Eric, Frank Zappa fan & record collector from Edmonton – Canada

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For our new episode of the interviews of the record collectors from around the world, we meet Eric. He started collecting at a young age and now has a little over 2000 albums. Big fan of Frank Zappa, guitar player and collector of classic and psychedelic rock from the 60’s and 70’s, Eric answered our questions and shared his story with us about music and collecting records. It’s time to discover his very honest and interesting interview!

Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Hello everyone! My name is Eric. I currently live in Edmonton, Canada with my wife, Marlee & our two rescue beagles, Newman & Cosmo. I’m working in a food supply warehouse that has a strict social media policy, so I probably shouldn’t mention the company. I’ve sung & played guitar in several bands since high school & occasionally write my own material.

How and when did you start your record collection? How many do you own today?

I’ve got a little over 2000 albums, around 120 7” singles & a hand full of 10” records. I’ve also got around 3000 CDs. I know that’s a bit of a touchy subject here in the vinyl community, so I’ll try not to mention it too much. Haha!

I first started buying records when I was around 16 or 17. It was the late 90s & a lot of the time it was cheaper to buy used records than it was to purchase something new on CD. It was also kind of cool to be able to say that you owned something on vinyl because they weren’t really making records anymore. It was like having an artifact from some ancient civilization.

eric record collection

What started your interest in music?

Like most people, my parents were my earliest influence on my love of music. There was usually something playing on the stereo in the house & always a mix tape in the car’s cassette-deck. My dad has also sung & played guitar in various rock & country bands as long as I can remember.

Apparently my mom & dad would play me Monty Pythons’ “Lumberjack Song” as a baby & I seemed to enjoy it (that might also explain why I like to press wildflowers). My brother & I had a couple of Raffi albums that I remember listening to fairly often.

Album monty pythons

“my music collection is as good as any library when it comes to looking up information that interests me

What was the first record you ever purchased?

It was an Alice Cooper 7” with Clones (We’re All)/Model Citizen on it. A friend of mine had downloaded some Smashing Pumpkins b-sides (probably from Napster back when that was a thing) and one of the tracks was a cover version of Clones from their Bullet With Butterfly Wings Maxi-Single. I was going to garage sales with my dad and one of the places we stopped at had the Alice Cooper single hanging on a nail on the wall. I didn’t know the Pumpkins’ version was a cover at the time & I was pretty sure my friend didn’t know either, so I “had to” buy it. The guy said that his daughter had left it behind when she moved out & he wanted $0.75 for it. I think I had $0.65 or something, but he wouldn’t sell it to me. I ended up having to borrow the rest from my dad.

alice cooper album, clones

What are your 1st musical influences?

It was 1991 or ’92 and my dad came home with a black Fender Stratocaster. I thought it looked pretty cool. Soon after that I saw a picture of Jimi Hendrix also playing a black Strat and that sealed the deal. I was going to play the guitar! Or at least I thought I was until I realized it wasn’t that easy.

It would be a few more years before I actually started to learn how to play. That false start got me interested in Jimi which, with help from my dad, got me into other guitarists like Alvin Lee of Ten Years After & Frank Zappa. By the time I actually started playing guitar I was really into alternative & grunge bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Blind Mellon & Green Day. Those bands’ songs were the first I would try to learn how to play.

I think becoming a musician is what really got me into collecting music because you’re always looking for ideas or different little musical “tricks” to make your own playing more interesting. I’ve never been much of a reader (it takes me forever to finish a book) but for me, my music collection is as good as any library when it comes to looking up information that interests me.

eric putting a record on the turntable

What kind of music was playing in your house when you were a kid? Did your parents have records?

My parents had a collection of probably two or three hundred records. I was very fortunate that they have pretty good taste in music so there was usually classic rock like The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young and The Who. My mom also likes Joni Mitchell and my dad is a blues fan, so there was stuff like Muddy Waters and Johnny Winter as well.

