Jo Hjermstad is a father of four who lives in Lillehammer, Norway with his fiancé, Maria. He works at an upper secondary school as head of the sports and physical education department. In 1999, he discovered Porcupine Tree's Lightbulb Sun album, and since then he's been a massive fan of both the band and its leader, Steven Wilson.
In this new Record Collector installment, we learn more about Jo's love for Porcupine Tree, and his other vinyl pursuits.
How long have you been collecting records?
I have been collecting pop and rock records for nearly 30 years. During those years my collection has grown close to 25,000 items, where approximately 15,000 of them are 7" singles. As already mentioned, I love the music of Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson. In my collection, I now have every vinyl album and single ever released by Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree. That includes all the various pressings that has been made over the years (limited editions, box sets, promos, reissues, etc.) As an example, I have seven pressings of Up the Downstair, and all six pressings of On the Sunday of Life.
Where/how do you usually find your records these days?
Unfortunately, the last record store in my town closed down more than 15 years ago. Nowadays, I therefore buy most of my records online via eBay and Discogs. I would also like to recommend the UK-based online store, Burning Shed. I also buy a lot of records when I am in London to watch my beloved Q.P.R. When there I usually go to second hand stores like Music & Video Exchange in Notting Hill and Greenwich to buy 7" singles. I also use Facebook groups to buy vinyl.
What is the most you paid for a single record, where/how did you obtain it, and what was it?
My most expensive record to buy was a signed copy of the first pressing of Porcupine Tree's The Sky Moves Sideways (UK-1995, Delerium records - DELEC LP 028). It was released in 500 copies on black vinyl only. I paid £350 GBP for it through ebay from a guy in Greece. I also sell some records from time to time to so that I can get more money to buy even more records. The most I have sold a record for is £1000 GBP to a guy in Italy. It was an LP by The Enemies, a Norwegian pop/psych band from the '60s.
Of everything in your current collection, what is your most prized record and why?
The most cherished record in my collection is a Special Limited edition pink vinyl PROMO Edition of Fear of a Blank Planet by Porcupine Tree. This issue was specially put together for the Pink Pop festival in The Netherlands and approx. 15 copies was made of it. It came with a special stickered PinkPop slipcase sleeve and a 16 page 12x12” booklet. The reason why this is so special to me is not only that it´s very rare and worth a lot of money, but rather the reason that I got it from Charles Beterams, the owner of Tonefloat records, who made the record. I met Charles by coincident in a second hand record store in London in 2010, the same day Porcupine Tree were going to play their very first gig ever at The Royal Albert. I was down in the bargain basement at a shop in Notting Hill where they sold cheap 7" singles. In the same room there was this guy also digging for singles. Suddenly he pointed at me and said "Nice T-shirt" (I was wearing a T-shirt with Tonefloat records printed on it) "It sure is," I answered, and asked him how he knew about Tonefloat records. "I own it", he said!
It turned out I had bought a lot of records from him and he actually recognized my name too. We started to chat and it turned out the reason he was in London (he actually lives in The Netherlands) was that he was going to the same gig as me. Charles had been specially invited by Steven Wilson of course, as his record label, Tonefloat, has released several Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree records over the years. I told Charles I had been hearing there was this special Pink Pop promo of FOABP, and he said he thought he had a copy left of it at his home and that I could have it. Guess who got very happy then?!
Is there anything that frustrates you about the current record collecting scene?
Not really. The only thing must be that the prices has risen since vinyl became "hot again." On the other hand, I love that vinyl is now reissued and back in the music stores, and that all artists now release their music on vinyl again. So I've got no complaints, really [laughs].
Which records are still on your want list that you've had a tough time tracking down through the years?
I'm not looking for any particular record now actually, but I will keep picking up interesting records by great artist for years to come.
Follow Jo on Instagram.
Tagged: record collector