Music Lovers Series: Andrew Daly

The Vinyl Writer Music Lover Series is dedicated to featuring the members of our collective Facebook music communities: Vinyl Addicts, Cassette Addicts, Compact Disc Addicts and Women Who Love Vinyl. Community matters, and each person in our Music and Vinyl Communities contributes in some way to the positive, welcoming vibes. In many online music groups, certain topics are immediately banned or considered taboo, such as discussing equipment, critiquing Record Store Day, supporting big box stores versus indie shops, and even choosing streaming services over physical media. This interview series serves to peel back those restrictions and instead offers a welcoming platform to hear each individual perspective, as the thoughts and perspectives of the consumers of music should always have a seat at the table. It’s my pleasure to introduce you today to the founder of Vinyl Writer, Andrew Daly.

My name is Andrew Daly. I’ll be 33 this February. I live in Hampton Bays, NY with my wife Angela and our 4 fat cats. I am a manager (and more) for a Horticultural firm in Southampton. My wife Angela and I run Vinyl Writer Music on the side. This is a horse I met on vacation in Kentucky who was called, “Call me Kim.”

Angela:
What are your musical origins, and what got you into music in the first place? What drives you to love music? What does music mean to you? Is music something you enjoy alone or with others? 

Andrew:
Music has been a thing in my life for as long as I can remember. My earliest musical memories involve me sitting in the back seat of my dad’s 1980 Chevy Impala and starting the car radio while the music of Elvis blared out of the speaker back at me. On cassette, he had The Rocker (which I’ve managed to hold into), Return to Sender, a greatest hits comp and some others. Also on cassette, we had River of Dreams by Billy Joel. That was a big one for me and still is. I was an only child and would frequently wander and dig around unsupervised. One day, when I was about 8 years old, I was rooting around in a drawer in my parent’s room, and I found a really old yellowed cassette in the very back of the drawer. I brought the cassette out into the hallway and read it – KISS Love Gun. I knew of KISS, as my local radio stations would often play “Rock and Roll All Night.” I looked at the track listing to see if this song was on this album (it’s not), and saw on the side of the cassette a track called “Tomorrow and Tonight.” I mistook this for the track I’d heard on the radio and popped it into my Aiwa stereo. From there, I immediately showed KISS to my friend Joe O’Brien and a full-blown obsession and live long fandom ensued. A couple years later, I started playing drums and fully fell down the rabbit hole of music. I would buy records, cassettes and CDs from my local shops and collect cans with Joe to fund the habit. It was a unique childhood for sure.

What does music mean to me? All different things. I can’t really imagine my life without it. As far as me personally, music is my number one passion. Records, CDs and tapes aside, the music is what’s most important. I would love music and listen to it regardless of having physical entities or not. That’s secondary. Music has played a large role in my relationships too. Most of my friends tend to enjoy music too, and if they don’t, I do tend to have trouble connecting with them. Same goes for family too. I don’t get people who say things like, “I don’t really like music.” What even is that? I’ve been friends with Joe O’Brien since 1993, and our friendship has been perpetually defined by music. We’ve spent a lifetime accumulating music, seeking out music, going to shows, talking about and now writing about music. Him and I both very similar and yet very different people. It works. Lastly, my wife Angela and I both love music. We’ve shown each other a lot of great music that neither of us knew. We’ve taken amazing trips together in search of records, CDs and tapes. Music is a huge part of our relationship and that’s a beautiful thing. Together, along with the help of friends, we’ve created Vinyl Writer Music, which has been pretty amazing thus far. So, it goes without saying that I enjoy music with others. That said, I enjoy listening to records alone too, I guess. I guess the point of this is that I have origins within music, but the story isn’t fully told yet. To be continued.

My Technics SL-1200. That air machine sitting on the shelf is worth its weight in gold. Get yourself one of these to blast away dust easily and avoid cans of compressed air.

Angela:
Do you collect any combo of CDs, cassettes, 8-tracks, vinyl, or are you all digital? Why do you prefer the formats that you collect or enjoy? Do you have your original collections, or are you restarting them now? Where do you like to shop for music? 

