Music Lovers Series: Andrew Earle

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The Vinyl Writer Music Lover Series is dedicated to featuring the members of our collective Facebook music communities: Vinyl Addicts, Cassette Addicts, CD 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 one of our Vinyl Writer columnists, Andrew Earle.

I’m Andrew Earle, aka P.S.Idiot . I’m 50 years old and I live in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. I work in an autoparts distribution center and I play bass and drums in bands.

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:
My father had a big Sears stereo system with all the early 70s bells and whistles: 8-track, turntable receiver and big speakers. I played records all the time and listened to the radio. Then my older brother started leaving Rock records in with dad’s records, and the Police, Rush, KISS and Van Halen blew my head wide open. By the time I was 15, I had a bass as a Christmas gift (everyone wanted guitars and drums), and I kinda knew I’d be in demand if I went for bass. It was the right choice, as I really feel that I was born a bassist. I can’t live without music. When the power goes out, I can be found in the dark, playing guitar.

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 unfortunately, like a lot of others, sold off a large portion of my vinyl in the 90s only to begin buying it back once I realized I missed them. I have vinyl, CDs and cassettes in my collection; for the most part, I do not care much for the streaming or downloading of music. I have a few local shops I frequent: Backstreet Records, Second Spin, and Riff Raff Skate Shop & Records, although over the years, I have shopped in lots of shops all over the East coast of North America.

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

Andrew:
I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences playing in bands and sharing stages with bands I respected and looked up to over the years, as well as playing on a few legendary stages. On one tour in particular, I managed to feel the aura of playing at the Middle East in Boston (the Pixies and Mighty Mighty Bosstones) and CBGBs in NYC (sooooo many amazing bands I can’t even begin to list). Looking back at my so-called career, it was both a high-water mark and a validation of all the hard work and hours we had put into it.

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?

Andrew:
Anyone who knows me knows it starts and ends now with Zappa. The first album I owned was One Size Fits All, which was my gateway to experimental music. From there, I traveled backwards and forwards in his catalog and now, I buy just about anything Zappa that I see on vinyl or CD. When it comes to Zappa, format does not matter; it’s the material. I’m generally into noisy things and heavy things like Celtic Frost, Voi Vod, Drive Like Jehu, and the Butthole Surfers, just to name a few. I love the classics like original line-up Black Sabbath and Van Halen. I was into Limblifter and happened across a solo album by Ryan Dahle (guitarist of Limblifter). I thought I knew what kind of Indie Rock/Post Punk I was getting into, but was totally blown away by a very lushly-orchestrated album with so many facets of sound and instrumentation. I still hear new things with each listen, even after listening to it for 10 years now. The album is called Irrational Anthems, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves music, no matter what they listen to.

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:
I have a mishmash of equipment: a Technics receiver, a Kenwood cassette deck, a TEAC CD player and a Sherwood turntable with a set of Technics speakers all setup in my bedroom. I also have a big JVC boombox for around the house/out in the yard, and an ancient Phillips Walkman I occasionally use for walks and on the bus to work.

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:
RSD is a mixed bag of feelings. The flippers and the major labels are making it harder to love (along with the crazy prices). I have 20 or 30 RSD releases, but I am usually not too impressed with the list of offerings lately. Disney picture discs and movie soundtracks like TRON don’t interest me, but carefully-crafted reissues of Zappa, the Mothers’ singles, and unreleased CLUTCH songs do. I am very selective on RSD. I usually have 4 or 5 things I’m interested in and just hope I have a chance at a couple of them.

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 don’t partake in subscription services. I really would rather support local shops. Also, I don’t really see them filling a need for my collection; they aren’t really offering stuff I am interested in for the most part.

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:
Big box stores really don’t factor into the equation, at least here in Eastern Canada. WalMart doesn’t sell records here, and Sunrise (which replaced HMV at the malls) seems to cater mostly to the Johnny come lately “hipster” collectors. If anything, Sunrise might be helping, as it keeps these trend shoppers out of our way at the Indie shops lol.

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:
RSD is one factor, and general popularity of vinyl has really caused a jammed up system and overtaxed the remaining pressing plants. I don’t avoid any particular label’s releases, but there are some labels and pressing plants you know you can trust. Some people care about quality above profits. It can be a crap shoot; you pay your money, and you take your chances.

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?

I’m loving our new community, and it’s less-strict nature and rules compared to some other communities. I guess keeping it small with active members makes it feel cozy and inviting; it’s great actually getting to know people through their musical choices. It’s like being introduced to new stuff on basically a community mixed tape; just click the music link in the comments. Bill posts a lot of stuff I already liked. Sometimes it’s like, “Oh, I never heard this before, but Bill posted it, so let’s give it a shot.” Spotify recommendations are probably a lot more hit and miss than this format.

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 don’t stream music. At all. I do, however, feel that artists aren’t fairly compensated from what I’ve seen and heard on the topic. The music industry has been forever changed by the digital revolution, and I’m not a fan. It doesn’t serve anyone in my opinion except a couple of streaming services who collect money from people with short attention spans.

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:
I do love attending as well as playing live shows. I miss them terribly and even went to a couple early on in the pandemic when we were lucky in my area to have very few COVID-19 cases and stayed in the yellow phase. There are still a few underground shows happening in my area, but I haven’t attended any in about 6 months. I have quite a few CDs, records, and T-shirts from shows; they all have special meaning as they evoke memories of the show. Hanging with friends is a big plus to going to shows; as we get older and busier with life, hang time with the squad is harder to come by. The sonic quality of a concert can sometimes be a factor; we’ve all heard, “They were amazing live.” Energy is hard to capture in a recording studio, and conversely hard to hide in a live setting. I really enjoy the improvisation that can occur in live versions of songs, and I actively made this a part of our live sets as much for myself as the audience.

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 only advice is to not sell off anything on a whim. We all have done it, and all regretted it. Especially large chunks of a collection, be it to invest in a different format or to pay a bill. Think it through. Also, buy what you like; nothing wrong with blind buys, but trendy stuff or cool-to-own-stuff just sitting there collecting dust is kind of a waste. As for your collection…just keep on going, regardless of format.

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

Here’s the opening line of Clutch’s title track from the album, Pure Rock Fury:

“I walk whenever the weather provides

 because everybody needs some time outside,

give me no lip & I’ll tell you no lies”

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

About Post Author

Vinyl Writer Music

Founded in 2019 by Andrew Daly, Vinyl Writer is a journalism site dedicated to the love of music. Vinyl Writer features interviews with artists and bands, as well as columns centered around the art, science and business of music.
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