Jonny Ruggiero was born and raised in my wife's hometown of Poughkeepsie, NY and currently resides upstate in Buffalo. A part-time employee at a thrift store and a freelance artist/graphic designer, Jonny is also the vocalist of Rockpile, a hardcore outfit that recently released an EP called Demolition.
Since he recently started posting his 7" finds on Instagram, I invited Jonny to be part of the Record Collector club.
How long have you been collecting records?
I've been collecting for a little over 10 years now.
Where/how do you usually find your records these days?
I'm a digger, so I prefer thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales. The thing is, I only collect hardcore/punk, so I'm at a bit of a disadvantage with my preferred outlets. Considering how narrow my range is, I usually find myself at record shops. I don't mind trading either. This is why if you were to look in my collection you'll probably notice multiple copies of certain titles. Not necessarily popular or sought-after titles, mainly pieces from bands I really like and had the opportunity to acquire or purchase for a reasonable price. With that being said, I avoid online record shopping like the plague [laughs]. I've done it but only when "the well has run dry," meaning when spots are tapped out and I've exhausted all my options, I'll resort to doing it out of sheer desperation. The intent is a rabbit hole, the further you dig, the further away you get from reality. The next thing you know there's a huge hole in your pocket. I prefer to leave my record collecting to fate. If I'm out and about and I decide to shop weather it be in someones basement or at a record shop, if I find something I like and have been looking for, then it was meant to be.
Unlike a lot of collectors i know, i don't need every sleeve variation and color from every press. Sure, I wouldn't mind having some variety, and I do, but not to the point of excess. This can prove costly and create space management issues. In a perfect world I could have three of every record i love, one to spin, one for trade and one to archive. There's a difference between collecting and hoarding. If your partner or spouse is threatening to kick you out of the house if you bring home just one more record then you might have a problem. And for some people I've met, it is a problem. Not for me, though since I'm a minimalist. Which is probably part of the reason why i prefer collecting 7"s. I have over three hundred 7"s in my collection. I like them because they are compact and I can fit them into small places and maintain organisation quality.
I don't catalog from A-Z or genre, (its all hardcore). Instead, I've broke it down to "points of interest." For example, New York hardcore... anything that falls into that category is in a crate with a divider labeled "NYHC." Anything that doesn't fall under a point of interest is labeled "MISC" or miscellaneous. But the primary reason why I love collecting 7"s is because often times some of the best and perhaps most underappreciated stuff in a bands catalog is their "early stuff" or simply they're lesser know releases, and that is the stuff i'm after. I've also discovered some really cool bands simply by shopping for 7"s. There's a lot of bands out there that were short lived and never released a full length. Not to worry though, I've got a nice collection of LP's as well.
What is the most you paid for a single record, where/how did you obtain it, and what was it?
The most I've ever paid for a single record was $25. If that isn't hard enough to believe then you might find this amusing... that record, was a mint second pressing copy of Cro-Mags The Age of Quarrel. It was about 5 years ago, I would say. My buddy, Phil, who is now a shop owner, had a distro and was operating out of his home from his garage. A few of my friends and I went over to his spot to dig around one day and he mentioned that he recently bought a collection of hardcore and metal stuff off someone and there might be some titles we're interested in. However, only a small handful of what he obtained was actually priced and ready for purchasing. He laid out a few stacks and we proceeded to look through them. There it was. a pristine copy of The Age of Quarrel generously priced for $25. You cant touch that record for less than $25 and that's probably "fair" condition. I almost pissed myself [laughs].
Come to think of it, I may have had $5 store credit that day, so I might have actually paid $20. If that's the case, then it would be a tie between my copy of The Age of Quarrel and my Crumbsuckers Life of Dreams LP, which I believe is a first pressing. That one i bought at a local record show about three years ago. But as far as these two records are concerned, I've always wanted a copy of them. Preferably OG cause I'm a bit of novice. Honestly, though, I never saw any point in over paying for a sealed, modern reissue of anything when I could have a serviceable used copy. If I'm in a position with record collecting where i feel like i should look into full coverage insurgence to protect my investment then I'm probably not investing for the right reasons. Or the reasons I deem worth while. I consider record collecting a sacred thing. I only collect because of punk rock and hardcore. its the music i love, so I choose to keep it exclusive.
