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 firstname.lastname@example.org. For this week’s entry, we spoke with Alex Kerns, the drummer and vocalist for Buffalo-based band Lemuria. Kerns isn’t just the member of a full-time band, though, as he also runs a record label, a screenprinting business out of his garage, along with crafting work as a solo artist. We thank him (pictured center) for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk with us.
From the very beginnings of the band, a huge emphasis has always been placed on vinyl releases. Why have you always made an effort to have that physical product accompany your music?
We have always been fans and collectors of vinyl. So the idea of us not having a vinyl format for pretty much every release we do seems odd to us. With my record label that I run, Art of the Underground, I have met so many people through record trading and building my distro. We definitely didn’t want to keep Lemuria out of the vinyl culture that our lives were already submerged in.
And actually, you guys began releasing vinyl before it started to really pick up steam again. Was there a release you guys did that made you realize just how much of a comeback the format had made?
All of our records prior to our first full length album “Get Better” moved slower. But once “Get Better” was out, it seemed that there had been a very fast paced increase in vinyl sales. Our 7″s and splits that we had released prior to the album quickly disappeared. Although, I’m not sure if that is because of the increase in vinyl sales in general, or if it was because Asian Man Records is just an awesome label, which they are, and really helped get our music onto peoples’ turntables.
You just recently released “Varoom Allure,” both on Record Store Day and in a special pressing afterwards that included a screenprinted design, done out of your own garage. When did you begin screenprinting with Argybargy Printing?
Argybargy is run by 3 people. It’s Biff, Melissa and myself. Biff had run the shop with another Buffalo area native who ended up moving to Texas. He was in a tough position and I had dabbled with screen printing before and decided to have him move into my garage with the gear and we formed Argybargy with Melissa on board to help us out with the book keeping. It really is a great adventure running a shop like Argybargy. Every week we have somebody contact us with a very odd and unusual order request, and we really enjoy executing these unique orders. We do the standard screen printing of T-shirts, stickers, flat stock posters and record covers, etc. But we also screen viny records (like the Varoom Allure 7″), guitar pedals, record player slipmats, wedding invitations and whatever you can really think of.
What was the inspiration for the particular design done for Varoom Allure?
We met a lady named Sarah Abbott the last time we were in the UK who did excellent art and we asked her to take on the the task of designing the layout for Varoom Allure. We couldn’t be more pleased with the results.
On top of all that, you just released a split 7″ with Mikey Erg. How exactly do you find the time to do all of this?
Those songs were recorded a few years ago, and Mikey and I have been attempting to put the record out for a long time. We just never got around to getting together to take the picture that we originally wanted to take for the cover art. It was going to be a parody of the Buckingham Nicks album cover with Mikey and myself on it instead. Eventually, Mike Park at Asian Man was just tired of holding onto the records with no covers and was just like “THIS IS COMING OUT! DAMMIT!” He probably didn’t swear at us, cause he’s really nice…but at the same time he was definitely not taking Mikey’s or my shit anymore.
What should fans of Lemuria expect out of your solo work?
My solo work is a lot like Lemuria, but of course different since it removes the personalities of Sheena and Max. Songs for my solo releases are what I record and work on during the time when Lemuria has a break in activeness. It’s my outlet in the intermissions. I’m always writing music.
What personally drew you to collecting records in the first place?
7″ records because so many of my favorite bands would put out singles with B-sides and I had to have those songs too. I used to be a completest, but I’ve become a little better about that and now I’m just a fan of so many musicians that I’m still constantly buying records.
What does your current collection look like?
Like many record collectors, I have one of those big IKEA shelves the conveniently hold LP’s very well. About 3 months ago, it was pretty much full, but now it’s only about half full because I had some roof work that needed to be done on my house and no bank would give me a home equity loan to fix it…so I had to part with so many records that I didn’t want to part with. Although, when my pockets become nourished I’m sure I’ll be scouring shops and websites for those records to come home again.
What are some pieces of your collection which you could never see yourself parting with?
I could never part with most of the old 7″s from local bands from western NY that I grew up on. Bands like Counterclockwise. Also, it would be hard for me not to have a complete Tom Waits collection.
Are there any record pressings you regret missing out on?
Countless. I won’t even bother listing any cause it’s really just so many. I can’t believe how many bands I’ve seen come through Buffalo that I love who will have their record on their merch table and I left the show without a record with the idea that I was going to go home and order a bunch of them wholesale for my distro. Then to find out that it was a tour edition only, or forever out of print and the band just happened to have a few copies left that they were getting rid of on the tour.
Is there anything you’re currently on the hunt for?
I’m not on a hunt right now because I’m trying to get my financial situation back to moderately healthy, haha. But when I do I will be hunting for many of the records I just had to part with like my Jawbreaker/Jets to Brazil, Wipers, Dinosaur Jr, and so many other catalogs of bands I love.
What are some of your preferred record stores to shop at?
I really love Spiral Scratch here in Buffalo. I always find great gems at Used Kids in Columbus, OH. Academy in Brooklyn. Reckless in Chicago. Of course Amoeba. Hits and Misses up in Toronto. Banquet Records in Kingston, UK.
Favorite artwork: Right now it’s Dead Milkmen “Not Richard, But Dick”
Favorite track 1, Side A: Right now it’s The Jayhawks’ “Blue” on Tomorrow the Green Grass
Favorite closer: Might always be “Only In Dreams” on the Weezer blue album
Lemuria’s newest vinyl release is the “Secret Surprise” 12″ which is available over at the band’s webstore. The 12″ will include a screen-printed B-side but the music itself is a secret. They will be shipping at the end of July. You can also pick up the “Varoom Allure” 7″ here. Lemuria plans to enter the studio this winter to record a brand new full length record.