I am super excited to be able to post this interview. My wife and I have been big fans of Joel Plaskett through the years and we can always agree to play a Plaskett album when we are listening together.
I go to very few live shows but I try to make it a point to go see Joel Plaskett when he passes through. I like everything about his songwriting and style and he is rightfully the record holder for most plays on CBC radio 3. He is well-respected across Canada and the USA and I always read lots of great talk regarding him over seas.
Without further ado, please enjoy this interview from Maritime Vinyl with Joel Plaskett!
Here we go!
Maritime Vinyl (MV) – First off I would like to say congratulations on a great performance in Officers Square in Fredericton for Canada Day! There was a great turnout and you and the Emergency really rocked it!
Joel Plaskett (JP) – Thanks!
MV – I’m assuming owning your own record label and reading some of your tweets that you are a fellow vinyl collector! What do you collect? Vinyl; CD’s; Cassettes; 8 tracks; bootlegs; music memorabilia; magazine; etc..
JP – I have a large vinyl collection. I bought a lot of records as a teenager and don’t part with things easily. Having said that, I don’t collect things because I think they are valuable, I just buy things I think I’ll like.
MV – Do you prefer vinyl more than other audio formats?
JP – Yes.
MV – What is your favourite genre of music? Some of your favourite artists?
JP – I’m a rock and roll guy but I love good soul, country, hip hop, blues, jazz. Some of my faves include Led Zeppelin, Nick Lowe, Jonie Mitchell, Irma Thomas, Curtis Mayfield the Impressions, Husker Du, The Pixies, ZZ Top and Nina Simone.
MV – How big is your collection?
JP – I’m not sure. A guess would be maybe 600-800 records and a few hundred CDs.
MV – Do you concentrate your collection on one or more artists in particular?
JP – If I like an artist I tend to seek out records I haven’t heard by them yet. I also buy lots of one offs at Value Village or wherever. I’m not a stickler for an album being in good condition.
MV – What is the first album you remember purchasing? Do you still have it?
JP – Billy Joel’s Glass Houses. First copy melted in the sun, had to buy it again.
MV – On a day off, what record would you spin?
JP – Maybe Miles Davis, “Sketches of Spain”.
MV – What is your favourite item in your collection?
JP – Original copy of Jim Ford’s “Harlan County”
MV – Do you still actively collect or was this something you concentrated on in the past?
JP – Mostly in the past, although I still actively buy vinyl, particularly new records or reissues. A couple times a year I’ll pop into a record store and buy a handful of records and I’m always picking up a record or two at thrift stores if I see something cool.
MV – What is your preferred way of adding to your collection? Shopping online? Flea Markets? Independent music stores? Etc. Any favourite store or websites?
JP – Independent record stores, live shows and thrift shops.
MV – You’re out on tour often! Do you ever get to check out the vinyl record stores while on the road?
JP – If I have time or a day off I’ll usually pop into the local shop. Sometimes I’m too busy.
MV – How do you store your collection? Shelves? Boxes? Your attic?
JP – A shelf my dad and I built together.
MV – Does your significant other support your collection? Did you have to convince him/her?
JP – She’s cool with it although I may be moving my collection to my studio to free up some room at the home.
MV – What is on your “wish list” at the moment?
JP – Duke Ellington’s “The Far East Suite” and any early LPs by Lee Dorsey.
MV – Do you know any other collectors?
JP – A few. Stephen Cooke, Jay Ferguson, Kirk Lahey. But those guys are way more hardcore. I don’t consider myself a collector, just a fan of music who holds onto stuff.
MV – What made you decide to open New Scotland Records?
JP – I wanted to create a home for records my friends were making or projects I was working on. Create a little label to help draw some attention to things I like. Something for people to discover and connect the dots.
MV – You make vinyl record references in your songs. As an artist do you think that vinyl is making a comeback?
JP – Yes. I’m selling a lot of it at live shows. It might be a fad but I think people still like to collect things and vinyl is the best sounding and most robust format for music.
MV – I see a lot of younger fans at your shows. Do these young fans seem to be interested in the vinyl?
JP – Yes. It’s remarkable.
MV – New Scotland seems to be a big success here in the Maritimes! I often ask what is hot lately when I visit the various record stores and the New Scotland items are always in the top 3! Has this been the general response all across Canada?
JP – The independent shops have taken a real interest in the label. It’s still small but it’s really encouraging and I have some great people on the team who are getting the word out there.
MV – In regards to the Joel Plaskett Emergency and your solo releases, are a big percentage of your sales on vinyl? Or are most people still buying CDs and digital downloads?
JP – I still sell plenty of CDs and digital but I’d say vinyl is steadily picking up and getting closer in numbers. If I had to guess I’d say almost 20% of my overall sales now is vinyl.
MV – You are involved in the process from writing the song, recording the song, pressing the song on vinyl, releasing the song, and performing the song. Do you feel this gives you a lot more freedom as an artist?
JP – I care about how things are presented and how they sound. Vinyl is still my favorite format. You have to engage it, flip it over, brush it off. CDs are just a whole lot less resilient and less fun.
MV – You seem to be packaging these New Scotland records with us avid collectors in mind, especially when you added the CD to “EMERGENCYs, false alarms, shipwrecks, castaways, fragile creatures, special features, demons and demonstrations.” Most artists would have thrown in a digital download card to save on the cost. Do you have us crazed collectors in mind when making these decisions?
JP – I like things to be collectable and give people a reason to buy. I don’t always have the ability to include the digital version because my label Maple has some of my digital rights but I’m always looking at ways of making the vinyl more attractive.
MV – The night before the Canada Day show in Fredericton I was spinning the ‘Thrush Hermit – great pacific ocean’ picture disc. Any picture disc’s in New Scotland’s future?
JP – Nothing planned right now but ya just never know.
MV – Any chance you will ever press that Thrush Hermit box set on vinyl? You can make a special one just for me if you prefer!
JP – Very unlikely although I will say I aim to press Clayton Park sometime over the next couple years.
MV – Fellow Maritime Vinyl contributor Keltie Harding has mentioned that he previous had some of his Joel Plaskett concert recordings posted on the Joel Plaskett site. Do you remember these recordings? What did you think?
JP – Yeah I remember Keltie more than the recordings but I do remember he made a few cool ones. I rarely revisit recordings from the past as I’m usually moving forward and I sometimes start second guessing myself if I review live shows.
MV – I’ll end this on an unrelated question. Being a fellow cat lover myself! Has there been any new felines roaming around New Scotland Records after the ‘Late, Great Little White Fang’?
JP – We have a great cat named Blotchy and are about to adopt another cat, name unknown at this point.
I’d like to thank Joel for doing this interview and his manager Sheri Jones for helping make it happen!
Extra special thanks to Uncle Rob at “105.3 THE FOX” for getting my foot in the door with the contacts I needed!
Thanks for reading everybody and I hope this interview, as well as yesterdays with “Poor Young Thing’s”, is just the beginning of many great Canadian artists who are anxious to discuss vinyl and share with us their collections!