Honey Radar Own All the Bizarre Homemade Christian LPsFred Pessaro |
In Physical Education, we ask musicians to divulge their earliest, latest and most meaningful encounters with physical media. Today's vinyl fantasies are courtesy of Jason Henn of Philadelphia's lo-fi garage revivalists Honey Radar. Stream their latest LP Blank Cartoon while you're at it.
What’s your parents’ favorite album?
My dad's favorite album is Glenn Yarbrough's Baby the Rain Must Fall. My dad was a country singer in the '70s and '80s, and he has a deep baritone voice. You'd guess he listened to a lot of crooners and Elvis, but Glenn Yarbrough is his favorite singer. I remember my mom listening to Stevie Wonder's Talking Book more than anything else.
What was the first record you bought?
I bought the first Monkees album at Target when I was 5 years old. I had VCR tapes of the MTV marathon of every episode of The Monkees, and that was my introduction to the idea of a rock band. I also saw Gary Lewis and the Playboys on an oldies circuit tour that year. I'm pretty sure I thought 1986 was 1966 until I developed a better understanding of time later on.
What record has your favorite art and/or packaging?
My favorite cover image might be the illustration on the front of the Red Crayola album Parable of Arable Land. I don't know how to describe it. Like a bunch of paisley curtains that are also snakes eating themselves? I visited Houston a few weeks ago and found the building that used to be Andrus Studios where the Red Crayola and 13th Floor Elevators recorded. It's a metal testing facility now, and the owner wouldn't let me inside, but I was able to touch the outside wall and soak up some of the residual freak-out vibes.
What’s your preferred method and setting to listen to music?
As I got into stuff I didn't want my parents to overhear, like punk and hip-hop, I started listening to music on headphones all the time, and I still think that's the best. Usually alone in a room. I also listen to a lot of things on the living room stereo in the morning while I make coffee.
Most disappointed you’ve been with an album?
There was a period of time in college after I was first introduced to some of the really great left field self-released albums, like Attic Demonstration by Kenneth Higney and Troubled by the New Creation, that I was determined to find the next major outsider discovery. I was in the Midwest, so that basically meant buying every homemade Christian record I could find. If there was a puppet on the cover, even better. I had hundreds of them and have dumped them all over time, because it became clear that a surreal cover doesn't mean the music will be interesting at all. I think the biggest disappointment was an album by a band called Welcome. The cover was an illustration of a rock band in silhouette, and the lead singer in the picture was Jesus on the cross with a microphone and music stand pointed at him. The music stand seemed especially nuts, like Jesus has the whole world in his hand, but he can't remember the lyrics. I hoped for the music to be equally psychotic, but it was just nothing, like straight renditions of traditional white gospel.
As far as an album anyone's heard of, I had really high expectations for Kick Out the Jams by the MC5 when I was a teenager first making my way through punk history. Based on everything I'd read, I imagined it would sound like Fun House, only crazier, but I thought it sounded more like KISS or Blue Cheer.
What’s a record not enough people own?
Forever Changes is probably one of my five favorite albums, and I'm surprised when other Love fans haven't heard the album after it, Four Sail. I avoided it for a long time, too, because of the red flags — crappy art and a different backing band of random dudes — but it's easily my second-favorite Love album. It has moments that are equal to anything on Forever Changes.
That too many people own?
I guess that would technically have to be the worst album on the list of the top-selling albums of all time, which I think is the Eagles' [Their] Greatest Hits. It’s definitely worse than the Bodyguard soundtrack.
What’s the most you’ve ever spent on a record?
I can tell you the most I've ever almost spent on a record. About 10 years ago, Bob and Jim Pollard each put a copy of the GBV album Propeller on eBay. One of them ended up selling for over $7,000. They were really desirable copies with some of the coolest handmade artwork. I was up in the middle of the night and just wanted to know what it would feel like to bid on one. I typed in a bid and was instantly outbid, which I figured would keep happening, so I did it one more time. Then once more. Then I was the high bidder at something like $3,500 for about 12 hours. I started to have a nervous breakdown, although in hindsight I guess the worst that could have happened is I wouldn't have paid and it would have messed up my eBay account. I actually got to courier a copy of Propeller right after that. My friend Billy [Stines], who runs the label Third Uncle, bought one online and wanted somebody to pick it up in person, so I drove to Dayton. I met a guy named Jaybird by the grease dumpster behind a Little Caesars in Northridge, and he handed it over to me in a plastic grocery bag.
I'm not a high roller, especially compared to some people I know. I usually have to sell a few things if I want to buy an expensive record. There's a couple albums I've gotten for about $150. I think that's my ceiling. I just spent that on a copy of the Skip Spence album Oar. That seemed like a deal.
How do you organize your records?
I have one main IKEA Expedit that's basically in alphabetical order, and other boxes and shelves that are anybody's guess. Jordan [Burgis], who plays bass in Honey Radar, got us a DJ night at a bar in Philly called Johnny Brenda's, so that's helped create some floating mystery boxes. Also, our drummer Nathan [Paul] built a really nice shelf like you'd see in a record store, with the covers front-facing. I always wanted something like that, and when he decided to get rid of it, that ended up at the house. It's where the heavy rotation stuff stays, which at the moment is Gotobeds, Omni and the Dick Diver reissues.
What’s your latest acquisition?
I actually just bought that copy of Oar yesterday. Right before that, it was Corrected Slogans by the Red Crayola and Art & Language, which was the last original pressing Red Crayola album I needed.
Honey Radar released Blank Cartoon this spring on What's Your Rupture.