Andrew:
I collect records. CDs and cassettes. In the living room of our one-bedroom apartment, we have around 4,700 records, 250 CDs and 250 cassettes. I suppose vinyl is my number one format, but I really enjoy them all. They all have their pros and cons. At this point, we are talking about vintage formats across the board, and they all have the “tangible” quality that I personally seek out. Vinyl and CD are close in sound, really. Cassette is probably inferior to both, but they’re fun and have their own fun niche nostalgia attached to them. Like I said before, I collect in general because I like having physical music around me. I grew up in the 90’s and back then, CDs were the prevailing format. There’s nostalgia there. I like owning things that I had back then. It takes me back and brings back memories of a time when I was first setting forth on my musical journey. Again, I like vinyl best. I don’t really have a good reason why, as I’ve just recently realized I still love CDs. I guess I just do. I like a blending of the three, as there are albums that never made it to vinyl and are only on CD and cassette. That said, even if everything was on vinyl and at an affordable print point, I probably would still have CDs and tapes just for the nostalgia factor and feel-good vibes alone. I like the balance of having all three.

As far as shops, High Fidelity and Record Reserve are my go-to shops. Have been for years. After that, Looney Tunes has a lot of nostalgia for me. These days I also buy a lot from Mike at Slipped Disc and of course online. I try and buy direct from shops, labels and such as much as possible. I am at times forced to use Amazon, but I make the effort not to.

The Record Den in our prior apartment

Angela:
Tells us a story about an interesting or meaningful experience you’ve had along the way in collecting and enjoying music. 

Andrew:
I have a lot of stories. One story I like to tell is the time my wife Angela and I took a trip to Iris Records in Jersey City. I’d heard stories of it being a good shop, and those stories turned out to be true. Around that time, I was in a heavy Jazz phase and was really obsessed with John Coltrane. I was looking for a first press (in mono) of A Love Supreme but wasn’t about to pay 250-400 dollars for one online. As luck would have it, I found a first press (in mono) nestled in the stacks along with the other Coltrane records the shop had. The price tag was $150 and I already had a stack of records with me. Decisions would have to be made. Long story short, Angela decided to use her spending money and buy the record for me. She’s amazing. What makes this memorable, is as we were walking back to the car, we happened upon a literal crime scene. I am not sure what happened in full, but what we came upon was a body under a blood-stained sheet, and a family crying over it while police officers questioned them. I forgot to mention that Iris Records was in a really bad area. I’ve got lots of other stories, but that one will do for now.

My Marantz Legacy Series dual tape deck and a Marantz CD-46 compact disc player. That’s George the Gnome, who is my turntable buddy. He clearly has a lot of opinions.

Angela:
What are some albums that mean to most to you? If there are too many to name, then who are some of your favorite artists or music genres? Are there genres that you don’t listen to? Are there artists or genres that you’re into now that you weren’t always a fan of?

Andew:
Some of my favorite albums are:

Alive! by KISS. This is the best live album of all time. I don’t care if they overdubbed it in the studio or not. It’s a snapshot of an iconic band at their best. Both Ace Frehley’s and Peter Criss’s performances are truly inspiring, and Paul Stanley shows why he is the ultimate front man. Gene does his thing, too. Every band that put out a live album thereafter was inspired by Alive! I’ve got several pressings of this record. My favorite being the OG pressing on Casablanca, which has the blue labels and is complete with the concert booklet. Hard to find in its complete state.

-Abbey Road by The Beatles. This would be my favorite studio album of all time. I don’t have a great why. There is no special story behind that. I love the cover art, both front and back. The songs are all as good as it gets. John, Paul, George and Ringo showed why they are the best band to ever walk the earth. Basically, this is a special album, filled with special songs and performances by a special band, who also happened to be on its last legs. Even in their fractured state, The Beatles still created transcendent art. I have several pressings of this too. That said, the best sounding record I’ve ever heard and own is my UK first press of this album on Apple Records.

A Love Supreme by John Coltrane. This is Coltrane as he transitioned from Modal Jazz to Free Jazz. It’s a mix of both. It’s also him and his “classic quartet” which was John Coltrane, Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner, doing what they do. All of Coltrane’s spiritual ideations aside, the performances on this record are ridiculous. Elvin Jones is THE most powerful and forceful drummer to ever sit behind a kit. More so than John Bonham or Keith Moon, even. Fight me on that. If you’re into Jazz- you know about this record. If you’re not into Jazz- this is a hell of a starting point. I’ve had people ask me where to start with Jazz, and I know that everyone always says, “Start with Kind of Blue by Miles Davis,” but I always tell people start with A Love Supreme. If you’re not into this record, then the crux of what makes Jazz great isn’t for you. No shame in that, but you may as well get right down to it. Music isn’t about playing it safe. Don’t ease into anything.

