leader, but will hunt you down if he smells travesty in the air. Beginning his journey from humble Detroit roots, White went on to save American rock n’ roll in the 2000s with The White Stripes, the Raconteurs, the Dead Weather and in 2009 established the first physical location of Third Man Records.
“I feel bad for a generation that has to grow up and weave their way through technology and internet blogs, especially with all of the cynicism, sarcasm and the jaded way of living in America,” White explained.
The comments from Jack White to WASTER back in 2006 marked not just the musical passion rooted within his genuine odyssey, but a revealing step towards what was to come from the man in black.
A patriarch of action, White rewards those who subscribe to Third Man’s fan club via the US mail with a package of goodies that includes Vinyl LPs, 7-inches, live DVDs, B-Sides and exclusive music not found in stores.
To top it off, the Third Man founder unveiled the first rolling record store at the 2011 SXSW Music Festival, in the form of a tricked out meat wagon. He is the tip of the spear for the resurgence of the vinyl experience and to celebrate Record Store Day we reached out to our friends and favorite artists across the entire music industry, from upstarts to legends, to ask their opinion in an ode to wax!
We encountered believers, skeptics, and a whole lot of nostalgia. Ladies and gentleman, the Vinyl Crusades…
Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes:
[Los Angeles, CA]
The Black Crowes have built a reckless 20+ year career on sheer integrity and the spiritual importance of music. This past fall we sat down with Rich Robinson to talk shop on the Crowes farewell US Tour and the conversation quickly turned to the musician’s stake in the modern social conscious.
Before the digital age it was sort of a pain in the ass to switch a song on an album, which for me made the whole process more ritualistic,” continues Robinson. “You would have to get your album out, figure out what side you wanted to listen to and put it on the record player. You were forced to sit through an entire side of music. That very process will naturally bring your focus more to the task at hand.
Now in the digital world, where music is nothing more than a chorus, you can walk into a GAP or some weird corporate clothing store and if you like the song playing on one of these in-store mix tapes you can buy it through your phone. That is the creepiest shit on earth to me for some reason!”
[Los Angeles, CA]
After releasing Frankie Ray back in 2007, Jonathan Wilson charmed Los Angeles with his breezy brand of folk rock. He turned his Laural Canyon home into an open jam spot for some of rock n’ roll’s elite entertainers and is set to release the Gentle Spirit LP this July.
“Howdy,” leads Wilson. “I think vinyl is the only medium really with any value; tactile, monetary or otherwise.”
“To the fan, it’s the most personally gratifying. The large format, the artwork to stare at and the credits to study puts all of the pieces together. It can also be educational. ‘Oh wow! Carl Radle played on that too?!’ The sounds of vinyl and the bottom end is more than pleasing. It legitimizes a recording by impairing its wispy — thunderous and sentimental imprint. It will certainly survive…”
Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips:
[Oklahoma City, OK]
The circus is always in town when the Flaming Lips are scheduled to perform and their records are nothing short of a full fledged psychedelic flashback. But for Steven Drozd, guitarist of the Flaming Lips, the vinyl experience finds its roots during the time when the rock n’ roll musician was originally falling in love with music.
Another really vivid memory is the first time I heard Van Halen’s ‘Eruption’,” Drozd continues. “My brothers would throw these stoner parties and they ended up buying it the day it got released. They put it on the stereo and all I remember is the local guitar hero guy, who everyone thought was like the best, just started crying.”
Kris Myers of Umphrey’s McGee
[South Bend, IN]
“Things today have become so digitally mixed that you don’t capture the warmth of an analog record. Like Led Zeppelin records: I tend to like the records more than listening to wav files. That classic sound has gotta be on vinyl – it’s what the people truly believe!”
Brian Bell of Weezer
[Los Angeles, CA]
Weezer’s iconic albums from the mid 90s still resonate within the hearts of the young. Teenagers from coast to coast grab their drivers licenses, sneak their parents liquor and crank the stereo to “Say It Ain’t So,” “My Name is Jonas,” “Surfwax America,” and “Only in Dreams.”
During the summer of 2010 the band set out to support their latest release Hurley and gave back to live audiences by performing The Blue Album and Pinkerton in their entirety.
WASTER sat down with Weezer guitarist Brian Bell to grill him on the current state of affairs and ended up meeting another musician who misses the experience of an LP.
“Vinyl just has a sound to it that is undeniable,” Bell says. “It is a great means of artwork on an album. Now a days it sucks, to have to resort to a listening experience that is nothing more than a little thumbnail of artwork on a CD or iTunes.”
Vince DiFiore of CAKE
“I love listening to records, it’s certainly an event,” says Vince DiFiore of CAKE. “It’s like getting out a film projector and putting on a movie. That action is very intentional: picking up a needle and putting it on the spinning vinyl. There’s a lot more user interface going, a lot more interaction.”
“It’s warm,” he continues. “It is the actual sound of a needle hitting the plastic groove. That’s what you are hearing – the electronic transfer of that physical action happening in your room. It’s not translated digitally ever. It’s an acoustic and electronic experience when it’s all said and done.”
“The first record I bought was Thelonious Monk’s Straight No Chaser, and I’ve heard all of the tweaks and remasters since. That original record still spins, sounds truest, and feels swingin’! Nothing about a CD, or mp3 swings….”