Do you collect a particular genre of music?

I’ll listen to pretty much anything, but most of my vinyl collection is classic rock & psychedelic stuff from the 60s and 70s.

What is your best find ever?

I don’t know if that it’s my best find, but Freak Out! by Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention is probably one of the most memorable. I’d only been collecting for a year or so when I found it. At the time it seemed like not many people knew who Frank Zappa or The Mothers were and I had heard that some of the early stuff could be expensive, which I assumed meant that it was rare. I was digging in the basement of a record shop in Calgary and found a copy without a price tag on it. Luckily for me when I went upstairs to pay for it, the owner (who always charged the top dollar “mint” price) wasn’t there. It was a younger guy at the counter and he looked in the Record Collector’s Guide for a price but instead of charging me $100 like the book said, he only asked for $60. I still thought that was a lot to pay for an album but I wanted it and figured I’d never see another one. It’s a Canadian first press with some typos on the label & is still worth around what I paid for it.

frank zappa album, freak out

I also recently found a copy of Le Monde Fabuleux Des Yamasuki by Daniel Vanguard & Jean Kluger. There’s not really an interesting story behind that find but it is a somewhat rare record that I’ve been looking for for a long time and I got it at a very good price.

album monde fabuleux des yamasuki, daniel vanguard & jean kluger

Any regrets about a lost record or about records you did not buy?

When I started buying new vinyl in the early 2000s they usually didn’t come with a download card or anything so if you wanted a portable copy for your car or whatever you had to buy it on CD too or download it illegally (which always sounded like crap). I started buying more things on CD first because it was cheaper and then if I really liked it I’d get a vinyl copy later. Unfortunately I’d fall behind or couldn’t afford to get both so now I’m trying to find a lot of stuff that I was listening to in my early 20s and it’s way more expensive now.

The other thing I think about sometimes is all of the great records I may have passed over because I didn’t know what they were.

An interesting / funny anecdote about your collection or about vinyl that you have acquired?

We had the windows in our house replaced earlier this year and had a couple of salespeople from different companies come to give us quotes. One of the guys who came by was an Eastern European gentleman. He said, in a heavy accent, “You have many vinyl! I will give you a good price for half”. I just kind of laughed and we moved on. As we walked through the house we talked a bit about music in between figuring out what kind of windows my wife and I wanted. When we were done, he made the offer again. I told him, “No thanks, that’s fine”. And we ended up going with a different company.

//About collecting records and preserving the cultural legacy// “You can have the only copy of some amazing blues or jazz 78 but if no one ever hears it, it might as well not exist at all

What was your latest purchase?

I recently picked up a first pressing of “The Glow” PT.2 by The Microphones. This is one of those albums that I should have bought on vinyl back when it came out in 2001 but went with the CD instead. Luckily I found someone on Discogs selling one for a reasonable price and in good condition.

album glow-microphones

What is the most expensive record you bought?

I think it was a near mint first UK pressing of Can’s krautrock masterpiece Ege Bamyasi. My wife is going to be reading this so I’ll keep the price to myself. Haha!

album ege bamyasi, can

Is there an artist or label in particular that you are trying to get the full discography?

Frank Zappa. I’ve got most of his solo and Mothers of Invention albums but I’m still looking for a few of his 80s releases and several of the ‘60s singles. The singles are difficult to find and are expensive when you manage to find them. I’m also trying to collect all of the releases on his Bizarre/Straight labels by other artists.

Which records are still on your want list?

There’s so many things I’m looking for and it seems like the list is always getting longer! I’d say that at the top of that list is the Italian edition of The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society. Many of the songs on this pressing are different from any other version and it’s a better record in my opinion. I’ve only seen it for sale twice and they were both around $1000.

It’s the end of the world, you can only take 5 records from your collection with you! Which ones and why?

Oh man, I’d die trying to pick only five for sure!

