Tell us a little bit about yourself:
My name is Paul Santellan and I am a Park Ranger with the National Park Service. I’ve been married for 5 years and we have a beautiful 2 year old daughter. I met my wife in California (I’m a Texan) and it was love at first sight. Dating was tough, I lived in the park, had no cell service (had to drive 20 miles just to get service) and lived about an hour from her town. But it never felt difficult or hard. I couldn’t be luckier. My wife makes me a better person and calling my life anything but blessed would be an understatement! Our first date actually included a stop at a music store to buy a CD. I have always been huge into music, playing guitar in bands and such, and have a huge CD collection back at my parents house in Texas. But with my profession, it was basically “what could I keep in my car” that put a HUGE limit on purchasing physical media.
My wife and I have always loved thrift store shopping and antiquing. Once we had a more permanent basis, that “collector” in me started to reawaken. I though it would be fun to get into records as we were always seeing them in thrift shops. It seemed like a cheap, fun idea to have a record, a memory of being somewhere together and finding a piece of music we both enjoyed. So we started looking for record players during our outings. Despite always searching (in numerous states and stores) we actually never found a single record player for sale.
It all came to ahead when my wife surprised me with a record player for my birthday. Realizing record stores still existed we started making time to stop at both record and thrift stores now. My wife started getting Disney records (even though we were about 3 years away from having our first kid!) while I dove into the world of soundtracks (mostly horror), classic rock and metal. My wife ended up upgrading my turntable as an anniversary gift a few years later and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. Our daughter now has my first player so she’s learning about taking care of records and is developing a taste of her own. She has her own LP bag when we go record shopping so she’s usually throwing 45s or cassettes in there. It’s so much fun and a real blast.
When my wife gifted me that first record player she fully intended to include a few records (Miles Davis, Nekromantix, and O Brother, Where Art Thou?) with it, but they didn’t arrive on time! So I went out to the local Hastings (we lived in Carlsbad, NM at the time) and I grabbed Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison. I remember being torn at the time on what to buy. I didn’t know if I should get something I owned on CD already or something I had been meaning to buy on CD. However, I always had this mindset to buy albums that were originally intended to be released on vinyl. So staring right at me was this landmark album that I had NEVER owned. I always like Johnny Cash, just never owned any releases. Now here was my chance and it was totally the right choice. Hearing that masterpiece on vinyl is the way it should be heard. Miles Davis was the same feeling when it finally came in, so my wife made an awesome choice for me and I am huge fans of these artists now.
A single record that I absolutely love and couldn’t be happier exists would be my Waxmage variant of Alan Silvestri’s score for Young Guns II. It looks like a shotgun blast with blood splatter and powder burns. It legit looks like specs of black powder is in the vinyl. I think only 15 or so were made but that doesn’t matter; what makes this one my favorite is the fact that it is THE score that got me into buying soundtracks. I loved the movie and music as a kid and I recall my parents taking me to the mall to get the soundtrack and I found it! I bought that cassette with my hard earned money from cutting grass and washing cars and couldn’t be more proud! Than I listened to it and it was just a bunch of darn Bon Jovi songs! What the hell? I was so upset! I wanted the score, the music I heard in the movie, not this! But I was a kid, I didn’t know the difference between a soundtrack and a score. Turns out, the score had never really been released; until now. FINALLY Rusted Wave released this masterpiece, and it saw the light of day. The soundtrack I had started searching for over 25 years ago finally existed and I was able to buy it. That’s pretty cool.
Favorite Enjoy The Ride or Enjoy The Toons release:
That’s a toughie. Transformers gets a lot of play and is near and dear to my heart but True Romance is the one that got me into EtR to begin with, yet I’ve really been loving the Elvira score... I have to go with is Take Another Hit - The Best of Coconut Pete. I think this release best shows just how much I love EtR/EtT and think they are the most fun label in the biz. Every time I spin this 7”, I have a huge smile on my face. I never imagined wanting songs sung by the wonderful Bill Paxton on vinyl; yet someone was smart enough to want that and release this album. It means even more to me now that Mr. Paxton has passed. It just feels special and is hands down my favorite release. Excellent job EtR!
Favorite album artwork:
Tuomas Holopainen - Music Inspired by the Life and Times of Scrooge. This was a no brainer for me. I absolutely adore Scrooge McDuck and the graphic novel this album is based on affected me greatly. The beautiful thing is the album art was done by the comic artist himself, Don Rosa! He came out of retirement to paint the cover for this LP and it’s a beautiful piece of art.
What are your favorite local record shops, in case any readers are traveling through your town?
