Bruno Johnson / Okka disk —- Discaholic interview 2013 / 2014
- Are you an official Discaholic? Is there such a thing?
Do you need help with it? Is there a cure?
In my mind I’m one. But in the real world… not hardly.
I self medicate, thank you. A cure? Sure. But no one will take it.
-Was vinyl the first thing you collected?
Yeah! ’71 “Gimme Dat Ding” 45 by the Pipkins. And “Snoopy vs the Red Baron” LP by the Royal Gardsmen. Karen Ireland had older brothers and thought both of them to be shit, so I took a closer look at more “adult” records.
- Growing up in the US – were there kickin vinyl shops around?
Which one is the best vinyl shop in the history?
By college I got the record thing and Madison Wi. had some fine shops.
I was lucky enough to run one of them (Paradise records) into the ground by the time I left school . It’s the place I discovered that Reggae was a lot more then Peter Tosh & Bob M. (thank you Lee, Tom & Jerry).
Best shop? Jazz Record Mart. The pricing was CRAZY and by the time I worked there it was carrying EVERYTHING, jazz wise. Great store to get music in. But you know I don’t get around like you freaks.
- How do you buy your records mostly nowadays? eBay? Local shops? From musicians
Shops and musicians. I don’t like the internet (as you can tell by the time it took me to return this interview). I like to touch what I’m buying. Hey, Honest Jons… where is my fuckin’ order from last year! Don’t pretend you don’t hear me! God, I bet that is one cool store… I’ll never go into.
- How do you measure your collection? By the pound? Feet? Amount?
These days… by the box, ‘cos I’m moving them all the time. I think Adrienne would trash them if she could.
- Do you sort your collection Alphabetical or by genre?
Once a long time ago strict alpha but now I like them just, you know, around. Find something new every time you move a stack. Helps you
Keep your mind active and alert.
- Is trading records the most fun you can have with your clothes on?
Is trading records the ultimate intimacy?
No, live music is the best! I wish I could see more of it.
Ultimate intimacy? Come on! Get you head out of your ass! You have kids!
- Favorite format?
VINYL ALBUMS! But… now don’t hate me… I do like the CD. It makes soul and reggae collecting easy. For the price of one Madeline Bell Phillips LP from the 60’s I can listen to everything she recorded (and by the way it is real good music!) on CD and buy myself some whiskey and lunch for Adrienne and I. AND if I shit the disk up! Well, I buy another. I’m guessing that this is what would exclude me from your little club.
- You worked a lot with Brötzmann, Fred Anderson and Ken (Vandermark) over the years. What records by them are your personal favorites?
The most obscure ones? By the way – have you heard the Lp where Ken is playing reggae?
From okka? The Octet/Tentet shit, the Atlanta Concert LP. Shit, anything Fred is on! Love that man! Ken’s Territory Band, Double or Nothing, DKV…
Mouth Eating Trees is right up there as well! Great disk.
You laugh but Ken & I have a dub remix of DKV by a very good engineer so you just may see a 10” disco plate from DKV soon! So be nice and I’ll save one for you.
- When did you start producing records? You had your own label before Okka disk, right?
What did u produce then? 7” ´s? Rock stuff?
I had a short lived rock label (1 ¼ York) God’s Acre, Freakwater and the Waste Kings. 7”ers and one 10”. I liked doing it but… by then my heart was in the jazz.
- Do you collect all kinds of music?
Mostly Jazz, reggae, soul, funk, punk, rock, African, post punk… Very little metal (little boys jerkin’ off about swords and death what a waste). Very little classical, sorry, too little time.
- When did you first get into free jazz?
An old friend of mine William Mohline (he did some early art for okkadisk) turned me on to the AEOC in ‘82/’83. I was listening to a lot of industrial shit and he told me that they could make just as much of a racket AND actually play instrument! Well… he was fucking right. Within months using 6 degrees of separation I was listening to everything from Ayler & Peter to Morton & King Oliver. Never regretted it, a great ride!
- Rank the following discaholic parameters: smell, feel, music, message, liner notes, cover art, design, sound, collectability, rarity, obscurity, thickness of viny:
1. Music not much after this one… but
2. Cover Art
4. Liner notes
11. Thickness (jeez)
- Any other parameters of importance?
That list is way more than I have ever thought of.
- What record is closest to sex?
“Remember (Walkin’ in the Sand)” Shangri-Las
Which one is no sex at all?
- Why is vinyl more attractive then a cd or a download?
Vinyl is just beautiful. Period. Like I said CDs are okay by me.
But just like the UPC code on LPs (the ugliest thing EVER on a record. I am really sorry that your disc is the only one on okka with a UPC code on the art. sorry sorry sorry) the download is just a load… of shit. Period.
- What record has changed your life most dramatically?
For the best?
- For the worst?
The first few okkadisks. After they came out I was in the hallway selling records and not at the damn show. Shit that’s not true. I love what I do. Never a worst around when you have records
- What records do I wanna steal from your collection?
I’m sure you have everything in my collection that you would want.
- What record do you wanna steal from the discaholic corner website?
I want to look at those white label 45s that Corbett was talking about.
I’m sure that the day I make it to yours… you will play me all the rare shit.
