Mykee Shaffer is our latest Collector Of The Month. He’s been a resident of Raleigh, North Carolina for the past three years after relocating there from Brooklyn. Earlier this summer, he made the trek to Richmond for the GWAR-B-Q, and trekked out to Chicago for Riot Fest. He had a wonderful time at both festivals. When he’s not out documenting his record collection on Instagram, he’s out searching for new treasures to add to his ever-growing collection. Mykee has also shared some cool photos from his collection, which features a solid amount of punk and metal albums.
Tell me about what you grew up on. I saw your Instagram, and noticed a lot of punk records in it. Was that the main genre that you grew up with, or is there more?
I first started exploring music on my own, outside of whatever was on the radio, while picking through my parent’s dusty, unappreciated, record collections, and popping ’em on my little Fisher Price turntable. I wish I still had that thing! Billy Joel, Elton John, CSNY, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Doors, Grateful Dead, etc…I realized that music made me feel something pretty special, and it was exciting experiencing that for the first time.
But, that was all blind testing of the waters until I really found the beginning steps on my path, when I was about 12, and I went to my first concert: KISS on the Revenge Tour, at Nassau Coliseum on October 11th, 1992.
After that, I had a bit of a musical path to explore. KISS, Megadeth and Ozzy were huge for me, and all the bands that go along with that. Then Nirvana happened and took over my life for a handful of years. Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots; your typical ’90s grunge kid. GWAR was also a pretty huge game/life changer for me. I think my true path presented itself when Green Day happened. I was the right age, and it was the perfect time, and that was it!
I then went to my first real concert (with no parental guardian!) also at Nassau Coliseum, on December 2nd, 1994; Green Day on the Dookie Tour, with Pansy Division and Die Toten Hosen. To call that night life-changing would be an understatement. Green Day opened the door to the big three: Lookout! Records, Epitaph Records and the almighty Fat Wreck-Chords! An endless stream of catchy, fast, amazing music came flooding into my life. Digging through their catalogs, I discovered future favorite bands like Operation Ivy, Rancid, NOFX, Tilt, No Use For a Name, Lagwagon, Strung Out, Face to Face, Screeching Weasel, The Queers, Bad Religion, Descendents, Less Than Jake, Jawbreaker, Bouncing Souls, Millencolin, Propagandhi, Fifteen; these just led to more and more labels and bands and sounds. Two-Tone Records, Moon Ska, The Specials, Toasters, Mephiskapheles, Revelation Records, Victory Records, Gorilla Biscuits, H2O, Shelter, Snapcase, Sick of It All, MxPx, Sense Field, Sunny Day Real Estate, Texas is the Reason, Jimmy Eat World, Get Up Kids, Promise Ring, the list can go on forever! This was a doorway to a whole new world. I was sporting band shirts, going to shows, skateboarding every day, and I started my first band: Fair Warning. I truly started becoming the “me” that I was going to become.
As that was all turning into my way of life, growing up on Long Island, the music scene was very active, and very special. Bursting with amazing hardcore, emo, ska and punk bands. I was a pro at going to shows at this point, and every weekend we would pile into a friend’s car and go see countless legendary bands in basements and small clubs: Vision of Disorder, Glassjaw, Inside, Silent Majority, Sleepasaurus, Warped Weeble Wobbles, Tripface, Mind Over Matter, just to name a few. The scene was so welcoming and healthy, that all sorts of bands would be on these shows. My little pop-punk band could be found on the same bill as a 10-piece ska band, a shoegazing emo band and the angriest scariest hardcore bands NY had to offer. We’d play with Weston, The Scofflaws, Edna’s Goldfish, and then you’d have Neglect, Kill Your Idols and Two-Man Advantage on the other end of the bill. It was a magical time to be alive, and I’m truly honored to have been a part of that scene.
Later in life, the heavier stuff and metal became a major area for me, but in my formative years, growing up, it was all that ’90s punk, ska, emo, and hardcore magic that really shaped my life.
So, short answer; punk was kind of the main genre I grew up with, but yes, there was more. Much more.
