In this interview I talk to James all about music, vinyl and photography.
Why did you decide to start a vinyl themed Instagram?
It was never really my intention to start a vinyl themed Instagram, it’s just ended up evolving that way; although I do use my account to post other bits and pieces too, it is mainly vinyl related content.
The thing I love about vinyl is not only the records themselves but also the sleeve artwork and pressing variations. It’s an artform that really lends itself to being showcased on a platform like Instagram and I love how creative some people are when it comes to sharing their record collections.
I really love the whole #vinylcommunity that’s been built on Insta, it’s great to connect with other people who love the same music and also a really good way of hearing about new music; I’ve got into so many bands through recommendations from the Vinyl Community. I hope that over time some records that I’ve posted have encouraged some of my followers to give certain bands a listen.
How long have you been collecting records and how many do you have in your collection?
My parents had a sizeable record collection so I always grew up around vinyl. Several records were bought for me when I was a kid; Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers being the first one that comes to mind.
The first record I bought with my own ‘pocket money’ was Queen’s Hot Space album, it was from a stall in an antiques market that sold a whole load of junk and a few records, I think I must’ve been around 10 or 11 at the time. I really loved Queen back then, well I still do now, but back then they were everything to me musically.
In the years that followed I collected hundreds of CD’s and briefly flirted with vinyl again around 1999/2000 when the UK Garage scene was really gathering steam. I had releases from the likes of Artful Dodger, Misteeq and So Solid Crew to name a few. I ended up giving most of those records and even my old turntable away as I stopped listening to that kind of music as much, I wish I had kept hold of them now from a nostalgia point of view.
It wasn’t until 2016 that vinyl came into my consciousness again, around this time I noticed quite a few people I followed on Instagram posting records and thought that it might be fun to start building a collection. The first two records I bought to kickstart my collection were The Cure’s Standing On A Beach and Love by The Cult which I picked up in a small record store in Barcelona while I was on holiday. I didn’t even have a turntable at this point so when I got home I set about sorting myself out with one, nothing flashy, just a basic Crosley Cruiser, but it served me well for a few years. I’ve since upgraded to the Audio Technica ATLP120XUB.
Initially I was only planning on getting a selection of my favourite albums on vinyl but as most collectors know buying records is addictive and a collection can grow pretty quickly, so now my partner and I have in the region of 750 records in our collection.
What’s your favourite vinyl you own and what is your holy grail?
I’m fortune enough to already have what I regard as The Holy Grail in my collection and that’s The Cure’s 1992 album, Wish.
Wish is by far my favourite album and as it’s never been reissued from the original release it’s one that’s pretty hard to get unless you want to spend a lot of money on a copy. Most people have Disintegration down as The Cure’s best work and that album is indeed a masterpiece but for me Wish has always been my Holy Grail. I was lucky enough to receive my copy as a present from my Dad a few years ago.
Who’s in your top five of favourite bands?
It’s really difficult to narrow it down to five bands but here goes…..
Undoubtedly my number one favourite band is The Cure. I was aware of them as I was growing up but it wasn’t until around about 6 years ago that I started to really explore their full catalogue and with that I was hooked. I’ve had the fortune of seeing them live 3 times in the last 4 years and every time they’ve absolutely blown me away. Robert Smith’s songwriting and voice is like nothing else in my opinion. Perfect!
The Gaslight Anthem. The ’59 Sound, played on Jo Whiley’s Radio 1 Show at some point in 2008 and on that first listen I knew I needed to hear more by them. I don’t think I can recall another band where I’ve became a huge fan so quickly, it was instant. The glory of Springsteen like Americana twinned with that raw punky bite is a winning formula if you ask me. The band’s subsequent and sometimes more mellow songs are a winner with me too, as is the case with Brian Fallon’s work as a solo artist.
Oasis have always been a big deal to me, I suppose in a sense they were the first band I really connected with outside of what was being played by my parents and that makes them very important as a band who really helped me form my own taste in music. To this day I love Oasis, I’ve seen both Noel and Liam live and like many people hope that one day they’ll be a reunion, although I’m not holding my breath.
DMA’S are in my opinion the band of the moment. A throwback to all that was brilliant about the Britpop era of the 90’s with a modern twist. Two albums deep and another on it’s way this July, they’re making amazing music and I think they’ll be around for many years to come. As a live band they are top drawer, I’ve seen them 3 times now and have tickets for 2 gigs later this year, fingers crossed they go ahead.
The Snuts. Although in the grand scheme of things they’ve not been around overly long I really think these guys from Scotland have an amazing future ahead of them. Having released their Mixtape EP earlier this year the lads are starting to gather real momentum and rightfully so because they make brilliantly catchy indie bangers. Having been to quite a few Snuts gigs over the last few years I can confidently say they’re getting better and better and having met them a few times I can also vouch for what nice guys they are, so it’s awesome to see them doing so well. Check them out!
I like your photography skills are you a photographer?
Thanks man. I really wish I could call myself a professional photographer but the fact is I’m not nearly as good as I’d need to be to make a living from it, I’m much more a hobby photographer than anything else but I do really enjoy it and I’m always looking for ways in which I can improve.
I’m fortunate to live is a pretty picturesque area so there’s always photo opportunities around here but what I get a real buzz from is street art photography. I’m always on the hunt for murals, paste up’s and street sculpture and have taken loads of photos of that kind of thing over the years, so much in fact that I have another Instagram account dedicated to it, @sprayedwalls Check it out! (Cheap plug)
If you could have dinner with any musician from any time who would it be and why?
That’s a real tough question as there’s so many musicians I’d love to hang out with but I’m going to say David Bowie.
As musicians, performers or whatever go Bowie really had it all, a truly multifaceted person who would have many interesting tales to tell. I’d love to know how he came up with his various personas, how he set about writing his songs and probably more than anything his views on the world.
Any recommendations on movies, tv shows or music?
MOVIES: One of the best films I’ve seen over the last few months is 1917. A real cinematic masterpiece.
During Lockdown we watched all the Marvel films in the “correct chronological order” which was really enjoyable so if anyone’s got a huge chunk of time to fill then I can recommend that.
TV: I know it’s been around for years but my partner and I are pretty hooked on The Office right now, the US version. I initially dismissed it as usually American remakes of British comedies don’t really work but The Office bucks that trend. Such a good show.
Also, if you’ve not seen the TV series What We Do In The Shadows then you’re missing out. We binge watched both seasons last weekend and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Anything with Matt Berry in is gold!
MUSIC: I mentioned them earlier but I’ll say it again, check out The Snuts.