If you 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?
Yikes, this is a toughy. There's so many good labels out there, past and present. Well, I'm not straight edge but I really got into Youth Crew and sXe hardcore early on. Everything from Youth of Today and Gorilla Biscuits to Earth Crisis and Strife. When I was in college, I discovered a band called A18. I picked up a copy of what was at the time their most recent effort, which was a Victory Records release called Dear Furious. It blew my fucking mind! I never heard such anger, and passion, vocally speaking, in a hardcore band, and the sheer honesty and brutality lyrically was unlike anything I heard before. It's actually kind of frightening to me that I could listen to this album over and over, but I just couldn't put it down. It was genuine. It's not hardcore if it doesn't come from the heart. A18 led me to other bands, most of which at some point in time were signed to New Age Records.
Sorry, I kind of trailed off there, but it's New Age Records for the win! So many good bands and a lot of solid releases. Turning Point, XChorusX, Outspoken, Strife, Ressurection, and that's just to name a few. The current roster is solid, too! Boasting releases from bands like Abuse of Power, Cutting Through, and Treason. New Age is a stacked label without a doubt. As far as some of my favorite releases, there are more than a few titles that really stand out to me. Among them are A Chorus of Disapproval Firm Standing Law, it's a compilation. Outspoken The Current, Strife My Fire Burns On, and most recently, Dear Furious S/T and Treason No One Is Safe.
Of everything in your current collection, what is your most prized record and why?
The record I would say I cherish the most is actually the first one I ever bought: Judge There Will Be Quiet... 7". I bought it back in 2008 off my friend Mike who had a record shop in the village of in Wappingers Fall, NY. Judge is an important band in hardcore. I never get tired of listening to them. Needless to say, I'm a huge fan, so when my boy called me up and told me a bunch of old-school stuff came through his door, I didn't hesitate. I had to see it for myself. You see, I was kind of a late bloomer with record collecting. It just didn't seem practical to me. CDs and cassettes were portable, so that was my thing for years. But once i realized it was possible to obtain records from bands that I really admired...music that wasn't run of the mill, it started to make more sense. And once I held that Judge 7" in my hand, it was a wrap. I was hooked and I wanted more!
Is there anything that frustrates you about the current record collecting scene?
There's a lot, but I'll try my best to keep it short. There's very few people I know like myself who collect with their heart on their sleeve. I'm not your average collector. I listen to and appreciate all types of music, but I only collect one kind of music. I don't expect to find everything I'm looking for when I'm out digging, in fact, I often times leave spots empty handed. But that's the nature of my condition and I'm fine with that. I wont buy something for the sake of buying it. I feel like a lot of people purchase records with little to no discretion. Flavor of the month or whatever is trending. I don't want to seem over critical but I see people I know boasting pieces in their collection of stuff they would never listen to on any other media or music they wouldn't even give the time of day to just for a chance to brag about it because its on vinyl and its obscure and or rare. I guess what i'm saying is I'd like to see more integrity in the record collecting scene.
Simply put, buy a record for the music because its what you love and nothing else. Which leads me to my next gripe: hoarders. They are the worst! They have 12 copies of everything and it's like pulling teeth to get them to part with anything. You don't need 12 of anything! Sorry, but records will not be a viable form of currency after the apocalypse. And just a message to shop owners, stop teasing us with your over-priced EPs and cassette demos. The in-store price of an item should not be the price your asking for on Discogs or eBay. If somebody is foolish enough to buy a cassette demo for 60 fucking dollars online, good for you and shame on them. But those of us who actually step foot into your establishment and give you our business regularly cannot justify the inflation. If I'm giving you an opportunity to unload your product, sparing you the time and effort of having to ship out said product, a product you could be holding for up to six months or more, then you could be gracious enough to knock off a few bucks, right?
Which records are still on your want list that you've had a tough time tracking down through the years?
There's a bunch! Here's a few:
- A Chorus of Disapproval, The Italian 7"
- Leeway, Born to Expire LP (OG copy would be preferred)
- Murphy's Law, S/T LP (OG copy would be preferred)
- Earth Crisis, Firestorm (OG preferred but I'll gladly take a modern reissue)
- Slugfest, Live 7"
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Tagged: record collector