Stephen Kelly is perhaps best known as the frontman for raging Newcastle hardcore band HURT UNIT, but he's also the owner of a very healthy record collection.
Name: Stephen Kelly
Test Pressings: maybe a dozen or so.
I also have a separate classical music collection that is fairly extensive.
I can’t remember which record I purchased first but someone sold off a solid amount of records to Rice’s bookshop and Cook’s hill bookshop around 1998 and in the space of a couple of months I picked up 7 seconds ‘the crew’ and ‘walk together, rock together’, Poison Idea ‘Dutch courage’, Negative approach ‘Tied Down’ and Dag Nasty ‘can I say’. I really lucked out, these were the first punk / hardcore records that I picked up on my own and hadn’t just inherited, I really had no idea what half of it sounded like but I knew the names from zines that the older guys around town were putting out and went for it.
The first record I bought directly from a band was Arm’s Reach ‘within our reach’ when they launched that 7”.
Latest addition to the Family:
I picked up a silly amount of records recently whilst I was travelling but haven’t had much of a chance to go right through them yet, but off the top of my head, A great copy of Naked Raygun’s ‘Throb throb’, Terrible Feelings ‘Tremors’, Offenders ‘We must rebel’, the two Fuck you, Pay me Lp’s, three Bishop’s Green Lp’s, Dead Endings ‘II’, three Oi! Chart buster comps, the Articles of Faith LP I was missing and the Stonetelling LP, which I had never seen before and got for $2.
The Pride of the Fleet:
It’s not very punk but I’m a sucker for a good signed record so probably the Smiths “Strangeways here we come’ record, signed by Morrissey or the Dead Kennedy’s ‘fresh Fruit’ LP with the orange cover that the band hated and rejected, Signed by Jello.
I’ve gotten a few records from Jeff Nelson’s record vault over the years too which I really value.
The Hen’s Tooth:
I’m really not sure, probably some of the first wave USHC e.p’s. I’m being a bit flexible with the question here but I do have a lot of Dischord deadstock, including all the left over Minor Threat centre labels, unfolded lyric sheets / inserts for the early 7”s, most of which are one offs.
I paid a stupid amount of money for the Last Rights 7” years ago. As a general rule I try not to go over $100 if I can help it.
I don’t even know where to start... The Misfit’s singles and fiend club items, Gentlemen of Horror ‘Sterling death’, Mourning Noise ‘Dawn of the dead’, Dicks ‘Hate the police’, any of the early Dischord singles that I don’t have, a clean copy of the Negative Approach e.p and just because a guy can dream, the Fix ‘vengeance’.
Why Did I Trade That:
I don’t trade records too often but I did trade the Negative Approach LP to B.E a long time ago for the Gorilla Biscuits e.p. It’s not too rare and I own it again now but I wish I kept it for the simple fact that it was one of the first records I owned. I also lost a lot of good records when I went through a white belt / mysterious guy phase for a while there and ended up with a bunch of strange records. I still can’t pronounce most of the band names.
I just did a cull of around 300 records last year and there’s already some anxiety creeping in that I may have messed up. I wasn’t too fond of the records I sold but I thought the same thing about a lot of the New York youth crew records I got rid of a while ago.
A few years ago I was wasting time walking around L.A waiting for a mate to finish work and went into an “Alternative Boutique” out of sheer boredom. There was a guy up the back with a couple of tables of records, mostly adult radio rock and all the usual dollar bin fillers but he had a Big Boys record sitting above one crate. Obviously I went wild like any good nerd would and went through the box at hyper-speed. The guy saw me coming a mile away and said that he hadn’t priced that box yet but would probably have to charge me double of what he originally paid for the records. It turned out that he had bought the records when they were first released and I walked out of there with original Germs, GRIM, Channel 3, the Lewd, Adolescents, Circle Jerks, Big Boys, Hypnotics, Youth Brigade, Wasted Youth etc. records for $15 each.
Are you a completest or collector of any band or label in particular:
I don’t really have the attention span and focus to flesh out whole collections without deviating off but tend to gravitate more towards sounds and eras, like the early LA/OC bands, UK82, Mid 90’s metallic hardcore, the southern Ontario stuff. I followed the usual rite of passage and got the Revelation 1-10 and started on an X-Claim! Collection at one stage but lost interest fairly quickly. Any collections I have seem to have grown pretty organically and just slowly build up. I’ve ended up with a pretty extensive No Future records collection over the past couple of years and I’m happy about that, I love the sound and aesthetic of the UK82 singles and a lot of the good ones just happened to come out on that label.
With that said, if I had the money I would love to collect the Misfits singles.
How do you usually acquire your records? Shops, distros, internet, trades, friends etc.?
Sadly, more often than not it’s the internet. Mainly EBay and discogs but I’m on a few lists as well and receive emails from old collectors that are selling off their collections in parts. I love record stores though, I can spend days in them and it’s the one thing I try to seek out whenever I travel. It’s to the point that I was in a record store once and didn’t realize that there was an Earthquake until I was told about it after the fact. I just thought that I was dizzy from getting too worked up and excited.
Represses. Do they devalue collections or add to them? Do you fuss over the press of records?
I absolutely fuss over the press, I don’t know if represses devalue the collection but I definitely don’t hold them in the same regard. They serve a purpose, especially when an original press is hard to come by or the original mix didn’t do the music justice but I avoid them when I can.
Guilty pleasure or secret shame:
There some Kenny Loggins and New Kids on the Block records tucked away in a dark corner of the room. They don’t come out very often but I enjoy every second of it when they do.
What’s the absolute limit you would ever pay for a record?
I don’t think I could ever justify going over $1000 for any record, no matter how much I wanted it. I try to stay under $100 for the most part and just hunt record stores hoping to find the needle in the haystack.
Are record collectors all really pretentious arseholes?
They’re a good mix of Pretentious, self-absorbed, maladjusted and just plain insane.