Saturday, 22 September 2018

USA Trip, Part 10 - Boston (Again)

After flying back from LA, we spent two days in New York City. I popped into Generation Records and Limited To One, but neither had anything that I 'needed'. So even though I was there, not buying anything means that they don't feature on here. Sorry dudes.

After New York we had one final day back in the city where the adventure began - Boston. We spent the day walking about and seeing more sights, and in the evening went for food with some familiar faces:

Even though this should have been a cool end to the trip, when the time came around we were totally shattered and struggled to keep our eyes open, so had to leave pretty early in the evening. After food the other dudes went to see Pat Flynn's band Clear play a show with Remission just around the corner, but there's no way I could have stayed awake long enough to have got through that.

Brian was kind enough to give us a lift back to our hotel, and before he left us there was time for one final record deal to go down. This had been arranged for a few weeks, and was mainly to help me avoid any shipping risks, as the records involved were slightly more valuable than the average 7"s that I'd picked up on this trip.

Brian was in the process of packing stuff up in order to move to the UK, and had decided to sell some records. I figured it was the right time to fill a couple of holes in my early Rev collecton, so we did a deal and I ended up paying him cash in his car. Kinda like a sketchy street deal.

First is a first press of the Warzone 'LESC' 7". I was never hugely fussed about picking one of these up, but in the end just wanted one so that I could get my Warzone 7" collection one step closer to a 'complete'... whatever that means.

The first press has no Rev logo, and the graffiti logo on the b-side label.

It's not really that much to look at, but is a pretty cool piece of Rev history.

The second 7" I used to not give a shit about, as technically it's an error variant rather than an actual intending pressing. But over time I just came round to the idea that it would be cool to have. Pity I didn't decide that ten years or more ago for price reasons, but hey, never mind.

So this is the Gorilla Biscuits 7" with Warzone b-side label. Nobody knows how many exist, and what's cool is that Rev didn't even know that these existed for many years. My memory is slightly hazy on this, but I think it was in fact Lecky over in the UK who made Rev aware that this existed. They didn't even have one, so he traded them his copy. When I was at RevHQ I saw that they indeed had one copy in the vault. My guess at this is simply that the plant got confused and put the wrong labels on some copies, although whether this was at the start of the press (and they then realised their mistake) or the end of the press (when they ran out of the labels they were supposed to be using) we will never know. But what is interesting about this one is that quite a few copies ended up in the UK, as a few people I know over here have one and bought it when it came out. As a friend of mine used to say, 'it's a nice one to have, mate'.

I was also pleasantly surprised to be gifted a release show copy of the Fiddlehead 'Springtime And Blind' LP. This was sold a week earlier, at which point I was enjoying the California Sunshine. I actually pre-ordered a copy of this LP months ago and still don't have it yet, so it was cool to get this version as my first copy.

As with a lot of release show records, the cover is an extra piece of card folded over the regular sleeve.

Numbered out of 40 copies, I got number 10.

This was a pretty cool gift, especially when I noticed one sell on eBay a couple of weeks later for $150!

The next day we got up and flew home. I then entered three weeks of total exhaustion and depression. But when I came out of it and started writing these posts, it reminded me of what a great trip I had. Trip of a lifetime for sure. And as for the records... in total I ended up bringing home 84 of the bloody thing (54 7"s, 1 10", 29 LPs). This was probably at least 50 more than I had expected. But hey, I got some cool items and some great deals, and only slightly overspent my budget, so it worked out pretty well in the end.

It has also just occurred to me that even though my number of posts on this blog is much lower than every other year, at least the total number of records featured is still up at normal levels. These posts were hard work so I'm glad they're now done.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

USA Trip, Part 9 - RevHQ

For probably about 23 or 24 years now, I have wanted to visit the home of Revelation Records, RevHQ. I’ve been a big fan of pretty much everything that the label has done over it’s history, and it’s no secret that it has been my favourite record label for many years. But as well as put out records and merch by some great bands, they have also been running a successful distribution service for a long time too. This means that there are literally thousands of records and shirts in their warehouse, and for years I have wanted to go visit to check them out. So it’s safe to say that a visit to RevHQ was at the absolute top of my list of places to visit on my trip to the States, although with my phobia of flying it was something that I thought I would never ever do.

