Record Collectors

Record Collector: Jack LaBarca (Living Hell, Dead Wrong)

Jack LaMarca might be familiar to some No Echo readers from his time playing drums in the bands Living Hell and Dead Wrong. The former released two studio albums in the '00s, one on Revelation Records and the other on Eulogy Recordings. Recently, my friend Ivan Murillo, of the band Manipulate (also formerly of the aforementioned Dead Wrong), introduced me to Jack, saying how he would be a great addition to the Record Collector series since he's holding some crucial recordings in his home library. So, here we go!

How long have you been collecting records?

Growing up in the '80s, I was much more into cassettes and CDs, but my dad had a huge record collection of his own from his DJing days. Every now and then, a couple of classic rock records would come my way, but I didn't have as much of an appreciation for them until my teens. In terms of collecting punk and hardcore records, it started in 1995. I got into collecting the occasional local bands 7” and then slowly it morphed into an almost maniacal quest for all things Youth of Today, Revelation, Dischord, and old NYHC, Integrity, etc. It came in waves, though. 

I was able to put together a crazy collection in a span of just a few years, Necros Sex Drive 7”, two Chung Kings, I even acquired the original recording reels from the Judge 7”, to name a few. Unfortunately, in the early '00s, I regrettably sold a good portion of it away to travel and just get by with daily expenses. As an adult now, nearly 40-years-old, I have gotten back into my obsession to a degree and have been collecting a lot of the rarer records I previously sold off, focusing more on the records that have had more of a sentimental value to me.

Where/how do you usually find your records these days?

It depends, if I am really focusing specifically on a particular rare record, I will always check ebay and Discogs. I am probably on those sites daily looking for Misfits records that I am trying to slowly put back into my collection. I’ll also reach out to friends whom have had crazy collections to see if there’s anything they are willing to part with. Online record shopping has its perks but I definitely love being able to walk into a local record store like Redscroll in CT and scour bins and bins of vinyl and picking up random records you enjoy. Anytime I travel, I’ll always seek out local record stores to dig and try to pick up something, instant gratification always wins. That being said, finding and buying rare records in actual stores are not as easy as it once was. I miss the days of walking into Trash American Style and buying a Warzone 7” on orange off the wall for $60, but every now and then you can find some rare records that aren’t put aside for online sales. As much as I love finding exactly what I want online, it doesn’t compare to the record store experience.

I understand you’re an authority on all things Youth of Today. If you had to pick one, which record (official or boot) do you cherish the most?

That’s a tough one because I spent a lot of time seeking so many rare pressings/test pressings of their original records. I personally hate bootlegs and never bothered collecting them.. If I had to just pick one, I’d say it would be the second press test press of Break Down the Walls on green vinyl from Revelation records. It was my white whale of YoT records for a long time. Although I like the Wishing Well version better, it was one that I’d often seen auctioned from back in the day and just knew I had to have it. Luckily through the help of a friend that I traded records with, I was able to convince Rev to sell one to me outright about 10 years ago.

What is the most you paid for a single record, where/how did you obtain it, and what was it?

I cringe when I see what records go for these days that I once owned and sold off for a fraction of the price. For the majority of my record collecting tenure, I never spent than a couple of hundred dollars for any given record. That all changed last year when I had an opportunity to buy a Floorpunch 7” on gold. I initially bought this record before in 1998 for $60 and had it for a few years but sold it for a couple of hundred dollars in the early '00s. It was always one of my favorite 7”s and most definitely one of the most important and sought after hardcore records of the '90s. For years, I’d see how much it appreciated in value and for a while thought I’d never be willing to pay that much for it. Having seen the band play more recently and rekindled my love affair for that 7” I knew I had to have it. Last fall, a friend of mine needed to sell his and I pulled the trigger, paying $1,250. A far cry from the $60 I spent 20 years ago, but nonetheless the record is back in my home and will never leave again. That being said I am sure once a Bullet 7” is back up for sale on eBay/Discogs, I’ll probably end up dropping more than that. As silly as it may seem, these records are great investments and I’m OK with that.

Of everything in your current collection, not including YoT stuff, what is your most prized record and why? 

My Humanity Is the Devil test press is very dear to me because it’s so rare and just a masterpiece of a record, but if I am just picking one it has to be my Chung King. It’s easily the most sought-after hardcore record and I’ve owned one now for almost 20 years. Simply put, it’s a record that separates the men from the boys. Despite the fact that the recording absolutely sucks, Judge was a very important band to me growing up and hearing the legend of the record over the years when I began collecting, I did everything I could to track one down. Fortunately, I was able to acquire two in 1998 and 1999. A few years later, I traded one away for some great Misfits records but honestly wish I kept it. On top of it being incredibly valuable, it has a lot of sentimental value to me. I was a kid when I got it, having #97 is the same year I graduated high school, and it’s one of the records I have had the longest in my collection. So every now and then I’ll take it out of its frame, throw it on the turntable and enjoy it for what it is, a cool fucking record to own that most collectors would do anything to get their hands on.

Is there anything that frustrates you about the current record collecting scene?

My only real gripe is the constant reissues that are made of older records. As a collector, I spent of a lot of time tracking down original pressings of bands that I loved, only to see these rare presses get bastardized by incessant represses. Revelation is one of the biggest offenders of this. I loved collecting their early releases but now there’s like 25 versions of Break Down the Walls, it’s borderline obnoxious. They even had the nerve to repress BDTW using the Wishingwell layout on red vinyl. The original red and blue pressings of BDTW, which for YoT fans, is one of the most sought-after versions. By trying to recreate it, to an extent, takes away from the original. It just becomes too much and I’ve lost interest over the years in bothering to collect them. I understand the idea that it allows kids these days to get a copy of the vinyl that would have normally been out of print decades ago, but as a diehard collector, trying to track down those out of print versions is what record collecting is all about. Maybe I am jaded, but stop with the represses already.

Which records are still on your want list that you've had a tough time tracking down through the years?

My Youth of Today collection is strong, but I have never been able to track down an actual test pressing of the original Can’t Close My Eyes 7” on Positive Force Records. In 1999, I purchased what was told to me at the time a test press that has blank A and B side labels. However looking into it over the years I was able to confirm that what I owned was not an actual test, but a rare variant of one of the later pressings. The actual test press had typical pressing plant test labels on them. So if anyone reading this has one or knows anyone that has one get at me!  I’m also slowly trying to track down some of the original Misfits EPs which are costly along with the Antidote 7” and other important early NYHC records that I’m pissed about selling years back.


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Tagged: record collector