Dookie by Green Day. I chose this because it’s probably the first album that I truly loved as a whole. I can recount this album song by song, track by track, note by note in my head. As a kid in the 90s, this was it for me. I know a lot of people will say Nevermind, Enema of the State, Dude Ranch or whatever else, but for me, the 90s is defined by Dookie. Still love Green Day to this day as well. I’ll always be a fan. I don’t care about haters who say they “sold out.” Grow up.

I stopped by Brewery Town Beats in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania while on vacation a few years ago. What an awesome shop! There’s a fun cat café across the street if you’re ever in the area.

Angela:
What types of equipment do you use to enjoy music? Do you listen to music in other environments, or only at home? Do you have a listening space dedicated to your music collection or for listening to music? 

Andrew:
In the living room, we have a vintage and full refurbished to new spec Marantz 2230 receiver. We’ve paired that with a Marantz Legacy Series dual tape deck and a Marantz CD-46 compact disc player. For speakers, we have Polk Audio Monitor Series speakers, and for a turntable we’ve got a Technics SL-1200, with an Audio Technica VMN-40ML cartridge.

We listen to music in the car via Apple Music, but at home we use the system listed above almost exclusively. We have a Bose mini Bluetooth speaker that we use on occasion, but not often. As far as the dedicated space, it’s all in the living room, which isn’t ideal with 4 cats, but it is what it is.

Angela:
If you collect records, what are your thoughts on Record Store Day? Some people love RSD, and some people aren’t big fans. What has been your perspective and experience with RSD as a consumer?

Andrew:
Full disclosure: I’m kind of ambivalent about Record Store Day. Unless you’re a store that has the overhead to run with a legit distro deal, you’re not making anything on new vinyl. I do still pick up an RSD title here and there (insert comment about being a hypocrite here) but for the most part, I think it’s starting to become overpriced and has potential to turn into a Black Friday cash grab type situation. It’s FOMO at its worst. FOMO is not just specific to RSD; it’s permeating the entire vinyl community. If you want to support record stores, then go shop at your local and buy records on literally any day. Don’t wait for a special day or whatever. This is probably the part where I should shake my fist and tell you to get off my lawn too. Haha.

But, I’ve come to understand the bigger picture, and while smaller stores might not make much profit on RSD releases, RSD is bringing new people into the stores and that’s never a bad thing.

Siren Records in Doylestown, Pennsylvania is my favorite record store in the world. On more than one occasion, I’ve taken the three hour day trip there, and I never leave disappointed. On my last day trip, I scored a vintage Napa Valley wine box CD rack. This shop is worth the trip every time!

Angela:
Do you subscribe to any music subscription services like Vinyl Me Please, Vinyl Moon etc? What has your experience been with these services? If you don’t subscribe to any services, are there any particular reasons you haven’t? 

Andrew:
I subbed to Vinyl Me Please for around 3 years. Over time, the price went up, the quality and customer service went down and I realized I could take my money and use it better elsewhere, such as getting a first press or a standard reissue. VMP had a great thing going, but they’re now operating at a $40 single LP which is too expensive for most vinyl fans. I miss what they use to be, and I hung with them because of what they used to be. Once they jacked their prices up by 30-40% and didn’t grandfather in those of us who had been there since the beginning with a cheaper price, I chose not to keep the subscription. I’m not sure if VMP is now targeting a higher-level consumer but I’m not sure how this new business model will be sustainable which is a shame because their releases were always top notch. I don’t miss it. It’s a habit that died easily in the case of VMP. I am about to give the Gimmie Metal Vinyl Club a try. I’d like to flesh out my Metal section more, and they appear to be what VMP used to be. To be continued.

Angela:
Some people feel that big box stores are killing the indie record shop. Some music fans only shop local, while others only shop online. Most probably do a mix of both. Which is it for you? How do you feel about supporting big box stores like Amazon, Target and Walmart for music purchases versus supporting indie music shops? 

