Mark Yoshitomi is a good friend of mine who I’ve become close to over the years through the NYC record collecting scene. He has always helped me find records, given advice, and just been generally cool about everything related to our crazy hobby.
As one of the owners of Generation Records in Greenwich Village, Mark has seen it all in the collecting community. His personal collection is top notch, and he has my respect on that level (read on and you’ll see that his Misfits collection is killer).
Back in the '90s punk scene, Mark did stints as a bass player in the bands The Casualties and The Krays.
Fun fact: try spotting Mark in the cover layout of Sick of It All’s seminal Blood, Sweat and No Tears album below:
Yes, he has been to every show at CB’s you wish you were at!
How did you get into collecting records?
I started out with classic rock records when I was a kid. I inherited my older sister’s Led Zeppelin collection when she went away to college.
When I first got into punk stuff, I’d look in Maximum Rocknroll, Thrasher, and Flipside for obscure stuff and started doing mail-order with outlets like Toxic Shock, Taang, Deluxe, and Subterranean. That’s really where that obsession started.
What was the first record you bought with your own money?
I believe the first record I bought with my own money was Cheap Trick at Budokan. It was at a long defunct record store in Hastings, New York. It might have been where Clockwork Records (Hi, Mike!) is now, definitely the same street.
I joined the RCA Record Club and got like 12 records for a penny, but I don’t think that I ever bought whatever the requirement records at regular prices.
I know you grew up on the outskirts of NYC and attended the CB’s matinees in the late '80s. What were your favorite NYC record stores to shop at during that time?
The first downtown NYC record stores I remember going to were Sounds, Free Being, and Bleecker Bob’s in eighth grade. It was really exciting to be able to look at even Sex Pistols and Clash records in a store back then. I can remember buying my first Dead Kennedys, Replacements, and Black Flag records at that time.
I used to love Venus when it was on 8th Street in like a residential apartment building. They had tons of UK punk singles and all the then current hardcore stuff. Foot Light Records because they had all those great horror soundtracks you would see in Fangoria magazine and Sounds on St. Marks because the used records were so cheap.
Back then, there were so many great stores like Second Coming, Golden Disc, Some Records, Subterranean, Midnight, etc. Even the Tower on Broadway would have some pretty obscure stuff in the import section upstairs.
What is your collecting philosophy? What do you collect and why?
Some people are completists for bands or labels even if they took a turn for the worse. I only collect what I like so a lot of bands and genres have a cut off point for me. I also stay away from collecting certain genres.
Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of old skinhead reggae. I’m happy just to buy a new Trojan comp. instead of seeking out 45s for another genre.
What I collect is mostly '70s punk, soundtracks—especially '70s Italian stuff—blaxploitation, and horror films, first wave hardcore, '60’s French pop, James Brown, Ennio Morricone, Motörhead, Stax Records, foreign 45 picture sleeves, etc.
We all have one record that we sold that we completely regret, what is yours?
The Fix's Jan’s Room 7 inch for $75 and Lockjaw's Dead Friends 7 inch for $30. One day I’ll have that Lockjaw again.
You are one of the owners of Generations Records in NYC, so how does running the store affect your collecting? The good and bad?
Temptation to buy for yourself instead of for the store. I try not to buy too much but there’s always something you want. It’s a real test sometimes. I’ve seen some things I’ve passed on come back but there’s so many I feel like I’ll never see again.
Tell me a bit about the store’s record label. Also, how do you decide what releases to do “Generation Exclusives” exclusives for?
Before I came back, they put out an OFF! record and a Bouncing Souls record. I don’t know too much about those releases. So far, I’ve only put out the reissue of the Screaming Sneakers 12 inch. That was a lot of fun. Lisa and Gary from the band are really nice and chill, so I’ve never had any rock star type problems with them.
Chris [Minicucci] from Radio Raheem did a great job with the booklet and I’m really happy with how that came out. We’re repressing another 500 with a poster. We have some hardcore reissues of '90s era stuff coming out in the near future plus one day we’ll get it together and finally put out a Whorelords record.
We have a few different unreleased tapes that really deserve to see the light of day. The Generation exclusives started with Agnostic Front's United Blood EP. Roger [Miret] offered and what store would ever say no to something like that? He’s a great guy!
From there we’ve gotten a pretty good mix. Harley Flanagan, Sheer Terror, Subzero, Sick of It All, Constant Elevation, No Redeeming Social Value, Outburst, Mantas, Hatebreed, Psychos, Blitz, Partisans, Adicts, Reagan Youth, etc.
Sometimes, a bigger label like Nuclear Blast will ask if we want to do an exclusive but most of it has been through friends. We have more than a dozen exclusives planned for the the year and it’s a pretty diverse list. I can’t imagine someone liking all the bands.
What do think about the values of rare punk records (like Misfits etc) skyrocketing? Do you think the bubble will burst?
Kids can still get into punk rock, so it’s got awhile until it decreases. The people that collect say doo-wop are getting older and that rabid doo-wop collector is getting older and there’s no younger collector to take their place when they die.
When one of the big doo-wop collectors die, all their friends reach out to the family to try to get the high-end pieces in the collection.
Misfits records seem to double every year. It’s insane, The Misfits are like the only band in the world where multiple youth subcultures like them.
What’s the most you ever shelled out for a record?
I love my girlfriend and value our relationship, so I won’t say too much [laughs]. She knows but isn’t thrilled. It's Misfits-related and I’m glad I pulled the trigger. I’ve already seen it go for double what I paid.
Name a record or records you can’t live without.
Misfits (best art and great songs), Generation X, Dead Boys, Rezillos, and X-Ray Spex are probably my favorite bands. Most of their records had great graphics. Graphics are almost just as important to me as the music collecting wise.
What are the top records on your want list currently?
Bruno Maderna – La Morte Ha Fatto L'uovo LP, Dead Boys – Tell Me 7 inch (Japanese press), Stelvio Cipriani – Femina Ridens LP, Ennio Morricone – L'Uccello Dalle Piume Di Cristallo - Colonna Sonora Originale Del Film LP, Ennio Morricone – Il Grande Silenzio (Dalla Colonna Sonora Originale Del Film) LP, Giuliano Sorgini – The Living Dead at The Manchester Morgue LP, and The Ruts – The Crack (Japanese Press).
Is there anything that really bothers you about the collecting scene?
KBD [Killed by Death] collectors that have every highly sought-after KBD single but couldn’t name one song off Group Sex or Fresh Fruit [for Rotting Vegetables] because they’re not rare records. Punk collectors that were never punks or hung out in the scene.
What do you foresee for the future of vinyl and collecting?
I hope it lasts. Even if I didn’t have the store, I’d still be buying and be interested in records. I hope the companies get smarter and put out stuff people actually want. How many unreleased sessions are out there?
There’s an endless wealth of material out there and no one needs another 180-gram version of the same records that seem to be rereleased every year.
Do you plan on growing old with your records or do you have an exit strategy?
I’d like to grow old with them. That’s the plan. I collect movie posters and books too. Perfect scenario is my step kids will have a bunch of crap they don’t care about to sell for a lot of money when I croak.
What’s a record or genre in your collection that might surprise the readers?
I got like 20 Dolly Parton records.
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Tagged: record collector