How long have you been collecting records? What got you first hooked on that?
I’ve always been a music collector, scooping up and devouring whatever I could get my hands on. At first, records were just the old music that my parents had. So, for me it started with suitcases of cassettes, then walls of CDs, then blowing up hard drives with MP3s, and finally it all came full circle when I got serious about collecting vinyl.
After years of little CD booklets in cases, or tiny album covers on my iPod, I really got hooked on how big, beautiful, and undeniable the artwork and overall experience can be of holding a record in your hands. I’ve had a good milk crate or two of records with me forever, but I really got excited and obsessed with collecting them over the past 10 years or so, and REALLY serious in the past two or three. I’m particularly in love with all the beautiful, colorful, eye-popping, vinyl presses that are out there: splatters, smooshes, translucents, swirlies; all the crazy stuff some of the special companies out there are making is just insanely beautiful, and I can’t get enough of it! I have to shout out one such company, Wax Mage Records, out of Cleveland. The stuff they are pressing is mind-blowing, and if you are interested in the beauty of vinyl at all, you have to check out their releases.
But, the real icing on the cake for the collecting of these wonderful pieces of wax is that hidden inside of those sleeves and little grooves, is all my favorite, beloved, and cherished music! The number one reason for all the obsessive collecting, searching and spending, [the] gathering up of all of my most important and special albums, and being surrounded by them, looking and listening to them, and just knowing they are there; it makes the whole adventure so fulfilling and satisfying for me.
I can still remember the first piece of each format I purchased with my own money:
Cassette: Neil Young – Harvest
CD: Grateful Dead – Skeletons From the Closet
12″: Dead Kennedys – In God We Trust, Inc.
7″: Latex Generation – I Killed the President
Why did you decide to showcase your collection on Instagram? How do you decide how to feature your records?
Every time I picked up a new record that I was super excited about, or had a moment of love towards something in my collection, I had nobody to really share the excitement with. I would send a picture to a friend or two, or post it on one of the vinyl collecting communities on Facebook, but nobody really cared all that much, and I wasn’t feeling the reciprocated excitement, or having any fulfilling conversations around it. I wanted to take each record to a mountain top and yell “Look at this! Isn’t it so amazing?!”
One afternoon, I stumbled upon a weird novelty record from 1960, in a 50-cent bin, by a band called The Crew-Cuts. I was immediately shocked when I saw the cover, as I realized that the first Me First and the Gimme Gimmes album art was a DIRECT parody of this! I had no idea they had did that, and it totally blew my mind!
So, I brought this random treasure of an album home with me, took a picture of it next to the Me First record, and decided to start an Instagram strictly for showcasing fun and exciting record stuff like this, directed at people who would actually appreciate and enjoy it as much as I do! It seems to have caught on a bit, and I love all the positive feedback and interactions I am able to have with like-minded folks about these things that mean so much to me.
As for the ways I set up my pics, I just try to keep it interesting and pleasing to the eye, while allowing others to appreciate the true beauty of the records. Just being able to share the awesomeness of my treasures with others who consider them treasures as well, is very rewarding.
But, also very importantly, I try to choose special or favorite albums, that mean a lot to me, or I am particularly excited about, in hopes of sparking good music conversations, or putting people on to stuff they might not otherwise hear. When somebody says they discovered a new favorite band because of one of my posts, it’s one of my favorite things in the world.
What are some of your prized possessions? If there was impending doom on the horizon, what are the top five records you would grab? Why?
It really is hard to choose “prized possessions” out of my collection, as I love them all so very much. It’s like choosing a favorite child!
That being said, the top five would probably have to be some of my more special pieces:
NOFX: 30th Anniversary Box Set. Limited Edition translucent teal variant. Includes all 13 studio albums, a 2xLP compiling all of the 7” of the Month Club releases, and a life-size NOFX stage banner.
