[Collector's Edition is a series in which musicians share the stories behind the most interesting items in their collections.]
“There are a lot of hungover people in my house right now,” Ryan Naideau warns as we walk up the stairs to his Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, apartment. He and his roommates threw a party the night before and empty beer bottles and cigarette packs litter the backyard. Drummer for rock ‘n’ roll trio Nude Beach, hardcore band Warthog and the now-defunct Dustheads, Naideau has a long history in the New York punk scene. Originally from the suburbs of Long Island, all of his high school friends were in local punk bands, releasing 7-inches that he’d buy but had no way of playing. He bought a record player for this reason, adding his parents’ old records to his quickly burgeoning collection. His older friends moved to Brooklyn, and Naideau soon followed.
He joined the three aforementioned bands one by one, started booking shows all over the city and got a job at Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s Academy Records. Needless to say, these factors accelerated the pace at which he accumulated his impressive collection, and moving on to his current job at Other Music‘s NoHo store didn’t exactly slow things down. He became closely involved with various New York music communities, notably the scene that took root at former Greenpoint bar and venue Lulu’s. “When Nude Beach first became a band that’s where we played all of our shows,” he says. “I was working there booking shows, I knew the manager and some of the bartenders were my good friends. We played with Marvin Berry and the New Sound all the time and bands of that ilk that were a little more pop-punk or power-pop. That scene was sort of thriving for a minute at Lulu’s especially.” Nude Beach fit right in, channeling a straightforward, power-pop-meets-classic-rock sensibility. Yet their new double album 77 explores a range of genres from the decade its title references. A close listen to its 18 tracks reveals solid foundations in folk, jazz and soul. Not unlike the legends Nude Beach are often compared to (the Replacements, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello), they revel in experimenting with their sound. “The next record we do will be even further out there,” Ryan promises.
Stacks of records sit on a shelf inherited from Academy’s basement, plus a few self-purchased IKEA units. “I used to go to weird record stores and buy tapes just because they looked cool. Then I would find out what they were and some of [the bands] were from New York and I would go see them play,” says Naideau. When asked about the appeal of ephemera, he lights up. “I like the immediacy of the object, where you can just put it on and listen to the record versus something like a book, which is more time-consuming. I like how I can just give someone a tape or a record and tell them, ‘Listen to this!’”
But Naideau isn’t the old-fashioned kind of collector who goes on long, drawn-out searches to find the rarest records of all time. In fact, he’s opposed to the idea. “Part of the stigma about record collecting that I hate so much is so many people buy stuff because it’s ‘rare.’ The same reason you’d collect baseball cards or comic books back in the day.” Despite having always been a self-proclaimed “collector of all things” (“It was CDs when I was a kid and it’s records and tapes now”), he doesn’t like the idea of pouring all of your money into a collection. Now, he prefers to cycle through them, trading old ones in for whatever else might be on his list. He once traded 10 Jandek records for Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, one of his very few “holy grail” records.
We asked Naideau to talk about some records of his choosing from his massive collection. His passion for DIY recording — neither of his current bands have ever recorded in a studio — explained Bob Dylan’s The Basement Tapes and Guided By Voices‘ Bee Thousand. Both Dookie by Green Day and Minor Threat‘s Out of Step were almost no-brainers, given his extensive experience with punk. Alice Coltrane’s Ptah the El Daoud and Townes Van Zandt‘s self-titled album, however, were ones that threw us for a loop. Here’s what he had to say about his picks.
Green Day, Dookie
Dookie is a record that sort of shaped my whole musical experience, because I initially had that on cassette, and it was the first tape I bought when I was a kid. I bought it when I was 7 I had a Walkman and I would walk around and listen to it. I would lip-sync and I would stand in front of a mirror and play air guitar like Billie Joe [Armstrong]. I swear, there are home videos of me doing it. I got that tape when I started taking drum lessons. I would always bring that tape with me to my drum teacher and want to learn how to play like that. Tre Cool, the drummer, was a huge inspiration to me and he still kind of is! This is a joke that my friends say, because they know how much I love the early Green Day records: “Yeah dude, you play drums just like Tre Cool.” Like, making fun of me. But I’m like, “That’s sick!”
Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand
Guided By Voices was a band I started to get into because somebody had made me a tape of Bee Thousand. It was at a time when I was really into Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Belle and Sebastian and all these indie bands, some of which started at the same time as Guided By Voices — or predated them, in Sonic Youth’s case. But when I got that Bee Thousand tape, it completely blew my mind. I think [Television's] Marquee Moon was on the other side. That record introduced me to the band. I thought it was so cool how they, on the one hand, made these really accessible pop songs, but then totally broke them apart in the middle of every song. And it was all recorded on a four-track. Our stuff has never sounded as lo-fi as theirs — maybe our demo tape did — but we totally take inspiration from that big-time, from people who do everything themselves. We’ve never gone to a studio for anything. Chuck [Betz, who sings and plays guitar] records everything we do and he just gets better and better and better at it too.
When I tried to find a record of Bee Thousand, it was impossible, because I quickly realized that everybody loved that record and it was only pressed once and it was so hard to find. That one was so exciting to find on vinyl, because from the first time I ever heard it, it was one of my favorite records of all time.
