Glen Bushell lives in Ashford, Kent, in the UK, and he's been in and around music and working in record shops on and off for the best part of 20 years. Until very recently, the 35-year-old was the editor of Punktastic.com, covering many of the same artists I post about on No Echo. A fellow music hunter, I asked Glen to answer some questions for the site's Record Collector series.
How long have you been collecting records?
I started buying a few indie and alt-rock 7” in the ‘90s when after doing work experience in a record shop. Things like Oasis, Blur, Nirvana, etc., but nothing rare or collectable. I started taking things a little more seriously when I got heavily into hardcore in the early ‘00s and discovering our local scene. A lot of the bands like The Break In, The Legacy, Sworn In, Canaan, November Coming Fire, and countless others would release demos, splits, or EPs on vinyl, so I would just pick up anything new like that I could. Even though I didn’t have a record player at the time, it was a way to support a scene I cared about and ultimately, started the obsession that record collecting has become for me.
Where/how do you usually find your records these days?
For my sins, I do buy a large amount on Amazon. I don’t really concern myself with always having to get the most limited or fancy variant that much anymore, because primarily, it is about the music for me. Unless it’s a band I am pretty die hard about. Not to mention shipping costs from the US to the UK now mean you pay more shipping than the record itself, and you can bet it will get stopped at customs. I do use Discogs now and then, and occasionally eBay, but I do like to go direct to labels and distro’s where possible, as well.
That said, there’s no substitute for going into a record shop and going through the racks yourself. Record shops were few and far between for a number of years around here, and most of the indie’s shut down, including the one I worked in (shout out to The Music Room). A few local places like Monkey Boy and Transmission have recently opened up which is great, and London has some excellent record shops now that I will always try and get to when I’m in town.
What is the most you paid for a single record, where/how did you obtain it, and what was it?
Outside of box sets that I have specifically paid a high price for, there are two records I have paid £100 for.
The first was a copy of Sing the Sorrow by AFI. I was after one for years and got outbid on eBay countless times. In the end, I knew I would have to go big if I wanted that to complete a run of AFI records so I did that awful thing of going in with a £120 bid in the last few seconds and won. Maybe it was a rip off, but I don’t regret a thing about it.
The second was the Graveface Records pressing of Mare Vitalis by The Appleseed Cast. It was a pretty important record to me when I was younger, and was never able to find a Deep Elm original. One of the Graveface pressing’s came up on my Discogs watch list in the early hours of the morning and I dropped £100 on it without even thinking. Thankfully, I had recently sold some of the duplicates from my own collection and had some funds in my Paypal account that covered most it. Again, even though you can get it cheaper now, it’s one of the most stunning records in terms of pressing and content that I own, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
I was once prepared to spend a lot of money on the PB & J mispressing of Ill Blood by No Warning, but when I got outbid at £200 I knew it was time to walk away. It was either that or I don’t eat or leave the house for a month. Thankfully it’s been reissued now and I don’t have to think about doing that sort of thing again.
Of everything in your current collection, what is your most prizd record and why?
This is really hard to answer because there are so many records that are dear to me, either for the music or for sentimental value. I mean I could say my OG copy of Loveless by My Bloody Valentine as it is one of the greatest records ever made, or the marbled promo copy of April by Sun Kil Moon that someone very kindly gave me as a gift, but then I would be losing the point of this question.
In the end, I think the record in my collection that I cherish the most is a copy of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence by Glassjaw. It’s a really nice pressing out of 2000 on orange vinyl. It’s actually a Hot Topic exclusive, but I’m willing to overlook that based on how important the actual album is to me. It was a turning point in music when I was growing up, and it exposed me to hardcore, metalcore, and a world outside of traditional punk, rock, and metal. Without it, I don’t know what I would be listening to now. It eluded me on vinyl for a while until I snagged it on eBay for a really good price.
Is there anything that frustrates you about the current record collecting scene?
While I’m with the general consensus of people flipping records for a profit being an annoying problem, and the whole shipping cost issue that I mentioned earlier, there’s something that frustrates me more and there’s no way for me to say it without sounding like a pretentious snob, but I’ll try.
While It’s a great thing that so many people are getting into vinyl now, and it’s never been an exclusive club, I can’t help but feel the romanticism of buying records has been lost somewhere along the way. On one hand, you have people buying records, often keeping them sealed, with the express purpose of selling them on or as investment pieces. That’s fine, but I where is the fun in that?!
On the other, the so-called "vinyl resurgence" has meant people are going to Urban Outfitters and buying a record player that looks a suitcase or whatever the fuck, and having little to no respect for the records they will be playing on it. Not only will they wreck your vinyl, but have you ever listened to one of those things? I’m not saying you have to be a Hi-Fi nerd to buy vinyl, but do people really enjoy listening to something that sounds like a knitting needle dragged around a wet paper plate?
Buying records has always been a ritualistic thing; finding what you want, opening it up, feeling it, maybe even smelling it if you are so inclined, reading the sleeve notes, listening to every detail, nuance, or even imperfections you will only get from a record. There is nothing better than seeing the whole process through.
Which records are still on your want list that you've had a tough time tracking down through the years?
I have a list as long as my arm of things I really want to add to my collection. Some are pretty unattainable, but what old hardcore kid would I be if I didn’t want a copy of Chung King Can Suck It? Some other titles are those that I will just have to pull the trigger on one day or it will drive me insane. My most wanted right now are original pressings of Downward Is Heavenward by Hum, Master Killer by Merauder, Bloody Kisses by Type O Negative, and any variant of Antichrist Superstar by Marilyn Manson.
There are also quite literally hundreds of horror soundtracks I want to buy, but I can’t justify the price tags half the time. I once passed up the chance to buy an original pressing of Halloween III: Season of the Witch for £30, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.
I’ll probably never have a complete record collection, and there will always be something else to buy. Even when I’ve tried to slow down collecting I always get sucked back in, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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Tagged: record collector