Bern, Switzerland isn't the first place one would think of when it comes to NYHC. But that's exactly where Christoph L. discovered and fell in love with bands like Youth of Today, Judge, and Cause for Alarm. Still living in Bern, Chris works at a telecom firm, and in his spare time, he hunts down rare vinyl of the punk and hardcore variety. Yep, that makes the dude perfect for the site's Record Collector series.
How long have you been collecting records?
It probably started with the records from my Dad. He had a great collection with records by Beatles, Bee Gees, Stones, etc. I loved flipping through those albums. Do you know the Bee Gees album Cucumber Castle? I mean, seeing that sleeve where they are all dressed up as kings, that must have an impact on me when I was a young boy. Thats when I wanted to get my own records. I remember that I always liked the Beatles song "Back in the USSR" because it was fast, short and, hmm, lets say, hard, at least for a Beatles song.
In the mid-'80s, the B-boy stuff came up, and my brother was totally into it. So, before I got into collecting hardcore records, I bought with tapes with my brother, and I gotta say, he kinda convinced me to buy tapes that he couldn't afford [laughs]. I always got the semi-good ones, like Kid Frost's Hispanic Causing Panic. I still love that one.
At the same time, we listened to the radio, especially two shows that where on once a week. One was called Rock Special, and the other was called Black Music Special. While my brother stayed with rap, I kinda changed into a rocker. We always taped those shows, and do you wanna hear something funny, there was a rock song on one tape that I really loved but I never knew who it was by. Not long ago, I dicovered it and it hit me like a bomb: Fugazi’s "Waiting Room." Now you might ask yourself, why did it take me so long to figure that out. Its simple, I collect OG versions of early hardcore records and unfortunately, I have no access to a gold cave in Switzerland, so I mostly chose hardcore records over that Fugazi one.
Where/how do you usually find your records?
Back in the '90s, there was a record store called Record Junkie, and it was located downstairs in a cave in my hometown, Bern. Check out Bern, if you are in Switzerland. It has the most beautiful old town ever. It was in that record store where I found that pink Uniform Choice, Youth of Today's Break Down the Walls, Insted, Judge on green, all for 50 franks. In that store I found many other classic hardcore records, and since there was no hardcore scene in Bern I knew of, there was absolutely nobody who was interested in buying hardcore vinyl in the area. I went there every end of the month and picked what I could afford. Those hardcore records must have been sitting there for several years just waiting for me to pick them out. The owner also taped all the bands that played at the famous Reithalle. There were taped performances from Gorilla Biscuits, Henry Rollins, Suicidal Tendencies, Ramones, and many more. That store closed in the late 1990 and he took the remains to his house, where it still sits. I used to go to his house and go through the records. Imagine finding a sealed second press of M.I.A. Murder in a Foreign Place from 1984. I gotta go back digging there again! Since then, my sources are the usual: Discogs, eBay, and other collectors.
What is the most you paid for a single album, where/how did you obtain it, and what was it?
That was the Chung King Can Suck It. I paid over $2000 for that record, and still, I have no apologies. [You can see Christoph's copy of the record at around the 2:55 minute mark in this Judge documentary]
What is your most prized record and why?
Besides the Chung King, it must be The Fix Vengeance 7‘‘, and the Necros Sex Drive on Touch & Go. I love them because that's hardcore to me. I always say that I was born at the wrong time, and in the wrong town. I dont really keep up, or maybe even care about, what's new and hip today. I am more interested in what came before. There were so many great bands, and also so many great records, that I still need to discover for myself.
Is there anything that frustrates you about the whole record collecting scene?
To be honest, it frustrates me that it collecting has became such a trend. I also hate that buying vinyl is hyped up by everyone. Every band has to do a repress on several colors, or their special Record Store Day version. I hate that a lot, but I gotta admit, there are some bands and labels of which I always gotta give into. Revelation Records is an example of that.
Which albums are still on your want list that you've had a tough time tracking down through the years?
Agnostic Front's United Blood, Warzone on clear, Heart Attack, Cause for Alarm, Deep Wound, Turning Point on gold and red, Youth of Today's Break Down the Walls on blue and red, Pagans, Indigesti/Wretched, Koro, Nasal Boys, Anders Angest, Desperate Livin, Anti Cimex, Ebba Grön, Skitslicker…the list goes on. I manly concetrate on the OG pre-'90’s stuff but that won't keep me from buying every now and then something new. As an example, the Ten Yard Fight LP on gold is still on my want list and I could have gotten it a long time ago, but somehow, I always find something older and more OG.
The list of records will allways stay the same length or might even get longer. There’s always something to add. And that keeps it fun, or maybe just frustrating?
Follow Christoph on Instagram and tell him we sent ya!
Tagged: hardcore, record collector