Andrew:
I touched on this earlier. I don’t think, I know that companies like Amazon are killing small shops. They buy in bulk and sell at a loss with the express purpose of making other smaller retailers look more expensive than they actually are. Riddle me this, how is a small shop who is selling a record at 27 dollars and only making 3 dollars profit overcharging you? The answer is they aren’t. Just because Amazon has it for 20.99 doesn’t mean your local is screwing you over. The capitalist system sucks, but until we find a better way, we have to roll with it. That said, there are times I purchase from the big boys. Sometimes, they are the only place that’s carrying the item I want and it’s probably because they intentionally bought it all up to run others out of business. It’s a shitty situation and there’s no end to it in sight. You’re not a bad person if you buy a record from one of the big guys, but seriously, support your local stores and indie labels if you can. No one else is going to look out for them. If we forget about them, they die. It’s really that simple.

I really love plants, flowers and animals.

Angela:
Some people feel that there is a quality control issue with some new vinyl. What are your thoughts on this? Have you had any bad experiences in purchasing new vinyl? What have you done about it? Have these experiences changed your purchasing patterns with certain labels?

Andrew:
So, the issue of QC is overblown. It really bothers me when I see people trashing small labels for their QC issues. Look, there are shitty, poorly made records out there. When you’re talking about small, indie labels doing runs of 150-300 records, you can’t expect audiophile quality. It’s unreasonable. That said, warped records do get out there. Records with tight spindle holes and weird burrs do get out. I have them and it’s annoying when it happens, but most of my new vinyl is fine. Often times things sound bad because of the source, not the pressing plant. If a record is sourced from some CD or MP3, and just slapped on vinyl, yeah it’s going to sound like shit. No amount of 180 gram virgin vinyl is going to change that. If you want to understand QC and why records sound the way they do, you need to go all the way back to the source first. There’s a lot more that goes into it than most of us know. I am not an audiophile, but honestly, I am fine with how most of my records sound. It’s a really old, analog and manual process. To expect perfection is unrealistic. If these things bother you, don’t collect vinyl. It’s part of it. Always has been, always will be. If you get a warped record, return it for a new one. Don’t trash everyone under the sun over it.

Angela:
What are some things about the Music and Vinyl Communities that you love and enjoy? Are there some elements that you don’t love, and that you feel could be better?

Andrew:
There are a lot of music communities out there, but only a few are decent, really. There is a lot of gatekeeping, overreaction and general bullshit that I am tired of. Is it so much to ask to be able to play my music and talk about it with friends? What I like is learning about new music and making new friends. I like contributing positively toward a “community.” What I don’t like are flame wars and overbearing rules that make the “community” turn into a cult-like prison camp experience. There’s a lot of that out there. It is what it is.

What could be better? Go easy on rules. Let people do what they’re gonna do. If they’re contributing positively, let it happen. I like a basic framework of rules to keep things centered so to speak, but being flexible is important. At the end of the day, if people are having fun, enjoying their music and making friends, then I am good with it. That’s the basic idea behind Vinyl Addicts, Cassette Addicts and Compact Disc Addicts. A relaxed and fun space where people can finally escape the gatekeeping and bullshit and just hang out with friends or lone wolf it. Whatever.

This is Charlie. He’s my best bud. He’s a Japanese bobtail cat who not only weighs 20 pounds, but he’s as long as my torso. He loves to sit and listen to music with me.

Angela:
Most of us as music lovers use some sort of a streaming service. It’s been a hot topic conversation in music that artists aren’t being fairly compensated for their streams. What streaming services do you use, and has this knowledge of unfair artist compensation impacted your decision to use the service(s)?

Andrew:
I use Apple Music. I know Spotify is the big dog on the block. Streaming services are essential. How else are we going to listen to music in the car? They’re also helpful for sampling new music, as it’s not realistic to “blind buy” everything. That said, I’ve interviewed 35” or so bands/artists and at least 75% of them perpetually complain about Spotify not paying them and with good reason. I have no idea what the answer is, as the information is too new to me. Lately, I’ve been asking artists more probing questions about this issue. We will see what I learn. For now, I don’t like what I’ve learned, and I know it needs to change. I hope it does. There has to be a way for these big companies to share some of massive amounts of money they’re making with the artists who are making it all possible, right?