These guys have been one of my favorite bands since I first started getting into punk rock, and they’ve remained consistently amazing, and consistently ridiculous, all through the years! Not to mention that lead singer/bassist/frontman extraordinaire, Fat Mike, started Fat Wreck-Chords and blessed the world with countless incredible and legendary bands! His influence in shaping the history of punk, and music in general, cannot be overstated.
NOFX: 126” of NOFX: Singles Collection. Gold vinyl variant. Includes 18 classic NOFX 7”s, and a mini slip-mat.
The other NOFX box set! Most of these 7”s have been out of print for many years, so this is a particularly cool treat to have, especially with the updated artwork, and new re-cut masters for the vinyl pressing. They all sound as good, or better, than they ever have. The set even has the “recently unearthed” Thalidomide Child EP they recorded in 1984, and was basically never fully released. One of my closest friends surprised me with this treasure for my birthday in 2012, and I think it might have been a little kickstart into serious collecting.
Strung Out: Volume One Box Set. 1/498 sets on multiple colored vinyl. 4xLP set, including remixed and remastered versions of their CLASSIC first 3 albums, a compilation of early pre-Fat songs, a DVD, and a giant 2-sided poster.
Each record in the set is a completely different color/style variant from the next, and they’re all absolutely beautiful! Orange/black splatter, translucent yellow/black split, blue/purple smash swirl, translucent orange/white splatter…ridiculous! And the DVD has all ’90s-era footage, including interviews, backstage, on the road antics and pro-shot footage of them performing two of my favorite albums of all time live, in their entirety. I saw them do this live myself, and it was quite the magical event. I’ve loved Strung Out since the very beginning, and the albums included in this set are so crucial and special to me. Plus, the set lives inside a classy gold box that looks pretty damn royal on my shelf.
Operation Ivy: Energy – Lookout! Records. 1989. Original first pressing.
One of the most influential and important bands in the history of music. Period.
I randomly stumbled upon this legendary record in a local record shop, and my jaw hit the ground.
Shortly after releasing this album, Lookout! Records moved offices from Laytonville to Berkeley, CA. So, one of the tell-tale signs of an original press is the Laytonville address on the back sleeve. My hands were trembling as I slowly turned the record over, scanned the back, and rested my eyes on the words:
I guarded it like an armful of jewels, as I walked up to the counter to make the purchase–along with the inevitable pile of records I was already planning on snagging that day–and took the treasure home to live, and spin, and make me happy for many years to come. It must have sat collecting dust on someone’s shelf for the last 25+ years, because it looks almost brand new! I’d be willing to guess it’s gotta be one of the cleanest copies in existence today. So, yes, this is certainly a prized possession of mine.
My entire 7” collection.
When music was first becoming a huge focus in my life, going to shows every weekend was the norm, and eating up new bands was my obsession. Lots of local bands would record a few songs, and put out a 7″ real quick to document the moment, and to have something to sell at shows. These quickly became akin to punk rock trading cards, and we all scooped them up whenever possible, so we could devour all the exciting new bands and music! Within our scene, these 7″s became our form of “hit singles,” favorite sing-a-long songs, and after a while, legendary classics. I have a pretty good chunk of these mini treasures from those days, and each and every one of them is jam-packed with nostalgia, amazing music, and very special memories.
What is your favorite album of all time? Is it hard to find on vinyl?
A dreaded question that I’ve always had trouble finding an answer for.
For most of my life, I had Queen and KISS sitting together in the “favorite band” throne. Their albums A Night at the Opera and Revenge, respectively, holding their own titles of “my favorite album.” Over the years, those slots have been swapped around, interchanged completely, on and off, good and bad, all over the place. It’s near impossible for me to have a solid answer for “favorite album” that will forever stick in the “of all time” position, but these two held the title longest, so I suppose at this point, when it comes down to semantics, these are my favorite albums:
KISS — Revenge
The band that changed me from a casual music fan, to an obsessed music lifer. My first concert; this tour, this album. One of their heavier moments as a band, during the no makeup days, sporting a badass biker look, as opposed to the big hair, neons, and animal prints of years prior. They were at a height in their songwriting prowess for this one, recharged with Eric Singer and Bruce Kulick in tow. All of these songs are heavy, rifftastic, and just awesome! I mean, it has one of the greatest songs of all time, that gained a little extra notoriety being in “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey,” “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II,” their epic reinterpretation of an epic song by a ’70s band called Argent. One of my all time faves for sure! This album is full of attitude, sex, and all the badassery you could want from a rock band like KISS. This was a real powerful moment for these guys, and I feel like it’s somewhat under-appreciated as an album. I’m always proud to call it my favorite.
