Buddy Armstrong has been part of the Troy, NY hardcore scene going back to the '80s. The owner of Unbeaten Records, a growing label that currently counts such bands as Left Behind, Bruise, and Purgatory on its roster. He also works in the promotions department of Equal Vision Records by day, and on the band front, he handles bass duties for metallic hardcore greats, Stigmata.
In this new Record Collector piece, we learn a bit about Buddy's vinyl-related habits, and what it's like to be in the same band with Bob Riley, a dude with a legendary music library.
How long have you been collecting records?
I've been getting records ever since I was a 9-year-old, back in 1979, when I was way into KISS. Every penny I received from a birthday or holiday went to buying records back then. But seriously, I would say I've been seriously collecting since I was 14 or 15, when I had my first job at the Albany Public Market on Hoosic St in Troy [laughs]. I would blow my whole paycheck on records every week on vinyl.
Where/how do you usually find your records these days?
Same as always, I think; at shows and indie record stores. I also get records through my friends who are in bands or that have record labels of their own. I'm still adding to the collection.
You’re in a band with Bob Riley, a guy with a legendary hardcore vinyl collection. Do you guys talk records all the time?
No one has a record collection like Riley [laughs]. His collection is too big to look at all at once [laughs]. Bob is also a walking music encyclopedia. Anything you ever wanted to know about music, he can tell you were it was recorded, who played on it, and what year it came out, etc. Seriously, no lie [laughs]. Hes the best...and a great friend for years. One of a kind!
We don't talk records much these days. You can't turn Bob on to some old record you picked up because he has it already, in every color and pressing! Growing up, I met Bob when a friend from school joined his band Cranial Abuse (went on to become Stigmata later on) in the summer of 1987, and the rest was history. I met friends that day that changed my life forever, and for the better. Bob was one of them.
What is the most you paid for a single record, where/how did you obtain it, and what was it?
I was never the guy to fork over a ton of dough for a record. For the most part, I was lucky enough to get the older stuff when it came out and never had to go the internet for that must have record. For the really old stuff that I wanted bad, I always had older friends who were in the scene before me and passed down a few gems my way...thankfully! "Pay no more than 3 dollars ever"...I think I remember reading that somewhere [laughs].
If you had to pick one record label you feel had/has the best track record of quality releases, who would that be and what are some key titles you love?
I'm not sure I can pick just one, but a few of my favorite labels past/present would be: Combined Effort (Life's Blood, Beyond, Supertouch) Lookout! Records (Chrimpshrine, Operation Ivy, Fuel, Fifteen), and Reaper Records (Trapped Under Ice, Take Offense, Turnstile).
Of everything in your current collection, what is your most prized record and why?
Thats a tough one. I think i would say some of the older Dischord stuff like Rites of Spring or Marginal Man, only because when I got those records from an older scene friend, they were totally different from what I was listening to at the time (harder metallic hardcore) and it stood out for me during that time. Kinda helped me to switch gears and accept other kinds of hardcore other than what I was listening to at the time, around 1987.
Is there anything that frustrates you about the current record collecting scene?
I'm actually pretty far removed from it. Like I said earlier, I was never one to really aggressively seek out records that I didn't have after the fact. My collection grew from simply going to shows and mail order from all the labels I was into at the time. And now i'm still collecting records the same way and I cant believe I've hung on to all of them after all these years, with the exception of a couple I let go back in the day for financial reasons... bummer [laughs].
Which records are still on your want list that you've had a tough time tracking down through the years?
The Mental Abuse 12 inch! That record is pure hatred [laughs].
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