demo test. /13
I traded in my His Hero Is Gone patches for a Bane hoodie sometime around 2005. And like a lot of young kids getting into hardcore around that time, I was an absolute Have Heart fanatic. The magnitude of the band’s popularity would of course later reach absolutely absurd heights, but at the time they were just a really popular youth crew-influenced straight edge band.
As with all things in the hardcore scene, as their popularity grew everyone eventually felt obligated to hate them, but to me they only continued getting better. People are sometimes surprised by this (because my drink of choice has been Cleveland-style wiggercore for such a long time now), but I am still to this day a huge Have Heart fan. Songs To Scream At The Sun is one of my favorite records, full stop. If I heard them for the first time now I’d probably have the typical cynic’s reaction, but at the time in my life that I found them, their records gave me some guidance and helped me along through a difficult period, however cliched that might sound.
Gorilla Biscuits rip tour 2004 cover, unnumbered back. /5
Somewhere along the line, I thought it’d be a good idea to start a little Have Heart record collection. I didn’t own any records or even a turntable back then, but they were my favorite band and after gawking at some of the record/merch collections on howsyouredge.com (that quintessential mid-00′s online hardcore hangout), my mind was made up.
I bought a few copies of What Counts (The Calvin & Hobbes winter tour cover was my first-ever record!) and eventually my attention turned to the Bottled Up pressings of the 2003 demo. Just browsing through forums, I could tell there were a bunch of colors, and I estimated there were maybe 10-15 variations. I thought I’d give it a try to collect them all, like Pokemon. A little harmless fun to pass the time, right?
Fast forward a few years. The band is the biggest thing on planet earth, and the little collection of demo 7″s in the corner of my bedroom had ballooned. Tour covers, fest covers, color variations, numbered color variations of color variations. I was always searching around for some master list, but there was never one to be found. The only thing reminiscent of that was a bulletin on the Bottled Up Records Myspace page (which is gone now), where the owner Jeff gave a laughably truncated overview of the amount of colors available. His line was basically “I keep getting orders for this record, so I kept pressing more.” All well and good, but if you know the band is hot hot hot and the demand will keep growing, why press colors in quantities like 7, or 20, or 13? The reason, of course, is to take advantage of naive collectors and stoke demand by manufacturing rarities. If you want to keep the record in print, there’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s also nothing wrong with plain black vinyl and a pressing of a few thousand copies.
Halloween show cover in color, "Creamsicle" vinyl. /7
This is all, however, just the tip of the iceberg. I should say right now that I don’t know Jeff outside of a few emails exchanged over the years. I’m sure he’s a nice guy and our mutual friends have always indicated that. People do worse things than repress a record ad nauseam. But when I look back at the amount of money and, more importantly, time I wasted trying to complete an un-finishable collection, it does make me pretty mad. As somebody who is a prolific record collector himself, it surprises me that this guy has the gall to still, nine years later be pressing new colors of this DEMO, and selling them not through his label but directly through eBay auctions. He made a big hullabaloo about a NUMBERED FINAL PRESSING /100 about 3-4 years ago through the Rev store, and many years and several entire pressings later, new colors are still showing up on a regular basis. There was a secret press (one of many) that had the cover photo in color, and color variations that were like /4 and /6, etc (the dark green /4 is to my knowledge the rarest Have Heart record, but if a more meaningless term was ever uttered…). I sent Jeff an email back in about 2008 asking him if they were authentic, and he admitted to me that he pressed those records simply to trade to Euros for valuable old Misfits records.
secret press, dark green. #3/4
There’s this very polite Finnish guy that emails me periodically trying to buy my dark green /4 off of me, and to my knowledge this guy has a near-complete collection. Here is a picture of it. I count no less than 45 variants in that photo, and I know for sure there are more. There is a negative version of the regular cover /10 that just ended on eBay, for example. I think it’s safe to say there are about 60 variants of this record. Let me rephrase that: there are 60 variants of this demo.
Eventually I threw up my hands and stopped collecting. Not just Have Heart demos, I stopped collecting vinyl in general. The whole thing had just left me really disgusted and wondering what the hell I was doing. The bottom line is this: if every color and cover and variation of a record is rare and collectable, then none of them are rare and collectable. Knowing there is a significant number of people out there just trying to finish a collection and then rolling out new colors with alarming frequency is completely exploitative and in my opinion shows real contempt for one’s customers.
As I said above I’m not trying to talk shit on Jeff as a person. I don’t know him and it’s not really my place anyway. However, as somebody who’s basically thrown a ton of money into an entirely useless pursuit, I think I’m within my rights to say that the way this record was pressed and repressed and repressed again, always in ridiculously low numbers, lacks class and seems like a transparent money grab. I’m sure Jeff is a great guy (I mean that sincerely) but as a record label owner he’s gone way too far with this shit, as far as I’m concerned. And when was the last time Bottled Up actually put out a new record anyway?
Ultimately this is really the story of me being too stupid to know what a colossal waste of time this all was, and quitting way too late. I think the moral, for me at least, is that it’s easy to get caught up in something without examining if it’s really worthwhile or not. It’s ironic that a band that inspired me to improve myself personally and get out and see the world and try to be a better person also inspired me to waste a sizable chunk of my twenties amassing a laughable collection of their demos. Here’s the thing: I still love this band and listen to them frequently, but I never listen to this record. I’ll be selling them off soon.
update: I ended up selling that dark green /4 to my Finnish friend. To my knowledge he now has a complete Have Heart vinyl collection. That is no mean feat, to understate it completely.