Mostly living in isolated areas, I’ve been pretty far from some stores. While I lived in New Mexico, my closest favorites (3 hours away in opposite directions) were Eyeconik Records in Las Cruces and Ralph’s Records in Lubbock, TX. It was an effort getting to them, but worth it for the great prices and classy staff. In Colorado, my closest was Eagle Valley Music and Comics in Minturn, CO. Probably the most beautiful setting for a record store in this small resort valley town. The owner was super nice and knew his stuff. Currently I tend to go to St. Louis, MO to record shop at either Planet Score Records or Vintage Vinyl. I love these spots and have found some real gems! Locally, we have this great store called Recycled Records owned by two brothers who hit up garage sales and auctions to pick up records and other things. It’s like a huge warehouse of eclectic things and the vinyl is super extensive. You can take all day and it still wouldn’t be enough time to crate dig though all of it.
What have you been listening to more frequently lately?
A ton of synth wave actually. I’m a kid of the 80s so I absolutely love the genre. I didn’t even know it existed until about two years ago. I was getting burnt out on the soundtrack scene and synth came on my radar with the awesome band Night Runner. It ballooned fairly quickly from there and it turns out to be a pretty rad scene. I’ve fallen in love with the label Electric Dream Records for instance. They’re doing some really wonderful releases and taking the genre to the next level! They do various things like test presses, stickers, posters; little things that really make the releases feel special. Every few years they also release a synth compilation that features exclusive tracks by various groups, which is a super cool and fun idea. I’ve had to dedicate a section of my collection to this genre alone.
Any specific albums you wish you had on vinyl?
I have a pretty good want list, but nothing really unattainable. The one thing I always wanted but didn’t have the guts to pull the trigger on was the killer Moonsorrow box set released by Blood Music. Just a pure onslaught of Viking metal that I just love. I had a chance for it but I could not justify the price tag. I ended up able to get all their albums individually though, so it all worked out in the end!
What was the best album(s) you've discovered this year (it can be anything, doesn't have to be a new release):
Bo Hanson - Lord of the Rings. It single handedly shows why I love collecting vinyl records and crate digging in stores. When I stumbled on this release one day, I text my buddy Matt asking if he knew a thing about this release and he said pick it up immediately. It was a wise choice as it is some of the best 70s prog I have ever heard. Pure masterpiece! I’m starting to dive into his discography now.
Gallowbraid - Ashen Eidolon. Noted as atmospheric black metal, I stumbled upon this release one day on YouTube and was blown away. It’s the only release from this band, initially pressed in 2010. It quickly sold out and was going for quite a few dollars. But as luck would have it, the band was gearing up for a small repress and I was able to snag one! I absolutely love this album.
What upcoming releases are you most excited about? Anything on the Record Store Day 2020 list?
Beats me! Record releases today all seem to be very hush hush. No one wants to give a big peek into some thing coming too far out into the future. It isn’t until a month or so before something is set to be released that it gets announced. I can only say the album I’m looking forward to the most hasn’t been announced yet! Even with RSD the list isn’t announced until a month before; so everything is a surprise! You can always count on a Doors album to come out and I am really looking forward to this years title. The soundtrack for the Batman Animated Series Documentary by Makeup and Vanity Set is a huge want as well. Not too much grabbed my attention this year unfortunately. I do miss the Side x Side releases that use to come out. Those were always fun. People seem to have a love/hate relationship with RSD and I’m fine with it. I always pick up something but it is always after the fact or online. It’s always been that way with my living so far from record stores. I’ve only been a part of two RSD days and last years was the absolute best. I was getting ready to move out of Colorado so I got to together with two of my best friends in Denver before moving. My buddy Justin Burning flew in from Phoenix and we stayed with our pal Matt Dougherty’s place. We drank, enjoyed RSD, spent a ton of money, drank, and watched horror movies. RSD 2019 will never be topped. Until we get together again of course.
Since many of us are practicing social distancing or shelter at home, depending on where people live (as of these questions being sent on March 26, 2020), can you make a few top 5 lists for us, to help keep folks at home entertained?
It’s such a bummer what’s going on the world right now. It almost feels wrong talking vinyl and media, but music is truly an escape from the madness that’s going on beyond our walls and at the very least it’s giving us a chance to be closer to our hobbies, our loved ones, our passions.
Top 5 Albums
Sand - The Dynamic Curve. Beautiful instrumental album that was the singular release from this band. Full of guitars and ambient sounds, I’ve never heard anything like it or since. Everyone owes it to themselves to hear this album.
The Return of Swamp Thing - Chuck Cirino Terror Vision Records are the best at finding and releasing the most amazing underground horror scores out there. They never disappoint and really make it special for the fans. They even have a subscription with loads of goodies and subscriber variant hand pours - just awesome. This album sold our fairly quickly because of how good it is. Not to mention the beautiful pressing, package, and artwork. Seek it out - it’s worth the effort.