First I’d probably grab my 1978 Canadian marbled vinyl copy of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. When I started collecting, my parents noticed that I was buying a lot of stuff they already had in their collection so they gave me all of their records. This Beatles album was one of those records and it is the one that I remember listening to the most as a kid.

eric, 5 albums

Then I’d get The Mothers of Invention’s albums Cruising With Ruben & The Jets and We’re Only In It For The Money. These are two of my favourite Mothers records.

Next I’d get The United States of America’s self-titled and only album. This is an amazing psychedelic record that I’ll never get tired of.

Lastly, I’d probably go with Beck’s One Foot In The Grave. I’ve been listening to this album since 1995 and still love it as much as the first time I heard it.

eric 5 albums

Original pressings or re-issues? Why?

It doesn’t really matter much to me but if I have to choose, I’d probably go with the original pressing (depending on condition and price of course). I’ve always considered myself to be more of a music collector than a vinyl or whatever collector. I just want to hear it.

I think the idea of first press vs. reissue is kind of silly. It seems like more of a status thing. There are some situations where a remix/remaster was done or original tapes were lost so later pressings sound different but for the most part it’s just a piece of plastic with some printed cardboard on it. If you’re going to try to tell me that your piece of plastic is better than mine because it’s old, you’ve got a lot of convincing to do. The reason I buy first pressings is honestly resale value and I think that’s really the only reason most collectors prefer them, even if they don’t want to admit it.

What kind of digger are you?

I’ll pretty much buy from anywhere but with the low value of the Canadian dollar and the crazy cost of shipping right now, local record stores, thrift shops, etc. are the way to go.

Do you think that collecting records helps to preserve our musical and cultural legacy?

Haha! That’s what I tell my wife when she asks why I have four copies of Trout Mask Replica!

Trout Mask Replica, album

If you have something that was only released on vinyl and in limited quantities, then yes I do but only if you share it! You can have the only copy of some amazing blues or jazz 78 but if no one ever hears it, it might as well not exist at all.

What attracts you in a record?

I’ve had fairly good luck with picking up things just based on the cover. Also if a band or album has an interesting or silly name, that always gets my attention. It’s how I discovered bands like Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard.

album Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, album

How do you organize your collection?

Alphabetically (by last name if applicable) and by release date. If it’s a solo record by an artist from a well-known group, they’ll be kept with that band (John, Paul, George or Ringo are all kept with my Beatles records for example but Neil Young gets his own section away from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young).

What does your record collection say about you?

“This guy has very little self-control & probably even less money”.

eric dog and records

What’s your current setup at home?

My turntable is an old Technics SL – D2 that used to belong to my parents. They let me take it with me when I moved out since I was taking their collection anyway. It’s not in the best condition cosmetically but it works well and sounds pretty good. The turntable runs into an Onkyo TX – 8020 receiver and then I’ve got a couple of Hitachi HS – 450 speakers from the 80s and a Heco subwoofer. I’ve also got a couple of Automatic Radio speakers from the 70s with multi-coloured bulbs that respond to the bass, treble and mids. The actual speakers in those are blown but the lights still work!

Want to add something about yourself? Now it’s the time 😉

First I’d like to say thank you to anyone who’s read this far (I know some of my answers were pretty long) & thanks to Jay at Cb Vinyl Record Art for giving me the opportunity to do this interview!

I’d also like to bring attention to a new Instagram account, @womeninvinyl & blog, www.womeninvinyl.com (owned by Jenn) that highlights women working within the record industry. I’m not actually affiliated with these pages but it’s a cool idea that I think more people should know about.

And lastly, I’d like to thank all of my fellow Instagram music lovers who’ve followed me &/or introduced me to all kinds of new & interesting music!

More About Eric:
Instagram: @nottherealeric
SoundCloud: The Shiny Shiny Things

Thank you very much Eric for your interview. I very much liked reading it and also liked your honesty about few things. Thanks again! 😉