In Support Of The Art is a recurring feature, focusing on a musician or someone in the music industry, and their very own collection of vinyl records. If you would like to get involved, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For today’s entry, we spoke with Dan Briggs, who plays bass for Between The Buried and Me, as well as guitar for ORBS (pictured above). He’s got an extensive record collection and loves the experience that comes along with collecting.
What are some of your earliest memories about getting involved in the world of music?
Dan Briggs: My mom was a music teacher and my dad was a huge music fan, so I feel like it was always on in the house. I remember when my parents got their first CD player in the ’80s and only had a handful of CDs, so it was like Phantom of the Opera, Genesis, Tears For Fears. I remember really getting into the Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson at the same time, probably just before the Dangerous record. I just remember things changing real quickly by the time I was 10 and it was 1994; the “Black Hole Sun” video basically set me on my path, and what a time to be taking it all in and discovering music. You could turn on the radio for hours and it was just great music.
How did you first get involved with the art of record collecting?
DB: My dad had a huge CD collection. I remember we built a house when I was 9 or 10 and he had CD shelves built into the wall. [It’s] still something I strive to achieve after I buy a house. I don’t remember what my first tape was, probably Kris Kross or TLC, but my first CD was Green Day’s Dookie. I still buy a lot of CDs, [as] some genres like modern jazz/fusion/avant garde just don’t even exist on the vinyl format. I fought off buying records for a long time, probably until six years ago or so. I just knew what would happen because of my CD buying tendencies and it did. I started by getting some rare Cave In 7″s I had seen popping up on eBay and from there it was just full on.
Record stores were a very magical place to go into; even before I was head over heels into playing guitar and performing, I loved getting lost in them. I remember midnight sales of new releases and longboxes. Opening up the package when you got home and looking at every square inch of the artwork and reading the lyrics, it was all extremely exciting. So that’s the thing that still carries over now, and it’s great that I get to make sure the records I put out all have interesting artwork and packaging.
(Just a sampling of Briggs’ record collection)
What advice would you give to newbie record collectors?
DB: Dig! The excitement of going record shopping is both having a list and being totally surprised. I can’t count the number of times I went in for one specific album and left with an armful of other albums instead. I was thrilled when I started finding the original Mahavishnu Orchestra albums and was blown away at how good they sounded. I think I was just so used to buying old tapes and having them be totally warped. [With] CDs it never mattered, except the older ones might be mastered differently, but the old records really have an incredible sound to them. Classical and jazz records, any live session; they just sound amazing. And if you find any Zappa records for under $50, buy them. Buy them all.
How has your musical career been impacted or inspired by what you collect?
DB: You know, I don’t really think of it as collecting. The records I own are as much of a research and educational tool as they are a device for pleasure and fun. It’s a fine line for me because I feel like I always want to hear sounds that are inspiring to me, but they’re also just records I love hearing. So yeah, like anything in life it directly affects what I’m doing and fuels my creativity.
If you ever choose to have kids one day, will they inherit your collection and/or your love of collecting vinyl?
DB: I don’t have an interest in having kids, but I’d love to have a pup curled up on the couch with me who doesn’t mind the potentially weird or disturbing sounds coming out of the speakers. My dad gave all his records away to a friend in the late ’90s as long as he ripped them to CD for him.
No, I’m not over that yet.
If you had to choose 10 favorite records in your collection, what would they be, and why?
DB: These aren’t necessarily my favorite albums ever, but looking through I’m like “Man, I’m glad I have that!”
CAN — Tago Mago — The first album I smuggled back from Europe.
Cave In – Jupiter — I waited on Record Store Day to no avail, but I was ecstatic Hydra Head put it online the following Monday. [It’s] one of my all-time favorites and it comes with a bonus album with their cover of “Dazed and Confused” from their much sought after Lollapollooza EP, which of course I have on CD as well.
Fantomas – Wunderkammer boxset — I love boxsets; I own 10 or so, and this had all their albums in it pressed for the first time, plus Mike Patton’s original demo tape. “Director’s Cut” is one of my all-time favorites.
