Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The (Very Late, Sorry.) First 2014 Installment of What Does Mike V Think Of... And a New Video!

Vinyl vs CDs vs Digital

It's been too long since we last checked in with The Everymen's Mike V to get his opinion on a pressing issue of the day. I saw an opportunity when another friend of mine (OK. It was Gentleman Jim Norton.) posted what he knew would be a polarizing (Imagine!) Facebook status stating his position on the Vinyl / CD / Digital Debate. The Everymen have a new record, Givin' Up On Free Jazz, coming this month; so I thought it was a good time to ask Mike about his thoughts on the relative merits of different formats.

Read on to get Mike's position on this very, very important issue; and when you're done, you can watch The Everymen's latest video for Free Jazz single "Spain."

CDM: A few of my friends got into a big debate on Facebook the other day about the merits of vinyl over CDs, CDs over vinyl, both over MP3s, and vice versa. Neil Young has that Pono thing coming out which will supposedly, according to him, be way better than any other MP3 player because you'll be able to buy lossless audio from the Pono Store and listen to it on his device. Record Store Day just came and went a couple of weeks ago, and you've got a new record of your own on the way.

What are your own thoughts on the whole format debate and does that affect your decision on how to release your own records? In what formats will Givn' Up on Free Jazz be available?

MVM: Bah. Listen to what you like to listen to. Dig this. Most faux-waxophiles will tell you that they love the warmth of vinyl. They'll tell you that the CD sounds too digitized and mechanical. Which is true. Vinyl certainly tends to sound more warm, more full. But something else that's true is that most people don't have stereo systems that are high-end enough to tell the goddamn difference. Don't tell me that you love the warmth of the vinyl that spins on your novelty Crosley turntable that you got at Urban Outfitters. I can guarantee you that the CD player in our van sounds a whole lot better.

The debate is all wrong, if you ask me (which you have). It's not vinyl versus CD or digital. It's more about what you're listening ON that defines your listening experience. Pono could somehow be fucking Crazy Horse playing live inside your little pocket, but as long as you're listening on shitty little headphones, it won't sound half as good as a CD with decent equalization coming through a nice set of speakers which are set the perfect distance apart (seven feet apart, eighteen inches from the wall in the instance of my living room).

Having said all that, I prefer vinyl; but it's got nothing to do with the sound. My hi-fi isn't NEARLY hi-end enough to make that distinction. I've got a nice little Stanton table with a very run of the mill JVC amp pushing some EXTREMELY nice Bowers & Wilkins speakers (a birthday present from the best girlfriend ever). My speaker cables could absolutely be upgraded, and my cartridge is probably a few months past its prime. So my listening set up is hardly ideal. I can't (nor will I ever) say that it's the sound, the warmth and the low end that drives me to pick vinyl as my medium of choice.

For me it's all about the ritual. The removal of the dustcover from the record, the sleeve from the jacket, the record from the sleeve, placing the sleeve back in the jacket, the dustcover back over the sleeve, placing the plate on the turntable, pressing play, giving one good swipe with my dustbrush, dropping the needle, sitting back and enjoying, flipping the record and then repeating the entire process in reverse. I love the fact that if you turn your amp off and put your ear REAL close to the needle, you can hear the songs emanating from the vinyl. I love the fact that records -- much like an electric guitar -- are simply the amplification of real sound, as opposed to the digital recreation of those sounds. I love the fact that it's much more inviting to sit around with friends and some wine and listen to records than it is to crowd around a computer and listen to MP3s with some pals. It can be a communal thing where, at other times, it can be a solitary thing. But either way, it's still your process, which you've defined and refined over years of listening to music. And that's why I love it.

Traditionally, I've only put out vinyl and sold digital albums and EPs because that's traditionally been my audience -- people like me who don't care if you're selling CDs. They want that 7" or that 10" or that LP. But now our audience is (thankfully) growing, so we have to give people as many opportunities to buy our albums as we can. Which means CDs and digital along with LPs.

I feel like CDs are dying. Reel to reel, 8 tracks, cassette tapes, they all came and went, just as mp3s someday will. CDs are on their way out the door and some of my more in-the-know friends have for years claimed that 2014-2015 would be the years that the CD officially dies. Our new album will be available on LP, CD, digital and all streaming services if for no other reason than I want people to have every opportunity to buy our music. If there's one dude out there who really wants Givin' Up On Free Jazz on CD, then I'm happy as hell that we're providing it for him.

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