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March 2018

Denise Mercedes with Jeannie Pawlowski
Sit down with

Mark Yoshitomi
of Generation Records



Since the advent of recorded sounds, starting with the first recording/playback of a singing snippet of “Claire de la Lune” in 1860 on a phonautograph - the world’s first device to capture sound - followed by Thomas Edison successfully laying down a verse of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” in 1878, the technology of transferring and saving sounds for future use revolutionized the entire world. No longer did one have to ‘be there’ in person to experience it, such as a concert by Mozart himself or listening to a wandering medieval minstrel. Now every musical note and possible sound made could be captured and replayed endlessly -- in today’s hi-tech world, in many different and often invisible formats.


Mark Yoshitomi chatting with customer

Background:
In 2018, the vinyl comeback is firmly re-entrenched among music collectors, and records are the business and lifelong passion of Mark Yoshitomi. A native New Yorker and co-owner of Generation Records in the historic and charming West Village, Mark has been collecting vinyl since he got into music, specifically PUNK ROCK, at age 12. Mark Yoshitomi is also a Punk Rock historian with an excellent knowledge base of underground music. He is in the process of developing a couple of very interesting projects that will, I’m sure, be well received and successful when completed.


Seeing a photo of the Sex Pistols and finding them cool and scary looking, they were completely different from the classic-rock types his brothers and sisters had listened to at home in the late 70s when he was 7 or 8 years old. Fast forward to the mid-80s when he answered the call of the wild: Mark got a Sid Vicious spiky haircut, found band jacket patches, and began the quest of finding friends of the same ilk.


The catalyst year was 1986 when Mark began going to shows, searching out city lampposts and walls for flyers advertising local gigs. He didn’t know anyone yet, but went to the Ritz, Rock Hotel, and CBGB’s HardCore matinees when he could get in, as one had to be 16 and he was only 15 and looked much younger. Cutting school one day to see Reagan Youth play in Tompkins Sq. Park -- that was it! Mark found some other kids his age that were also into British Punk and they formed The Casualties, in which he played bass for 2-3 years.


RCA Dog Staue

He started becoming familiar with the record business by working at Second Coming after high school graduation at age 18. Generation Records opened up a couple years later, and Mark worked there for seven years. Leaving that store ten years ago, he moved on to HVAC work, doing fabrication and window displays for the next five years before going back into music as a professional record collector and businessman in 2017.


A web article by David Greenwald “Does vinyl really sound better?” states “as compressed mp3 files and digital streaming services from YouTube to Pandora have become the norm for music listening, vinyl sales have skyrocketed...in part thanks to the thinking that vinyl just sounds better.” To achieve that warm vinyl sound, all you need is a decent turntable with a decent needle on it and you will enjoy a full fidelity listening experience (Adam Gonsalves Portland Telegraph Mastering). Mark Yoshitomi is on the cutting edge of the return to vinyl, as you will find out below!


MusicRealms:

How did you get into collecting records, not knowing this would become your life? Where did you find them as a kid?


Mark Yoshitomi:

I’ve been buying records since I was a kid. It was the popular medium then. And ordering from Columbia House 12x LPs for a penny and never paying them back. My parents were cool enough to take me every Saturday to the local record stores: Disc-O-Mat, Sam Goody, Tower, Venus, Second Coming, Bleecker Bob’s ….


MusicRealms:

Records took a backseat for many years to other platforms of listening – cassettes, digital. When did the tide start to shift back to collecting vinyl albums?


Mark Yoshitomi:

The last few years have really changed the market. The internet killed physical media but records have outlasted the cassette, CD, VHS tape and DVD.


MusicRealms:

Is the trend to owning actual records increasing? There is a definite sub-culture that seems devoted to it.


Mark Yoshitomi:

Yeah, there’s a lot more people devoted to vinyl over the last few years. It’s trendy now. I think people are just enjoying owning a physical item that has a lot more benefits than an mp3 file. No one is asking to see their mp3s when they come over to someone else’s place. New bands, established bands – want vinyl. People love the product, art, notes, the feel of it, they’re treasured.