Genesis — The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway — This is an original Japanese pressing that I found in Australia. I had been searching for years for a great condition version from the ’70s, not only because of how important the album is to me musically, but because it’s one of my favorite all-time album spreads. I have Storm Thorgerson’s art all assembled in one piece, blown up and hanging in my living room.
Live — Four Songs — The band’s first release, an EP before Mental Jewelry came out. I’ve never seen it since and I celebrate this band still. Maybe it’s the PA connection or that it was a group I was listening to when I first really got head over heels into music, but I just still think there was something raw and real about the early ’90s alternative rock albums.
Magma — Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh — I was checking out at Sound Station in Copenhagen with one of the largest stacks of albums I’ve purchased at one time; I had no idea how many krone was being spent and I didn’t care. I mentioned to the guy behind the counter that I was hoping to find some Magma and he led me to the rare section and fuck… Again I have no idea how much it was, I didn’t care, but he had an original version of this brilliant album. Part of the magic.
Mussorgsky — Pictures at an Exhibition — As conducted by Bernstein, one of my favorites and given to me by my mom from her collection when she was in college. I’ve heard a lot of recordings of the piece and it really speaks to how brilliant Bernstein was for getting such a great performance and feel for the tempos of each of the pieces that make up the symphony.
Oingo Boingo – EP – The group’s first release after disbanding their Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo stage show and just before the Only A Lad album.
Superdrag — Head Trip in Every Key — In my eyes, this was one of the most important and overlooked albums from the mid ’90s. I was glad there was renewed interest and the album finally came out on vinyl.
Frank Zappa — Roxy and Elsewhere — The live Zappa records are some of the most exciting albums I own. This set is just flawless and I’m so glad the footage of it has surfaced recently. We played a special show with Between the Buried and Me at the Roxy recently as a one-off from the tour we were on and I was definitely feeling it all night thinking about the music that took place on that stage.
You’ve got some pretty rare releases in your collection. Do you have any interesting stories about how they came to be in your possession?
DB: John McLaughlin — Where Fortune Smiles — I’ve never seen this album since I got it. Post Bitches Brew and pre Inner Mounting Flame.
Lush — Spooky and 2×10 — In America, I’ve never ever once seen Lush vinyl. I was on the lookout while we were overseas last fall, and I hit the jackpot at Sound Station in Copenhagen. Beautiful packaging like with all 4AD releases during this time.
Bela Bartok — The Works of Bartok boxset — One of my all-time favorite composers; dark soul crushing music and a great collection in a really old box. There’s no date on any of the five records or on the box, but it’s in great shape.
Are there some white whale records you just haven’t been able to get your hands on yet?
DB: Oingo Boingo’s demo EP — not holding my breath on this one…I’ve seen that Amoeba Records has one for $2,000.
What’s your audio setup like?
DB: Audio Technica turntable. My speakers and amp were from Goodwill and have sounded great the whole time I’ve had them.
Do you prefer small, independent record stores or larger chain stores (like Urban Outfitters or Barnes and Noble) when on the hunt for new treasures?
DB: Obviously the one-off indie stores are more exciting to go to. I’m lucky to get to travel all over the world and visit my favorite spots throughout the year. I’m so glad there’s a resurgence and people are wanting to go out and dig around for albums. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the bigger stores carrying albums though; wherever people are seeing and buying music that’s alright.
Where do you see the future of your collection going?
DB: Well, it’s definitely not getting any smaller!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
DB: I appreciate the interview, it’s fun to talk shop and really sit in front of my collection and see what is all in it instead of just thinking “oh I want to hear so and so.” Keep supporting the physical package. It won’t go away but bands can’t get lazy and have to produce things that people want to buy and open and have and experience.
A big thanks to Dan for participating. If you’re a musician who wants to talk about their collection, email us at email@example.com. And grab the upcoming album from ORBS (on vinyl of course), here.