“The first record I ever bought?” deadpans John Reis. “It was the Jackson Five’s ‘ABC’.” Sure enough, there’s a faded purple copy of it on the table next to a child’s plastic phonograph player. “I still break it out now and then,” he tells the camera. This is where the Rocket from the Crypt cofounder aligns in a roll-call of rock notables such as Jello Biafra, Keith Morris, and Mike Watt for a new documentary film. Records Collecting Dust premiered at the Digital Gym in North Park in January.
“The best way to explain the film is, you know, a lot of these musicians changed my life,” director Jason Blackmore says. “The film is me, hanging out with them in their living rooms around their record collections, talking to them about what songs made them take that path in their lives.” Blackmore, 44, came of age during the era of vinyl. “I would just sit in a room and stare at the jacket before I even played it.” Records Collecting Dust is likewise a lament to a generation of record shops long gone.
RCD’s producer Brian Jenkins says, “People see bands before they hear them now. The internet. YouTube.”
“A little more than two years ago,” Blackmore says, “I basically came up with this concept for a documentary about music; more specifically, about records.” Blackmore, who lives in O.B., performed with Molly McGuire in the ’90s. “And, I’ve always been into film documentary. The two go hand-in-hand. Even as a kid, I remember watching the Woodstock documentary and freaking out.”
He thinks it cost in the ballpark of $20,000 to produce the one-hour film. “It’s doing better than we expected.” He says the three Digital Gym showings sold out. “I thought that maybe 5 theaters would pick this up, but we’re at over 40 now.”
The film will embark on a tour across the country. “We booked it wherever we wanted to at places that would have us,” says Jenkins, 28, owner of a local label called Riot House Records. “I think the thing that’s interesting is how records played a much more integral part in people’s musical identities. Today, there’s a resurgence in vinyl, but it’s almost more about collectability, which is fine. But these guys [in the film] just went in and bought stuff that was unknown to them. And what they bought directed who they are today.”
“Younger people,” Blackmore says, “are probably gonna walk away from this film with a list of records they wanna check out.”
Brian Jenkins: “But it’s not a punk-rock film. And it’s definitely not a film about collecting records.”