Following on from his heartfelt plea for people to support Record Store Day on April 16th 2011, giant Grinderman drummer and one of the busiest guys in music today, Jim Sclavunos, has been interviewed by John-Paul Pryor for his monthly column, ‘The Record That Changed My Life’ on the AnOther website.
When I was very young — before I could afford to buy records, or was even allowed to buy records, or tune the family stereo to a radio station I liked — I would sometimes spot a record cover in a store that would set my imagination ablaze. I would fantasise so intensely about what the unheard record might sound like that I would have recurring dreams in which I’d be listening to an imaginary playback. The Velvet Underground With Nico with its provocative banana cover was one such album — although I do remember a vague sense of disappointment when I finally heard the real thing, as it didn’t quite measure up the amazing album of my dreams. When I got a transistor radio for Christmas I no longer had to imagine what the records sounded like. I would go to bed and hide under the covers with my tiny radio and a flashlight and tune in to the underground FM stations and listen all night long. One night I fell asleep with the radio on. When I awoke, an incredible driving distorted and discordant song was playing: something about a sailor getting shot and sucking on a ding-dong and somebody named Sister Ray. Even though I had woken up mid-track, the song seemed to go on forever and just get more and more weird and exciting. When it finally ended, the late night radio announcer with the lugubrious baritone said it was a song off the new album White Light/White Heat by The Velvet Underground. It took a couple of years for me to track it down, but I found a copy (in the library of my Catholic boys high school!) and stole it. The album absolutely blew my mind: I’d never heard rock music sound so brutal and the dark disjointed poetry and sordid stories entranced me. But most importantly, Mo Tucker’s minimalist drumming was an absolute revelation – not in the least because I thought to myself, “I could do that…” A few years later, I actually met Lou Reed hanging out at the back of CBGB’s. It was very early on in the club’s existence, when they still had the little old stage and a pool table side by side. Lou was moping around the pool table, looking bored, so I walked up to him and had little chat, told him how great he was, etcetera. Much to my surprise (and despite his rather formidable reputation), he was not impolite, just a little awkward, but still friendly enough. I didn’t really know what to say to him and didn’t want to gush, so after a brief conversation, I bid him adieu. Years later, I met him again backstage when we were co-billed at a festival. His bass player at the time was an acquaintance of mine and despite my reluctance, he insisted Nick and I come to their dressing room and say ‘Hi’ to Lou. In fact, Lou wasn’t so nice on that occasion; but, whatever
Drowned in Sound, meanwhile, have published an article where Sclavunos talks about his 10 favourite record store’s worldwide. This man’s passion for music knows no bounds, though it’s a pity he didn’t mention any of Glasgow’s great record emporiums such as MonoRail, Love Music or Volcanic Tongue.