Interview with BigFatLove
[Conducted in Setptember 2006]
Here at Beastiemania, we have known BigFatLove for a while now as he regularly contributes information to the site. You may have seen him putting down some very impressive bids on the rarer ebay items. He thought it was about time we interviewed him and we agree :)
Let's start with the usual introduction...
I was born in '71 in Marietta Gerorgia, and have lived in GA all my life. I am married with a son (Jonah) and twin girls (Maddie and Morgan).
What are the stats on your collection?
Right now, I have 295 x CD's (thats official, promos, acetates, live bootlegs, bootlegs, and DVD's), 63 x 7", 10 x 10", and 224 x 12" (includes 12" singles,LP's, and bootlegs). I probably have around 30 copies that are doubles, and maybe 4 of 5 that are in the mail. I think 630 in all.
How do you keep track of collection?
I have you guys to thank for how I keep up with my collection. When I found your site my collection was a mess. When I started to collect seriously, I went through your site and organized all my discs chronologically by title format and country of origin exactly like you have on the site. I also made a list of everything that you have on the site that I did not have in my collection, so when I look for releases I do not have, I just pull out my list of things I am missing from your site. Within the last 6 months or so I began scanning all of the CD's, 7", and 10" and storing the scans in My Pictures so I can compare the actual photos when I am looking on ebay. At some point I think I will fill out a 3 x 5 index card with info for each release. Thanks for all your help!
Can you remember at what stage you started seriously collecting? (as opposed to just having one copy of each album)
I started collecting 12" singles (from other hip hop bands) in '85. I heard "Beastie Groove" on a local hip hop show "The Fresh Party" sometime in '85, but couldn't find any Beastie Boys records until She's On It came out. I have always collected anything I could get my hands on but I started collecting promos in '92 while I worked at a college radio station. I guess around '98 when Hello Nasty came out is when I began to pick up releases that were the same in every regard except country of origin. Every time I tell myself I am only going to limit my collecting ( no bootlegs, no test pressings, no show vinyls, etc...) I end up buying them anyway. The real trouble started when I met Mike Weiser. I did not get an internet connection until late in '99. I was searching for rare releases and I found his vinyl trading site. I thought I was king shit because I had like 40 vinyls and 60 or so cd's at the time (around 2000). When I first saw his list I thought "this guy is crazy" little did I know...
Do you collect Side Projects?
I don't actually collect side projects. I like to get copies of remixes the Beasties have done. I have some BS 2000, Country Mike, Luscious Jackson, Bigfatlove, and DFL, but I don't really have to have every pressing or anything like that.
What about 'Big Fat Love' the group? Are you a big fan (no pun intended) or did the name somehow fit? or ?
I first heard the name in an article in '87. It was either Rolling Stone or Spin. I think it was the one that Rickey Powell wrote describing a day in the life of the Beastie Boys. Anyway, they were talking about other side projects that the band members were working on and they mentioned Big Fat Love. Of course, I looked for the record everywhere not knowing they never really released anything. Around that time I was really big into the hip hop scene, and whenever I would rap at a party or a talent show I would make them introduce me as Big Phat Love (MC Love sounded a little prissy for a rapper). The name went away when I finished with college and I never really thought about it until I got AOL. When I was trying to register a screen name, I tried Mikelove, mlove, mclove, etc... None of it was available. So I wound up with Bigfatlove. It's really funny now that I have a real job, because I can't send anything from my private email account without it getting kicked out by a spam filter. People at work refer to me as BFL because they all think it sounds like the beginning of a newspaper classifieds personal add "BFL seeking a single female for companionship, maybe more". I really like it a lot, but I have to admit I jacked it from them.
Do you collect all the bootlegs that come out or only official items?
I originally did not intend to collect bootlegs, I just bought the ones that I thought were interesting. I guess I do collect them, but not to the extent I do the official releases. It gets ridiculous when people begin bootlegging the bootlegs (Grand Royal Sleeve Series). If I ever complete my official discography I will probably begin to tie up the loose ends of my bootleg collection.
What about the mashups that appear alongside other non-Beastie tracks?
I really like the mash-ups. My favorites are the series of Japan 12" mixes. I also like the Ultimix 12's. Some of the DJ and fan remixes that get pressed on vinyl are just as good as the mixes that are done for the singles or the album. Ch-Check It out has 4 official/promo releases on vinyl, but 15 more vinyl pressings with remixes on them. I love that.
For the rarer items do you buy them even if they are not in mint condition? Or do you wait until a better copy comes along?
I don't really care much about the condition as long as the vinyl will play. There are some copies that I would upgrade if I had an opportunity, but my main concern is to get a copy that will play. Who knows how long you may have to wait before you find a Mint copy of a 20 year old vinyl pressed in a third world country. It is disapointing when the seller misrepresents the condition though.
What are your top 3x items?
I like the LTI show vinyl and the Country Mike promos a lot. I think my favorite is the original '89 gatefold vinyl for Paul's Boutique just because that is the year I graduated high school and I listened to that record at least 1000 times the summer I graduated. I have so many great memories from that time that it will always be my favorite Beastie Boys release.
What are you desperately trying to track down at the moment?
The system that I have is to focus on one era at a time and get as many of the things that I don't have from that era. Most recently I have been collecting mainly LTI stuff. I think what I would be most excited to find would be the LTI 7x7" french promo pack, CYH or PB show vinyl, Some Live Bullshit, Some new Bullshit, and some of the harder to find pressings of LTI ( South Africa, Japan promo, etc...).
Do you collect doubles to trade/sell?
