Laura Jane Grace: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly of Tour Life Against Me! – Ghosts of the Road

My 2nd favorite record shop of all time ( I wrote about my first favorite here in this post ) is Vintage Vinyl in New Jersey. Before I moved to Germany, I lived down the street from this legendary record shop. I discovered a lot of acts there. I remember being in the store back in 2008 and there was this voice on the radio. Ok, it was the store PA and there was this punk (?) band playing through the speakers. The singer’s voice was sort of shouty but also melodic. I asked the clerk (the nicest clerks from my 3 favorite record shops were here at VV. But seriously, why is it that record shop clerks are snobby? Is there some status symbol to being a record shop clerk? Don’t get me wrong, it seems like it would be a super cool job, but you don’t sign bands, book their tours or go to the Grammy’s parties with them. You sell their records for them. Lighten up, I love music too! #LightenUpILoveMusicToo )…ok, I’m gonna restart the sentence since that parenthetical was so annoyingly protracted. I asked the clerk who the band was and she said, „Against Me!“. Wow, I love that band name. Which section would I find them in? Punk rock.

Let’s stop right here…

The Punk Rock sections of both Vintage Vinyl and my 3rd Favorite record shop (which I haven’t talked about yet), were no man’s land for me. I think people, when they are teenagers and want to rebel, find themselves either listening to punk rock or metal. I listened to metal and had absolutely no connection to punk rock growing up, except for the mainstream bands like The Offspring, Rancid and Green Day (don’t throw things at me for that one punk rockers… but I do have two interesting anecdotes about Green Day. I will save those for later). I never understood Punk music, particularly because I found it to be mostly simple. Remember I was listening to Dream Theater religiously.

However, there are a lot of crossovers between punk and metal and over the years, many new friends have enlightened me to the origins of punk and its meanings. So much that the main character in the script I wrote that Jordan Rudess was gonna be the composer for (wrote about that here) was a rebellious, punk rock teenager with an aging punk rock dad. That’s right, I wasn’t writing a story about metalheads, but about punk rockers. So people change. I am actually a huge fan of Skatepunk, but let’s get into that later.

So back to the store. The nice clerk led me to the punk rock section and pointed out the record that was playing, Against Me!’s new album New Wave. And that infectious voice in the PA was singer/songwriter Tom Gabel. It became my favorite album of that year and I have been an ardent fan of the band ever since.

Fast-forward 7 or so later and I had the opportunity to interview Laura Jane Grace, who after transitioning from being Tom Gabel, became an even bigger musical hero of mine. I am in awe of everything she does. Their concert the day I filmed was one of my favorite concerts that year and this episode stands out to me as one I am most proud of. I guess I like punk rock after all.

FreqsFact: Ok my third favorite record shop is Generation Records in Manhattan. I spent a lot of money in there when I was in film school, at the School of Visual Arts on 23rd street. Back then, being a metal guy in record stores in New York City (IMO more of a punk rock city due to the influence of the Ramones, Indie Rock and CBGBs…RIP L’Amours in Brooklyn) was always intimidating. The clerks didn’t like going into the metal section. It wasn’t cool. Nevertheless, I always tried to engage with my fellow music lovers and find a common ground. But one thing that really chapped my hide about GenRex was the fact that they put their price tags right onto the CD booklet! So every time I bought stuff (which was a lot), I would spend half an hour carefully peeling off the labels. Unfortunately, it didn’t always work so smoothly and several of my cd covers are damaged. Why do you hate me, Record Store Clerk?!



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