Jem Evans is a single parent of two kickass kids who lives in North Wales, UK. A school teacher by trade, Jem likes to relax by spinning records from her vinyl collection. She's also known to go hunting at our local music shops, and when she's traveling abroad, you better believe she's Googling "record stores near me."
Welcome Jem to the Record Collector club.
How long have you been collecting records?
I haven’t been collecting records for the longest time. Since I was a kid, I was always fascinated by records. My parents had a decent collection and my uncle would also let me play his records when I visited my grandmother's house. I got excited about records again when I was around 17. I moved to the city and would spend my days at record shop called Tempest in Birmingham. I remember buying Something's Gotta Give by Agnostic Front and Forty Hour Train Back to Penn by The Movielife, the nostalgic factor of it came rushing back. It wasn’t really until 5 years ago where I started collecting records again and became serious about it.
Where/how do you usually find your records these days?
Well, I live in the ass end of nowhere, so it’s not always easy going out and picking records up. My main source is usually the Internet. I buy online from stores such as Banquet, Specialist Subject Records, and at times, Amazon. I don’t always buy from Discogs because you’re paying over the odds sometimes. I used to buy a lot from American websites, but I would often get hit with those customs charges and you find yourself buying a few more records than usual to make up for the postage charges. I buy a lot of records from merch tables at shows, some might say too much at times.
My favorite stores to dig around though are: Piccadilly Records and Vinyl Exchange in Manchester. Vinyl Exchange has a very small punk/hardcore/metal section of used records and you can sometimes find a few hidden gems in there. When I’ve travelled, I really enjoyed Amoeba in Hollywood, although I was battling the worst jetlag, I still managed to pick up a bunch of cheap singles and EPs. Port of Sound in Costa Mesa also had a great selection and I had to stop myself from buying so much. I also loved Generation Records in New York, again, so much choice and not enough money to burn! Such is life.
What is the most you paid for a single record, where/how did you obtain it, and what was it?
Anyone who knows me, will know what I will pick for this. Back when I was 17, I picked up The Movielife Has A Gambling Problem for like, £10. Anyway, that got stolen and for years I tried to find it at a cheap price. One day, I get a message from a friend saying they had seen it on eBay….but it wasn’t going cheap. I think I paid around £90 for it, which isn’t that much compared to what some people I know have paid for records but, for me, it was a lot! It was also totally worth not eating for a week over.
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 could never pick just one but, Revelation Records would be top of the list. Have they ever released anything you could call bad? My favorite Revelation releases though: Gorilla Biscuits' Start Today, Sick of It All's self-titled 7”, CIV's Set Your Goals, Youth of Today's Can’t Close My Eyes. Bridge Nine also put out continuous solid releases, the best for me are: Defeater's Letters Home, Champion's Time Slips Away. Then of course, there is Epitaph. I don’t own too many Epitaph records, but they were one of those labels in my teens that had some excellent releases and still do now. Favorites? The Bouncing Souls' Hopeless Romantic and How I Spent My Summer Vacation. The best newer release must be Touché Amore's Stage Four, that record has consistently been a help the past year. I could never leave out Blackball Records because, who doesn’t love Jawbreaker?! The other labels I seem to own a lot by also are: Fat Wreck Chords and No Sleep records
Of everything in your current collection, what is your most prized record and why?
There are so many! I wanted to say all of them but, there are some I love more than others because they are irreplaceable. My Father passed this year, he told me a couple of years ago that he had gotten rid of all his records but, he had kept them, and I received them shortly after his funeral. So, I will always hold them dearest. Then there is the Madball Ball of Destruction 7” that my boyfriend gave me, as well as Orange Rhyming Dictionary by Jets to Brazil and Sally Cinnamon by The Stone Roses. I also have a signed copy of Survivor's Guilt by Vinnie Caruana from a friend as I could not go to the solo show. I have been lucky to make a few friends from using Instagram and have done a few trades or received records as gifts from a few people so, these are also my most treasured. It is never about how much they cost that matters most, it is the sentiment behind it for me.
Is there anything that frustrates you about the current record collecting scene?
I think I have the same frustrations as most people! It is annoying when people buy records just to make a profit on Discogs or eBay. I also find it frustrating that so many people are now buying vinyl just to have it as a general possession, not as something to listen to, love and enjoy. I saw something on the news last year and a guy bought some records and he bought them just to hold as he was listening to a “better quality version” on Spotify, now, I just don’t understand that. I use Spotify just as much as the next person but not for that reason. Also, vinyl has become so accessible these days, you can go to a supermarket here and pick up a loaf of bread and Nevermind on vinyl in the same place which is still weird to me. Can we also talk about people who say “vinyls” please? That’s a whole different article!
Which records are still on your want list that you've had a tough time tracking down through the years?
For the longest time, it was Orange Rhyming Dictionary by Jets to Brazil but, they repressed it so now I am set! The only record I want and refuse to pay £130 for is the first album by I Am the Avalanche. It is currently on Discogs and it shall stay there until someone is willing to pay that much, for now? It’s not me! There isn’t too much I struggle to find, sure there are records I wish I could have in my collection (who doesn’t want Judge's Chung King Can Suck It?!) but for now, I am happy with what I have! Emphasis on the “for now," we all know this is an addiction.
Follow Jem on Instagram.
Tagged: record collector