Bob Pollard walked into Academy when I was working there one time. Me and my friend Corey were like, “Oh my god.” We ran and found Guided By Voices records and made him sign them. I gave him a Nude Beach record, our first record, [I]. And there’s a picture in the sleeve of Alien Lanes. We cut a picture out of that album in our insert in the record. It was like a tribute. I was thinking maybe he’d discover it and be like, “Cool!”
Minor Threat, Out of Step
The reason I chose Out of Step is because the first records I started buying were punk and hardcore. That was also sort of like what I was experiencing on a smaller DIY-scale, with friends’ bands in high school and stuff. All my friends were in punk and hardcore bands so I got really into that stuff. They were all putting out records, so I’d buy those and then I’d go to punk record stores and buy Minor Threat and Black Flag records, all the classics. And the D.C. hardcore stuff was always my favorite, like Minor Threat, Rites of Spring, Lungfish and Fugazi and all those bands. The first records I ever had were my friends’ bands or my parents’ records. The next bands I would buy were older hardcore and punk stuff. Those are fun to track down and actually sound really good on vinyl.
I like to think of Minor Threat as being the band that got me into “cool” punk — got me into “smart” punk. It was definitely an educational experience as much as it was a visceral, mind-blowing thing. Minor Threat was the first band that did that for me and I was like, “Oh cool, right, you can make punk music that’s not just about playing video games and drinking beer.” They helped me find my place in the world a little bit.
Bob Dylan, The Basement Tapes
I got [The Basement Tapes] from my dad. When I was growing up he would always listen to Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones and all this classic rock, which is the first music I really heard when I was a kid. I knew Bob Dylan’s songs and certain albums when I was really young but I didn’t really hear that one until a little bit later when I got my first record player and I had all these weird Bob Dylan records. I was like, “Basement Tapes? I’ve never heard this one.” I had heard all the other stuff first and I was like, “This is kind of what I wish all of his records sounded like.” Just super laidback, jamming with other people in an organic way. It sounds like it was recorded in a basement. The album cover is so cool, because it has all these people standing there with all these instruments and then just a dog. And then up in the front here’s this reel-to-reel tape machine with these boxes of tapes. It was always cool to look at the cover of Basement Tapes and then think about it like, “I wonder if it was just recorded on that reel-to-reel machine in this basement with all these guys playing instruments.” We actually put this in the insert for our other record!
Alice Coltrane, Ptah the El Daoud
This was the gateway record for me in terms of getting into jazz and experimental music and improv. It was when I was working at Academy and going to school. Someone was playing it [in the store] and it just hit me in a certain way. Ever since then, I was obsessed with that record, and I got obsessed with other Alice Coltrane records.
It was right around the time the Stone opened, which is this experimental space on Avenue C and 2nd Street. It was opened by John Zorn, who’s this downtown New York guy. There was all this weird free jazz there all the time, and I would go see it. And I was listening to all this weird jazz music [at the time]. Jazz has such a stigma attached to it, where you’re just like, “Oh that’s what my grandpa listens to,” or something. Or when you go to a shitty restaurant and there’s live jazz. Unfortunately, that’s kind of the suburbanites’ version of something like that. But then I heard [Ptah the El Daoud] and it was this weird shift in my way of thinking about that genre of music. I was like, “Oh wow, jazz is…cool.” There’s this crazy, amazing, vibrant jazz community in New York. Because I’ve always been a rock drummer, to go see jazz music and watch jazz drummers play is completely different and it’s so mind-blowing in a different way. It’s a trip.
I had A Love Supreme and Miles Davis from my dad’s collection and then I heard [Ptah the El Daoud] and I was like, “Oh no, this sounds more like experimental music that I like.” That record is so beautiful. She made a lot of records that came out on vinyl, then when she made all these traditional spiritual music records, a lot of those came out on cassette. And that’s what I wanna find — I wanna find these weird, deep Alice Coltrane cassettes somewhere. Tack that onto my holy grail list.
Townes Van Zandt, Townes Van Zandt
It’s this introspective way of writing that is amazing because it’s so transcendent at the same time. You listen to these people’s feelings, the deepest shit, and it’s so applicable to your life. Townes Van Zandt is sort of the ultimate of all of that shit. I didn’t realize it when I first heard it. I had For the Sake of the Song when I was in high school and I didn’t really like it. People were always like, “You should listen to Townes Van Zandt if you like Bob Dylan” or whatever shitty songwriter I was into. I liked Will Oldham and Palace and all that stuff and everyone was like, “You should totally hear Townes Van Zandt,” so I got that CD and I listened to it and I was like, “Ehh…” But then I think that as life goes on, things happen to you and affect you in certain ways, so you relate to his music on a deeper level than you could ever anticipate. I feel like that happens to a lot of people with his music. So then I sort of rediscovered Townes Van Zandt later in life and it was definitely a deep-ass experience. There are 10 songs and it’s perfect. Most of the songs are just him, voice on acoustic guitar, and it’s just so devastatingly beautiful. The deepest of the deepest soul-crushing, life-affirming music.