One of the best parts of being a record collector is getting to cherish every piece of vinyl you own. Each album tells a story, and we want to share those tales with everyone we know. That’s why VNYL is starting #FirstSpin — the stories behind the first album your favorite singers, musicians and fellow vinyl lovers ever owned.
We love records; you love records — let’s talk records.
Name: Jeff Rosenstock
Hometown: Baldwin, N.Y.
Current City: Brooklyn
Music History: Previously with Bomb the Music Industry!; Currently a solo artist as well as a member of Antarctigo Vespucci
First Concerts: I went to Warped Tour in 1996 because I was obsessed with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. They were playing with bands like Fishbone, NOFX, Rocket from the Crypt and Down by Law. I got to see everybody I knew at Warped Tour, plus all these bands I had been listening to for a couple of years. Around the same time, I saw a Long Island hardcore band called Tension*. They had opened the night before for Biohazard, who I liked a lot as a kid. I didn’t think I could convince my parents to let me see a Biohazard show, but I thought they might let me see a local band. Tension* was playing at a place called PWAC, which is the People With AIDS Coalition. It seemed like the money benefitted a good cause, as far as I could tell from the name. Both of those concert experiences were very different but completely fucking unreal for me.
Favorite Record: The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. I’ll listen to it ad nauseam until the end of time. I have like three pressings of it. None of them are necessarily “special,” but my fiancée did give me one for one of our first anniversaries together. That one is sentimental.
Prized Record: I found this record called Milo and the Kings’ Christmas in the Virgin Islands for like $2 at Academy Records in Brooklyn during Christmas one year. Looking back, I wish I bought every record in that Caribbean Christmas section, because there were only like six of them, and they were super cheap. I probably listened to that Milo and the Kings record more than any other record in my collection. Unfortunately, someone melted it on the radiator. I can’t find another copy anywhere, but every two weeks, I look for it on eBay and Discogs. I’m hoping if it does pop up, it’ll be for $10 and not $100.
My New Album: We Cool? is a record I’m excited about. It gets real loud and then real quiet. Not like that was ever a problem before, but on this record, I wanted to go for broke with the dynamics. If a song felt like it should be super quiet, it should be like Sufjan Stevens-quiet. If it’s supposed to get really loud, it should be Slayer-loud. That’s more extreme than what ended up happening, but I was definitely trying to take a little bit of influence from all kinds of music while making We Cool? still sound cohesive with dynamics and instrumentation.
MY FIRST ALBUM: Rancid’s Life Won’t Wait
When I was a kid, I thought that I could only hang out in my town or maybe my mom would give me a ride to the town over so I could go to Prime Cuts [Music Emporium in Rockville Centre, N.Y.]. There were all kinds of record stores where I grew up on Long Island, from Prime Cuts to a CD Warehouse to a really rad store in Valley Stream called Slipped Disc Records. When my friends and I figured out that Long Island had an awesome bus system, we started going to Slipped Disc.
Music was super CD-centric when I was growing up, and Slipped Disc had tons of CDs. I remember you could get Green Day CD singles there and t-shirts. They had such a crazy collection, and then there was a little record section. My sister had a record player in her room that I think was just part of her radio. She didn’t have any records, just CDs, but I remember looking at all the vinyl when I was at the store.
I had heard that the Rancid record Life Won’t Wait wasn’t that good. I only knew a couple of songs. “Intro” was crazy with a harmonica solo and “Bloodclot” was cool, but “Hoover Street,” was a weird five-minute long kind of spoken word song with a chorus that’s just, “Yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah!” I remember hearing that and being like, ‘This record sucks! Fuck this!’
Eventually the album was at Slipped Disc, and it was on neon orange double vinyl. It might’ve even been used. It was so cheap! Friends of mine whose opinions I appreciated and respected said the record was good, so I figured I might as well give it a shot. It was a little bit cheaper to buy it that way, so at least if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have spent that much money.
I might not have even liked the album the first or second time I played it, but it was the only record I had, so whenever I wanted to play records, I put that one on as opposed to choosing from my insane amount of CDs. Eventually, I liked Life Won’t Wait a lot. It’s the only Rancid album I consistently listen to, and the best Rancid record by far.
After Life Won’t Wait, I grew a really small record collection from Slipped Disc. My weird ass collection included The Queers’ Beat Off, a CIV 7” for a song called “Social Climber,” No Redeeming Social Value’s 7" 40 oz. of Hardcore and Diesel Boy’s Venus Envy. I loved Diesel Boy, but this is funny to me because I feel like that record must have sold only like 200 copies.
Up until about eight or ten years ago, you could find stuff that was awesome for so cheap on vinyl. I liked the idea of everything being a little bit of a hunt. Now that Amazon exists, you can get anything in a day, but I like going to a record store and finding Elvis Costello records for a couple of dollars. I wish things were still the way it was ten years ago, because now some single records are $25 new or bands will put shit out like double, triple or quadruple LPs for $80. And you have to flip the record. That’s kind of nuts.
But I still just like having records. It’s a really rad surprise when you buy a record and the packaging is awesome. It feels like you have a little piece of art there, not just a record. It’s a hard thing for me to explain, because my record collection started accidentally. Before I really had a collection, friends got me building one up by buying me records for birthday gifts. Now I don’t know if I have any CD players that work, so I end up buying new records if I want to support somebody. It’s nice, because you can have a little experience with the music.
Jeff Rosenstock’s new solo album, We Cool?, drops March 3. He’ll be on tour with Andrew Jackson Jihad, the Smith Street Band and Chumped starting March 8. You can find the full list of Jeff’s tour dates here.
And don’t forget to check back every Monday for new VNYL #FirstSpin stories.