Once the return flights to Boston were booked in, giving us three weeks in the States, the next question was exactly when and how we could get over to the west coast to visit Rev. We knew that RevHQ was closed at weekends, so we knew that any potential visit would have to be during the week. I had also spoken to Geoff about coming with us. He’s a bigger Rev nerd than I am, and when I learnt he hadn’t been to RevHQ himself, I figured it would be cool for us to go and nerd out together.

Well, despite leaving some of the final details of the trip until not too long before we left, everything worked out great, and we scheduled in a trip to RevHQ for Monday 30 July.

Getting up that morning was slightly surreal. We got up and went out for breakfast, but all the while all I could think was ‘holy shit, I’m going to RevHQ today!’. It was probably a similar feeling to that which most kids experience when they wake up on Christmas day. With hindsight, the funniest thing I said all morning was ‘I reckon we’ll be there for a maximum of two hours’. But more on that later…

After a short drive, suddenly we were at The Donuttery. My iphone tells me that we were there at 10:12. This is (as the name suggests) a donut emporium just down the road from RevHQ. We had it on good authority that the Rev staff like donuts from this place, so we made sure to stop by and pick them up some treats on the way over. If nothing else, we were hoping that it would generate a smile from the staff, and make the job of hosting a pair of record nerds on a Monday morning slightly more bearable.

I have never seen a donut selection like this in my life. On any other day, I probably could have spent half an hour choosing 'nuts, and would happily have done so if we didn't have a a warehouse full of records to look through. So we grabbed a decent selection and got back on the road.

The best is that when I went to take this photo, the lady on the counter smiled. She was rad, and clearly proud to be in control of handing out 4000 donuts a day.

Five minutes later we pulled up outside our destination.

After a few minutes of introductions we were thrown straight into the official tour. I was snapping photos at every turn, so I'm just going to throw a few up here...

We started in the mailroom. This desk is where your mailorder gets boxed up.

There was stuff all over the walls. Lots of cool and amusing stuff, and far too much to take in. There were quite a few broken records in various locations. Here's a row that adorned the mailroom - from left to right are records by Shades Apart, Reggie And The Full Effect, Shift, Floorpunch and Judge:

Through the door of the mailroom we found ourselves in the warehouse. This was the view that greeted us:

The warehouse then basically splits into two sections - the Rev records and merch, and the distro.

The Rev releases were really neatly organised, with all the records stored in the boxes as received from the pressing plant. Here's a pic of me checking out the boxes:

And here are some photos of some of the boxes on the shelves, starting with some Sensefield 'Killed For Less' LPs:

This next pic shows a box of Judge LPs, two boxes of Shelter 'Perfection of Desire' on the newly pressed solid orange vinyl, and a box of Into Another LPs:

And on a pallet on the floor, a few boxes of Gorilla Biscuits 'Start Today' LPs:

I took the opportunity to pick up a couple of new colours of a couple of Rev releases, coincidentally both on green vinyl.

Here are some other pics I took of the warehouse...

There was a large section of tapes. I still can't believe that anyone is buying tapes in this day and age.

And the same goes for CDs. Seriously, who is buying these things in 2018?

There was also a small rack of pins / badges:

And I also spotted some rolls of the various color vinyl stickers:

I had intended to pick up a couple of shirts when I was there, but I got swept up in the excitement and completely forgot to even look at them. All I got was this one photo showing how they are stored:

The next couple of pics are of some of the distro items. First, the wall of 7"s:

And one of the shelves of distro LPs:

Believe it or not, in all the time that we were there, I didn't actually have time to look through the distro stock. The only new release I could remember wanting that I knew would be in stock was the brand new Precious LP, 'Sick Rooms'. You can actually see it in the picture above on the far right.

