In Support Of The Art: Matt Ridenour (Hawthorne Heights)

In Support Of The Art / June 8, 2012

In Support Of The Art is a feature which runs on Fridays. Each entry focuses on a different musician and his very own collection of vinyl records, along with what’s currently going on with their music. If you’re a musician who’d like to get involved, you can email us at For this week’s entry, we caught up with Matt Ridenour, bassist for Hawthorne Heights, as the band stopped in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, for the Summer Of Hope” tour. They’re currently playing alongside Life On Repeat, Forever Came Calling, Failsafe and Super Prime.

How did you get into collecting vinyl in the first place?

Probably like a lot of people nowadays. MP3s have kind of taken over and I always used to buy CDs, so I was just looking for something more. It seems like its going the way of intangible music, with files just somewhere out there on a digital cloud. But with vinyl, you get the really big artwork and you have to flip it, so it feels like you actually have to pay attention to the music. I just really like the idea of that.

What does your collection look like nowadays?

[In terms of genres], its all over the place. I have about 300 records and I have a big wooden rack that my friend made me, which makes you feel like you’re in a record store. You can flip through them and it basically takes over my living room. [When shopping for records], I try to find classics. I have some newer stuff, but mostly I just try to find the older recordings, basically because the analog stuff sounds so good.

What are some pieces of your collection which you could never part with?

I just found Hole’s “Live Through This,” made in Germany, love it. I found it for $50, which is actually a discount from what it should be. I’ve also got a Japanese pressing of “Magical Mystery Tour,” which is really sweet. And Afghan Whigs is my favorite band ever so I have all their stuff. I’ve been looking for one thing that they pressed 200 of, but I don’t think I’m going to find it unless I go and rob one of the band members.

Is there anything else that you’re currently on the hunt for?

Right now, I’ve been hunting down German, UK and Japanese pressings of The Beatles. Any UK pressings from Pink Floyd, as well. Just different pressings from around the world, because the vinyl aficionados say they sound better. And I’ve actually compared my UK pressing of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s” to my American pressing and the UK one does sound better.

Are there any record pressings you regret missing out on?

There’s some stuff from No Sleep Records, which is a label that puts out some really good music, that I’ve missed out on. Mainly, though, I just look for old stuff. Honestly, I like the hunt just as much as I like listening to the records. Probably even more. I just like going through records and going into random record stores, because we really have the perfect job for record store shopping. We’ll go in and I’ll check out the wall first thing, because that’s where all the good stuff is. Or I’ll pick up a record and Google the number real quick. It will tell me something like the record was pressed in 1976 [and its other details], which is what I really get into.

At this point we got sidetracked a bit on a few vinyl quirks

I’m not really into colored vinyl. I think it’s cool, but if I have a choice, I’ll always get the records on black because I like that classic feel. I also have a record cleaner and I can tell if it’s actually clean with black vinyl. Another thing I really look for is the condition. If I see a record I want and it’s got the tiniest little mark on it, I’ll be like, “Eh, I’ll find it again.” I try to go until I find the perfect copy in the perfect condition. That’s really my nerd-out thing. Or I’ll buy something for the sleeve because I have a really good looking record with a bad sleeve.

What are some of the standout record stores you’ve been to on tour?

Grimey’s in Nashville is great. There’s also a really good one about 45 minutes from my house in Cincinnati called Shake-It Records. There’s another called Red Scroll that I want to say is in Connecticut (It is, Wallingford to be exact). And Amoeba is always cool in California, but it’s a bit overwhelming. What I look for, though, is if a total dork is working behind the counter. I know that they probably looked over everything and made sure the records had no scratches. I like when stores only buy good stuff in good shape.

Where do you see your collecting going in the future?

I can only see it getting more intense. And I’ve kind of moved on to the record player part of it all.

What’s your setup look like?

I have a Music Hall player, PSB speakers and I just got a Simaudio Moon integrated amplifier, along with a Pro-Ject 2 pre-amp. It sounds awesome. I’m just kind of upgrading my setup piece by piece.

And of course I want to hit on the band’s new music. Your recently released EP, entitled “Hope,” is with you on tour and people have been receiving their pre-orders. What’s the initial reaction been like from fans?

People really, really like it. It’s definitely different than our last EP and really different than anything we’ve ever put out. There’s parts that are poppier, parts that are quieter and it has more dynamic I feel. I really like that aspect of it.

In the trilogy of EPs that you guys have planned, you’ve gone from “Hate,” released in 2011, to now “Hope.” What’s caused the change in mindset?

I feel like it was all kind of an accident. We didn’t get together and say, “Hey, lets do Hope for this one.” Hate was really us getting out of our record label crap and starting our own thing, so that we could do what we want. We liked the idea of having 8 songs, or 5 songs, or 2 songs, or 10, and being able to release them tomorrow. When we get them done, we can release them tomorrow, because we don’t have to ask anyone if we can do it. So Hate was pretty much us being angry at the previous situation and getting out of all that. And now that we’ve been doing our own thing for a while, we really enjoy it, and have liked calling our own shots. So Hope is us settling down. I feel like it does project those emotions.

And with Hate, you guys worked with American Dream Records to press the album onto vinyl. Are there any plans to do the same for Hope?

I “Hope” to god, haha. The only problem is that it’s really expensive to press. I’m going to make everyone figure out a way to press it, though, because I want it as well.

You can now order “Hope,” digitally and on CD over at Cardboard Empire. By purchasing from Cardboard, the band’s very own label, the money will go straight to the now independent group. And trust me, the EP is worth the $7.

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Christopher Lantinen
Chris Lantinen is the owner and editor-in-chief of Modern Vinyl. Along with his modest collection of sad sounding records, he collects his share of soundtracks and previously adored indie up-and-comers. Chris is currently a professor of journalism and public relations at Edinboro University in the Erie, Pennsylvania area.

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