Peter Shapiro of Relix Media Group and Brooklyn Bowl Creator
[New York City]
Peter Shapiro took over the famed Wetlands nightclub in his mid-20s and has gone onto to be the single most influential figure within New York City’s live music community. When the Wetlands closed its doors on September 11, 2001, Shapiro didn’t remain quiet for long. He established the Green Apple Music Festival, returned to his love of film, saved Relix Magazine after the collapse of Zenbu Media and opened the doors to the grail of concert venues, Brooklyn Bowl, in 2010.
“When I think of vinyl, I think of my childhood,” shares Shapiro. “I remember the first time I held a 45 and tried to line-up the needle on the track. I can’t remember the record, but it is a lasting memory. Long live vinyl!”
Alan Evans of Soulive:
[New York City]
Mixing soul, funk and improvisation, Soulive earned the respect of the artistic collective, after more than a decade together, by unearthing the heart of jazz with the spontaneity of their live performances. For their recent release, Rubber Soulive, the band ragged the Beatles catalog with selections that included “Eleanor Rigby,” “In My Life,” “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” and “Something.”
Teaming up with longtime friend and Brooklyn Bowl creator, Peter Shapiro, the band continues to push the envelope every spring with a 10-night residency dubbed Bowlive. WASTER caught up with founding member and percussionist Alan Evans to explore his listening habits off the stage.
“The sound is obviously cool,” Evans shares, “but its all about the feeling of holding an album in your hands and getting lost in it.”
Arleigh Kincheloe of Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds
[New York City]
They say it’s a man’s world, but don’t tell that to the tip of the Dirty Birds’ spear, vocalist Arleigh Kincheloe. Mixing raspy vocals with brass-blaring bayou swagger, the New Orleans influenced 9-piece is poised to put a voodoo hex on NYC.
“Vinyl has a distinct nostalgic quality for me,” offers Kincheloe, “and I’m sure many feel the same way.”
“I want to listen to a really great album on vinyl — and I want to listen to the whole thing — front to back. We have completely abandoned that in this iPod generation. What happened to the days when you could get a bottle of wine, roll a J, and have your friends over just to listen? Now you might throw your mp3 player on shuffle just for some background noise. Lazy,” she states.
“But as people begin to revisit vinyl as a medium, their approach to the music will completely shift. Hopefully lending more discerning ears to the records they chose. This gives me great hope for the future of popular music, as it seems the injection of great bands with vintage influences go hand in hand with the resurgence of vinyl.”
The heart of industrial America, The Motor City, The Rubber City, The Blue Chip City, The Glass City, have all been a breeding ground for the outlaws of new millennium blues. For Brian Olive, his roots with the Greenhornes, unleashed an independent platform to create music. Part of the reverberating catalog at Alive Records, Olive preaches the gospel:
“I am glad the digital mediums exist for people who need to hear music and have no good record store around, but it’s definitely no substitution for the real thing.”
[New Orleans, LA]
Enough of New York and Los Angeles already! It’s off to the Bayou for some good ol’ fashioned Louisiana fables with a pint, a ban on barbers and gritty southern charm. Part of the Brooklyn based label group, The Royal Potato Family, the singer/songwriter Grayson Capps delivers the undisputed iconic one-liner of the Vinyl Crusades…
Kevin Calabro of The Royal Potato Family
[New York City]
Forming the Royal Potato Family as a musical home for Marco Benevento, Surprise Me Mr. Davis, Garage A Trois, Nathan Moore and Grayson Capps, Kevin Calabro is a warrior of independent music.
“I’m still addicted to music in the physical form. There is something about going to the record store and working my way through the bins looking for those three records to take home,” Calabro says.
“Amongst fellow music fans, in the same pursuit, that’s visceral and irreplaceable. Digital music, ones and zeros, can’t ever replace that feeling. Once you get the album home, you put it on the turntable. The sound you get back is big and warm. Even the small crackles and pops are endearing. You hear the little nuances from the recording that otherwise pass you by in the digital form.”
“The absolute best thing about it is flipping the record,” continues Calabro. “You are forced to be physically connected to the process. You have to get up off the couch and turn it over. Flipping from side A to side B is the proverbial cleansing of the palette. You get 22 minutes before you need to take a deep breath and reflect on what you have just heard. In a world of endless play lists and shuffles that could go on forever, vinyl demands you stay engaged. It doesn’t allow you to be a passive listener.”
Skerik of Garage a Trois/Omaha Diner
[Seattle, WA | New Orleans, LA]
“I don’t think we need to ‘fight to keep vinyl alive,’ because it is doing quite well on its own today. What we really need to fight is the bizarre situation where Internet Service Providers are allowed to transfer retail music illegally. We need to educate people on the importance of supporting recorded music,” the psychedelic saxophonist offers.
Jeff Berner of Chris Cubeta & the Liars Club
[New York City]
“I think it’s really, really, important to OWN pieces of art – whether they be books, records, CDs, DVDs, etc. To me, there’s no substitute for having a physical copy of your favorite records. MP3’s are convenient, sure – I can go online today and probably download 100 albums in an hour – but they sound awful and there’s never any artwork or album credits. Am I the only guy who still loves that stuff?”
Jon Jameson of Delta Spirit
[San Diego, CA]
Delta Spirit is a gang of SoCal indie rockers who compose saloon sing-a-longs about drinking, girls and God.
“I think it’s the best thing ever; it’s the only way I buy new music. I pretty much only listen to vinyl at my house. It’s great to be able to hold something physical. We’re lucky that all of our stuff has been released on vinyl and digital download as well.”
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