This had only just come out a week or two before I was at Rev, and I have been looking forward to it for a couple of months. Their last record was one of my favourites of last year, so I just had to have this new LP. I was so excited to grab it, in fact, that I just picked up a copy from Rev's warehouse without even checking that it was on the color vinyl. What an amateur. But thankfully I got lucky and it was the limited red vinyl.

Since I got home I have spun this a lot, and it is pretty much everything I hoped it would be. Definitely a contender for record of the year.

The only other thing I grabbed from the distro was the last pressing of the Up Front LP. It probably sounds dumb, but I mainly wanted this because it is pressed on 'test press green'. I don't think I've ever seen any other record pressed on this colour, aside from the obvious three.

And I also picked up a copy of the Freewill demo 7". I met Igby and it reminded me that I was missing this record. Shame there weren't any red copies, but hopefully I'll get one at a later date.

So that was that. We saw the warehouse and we picked up some stuff. But the best bit of the day was the afternoon, when we were allowed to see inside The Vault...

The Vault is a legendary place that most mere mortals can only dream of seeing. When we arranged the trip, we had a vague hope that we may be allowed to see inside the vault. We had a fantasy that we may be allowed to step inside. But we could never had dreamed that we would be allowed to go inside and look through stuff unsupervised. But that's what happened. For some reason, Jordan had decided that he could trust us, opened the vault and left us to look through whatever was inside. I don't really know what we did to deserve such special treatment, but I'll be forever grateful. Here's a photo of me nerding out inside 'The Vault':

I'm not going to post any photos of anything from inside out of respect. But it was mind blowing. I saw records I could only ever dream of owning, and a coupe of things I didn't even know existed. I held things that I have been trying to find for years. I even got to hold the Warzone 7" with lion attacking a horse sleeve, so I can genuinely say that I know what it looks like. So cool. And yet, at the same time, going into the vault somehow put me on a downer for about a month afterwards. I've thought about it a lot and tried to understand why. The only way I can explain it would be to say this:

Imagine you are allowed to go into a magic room containing everything you have ever wanted and could ever want. You're allowed to touch everything, pick it up, pretend it's yours, and take photos of it. But at the end of the day, you have to put it back in a box behind a locked door and leave. You can't take any of it home.

Technically, in such a scenario, you'd be no worse off at the end of the day than you were before you went in. Only, somehow, seeing what is in there makes you realise how much harder it will be to ever find any of the stuff for yourself, and makes you feel that yo'll never get it and you are completely inadequate. And that ultimately, it's all pointless. And that's pretty much exactly how I felt for about a month after the visit.

So with feelings of inadequacy setting in, and after really starting to feel that we were getting in the way, we all went outside for a group photo:

I think we eventually left RevHQ at about 16:30, approximately 6 hours after we had first arrived, which made my comment from breakfast ('I reckon we’ll be there for a maximum of two hours') seem pretty funny. For the rest of the day Geoff and I were repeatedly asking each other 'did you see blah?', to which the answer seemed to be mainly 'no'... which made us realise that nether of us were properly paying attention and that we had both missed a shitload of cool stuff. Oops!

About a month after I got home and eventually recovered from my jet lag (yup, it's a real thing - who knew?), I was able to properly appreciate just how lucky I was to experience such a day. Despite leaving feeling like a record collecting amateur, the day far exceeded my expectations. I just hope that one day I can go back and see some of the stuff that I missed because I was too excited to take it all in...

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

USA Trip, Part 8 - Los Angeles (Part 3)

Sunday in LA started well. We hiked up Runyon Canyon, which was a lot of effort but well worth it. Amazing views, good exercise and some sun. What more could you need on a Sunday morning?