Queen – A Night at the Opera
Like most kids of my era, I was instantly drawn to Queen after watching the famous “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene in “Wayne’s World.” I had never heard anything like that before, and it was mesmerizing! I picked up their Greatest Hits II on cassette, and they basically became my favorite band right then and there. As I dove deeper into their catalogue, I discovered endless hidden gems living there. This album in particular was bursting at the seams with magical moments of songwriting and performance. The old-timey bounce of jaunty tunes like “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon” and “Seaside Rendezvous,” a rocking love song to a car; the haunting acoustic-driven Brian May song “’39,” telling the tale of a man who embarks on a space journey of a year, only to return home to find many more years have passed, and all his loved ones are dead. Sci-fi folk at its finest! I love the lyric “…in the land that our grandchildren knew.” This song held its own slot at the top of my favorites list for many years. Then there’s the mystical prog epic, “The Prophet’s Song.” Written after a dream full of powerful images of a great flood, with a huge middle section of Freddie Mercury singing overlapping harmonies with himself. It’s just chillingly incredible. Not to mention “Bohemian Rhapsody!” A true legendary masterpiece of an album, front to back.
Both aren’t particularly hard to find on vinyl. Although I’ve had some trouble finding a reasonably priced original copy of Revenge. Not the biggest deal. I will get my hands on one someday!
I can honestly say that many other albums, truthfully, hold a “favorite album of all time” space in my heart, and calling any of them an all-time favorite would not be an exaggeration in the least. I suppose that is inevitable after spending so many years, with so many different albums, weaving their musical tendrils throughout my heart and spirit.
Where are you located and what are some of your favorite record stores?
I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina from Brooklyn, New York almost three years ago now. It’s been quite the culture shock, but the music and record scene is as healthy and thriving as you could ask for!
Some of my favorite record stores are:
Sorry State Records
Probably my favorite shop around. It’s small and clean, the staff is always friendly and the stock rotates often enough that I can swing by as often as I want. The used section is chock full of glorious old and new punk/metal/hardcore records, and a gigantic selection of awesome cassettes and 7″s too! The new records are very reasonably priced, and all the other genre sections are packed with fantastic titles as well. As an added bonus, they always have some drool-inducing rare/collectible titles on the walls, and in special bins, just to really get that wallet hurting. But, it’s always worth it in the end! A++++++
Nice Price Books and Records
Another fantastic local record shop right in the heart of Raleigh. I pop in here at least once a month to flip through the used “new arrivals” section, and it never fails to contain a treasure or two (or three!). It also features reasonably priced new records of all sounds and styles, a seemingly endless maze of shelves with tons of used records, walls and walls of books, comics, CDs, DVDs…this place has it all! And it’s almost all killer. I have stumbled upon some life-changing treasures in these hallowed walls.
There are a surprising and refreshing amount of record shops around the area, and I try to pop in and do a little digging whenever possible. Who knows what treasures are waiting to be discovered!
When you travel, are there any places you always hit up for records?
I’ve only recently been able to find time and money to do some traveling, so there aren’t too many places I have locked in my memory, outside of the overwhelmingly amazing Amoeba Records in Hollywood. I’ve had some good (albeit drunken) experiences at Rough Trade back home in Brooklyn, but that was pretty regular, as far as record stores go. But, whenever I do go somewhere new, I always make sure to look up record stores in the area, and try my best to drop in.
