The Thermals’
Kathy Foster

One of the best parts of being a record collector is cherishing every piece of vinyl you own. VNYL’s #FirstSpin is all about sharing those histories. We’re telling the stories behind the first albums and music memories of your fave artists, bands and fellow vinyl lovers. This week we chatted with Kathy Foster of the Portland-based post-pop-punk trio The Thermals.

We love records; you love records — let’s talk records.

Name: Kathy Foster
Hometown: Sunnyvale, Calif.
Current City: Portland, Ore.

Kathy Foster on stage during a Thermals concert. Photo by Alix Piorun

Music History: I’ve been in a bunch of bands since I was 16. My first was Pistil with my two best girl friends. Hutch Harris and I have played music together since we were 20. Our first band together was Haelah, then Urban Legends, then Hutch & Kathy and now The Thermals. My other main band, which was active for about ten years, was All Girl Summer Fun Band. I also currently play in a band called Hurry Up. I’ve always played drums in bands, but in The Thermals I mainly play bass. I did play drums on two of our albums, though: The Body, the Blood, the Machine and Now We Can See.

Hutch and Kathy album art

On Hutch and Kathy’s First-Time Vinyl Release: Over the past year, we talked to Rob Jones of Jealous Butcher Records about putting Hutch and Kathy out on vinyl. It was originally only released on CD. Record Store Day seemed like the perfect day to do it. I’m so happy vinyl keeps becoming more and more popular, especially in such a digital age.
Unicorn Records: I’m really happy I have Tom Tom Club’s first record. I’d been looking a while before I found it used in Seattle. “Genius Of Love” is one of my all-time favorite songs. I’m mostly just happy to have bought lots of records and 7 inches as a teen and twentysomething. I have some cool stuff from the ’90s, like all the Bikini Kill 7 inches and a Smog 7" from like 1994 that is still one of my faves — A Hit/Wine Stained Lips.
First Concert: New Kids On The Block at Arco Arena in Sacramento, 1989.

VNYL Exclusive: Foster with her first vinyl purchase, The Specials’ debut album

My First Album: The Specials, self-titled
The first vinyl I bought was a used copy of The Specials first album. I was at the De Anza College Flea Market in Cupertino, Calif., around 1990 or 1991. It was the best flea market! I didn’t even have a record player yet, but I planned on getting one and I loved The Specials. I was really into that kind of ska (and still am!), like The Specials, The Selecter and Bad Manners.

I don’t remember the first time I listened to The Specials album. It was a random purchase — the first record I saw that I knew I wanted. But when I got a turntable a few months later for my 16th birthday, that’s when the love affair really began! I still have that record, listen to it and DJ it. It’s so good and reminds me of that time in my life every time I put it on — being in high school and just getting into going to shows and buying records.

I still listen to a lot of the music I got into back then — punk, garage pop, ska and grunge. Being a part of vinyl culture got me into so much cool stuff! It was such a great underground scene. That’s what I still love about vinyl — it feels like you’re a part of the coolest club.

I have consistently bought vinyl since I was 16. I was buying vinyl on a weekly basis then, and I did that for years. Now I’m kind of obsessed again because I DJ around [Portland] regularly and have a weekly radio show. It’s so much fun!

I love the whole interactivity of listening to records — choosing a record, putting it on, looking at the artwork and listening to the whole album as the artist intended it to be. I love the culture of vinyl — record stores, connecting with other vinyl lovers and finding old and new records you’ve been searching for. I love how vinyl sounds. I love finding old stuff that just doesn’t sound as good digitally. And I love to DJ with vinyl.

It’s just cool to listen to vinyl! I feel cool listening to records.

Just chillin’ with some farm animals, as one does.

Hutch and Kathy is out now on vinyl, and The Hutch and Kathy Tour kicks off in San Francisco on May 13. Get all the info on Kathy’s upcoming tour with her band and all things The Thermals here.

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