The bone collector

An interview i did with Record Collector Magazine..


Mark McCausland is a guitarist/writer who lives in Omagh. If he is known at all, it is for his work as one half of The Lost Brothers, who have released 6 albums to date. He was also the lead guitarist in The Basement, who were signed to Deltasonic Records in Liverpool. Aside from that, Mark runs Boneyard Records, a record shop in his hometown. He has been an avid collector since childhood, when his uncle handed him down a large collection of jazz LPs. His favourite pastime is locating record shops around the globe while on tour, many of which he writes about in Notes From The Boneyard, his weekly column in The Ulster Herald newspaper. He continues to work from his home studio in the town that he’s been trying to escape since birth.

What do you collect and why?

I collect music I like. Blues, Folk, soul, RnB, doo-wop, rockabilly… all the classic stuff really. I’m also always on the lookout for soundtracks, mostly horror.

I sometimes get quite obsessed with certain labels that I like. One being folkways for example. When I’m touring in America I end up buying a suitcasefull of that stuff as it’s so cheap and abundant over there. And it’s all so amazingly presented in those thick sleeves and accompanying booklets. A collectors dream.

Or if I get into a certain artist, I tend to get a bit OCD and become a completist. Any time I see a john fahey album, (which isn’t that often) I have to buy it. Even if I already have an original pressing, I’ll re-buy the reissue.

I have an unhealthy habit of buying multiple copies of albums I already own. It’s quite scary. I own about 200 Beatles LPs, which I know is ridiculous. But I cherish every one of them. Japanese pressings, Australian pressings, french, American, Canadian, German… wherever I am I’ll buy one or five.

I also have a nice ever-growing corner section filled with spoken word stuff that I enjoy, like Kerouac, Bukowski, William Burroughs… and some outsider stuff like Peter Grudzien.. even the odd Charles Manson record if I’m in the mood..

But mainly, I like to go into a record shop without knowing what I’ll come out with.. If I see a record I know I’ll never see again, I’ll pick it up. I mostly regret the things I don’t buy, rarely the things I do.

How and where do you store it?

I have it categorised in a way that’s impossible to explain but makes sense to me and me only.

What’s the rarest/most valuable item you have?

Ive a few folk albums that would be considered rare.. Arty McGlynn gave me his personal copy of McGlynns Fancy, which is an album I adore. My most treasured records are things that I picked up cheap and aren’t worth much at all. There’s a blind Blake record that I got for a dollar in A1 records New York. It’s beat up and a bit fucked but I love it. It’s the “other” Blind Blake, which I didn’t realise til I got home and listened to it. Up until then I didn’t know there were two of them. I usually remember where and when I bought most of my records. They are like looking at old photographs with memories attached. That’s the value for me.

As for rarity, I’m proud to own both Uk and USA first pressings of Elvis’ debut. I miraculously got them from two separate local attic finds, in the same week!

Beatles-wise I have a second state butcher cover that I picked up in a New York thrift store for $5! I was also one of the lucky few who managed to get a yellow third man pressing of the McCartney 3 album last year.

What elusive gem are you still looking for?

There isnt one record in particular. I’ll know it when I see it. Until then I’ll keep hunting the charity shops in the hope of finding a gem lodged between a load of james last records.. I can dream.

How do you track your stuff down?

If there’s something I’m really after that’s not readily available I will go to the internet. But mostly I try my best to just buy from independent record shops. Even if it takes a while. There’s a lovely set of twilight zone records that took me a few years to complete. It was only four records but I’m quite proud that I stuck to my guns and only bought them out in the wild.

I have a friend in nashville and he often sends me stuff I can’t get over here in exchange for stuff he can’t get there. So he would send me great doo-wop, rockabilly, early rock n roll 45s in exchange for some Beatles Uk pressings.

What’s your favourite record shop?

There’s a few.. Myslef and Lomax, who I run the shop with, take road trips and pilgrimages around ireland… Choons in Bangor is great, Vanilla Records, Abbazappa or Cool Discs in Derry, rollercoaster in Kilkenny, and Dragon or Voodoo soup in Belfast. There’s a great stall in St George’s market that’s run by a guy called andy. He always has an amazing selection of blues, folk and jazz. When I lived in Liverpool I went to Hairy records, which is sadly closed now. That was a daily hangout. But Dig vinyl has opened up just down the street from there, which fills the gap. Amoeba in San Fran… Wooden tooth in Tucson.. end of an ear in austin.. Dada records in Perth… rare and racy in Sheffield…there’s so many.. one of my favourite places was probably bleeker bobs in greenwhich village.

How often do you listen to your collection?

Luckily I run a record shop. So every day, all day.

Is there a visual side to collecting?

Absolutely. I’ve bought records on the sleeve alone. Album art goes hand in hand with the music- a vital part of the whole package. The yazoo label always had great artwork, often by artists like Robert Crumb. These are a treasure to behold.

How will you eventually dispose of your collection?

I made a stupid drunken oath to a friend giving him ownership of my collection in the event of my passing. But hopefully he dies first, or just forgets. I’d rather it go to my daughter, Nina, when she’s old enough to appreciate it.

What’s your all time favourite record?

Has to be the White album. Did I mention I have 23 copies?

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