- You have been bartending in Chicago for years – for instance at the legendary Green Mill and the Hop Leaf and now you are running two bars in Milwaukee!
What is important, from a vinyl perspective, to get a bar seriously kickin?
A good DJ is what you need. If they are worth anything the joint should be cool.
- Can you trade a beer for a good vinyl in your bars?
What good record is only worth a beer? The Pipkins “Gimme Dat Ding”?
- What jukebox would you like to have? Any favorite models? Does it need to have random function, or do you prefer to control the flow of 7” s?
I ever tell you the story of the sad fucker who came into the Hopleaf, sat down next to the juke, kerplunked quarters and played every cry in my beer country song, one after another. God, sorry your gal left you. But fuck- all now we all have to be sad as well. Never let the customer control the mood.
- Are record covers the ultimate wall decoration in a bar?
What covers do you currently dig in your own bars?
They’re okay but not nearly as cool as Adrienne’s paintings (and at the Palm I’ve got some great photos Ken V took in Ethiopia).
- What is the first section you hit, while arriving to a vinyl shop, where you have never been before?
I go to the walls and the counter first.
Reggae ‘cuz none of you nerds will be there. I’ll have it all to myself. Then…
I can follow you all into the jazz, African or rock sections.
- The section where you would never look in?
The ones I don’t have time or money for… folk, classical. Metal.
- Give us a list of your 5 favorite:
I have a hard time with the best of list.
- Best jukebox singles, from a bartending perspective:
Any Kent soul and funk comps. on CD. I hope I’m too busy to flip records.
- Most amazing album covers:
Ascension – early Hat Huts – Hairy Bones – Paal’s dirty bits on covers – Peter’s shit. (gotta read that book!)
- Coolest label logo:
FMP it screams quality.
- Free jazz records:
- Soul records:
- Punk / HC / Post Punk records:
The Pop Group/Maffia
- Is this interview too long?
Not by half.
- How big is your own recorded legacy? You were a singer in some punk bands for a while, weren’t you?
Ah. Yeah. All evidence was stolen from a Toyota pick-up in LA a long time ago, thankfully.
- Any new vinyl plans for Okka disk?
Ken and I are talking about some DKV stuff and we will have the new Margots out this summer.
- You worked for many years at one of the biggest record shops around: The Jazz Record Mart in Chicago. What are the rarest records you have seen passing by the shop?
I’m sure John C. has told you all about his financing a trip to Europe on the
Back of a rare record auction at the Mart. But the late 80’s early 90’s didn’t
See a lot of rarity coming through the Mart. Lots of CDs.
- Did your own collection grow fast while working there?
I have some nice Bill Dixon LPs and some other goodies. The cool thing was
I got a lot of new vinyl from that time Hat Art doubles, Po Torch, Cadence,
Leo, Nimbus etc…
- Our own experience from working in record stores… is that you end up earning no cash at all… but rapidly building up your own collection.
It is a wonder how little a young man needs to live on. Beer, records, more beer, more records. How did I pay my rent? How did I find girls to go out with me. I remember being out with three girls all night drinking and partying (handcuffed to a bed a one point) and still getting home with a big bag of records under my arm, safe and sound.
- Any big regrets of records you didn’t pick up at the time?
Sure but so what. I can’t play everything I have now. So do I need those LPs I missed?
- Your best vinyl find ever?
Hand written note from Bill Dixon to a reviewer talking about the solos on
the split LP with Archie Shepp, Savoy MG-12184 very cool. Great copy of
Intents and Purposes, as well on that same day.
- Most disappointing find ever?
That I can’t have everything I see.
- Can you recognize a fellow discaholic in an ordinary group of people? Are there any specifics that give the discaholic away?
Like any nerd, just start talking and poof there they are.
- Have there been any real fights at JRM among customers, wanting to buy the same vinyl?
Or other weird incidents, regarding Discaholic behaviors?
No. just lots of sad faces. But is that from finding or not finding… who knows.
- Have you met many female collectors over the years? Or is this a men only activity?
1 or 2. But this is a boys world after all.
- Who would you like to see get interviewed in the Discaholic Interview series?
The women or significant others of discahalics (stop capitalizing the word). Who are the real victims of this illness!
- 62 hand crafted beers or 62 rare free jazz vinyls? What’s your preference?
I’ll take the records. I got the beer already.
- What beers would best fit to the following music:
Doris Duke – Champale
Peter Brötzmann – Scull Splitter
AEOC – New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk Imperial Milk Stout
DKV – glass of fine bourbon and a Duvel
Misfits – no idea
Jim Baker – Goose Island Lolita
Fred Anderson – too sad to think about
- What beer can save the world?
“Cause of and answer to all the world’s problems” thank you Homer.
- Which record can save the world?
- Which record will not save the world?
ABBA’s Greatest Hits
Lionel Richie’s Greatest Hits
ZZ Top’s Greatest Hits
Cat Stevens’ Greatest Hits
Chicago’s Greatest Hits
Brettney Spears’ Greatest Hits
Madana’s Greatest Hits
ELO’s Greatest Hits
AC-DCS’s Greatest Hits
Foghat’s Greatest Hits
Well you get the idea…