Afterwards we drove down the road to check out Amoeba Records in Hollywood. I'd heard of this place as they sometimes get their own exclusive pressings of records (e.g. the last Dinosaur Jr LP) and because my dad went to the one in San Francisco years ago. I knew it was pretty huge and had pretty high expectations.

Well, as if often the case, high expectations are rarely met, and Amoeba certainly disappointed. It was indeed a huge store, but the vast majaority of it was of zero interest to me. There were lots of CDs and 'rock and pop' records and every other genre of music that I don't really care for. The hardcore / punk LP section was (unsurprisingly) new releases. And after eventually locating the 7"s, they couple of hardcore boxes were full of pretty low quality stuff.

I did manage to find one item that was a good price though - the Integrity / Vegas 'Love Me, I'm Bedazzled' split 7" on orange/black vinyl. This was a band exclusive colour out of 100 copies. The copy in Amoeba was cheaper than any copy I have ever seen for sale online, so it was worth grabbing... although the concept of 'mystery sales tax' reared its head at the till, meaning that amount on the price sticker was not the amount that I was asked to pay.

So that was Amoeba - a single 7" among thousands of items. Probably on reflection it was good that they didn't have much, because I'd bought way more than I intended up to this point anyway, and the next day we were scheduled to go to RevHQ...

Sunday, 9 September 2018

USA Trip, Part 7 - Los Angeles (Part 2)

After leaving Jeff in Hollywood, we met up with Tru Pray. I've traded with and bought stuff from Tru a few times over the years, and he was pretty much the only person I knew in LA, so I had hoped I could manage to find a couple of hours to meet up in person. Fortunately he had a couple of hours free in his Friday evening schedule, and headed out to meet us. It also turned out great that he brought his car along, which helped a lot later on. After a quick trip to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery we headed up to Vacation Vinyl...

They had posted the above pic on instagram a few days before we got to LA and, despite it being slightly cryptic, it definitely suggested that they were literally shutting up shop at the end of the first day that we were in LA, possibly forever. So I literally had one chance to go there, and I wanted to take it.

We rolled up to the shop at about 7:20, took this photo of me outside...

... and then we tried to open the door, only to find it locked. Oops!

Notice in the comment on the instagram post, it clearly says that they close at 7pm. I think we somehow got confused and thought it closed at 8, else we wouldn't have been surprised to find it closed at 7:20. Fortunately the dudes were still inside and were happy to unlock the door and let us in. Pretty lucky since it was a Friday evening.

Once inside I was conscious of time and that I was effectively keeping these dudes from getting home, so I tried to look through stuff quickly. I guess it helped that the hardcore section wasn't that big anyway.

Unlike the previous stores, I dug out a couple of LPs, but no 7"s.

The first thing I found was an old Lookout! Records release. This is the second LP by Nuisance called 'Sunny Side Down'.

I listened to this band quite a lot last year. I can't really remember how I stumbled across them. But I figured $6 was a good price for this, and this particular copy is in great shape.

The second thing I found was cool and annoying at the same time. The debut full length from Krimewatch, on Lockin' Out Records. This is the limited 'orange' vinyl.

The reason this was annoying was that I had ordered this from the label on the first day it went up for preorder, but then weeks later I received an email to tell me that the plant hadn't made enough orange vinyl, so they were sending me a clear copy instead. Yet I had seen instgram posts from both Revelation and Vacation Vinyl showing that they had orange copies. So it would seem to me that, rather than a pressing plant mistake, it was more of a label mistake. Rather than send the limited colour to their preorder customers, they sent quite a few out to distros and stores. Oh well, at least I got one.

