Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Psychopedia Feature: Damian Abraham's Record Collection

Here is an interview I did with Damian Abraham from Fucked Up about records. I really like records so this was fun.


Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham likes punk rock records more than you.

Damian Abraham is possibly the most instantly recognizable figure in hardcore punk music today. Whether you have seen Fucked Up play in the flesh or have simply witnessed their vital live performances through still photos or video it is the image of Damian’s well endowed frame, drenched in sweat, blood, saliva, beer and (more than likely) even more blood, that tends to remain as the flickering reminder of Fucked Up seared upon the retinas and subconscious of the musically aware.

Through his role as mouthpiece for Fucked Up’s wholly idiosyncratic and uncompromising synergy of traditional hardcore anger, speed and force with restless socio-political polemic, mythical thematic exploration and progressive song structure, Damian has become the focal point of a band that has always been much more than just a band.

Fucked Up are a movement, a band to believe in that have always threatened to convert listeners from every margin that recognize in their music, ethical outlook and modus operandi something well beyond void carbon copy and generic reproduction. Fucked recently signed to ‘major’ indie Matador in a worldwide deal that makes this threat an ever growing reality.

An important part of the bands self-mythology and one of their most defining characteristics has been a wildly sprawling vinyl output. As far as they stray from the confines of perceived notions of punk ‘normality’ the bands adherence to the 7” record and a boggling mass of variants thereof is perhaps their only concession to hardcore conventionality.

It is no surprise then to discover that the whole band are vinyl obsessive. Damian aka ‘Pink Eyes’ is the groups self confessed crowned record nerd. We caught up with Damian to ask how much round bits of wax that go in circles really mean to him.

Psychopedia: How old were you when you bought your first record?
Damian Abraham: I would have been would have been three or four. It was the Madness "Our House" 7". I fell in love with that song because it was on the radio and TV back then. I can’t remember the exact store I got it in but I guess I would have bought it somewhere with my dad. He was pretty dialed into the new wave stuff back then. He even went and saw the Viletones a few times.

How old were you when you realized that you were a ‘record collector’ as opposed to someone who just bought and listened to records?
I would have been about 17. I was a late bloomer. I didn't get ‘real’ about it until I was 19 though. That was when I started trading and digging. I can remember going to a friends house and he was flipping a bunch of punk singles to focus more on reggae and jazz and I bought a ton of stuff off him and just thought to myself: "Well this is my life now."

Can you remember what the first ‘punk’ record you ever bought was?
I think it would have been a Swingin' Utters ‘Nothing To Rely On’ 7"

What a record! What came first for you: punk obsession or record obsession? The two seem to go hand in hand. There aren’t many punk fans out there that don’t have a hefty 7” collection.
Punk was first. I bought records about a year or two after but it was more for ‘the music’ then. I swiftly became pretty obsessed though and you are definitely right: the two go hand in hand. I think it’s because punk, by its very nature, is outsider music that appeals to marginal personalities. These types of personalities often tend to be hoarders. If it wasn't punk I'm sure I would be collecting Star Wars toys or something else nerdy. I mean, as well as records I collect old ‘zones, tapes, fliers, the odd t-shirt. Basically: anything punk related.

What is your favorite format?
The 7”. Simply because it is the format best suited to punk.

And what is your favorite ‘punk record?
h100 – ‘Dismantle’ 7"

A lot of collectors go straight for their rarest or most valuable as their favorite record but I know that you have rarer stuff than that.
Yeah. I have a DRI test press of the ‘Violent Pacification’ 7" that has the wrong band on the b-side and the Integrity acetate. Or the acetates of the first Teenage Head 7" and LP. All that stuff is pretty hard to get hold of.

What have been your biggest bargain finds?
My wife gave me a copy of The Subhumans ‘Death To The Sickoids’ 7". I’d wanted that forever but I didn't really find that so maybe we can’t count it. I once found a copy of the Action 12" with the sleeve as they were putting it in the window-display of a store and bought it for a quarter. It was a bit of a mythical record to me and to find it like that made my day. I have been lucky enough to have been given some amazing records by friends over the years but I couldn't count those as bargains. I would say the Project X single for a few bucks or the Integrity 10" on pink with the alt sleeve for $10 are my biggest scoops.

On the flipside have you ever had to sell chunks of your collection in hard times?
I have sold stuff but always to buy other stuff. I guess it is more like reinvesting.

Let’s do a few more nerdy questions. Which single record do you own the most variants of?
I want to one day have all the various version of the Confront 7". I'm one away now and I have six already on the h100 7". I'm a huge loser.

No you aren’t. You’re my hero. Which single record that you do not own do you wish that you did?
The Fix ‘Vengeance’ 7" It is such a mythical record but apart from that most of the stuff that I want now is just cool records I didn't know about. Not so much heavy hitters. I long for the purity of obscurity.

How do you maintain some kind of order?
In terms of the punk stuff it’s divided by country and Cleveland gets its own section. It’s alphabetical within country though.

As someone who still digs in crates what are your feelings towards eBay as a forum for record exchange and collecting?
I mean I don't use it anymore but that is only because I enjoyed it too much at one point. I think it has leveled the playing field and forced collectors to step up their game up.

Finally: do you have a favorite ‘non-punk’ record?
‘Phantom Of The Paradise’ Soundtrack.

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