Dream Electric - Vol. 1/Vol. 2 Synthwave never sounded better than on these releases. Electric Dream Records put together a fantastic collection of various artists contributing an exclusive track to this compilation. While the first volume is long gone and hard to find, volume 2 can still be picked up!
The Proposition - Nick Cave and Warren Ellis We all know Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are amazing, but Nick’s score work is some of the best out there. He really shines on The Proposition and elevates the film to the next level.
Anima Morte - HP Lovecraft’s Dagon. Cadabra Records have excelled in the spoken word vinyl game and every so often they release the isolated scores to their releases. Anima Morte has been on my radar for years but the work they did for this score stands so strongly on its own, that it was one of the best albums of the year. Everyone needs to hear this album.
Top 5 Films*
Ravenous - Cannibalism and isolation in the Sierra Nevadas, what would you do? It is one of the greatest movies ever and the soundtrack is the most unique scores ever written for any genre of music. It’s a masterpiece that someone seriously needs to release on vinyl.
Bubba Ho-Tep - This is probably Bruce Campbell’s greatest role. It’s not a particularly scary movie, but is has such wonderful heart. The score is one of the best in the horror genre.
Fire & Ice - A cartoon based on Frank Frazetta’s art by the awesome Ralph Bakshi. Full of scantly clad women and sexual innuendo; this cartoon almost got me kicked out of school (they said bring a cartoon for class to watch) - but it’s a great fantasy tale with swords and sorcery. Love it!
Southern Comfort - I grew up watching this movie and recently I have started to wonder if it was intended as a horror movie. A group of soldiers on a training mission encounter some Cajuns that lead to some “backwoods terror” and all hell breaks loose. It’s so underrated.
A Simple Plan - The book and film are both spectacular. Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton play two brothers torn on what to do with millions of dollars of unclaimed money. The movie also features the most subtle score Danny Elfman has ever done.
Top 5 Books
The Last Season by Eric Blehm - The greatest book I’ve read that’s a true story about a park ranger who goes missing in the wilderness. It’s not only about the quest to find him, but the struggles his family went through. One of the main character in this book was actually a former roommate of mine and the book simply made me examine the career choice I made.
Bat Bomb by Jack Couffer - The true story of when the US military experimented with using live bats as incendiary bombs during WWII. Written by one of the soldier during this secret mission, I learned about this while being a park ranger at one of my former parks. It’s an extraordinary tale that is almost to amazing to believe.
Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer by James Silke - I rarely break away from non-fiction but when I do it’s worth it. Based on the Death Dealer painting by Frazetta, four novels were released to give him a background. They’re fun reads and I thoroughly enjoyed them!
The Warriors by Sol Yurick - After absolutely loving the film and soundtrack, I finally got around to reading the book and it blew me away. It’s nothing like the film and instead captured the true grittiness and grime of New York with the dangers of the streets before it became tourist centered. I don’t think the true form of this book could ever be filmed.
Hail to the Chin by Bruce Campbell - Ya gotta love Bruce and his book oozes with the smarmy Bruce we all know and love. It’s basically a movie bonus feature in typed form that’s never boring. He can be very insightful at times though, and it really hits home if you ever wanted to be an actor.
What do you enjoy about collecting vinyl?
Music has the power to take you to another place and music means the world to me! And the way they’re doing vinyl now a days; it’s truly like art. You’re spinning a piece of music that looks like art and sometimes, it feels like your needle dropping on a Picasso. Beautiful. But really, what I enjoy about collecting vinyl is the amazing people I have met. The community is full of wonderful people who have gone above and beyond to connect and in many cases for me, blossom into real friendships. More people than I could even name in this article! Friends who believe in karma and paying it forward. I know when I hit some financial difficulty for instance, I had friends stepping up to get me a vinyl they didn’t want me to miss out on, friends who hunted certain lps for me that I couldn’t find, others who flat out asked, “How can I help?” Friends who gave up their copy of an out of print vinyl because they knew someone else would enjoy it; it’s endless. Hell, two of my best friends, I met in the vinyl community and we talked vinyl all the time. But when I was having my kid, they were helping me out with words of wisdom and always just a text away. Things got real and went beyond music. Beyond vinyl. So yea, collecting vinyl is something truly special - but what makes it special is the people.
Scenario time! If you could create a vinyl variant, what would it look like? You can choose any album of your choosing, seeing as this is hypothetical.
I can’t imagine coming up with something that hasn’t been done already. Maybe producing or projecting an image by using light infraction and etchings (similar to those hologram records) along with a platter that illuminates could produce and project an image while the record plays. Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon would be perfect to start experimenting with. That would be pretty awesome. Any way I can copyright this idea?