MusicRealms:

How did Punk Rock and HardCore become your specialty? You and Generation Records are recognized as experts for these genres.


Mark Yoshitomi:

I grew up in that scene and started going to shows in the late 80’s. Most of the staff at the store has some kind of background in the Punk/HC scene. I know it the best, by following the international punk scene too, and basically, anything I could get my hands on.


NYHC starter packs
MusicRealms:

What are some of the most valuable items in your for-sale collection?


Mark Yoshitomi:

The Damned’s 1st album with the Eddie and the Hot Rods picture on the back, Blue Note original Jazz LPs, and several original hardcore LPs and 7”s that you don’t see every day. We even have some Beatles albums here too.


MusicRealms:

When and why did you decide to open Generation Records?


Mark Yoshitomi:

The store opened in 1992. I was not the original owner but worked with most of the staff at nearby Second Coming Records. I was friends with the owner of Generation, and had worked there too. He offered it to me as it was falling into a bit of decline and he had other businesses. Last year in 2017, I went in as part owner. And it’s been on uphill ever since.


MusicRealms:

Generation Records is a very special place. Can you give us a description of the store? How big is it? What all do you carry? And how extensive are the collections of the genres of music you carry?


Mark Yoshitomi
Mark Yoshitomi:

It’s an Independent record store with 2 floors, dedicated to all forms of music but with heavy punk roots. Both new and used, we carry vinyl, CDs, tapes, band shirts, posters, pins, band merch. There are new records, rare 7”s, re-issues and old records too in probably every genre. We have Punk/HardCore, Metal, Rock, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Disco, Freestyle, Reggae, Gospel, R&B, Soul, Funk, C&W, Classsical and Opera, mixed International music, Electronic, New Age, Folk, Blues – we cover it all from $1.99 onwards…


MusicRealms:

Since taking over, you have re-invented the store concept so it is also perfect space for book signings that can coincide with live performance for music artists. These events have greatly increased awareness of Generation Records and the party atmosphere one can find when something special is going on. Can you tell our readers about some of the previous events you’ve held there?


Mark Yoshitomi:

I started with Harley ‘Cro-Mag’ Flanagan’s book signing and live performance for “Hardcore: Life of My Own” then had Roger Miret’s book signing and live Stigma performance for “My Riot: Agnostic Front Grit, Guts & Glory, also Richard Hell’s “Blank Generation” LP reissue signing. I’m not even sure how many bands have played here but it’s a decent amount. It’s been a combination of both old and new for sure.


Mark Yoshitomi
with Link Wray Album
MusicRealms:

Let’s talk about the upcoming March 31 Link Wray 60th Anniversary of Rumble that you will be hosting at Generation Records. What is it about Link Wray that you wished to be involved in this historic anniversary party?


Mark Yoshitomi:

Link Wray is one of my favorite guitarists of all-time. Without Link Wray (and Chuck Berry) Rock ‘n Roll might not even exist. Who knows what I might be listening to if they weren’t around? It’s an honor to have an event such as that at my store. I couldn’t be any more enthusiastic about it!






MusicRealms thanks Mark Yoshitomi for this interview.


Writer Denise Mercedes:
Artist Endorsed by Hagstrom Guitars of Sweden. Founder/guitarist of classic early NY punk band The Stimulators. Tribute work: Lead guitarist of Girls Girls Girls (2006-2016) & Bible Black NYC. Current: founder/Producer of her new 2018 Dae Lilies project.


Jeannie Pawlowski:
Feature writer for Musicrealms, has also been published in New York Natives. Her early photos of the Bad Brains were on exhibition in Subliminal Projects Gallery’s “Banned in Babylon – the Art and Culture of the Bad Brains” in Los Angeles, CA. 2016


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