So that was all I found on the shop floor. But then we got chatting to Mark who owns the shop. I knew that he used to co-run Hydrahead, and I knew from a friend that a few months ago he had some Hydrahead leftovers behind the counter. So I asked and he quickly produced six more boxes of records for me to look through. I found a couple of bits, but the thing that I had been hoping to find wasn't there - a Botch 10" on pink vinyl. I told Mark I was hoping to find one, and he seemed surprised that there wasn't one there. But he was sure that he had one at his house, which was about 5 minutes away, and invited us to go back with him to fetch it.

Well, wouldn't you know it, he did have a few more Hydrahead records back at home, but not the one I was looking for. No pink Botch 10" unfortunately. But between the shop and the house I had still managed to pick up a few extras for my Hydrahead collection...

First, a solid red/yellow vinyl copy of the Cattlepress 'Hordes To Abolish The Divine' LP. This came out around the turn of the century. Back then I picked up a clear red/yellow vinyl copy. And 18 years later I find myself picking up a second copy on the other colour variant. I'd forgotten how rad this record is. I guess that happens when you have a lot of records.

And I also scored a test press of the same LP. Fucking rad.

Next, another test press - this one is for the Clouds 'We Are Above You' 2xLP. Clouds was a short lived band active circa 2007/8 which featured Adam McGrath from Cave In.

What's funny is that the pic on the back of the standard Hydrahead test press sleeve is of the guy I bought this from. Although it would appear that at some point in the not too distant past, he had a shave and a haircut.

Next, a little known and underappreciated 7" from 2001 from a Boston band called Barbaro. Hydrahead released this two song 7" in 2001 on three different colours of vinyl. At the time, I enjoyed this so much that it led to me buying their full length on CfuckingD. Desperate times. Anyway, not many people would care, but I was stoked to grab a test press of the 7":

This next 7" is an interesting one. It's a rare version of the Dillinger Escape Plan / Drowningman split 7". Technically it's not on Hydrahead, but was the first release in the 'Hydrahead Singles Series'. This version comes in a yellow paper cover which was apparently a Newbury Comics exclusive, and is numbered out of 50 copies on the inside of the sleeve.

The next 7" is another from the same era as the Barbaro 7" which attracts similar levels of disinterest - the Harkonen 'Grizz' 7". I picked up a test press of this one too.

And to end, two more 7"s from the 'In These Black Days' series of 7"s. There were 6 7"s made of around the end of the 90s, featuring bands covering Black Sabbath. I enjoy all of these 7"s, and as with most early Hydrahead releases, there are enough variants to keep collectors entertained for years.

Back in about 2000 or 2001 I traded away my brown vinyl copy of the Volume 1 7" (split between Anal Cunt & Eyehategod) to someone for a green vinyl Strain 7" on Bateria Sour. I think that was a pretty great trade back then, and still would be today. I never replaced my brown vinyl 7" as it never seemed a priority, so it was cool to pick an unplayed copy up from the source.

I also grabbed a copy of the Volume 4 7" (featuring Cavity, Cable, Jesuit & Overcast) on blue and green vinyl. There were different colour combinations of this record, but only 27 copies featured a green vinyl 7". So this is a pretty cool score.

After looking at records and various other cool bits and bobs and chatting nonsense, time had somehow flown by and it was getting late. Tru had kindly offered to drive us back to our hotel in Santa Monica, so we had to leave. Shame as I felt that I could have really spent a lot more time chatting to Mark. He was a really interesting and cool guy, and I really hope I get to meet him again at some point.

Somehow, from the point of arriving at Vacation Vinyl to leaving Mark's house, 3 hours had passed. It honestly felt like about half an hour. Friday night really did fly in LA. We had met Jeff from Gameface at 6pm and then what felt like an hour later it was past 10pm, it was dark, and the jetlag was kicking in. Tru kindly dropped us back at our hotel and said goodbye.

After meeting Jeff and the trip to Vacation, I had added 7 LPs, one 10" and 10 7"s to my haul, bringing the total pile to 74 (48 7"s, 1 10", 25 LPs). I'd also spent most of my record budget money, and we still had RevHQ to visit...