When I was in California this past March for the Jon Bunch memorial concert, I did the usual Amoeba perusal, then stumbled upon an awesome spot called Vacation Records. Lots of good punk, metal, and hardcore, and a friendly, knowledgeable staff. Everything I look for in a record store!
Whenever I’m in Richmond, Virginia — at the very least, once-a-year, for my beloved GWAR-B-Q — I make it a point to pop in Vinyl Conflict. Same deal as all my other favorite shops, punk/metal/hardcore/etc, friendly people…good stuff!
When I was in Chicago for Riot Fest (an unforgettable three-day lineup of epic proportions!) I found a moment to check out Reckless Records. A cozy little shop right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Chicago’s downtown loop. They housed quite an impressive selection of reasonably priced titles spanning all genres, and it was a pleasure doing a quick dig in there.
I’m always happy to pop in any record shop I stumble upon in my journeys. Recommendations are always welcome!
Are there any interesting stories about how you acquired some of the records in your collection?
I went through my entire collection, and thought about where I acquired each and every one, and I just couldn’t think of any particularly interesting stories attached to any of them! Unlike almost all aspects of my life, there’s usually some ridiculous story that goes along with it. But now that I’m sitting and thinking back on them all, it’s been a pretty smooth experience. Lots of record store digging, exciting heart stopping moments coming across a special treasure in the rack, flea markers, eBay and Discogs discoveries, trades with friends, gifts, merch tables at shows. It’s been a pretty smooth ride. And I guess that’s okay.
I did use the money I got from my grandma dying to buy the NOFX box set…. That’s kind of interesting. She was pretty mean anyway.
What are some of the white whales you’re still on the search for?
These days with Discogs, eBay, and the internet in general, keeping a large chunk of the vinyl marketplace at my fingertips, it’s become fairly easy to track down any records I’m really looking for. Most of the white whales that still elude me are the super expensive things. I’m dreaming of a few box sets:
Bad Religion’s 30th anniversary box set. All 15 studio albums pressed on beautiful red vinyl. It is such a massive beauty of a box, and I drool every time I see it in other people’s collections. I’ve seen it going for anywhere from $450-$800. It was limited to 3000 copies, and only pressed once, so it’s become quite the treasure. But I know, one day it shall be mine!
Lagwagon’s Putting Music In Its Place. All five of their classic ’90s era albums, remastered, with tons of demos, outtakes and all the bells and whistles! One of my most cherished and favorite bands, and I love all of these albums so so so much. I’ve come across a few of them out in the wild over the years, but I keep holding off on scooping any up, because I’m holding out for this beauty! There were 519 sets pressed on colored vinyl, and 517 sets pressed on black (pretty odd amounts) and, of course the collector in me is pining for that colored version. So, just one more big beautiful white whale, I’m sitting patiently and waiting for the day I can make it mine!
As for non boxset items? I’d love to get my hands on copies of Life in General and Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo by MxPx. They were a pretty huge influence and big favorite of mine, for that brief moment in the the mid-90s, and those two albums in particular hold lots of memories for me. Vinyl wasn’t very popular when I was in high school, so a lot of my favorite albums from those formative years are super rare, or just plain don’t exist. These two are out there, but I rarely find them for under $100 a pop.
What would make a better white whale than an album about Moby Dick? One of my favorite genres of metal is called funeral doom, and one of the first bands I heard playing like that was a band called AHAB. Their album Divinity of Oceans opened the proverbial floodgates for me, as far as funeral doom metal goes, and it holds a very special place in the deep dark depths of my heart. They only released this album once; a 2xLP behemoth on black or gold vinyl. I’ve been yearning for that gold one for a long, long time, but not even all the doubloons in Davey Jones’ locker could get me a copy of this beast, unless the exchange rate of pirate booty to U.S. dollars comes in around $130, because that’s about how much they’re going for these days.
None of these are wildly expensive, and I suppose I could always fork over my credit card for some of them, but with the ease afforded by the internet, the feeling of shooting fish in a barrel, you gotta keep at least some thrill in the hunt! One day I will acquire all the records I desire, but there is certainly no rush. I have plenty of wonderful treasures to listen to and enjoy right now, and in the meantime, it’s nice having stuff in my mental wish list.