Angela:
As music fans, a lot of us love to go to concerts and listen to live music. Do you love live music? What do you love about it, or not enjoy about it? As COVID-19 continues to impact our lives, what do you miss most about live music? Do you tend to buy physical music or merch at live shows? Have there been any awesome physical music or merch that you’ve purchased at live shows that means a lot to you? If so, tell us about it!

Andrew:
Definitely love live music. I’ve been to hundreds of shows over the years. Before COVID, live music was a ritual for my friends Joe, Brian and myself. My wife and I used to go to a lot of shows too. The reality is, lots of venues where in trouble before COVID and those have been the ones that closed up in short order. I know more won’t make it and it sucks. I don’t see a world where we get back to live music as it was before 2022. I am hoping to maybe go to socially distanced shows in 2021, but I don’t even know at this point. I think of the impact on bands and it sucks. I’ve interviewed a lot of them, and they’ve told me they’re dying without income from live music. So, this is a mess the music biz is going to have to find its way out of it.

For me, another reality is I’ve got a bad back and don’t really like to drink much anymore, not like I used to anyway. We live way far from NYC these days, so realistically, I don’t think I’ll be taking in as many shows going forward for those reasons alone. I’ll be picking my spots more, but I miss shows and I won’t be giving them up. No way.

I definitely like to buy vinyl from shows, but it’s a challenge because it sucks being in a crowd trying to protect it. As far as special records purchased at shows, I’d say Losing Streak at a 2016 Less Than Jake show, and the time I basically purchased the entire Mountain Goats discography at a show in 2019.

This is my Marantz 2230 receiver.

Angela:
What advice would you have for new music collectors? What are some mistakes you’ve made along the way that others can avoid? What are your future plans for your music collection?

Andrew:
My advice is to ignore all advice and do whatever you want. Ignore people who tell you what pressing to buy. Ignore the haters who tell you not to buy Crosley. This is an expensive, time and space consuming hobby. If you’re just getting into it, decide if it’s really for you and then worry about all the other details. Collecting vinyl, CDs and tapes is awesome, but it’s your music and your journey. Do what feels right for you, when it feels right. If you do ask for advice, don’t take anything as gospel and don’t be bullied into anything. There are no rules for how we consume music.

The plan is to keep buying, listening and enjoying the music I love in all formats. We will see how that progresses. 😊

Kevin likes to thoughtfully choose his next Jazz album to spin.

Angela:
Please share with us your favorite song lyrics, or a quote that you love.

Andrew:
“There’s a difference between standing up and telling people what you’re planning to do and standing up and going and accomplishing something.” – Paul Stanley

You can’t afford to think about what might have been. You just be aware of what is.” – Noel Gallagher

“No one has forced Mrs. Gore to bring Prince, or Sheena Easton into her home. People are free to buy other forms of music for their children. Apparently, they insist on purchasing the works of contemporary recording artists in order to support a personal illusion of aerobic sophistication. Ladies, please be advised: The $8.98 purchase price does not entitle you to a kiss on the foot from the composer, or performer in exchange for a spin on the family Victrola. Taken as a whole, the complete list of PMRC demands reads like an instruction manual for some sinister kind of “toilet training program” to house-break all composers and performers because of the lyrics of a few. Ladies, how dare you?” – Frank Zappa

Vaccines save lives. Get your flu shot.

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of the Music Lovers Series by Angela Daly here: https://vinylwritermusic.com/music-lover-series-archives/

Published by Angela Daly

Angela Daly has always been passionate about both music and writing. She grew up in Queens, NY, USA, and immediately felt at home in the local Rock and Hardcore music scenes as a young teen. Angela works as a Registered Nurse in Cardiovascular Research by day, and as a freelance journalist in music and public health by night. When she’s not busy drinking chai lattes, trying to pet every animal she encounters and attempting to save the world, Angela dedicates her time to educating her friends and family about health and music, one article at a time! Angela has been a Board Member of Nurses Who Vaccinate since 2012. She is also the admin of several groups on Facebook dedicated to music, vinyl collecting and public health. Angela lives on Long Island, NY with her husband Andrew, their four fat cats Oliver, Patrick, Charlie and Kevin, and more than 4,700 vinyl albums (plus several hundreds tapes and CDs) which span every wall and inch of their one-bedroom apartment. She enjoys all things science, painting, crafting, doing puzzles, forgoing human social plans to spend more time with her cats, and singing the wrong lyrics with strong conviction to her favorite tracks.

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