|October 26, 2011 | Gear, White Zombie
Records are back in a big way, they keep telling us, and it’s true : vinyl shops are not anymore solely the lonely domain of old dudes who spend their days dreamily recounting the Zappa/ Uriah Heep gig they saw in ’74, but of enthusiastic kids looking for scratchy soul 45s, limited edition pressings of European black metal albums, underground noise cassettes. I collect records myself, and although I did largely give in to the idea that CDs were here to stay ( I distinctly remember someone showing me the first compact disc I’d ever seen in 1989, so I think of the CD era as being from ’89 to about 2005, with near-total obsolescence coming around 2008 ), there was always music I wanted to listen to that wasn’t available on any format but vinyl. In fact, one of the very first things I bought myself when White Zombie started to do well was a Technics SL-1200MKII turntable, which cost me something like $399. That was crazy, extravagant money at the time, and I had a real “ Damn! I earned this!! “ feeling about it. I still use that same 1200, and it still makes me happy. Sometimes, before I put a record on, I pick it up. The thing weighs 25 lbs., and I find the weight reassuring.
All of the artists I’ve worked with lately have recorded with the intention, first and foremost, of making records. They want hand-screened matte cardboard covers, and they want heavyweight colored vinyl. They will, of course, offer the tracks for download, but that’s really an afterthought, because, quite frankly, where’s the fun? It’s just .. air, which becomes a tiny, hard-to-find part of your iTunes library, which you will mostly ignore until your hard drive wears out and you lose everything. Have you backed up your mp3 collection recently? I didn’t think so.
I still buy CDs, occasionally, because I like to have a hard copy. The CD itself is trash, a fragile thing that holds the data, but sometimes people put a little thought into the packaging, and the result can be an object worth owning. Usually not, though, and if a disc comes in a jewel case, I throw the case away and put the booklet and CD in a paper envelope, which takes up 1/3 the space and doesn’t have those little plastic teeth that always break. God, I’ve always hated jewel cases. If I think a band can sell CDs ( which depends on the popularity of the artist, but also on the age group of the fans ), I will recommend that they make as short a run as possible ( disc manufacturers are falling all over themselves to stay in business, and making as few as 100 can now be slightly profitable, if you can shift them ) – if they sell, great, and if they don’t, it’s not the end of the world. Still, hearing your band back on a CD, or over the internet, can’t begin to compare with what used to be milestones for musicians : hearing yourself on the radio for the first time, and, especially, dropping the needle on a record that you made.
And now, this : here’s a 45rpm 12″ ( best fidelity! ) from Star & Dagger, which is Sean Yseult’s new band. Side A’s got In My Blood, a track from their forthcoming album, and side B has Stories and S&D’s take on Out Of Focus, the Blue Cheer psycho-blues stomper, both of which were recorded by me. This is a pretty cool item – limited to 500 copies, with a fully illustrated inner sleeve and clear / blood-red vinyl. Some of the discs, like my copy, shown below, have a sort of ” blood pooling on the bathroom floor ” effect, while others will have more of a ” crime scene splatter ” look. You can order a copy from New Orleans’ Last Hurrah records, which is here.
These sessions were hassle-free : a tight band, and lots of guitars, specifically Dava’s 1974 Gibson SG. Also in use are my 1978 Marshall head, Marshall cab ( stock, except I replaced two of the greenbacks with G12-65s .. you’ve heard this cabinet before, on Fu Manchu’s The Action Is Go LP ), and my Big Muff, pot-dated to 1980. I have several of these pedals, including a ” ram’s head ” model, but I refer to this particular one as The Killer Fuckin’ Death Big Muff. Finally, this : on Stories, that’s my loopy, rubber-bandy fuzz solo that fades in around 2:57. They handed me a guitar and said, ” here, play on this “, which I did, not thinking much about it, but as soon as people started to hear the track, I got a lot of comments like, ” This is the first time you and Sean have played together since White Zombie — dude, that’s huge! ”
01. Star & Dagger : Out Of Focus
02. Star & Dagger : Stories