What are some of your thoughts on Record Store Day? This seems to be a bit of a polarizing topic within the vinyl community.
I don’t really see any harm in it. It’s nice to give the labels an excuse to release special editions, and repress rare stuff, and I guess it gives the record world in general a little extra publicity. Although, it all has the slight stench of a cash grab, and lots of these items are usually pretty damn pricey! I give the RSD release lists a perusal each time, and I might pop in a local shop to check some stuff out, but nine times outta 10, it’s a shitshow in there, and there’s nothing too exciting that I must have.
So for me personally, Record Store Day is pretty neat, but also kinda stupid, and I can certainly take it or leave it. Doesn’t bother me either way. I’ll leave the hatred and vitriolic talk to the uptight vinyl purists out there yelling “Get off my lawn!” to all the RSD enthusiasts.
Tell us about your audio system. And are you the type of listener that subscribes to the “warm” vinyl sound or what do you think vinyl adds to the experience?
I’ve never been much of an audiophile. I’m just happy having a turntable that works, with some nice big speakers that don’t sound too crappy. My set up is a JVC L-A31 that I picked up used from a local record shop, Sony STR-SE501 receiver that a friend gave to me, two giant clunky speakers from the ’80s that my girlfriend’s dad had collecting dust in his storage shed, and a cube shaped AudioSource subwoofer. Sure, one day I’d love to upgrade every piece of my system to some nice quality, top-of-the-line hardware, because I know it could all sound much better, but it definitely doesn’t sound terrible, and it can get nice and loud, and I am pretty happy with it as is.
For me, what vinyl adds to the experience, is just the whole overall experience in general. I can definitely hear a nice warmer sound, than say, an MP3 or cassette, and more nuances to the recordings that I may have never heard before will pop out. But it’s really the whole adventure and ritual that comes with listening to records that I love the most; selecting a record, pulling it from the shelf, holding the oversized packaging in my hands and taking in all the artwork, carefully sliding the perfectly round piece of wax from the sleeve, flipping it over in my hands, blowing off any animal hair that may have found its way in there, placing it on the turntable, gently moving the arm over the edge, watching the record begin to spin, the center label getting blurry, dropping the needle, the first few pops and hisses before the first track, and then BOOM! I’m transported away to musical lands, magically issuing forth from the mysterious grooves cut into this beautiful piece of wax.
But, those are just my hippy dippy thoughts on the subject.
From our last COTM: What is your take on the state of record collecting as it sits today? Do you think there is a ceiling on it? Do you feel the multiple color variants and limited runs of most titles are going to flood the hobby eventually?
I am enjoying the state that record collecting is in today very much. Brick-and-mortar stores seem to be flourishing again, and it’s always great to pop in and do a little digging. Bands and labels are releasing all their albums on vinyl again, which is very refreshing, and I’m a sucker for special editions! The Instagram community has also turned into a great medium and forum for the hobby as well. People on there are so full of life and enthusiasm for collecting. It is quite fulfilling having a place to share my treasures, and have good discussions with like-minded vinyl junkies. As an added bonus, Instagram has turned my collecting into a great creative outlet. Using my energy to put together fun and interesting pictures to post has been very satisfying.
I can’t imagine any kind of ceiling to be hit, as there’s always new music coming out, and beautiful different variants and special editions to be created for them; always more and more fodder for collecting and trading. One negative I find in the never-ending deluge of color variants and limited runs is the same sorta problem you’d run into in any collecting world: you pick up a copy of an album you’ve been wanting, or you finally get your hands on the awesome version you’ve been searching for, and then you see a different, even more awesome one pop up! But that’s just the way it goes, and that’s why true collecting addicts end up with tons of multiple copies of the same album, because they’re all just so damn awesome! Just as the wise leader of Pokémon marketing once said, “Gotta catch ’em all!”
If you could toss one question in the COTM pool, what would you ask?
Do you have the Bad Religion box set? And can I have it, please?