Thursday, May 20, 2010


My friend Kalle Blom was in the bar the other day. He works at Electric Tattoo Studio, which is two doors down from us, and on occasion he comes by for an after work bottle of Corona. I got to know Kalle when his old band, Outlast, reformed for a show at the Fluff Fest in Czech Republic last year. Jon from Victims also played in that band and being that Victims were also playing the same festival the day after, I travelled down with those guys for a night of partying in Rokycany, Czech Rep. I got to know the Outlast guys and we had a great time together. I've gotten on well with Kalle ever since.

Anyway, Kalle came in to the bar with another tattoo artist who was guesting at the studio, I can't honestly remember his name but he was a friendly foreigner on his travels. We got to talking and Kalle asked me how long I'd lived in Sweden.

I had to think for a minute since it has been a while now. I've been together with Jen for more than nine years and I started coming to Stockholm regularly in 2001. Then in the November of that year I blew off a flight back to England and decided to stay and see what happened. By the beginning of 2002 we'd decided Jen's twenty seven square meters of apartment just wasn't big enough for the two of us, and if I was planning on sticking around we'd best look for a bigger place in which to live. In July 2002 we moved into our first flat and I started moving my records across the water.

So after much deliberation, I told Kalle that I moved my record collection to Sweden in 2002, so that would make it eight years that I'd been a resident of this fine country. Kalle laughed and agreed that that was indeed a proper way to measure it.

I've been collecting records since I was about fourteen years old. I'd been given a few cd's as Christmas presents in the year or two before then, mainly collections of greatest hits by bands like the Stranglers and Black Sabbath. But on the whole, I hadn't really thought about buying any records of my own since my dad had so many in the house that I loved listening to. It hadn't occurred to me until I was thirteen or fourteen years old that one day I'd be moving away from my parents house and then I would need my own records.

I'd gotten into the usual stuff everybody else did in those days, but at that point hadn't really considered the ten or twenty cd's I owned as any sort of collection. It was when I discovered Metallica and Iron Maiden that I started collecting records for real. I'd gotten into the albums And Justice For All... and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son in a big way through my mate Heg, and when I discovered that these bands had a load of other records too, I just had to buy them all. So that's where it started.

By the time I was nineteen years old I had around one hundred and fifty cd albums. But then something happened. I discovered Sonic Youth. And Sebadoh, Pavement, Jesus Lizard, Big Black and Black Flag and a load of other bands who sounded nothing like the Megadeth, Anthrax and Napalm Death records I owned. Being a stupid teenager, my collection suffered an enormous cull. How would it possibly look to other viewers of my collection if I had Suffer the Children living amongst albums like Thirteen by Teenage Fanclub. The metal records had to go. This would be the one and only time in my life that I would have a clear out of my record collection. These days I refuse to throw anything out for the sole reason that the only purpose the record now serves is a nostalgic one. In fact, sometimes those records, cheesy as they are, bring you the most joy.

It was actually when I first started visiting Stockholm for longer periods of time that I started re-buying these albums again, and that eventually turned into a mission to find the main bulk of the records that I so nonchalantly sold two or three at a time some years before. And this time Scream Bloody Gore would happily sit in the same pile of records as Daydream Nation. The only difference this time around would be the format. I had now become obsessed with vinyl.

Until that point, for some reason the only records I bought on vinyl were albums that were released before the cd had even existed. It didn't seem right to buy records that were released in this day and age on vinyl format. I had quite a bunch of vinyls but they were mostly 70's rock stuff like ZZ Top and Cactus. The idea of buying a Helmet album on vinyl seemed like a weird idea. Oh how that attitude has changed!

I've probably only bought two or three records on cd in the last three years. These days if a record isn't released on vinyl at the same time as the cd, I'll just wait until it is. I do happen to be given cd's now and again and in that case I will of course happily accept them, but if I buy a record these days it has to be a proper fucking lp. This I'm sure will continue to be the case for the rest of my life. As it is, the cd is becoming a dead format. I'm sure it will be completely defunct within five years. Vinyl will live on though. Last year, vinyl sales had risen and sold more in one year than any other since 1991. People download music these days, but if they do want to buy a record, if they collect albums, then normally they want it on the unbeatable format that is the vinyl lp. It's been said a million times, but there is nothing like holding a 12” lp in your hand and looking at the cover artwork in all it's glory, as it was meant to be.

I moved my collection to Sweden over the course of around three months in the spring of 2002. I moved it using a series of Ryanair flights, as I happened to be flying back to England a few times a month for Speedhorn stuff. I would fly back to the UK with a an empty suitcase, save for a toothbrush and a stick of deodorant, fill the case with about two hundred cd's, fill a shoulder bag with about thirty lp's as hand luggage and return to Sweden with it.

I must have repeated this arduous procedure about ten or eleven times. I eventually bought a load of books and videos too, even a cd player and a VHS machine. Even these days, there will always be something that I spot at my parents that I need to bring back with me. By the time we moved into our flat though, I had moved just about the whole record collection.

I had to be convinced that one day I'd marry Jen to have made such a bold move. Luckily for me Jen also collected records and she had a great bunch of vinyl’s and cd's that I didn't have. Some may suggest that combining the two collections into one is an even bolder move than marriage but I was more than happy to do it. Jen had records like Blues For the Red Sun and Love it To Death on lp, of course I wanted to put our collections together!

It's funny, one of my best friends told me a while ago that even though he and his girlfriend live together with their baby and are very much in love with each other, they still considered uniting their record collections as too big a commitment. I laughed my ass off at the fact he considered that a bigger step than having a kid together. Of course he was joking, but at the same time, their records do occupy different shelves...

So yeah, 2002, the year my records left their storage space in my old bedroom in Corby, England and headed via various methods to Stockholm, Sweden. The year I moved out of the UK.

I'm headed home as I write, having had a weekend in the UK visiting family and friends in Corby, hanging out with my good friends from Regimes in London and getting tattooed by their guitarist Mucky Marcus at Kids Love Ink, the shop he and Alec own together in good old Deptford. And although I had hand luggage and only and a limited space in my bag, I still found time to go by Rough Trade on Brick Lane this morning and make at least one purchase. I picked up the new Shitty Limits lp.

I've heard mixed reviews but it was only eight quid so it's worth the gamble...


  1. I have just gotten my CDs and Records over to London after 4 years apart and it's the first time I've been able to get it all properly out on display. Sadly my girlfriend despairs slightly but she's OK with it. I've also stated leaning towards vinyl mostly to do with the more punk stuff I'm picking up now and also that I eventually have my record deck in my flat so can actually play them.

  2. Gareth, your writing never ceases to amaze me! I feel the same away about vinyl. I just wish all labels threw in the digital download code with the album. It's so much more convenient and will save a ton of paper by stopping the production of CDs. It's also a pretty good business move as well...

    Oh, and do I see the new Burzum on that wall??

    - Henry from Brooklyn

  3. Woah Henry, that's some sharp eyes you have! It is indeed the new Burzum record!

  4. awesome blog man... just stumbled across it.. I added you to my blogroll.... keep it real...