I don't collect doubles. Most of the doubles that I have are because they were advertised on-line, or on ebay, incorrectly. I usually email sellers before buying / bidding, but even then sometimes the seller doesn't really know what they have. Everything that I have is available for trade, but it is difficult to find anyone to trade with. Xavier is a good example. He has about 30 cd's that I don't have, but if I were to try to trade for something he has, I would have to give up something that is equally rare to get it. Generally, I just let other collectors know what I am looking for and any time I find something that they are looking for I let them know where to find it. It has actually worked out well for both of us. I would much prefer to let it be known that if anyone ever gets tired of collecting, or really needs the cash that I am willing to pay a fair ( generally more than you would get from selling on ebay) amount for rare Beastie records. I have been able to pick up around 60 or so records from Reimer and bettadaze. I have been trying to get Mike Weiser to sell me his vinyl collection for 6 years now. As long as we are on the subject, Astro, remember I am in the market...
What other bands (or misc stuff) do you collect?
Currently I don't have the time or Cash to collect anything other than Beastie Boys, but I have decent collections from when I was younger of Ramones, Dead Kennedeys, Violent Femmes, Pixies, Love And Rockets, and Portishead.
Do your kids help out? Are they allowed near the collection?
Jonah helps me every weekend. He has helped me scan and catalog my collection. He goes through ebay listings with me and helps me spot the differences between the front, back or disc itself that would identify it as something different than what we already own. Not only is he allowed near the collection, I can ask him to find the Ecuador copy of Check Your Head and check the vinyl label to see whether or not it is the promo version.
You fit the description of a lot of record collectors in that you are older than 25, with a steady job. Obviously this helps having disposable income. Explain about your "record allowance"
I would like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to Danny (beastiemuseum) Trommer. Back in 2000 or 2001 I was just getting started collecting on ebay. Danny - back then I think he was dochouser - would beat me on literally every auction I bid on. I would bid 2 or 3 times what I thought a record was worth and he would still out bid me. I got really pissed off after one such occasion, and sent him a nasty email that said something like "you may have more money than God, but it really pisses me off that you keep inflating the price of all of these records. I guess I should quit bitching and save my money if I ever want to compete". I was mad when I wrote the email, but after reflecting on it I realized I was just mad because I was jealous of his ability to spend the kind of money on something I wanted that I myself could not. That is when I started budgeting my record expenses. I quit collecting for about 18 months and saved a considerable amount of money. I invested that money in a 5 year certificate of deposit with a good interest rate that will mature late next year. Now I have a bi-weekly budget for collecting that comes from my paycheck, and I save a percentage of all bonus checks to go toward "aquisitions". When the money that I have set aside for big purchases builds up over time and nothing really big comes along I will go on a spending spree and pick up 30 or 40 records or cd's that are easier to find but that I do not have yet. If I had not gotten so mad at Danny, I would never have gotten as organized as I did. So Dan I am sorry for being a jerk, and thank you.
Anyone who watches ebay closely for Beastie rarities will have seen your name picking up some amazingly rare items recently, with some amazing prices to match. Do you think you have a problem? ;)
There is no doubt that I have a problem. The difference is that the nature of my problem is relative to the observer. I feel like my problem is that I still am looking for around 211 releases, but my wife feels like my problem is that I bought the first 600. Seriously, though, I don't have any credit cards, I have a home and 2 cars that are paid for. My wife and kids and I live without any fear of utilities getting cut off. Some people spend money on nice clothes, nice cars, expensive food, or whatever. I just choose to use my entertainment budget in a less common way.
How often do you consider throwing in the towel, selling your collection on ebay and going on a nice holiday?
I have wondered what the collection would be worth if I sold it, but that would be more work than continuing to collect. I would not get anything close to what I have spent unless I listed the items either individually or in lots of 4 or 5. Besides, I really do want to get every release that exists before I sell them. Since that is not likely to ever happen, it is not likely that I will ever sell them. There is so much stuff I want to do with the collection. I would like to transfer all the vinyl to CD and create a library of CD-RW's (one for each different mix of each different song) so that I can eventually put together a massive 50 disc set of every known release. I also want a big ass custom made box with hinges, wheels on the bottom, and "The Beastie Box" cut into the lid of the box, to store the entire collection. I have been collecting for 20 years now, and it is still just as exciting when I find something new as it was when I started. I would however consider selling some of the things I never intended to collect to begin with (show vinyls, country mike red and black, bootlegs) if I knew I could use the money to pick up official releases. I think in about 10 years or so, I will let my son take over the collection (if he is interested).
When you go travelling do you drag your family around to dingy record stores?
Jonah is really the only one in the family who shares my interest in collecting. He collects childrens books and coins. We spend time together helping eachother collect, but I don't subject the rest of the family to trips to the record shows.
Have you ever planned on a holiday based around record shopping?
I never have gone on a vacation specificly to collect records, but anywhere I go I look on the web and in the phone book for anywhere in a 20 mile radius that sells vinyl. I will usually spend a day by myself digging through the crates. We were in Orlando when Awesome I ... Shot That had the opening night screening in the theaters. I went to see that while the rest of the family watched The Shaggy Dog.
What do you think of the Beastie Boys collecting scene? any comments about it?
One of my favorite parts of the collecting scene is that over the past 5 or 6 years I have developed relationships with other collectors and we help eachother find stuff. With more and more sellers opening on-line stores and ebay sellers from so many different countries begining to pop up, there is no way for one person to track down and document every release. I like the fact that you and the team at Beastiemania are focused on not only aquiring releases for your collection, but also providing a tremendous resorce for collectors. I also wanted to let bidders on ebay know that my objective is to complete my collection, and if I outbid someone I would be happy to continue to look for the item and let them know if I spot another one. I remember how frustrating it was to try to build my collection and have someone out spend me at every turn. I hope that as time goes on everyone who uses your site works together to compile the most complete, extensive, and accurate discography possible. Thanks for interviewing me, and you and Beastienut let me know if you ever want to sell.