John Kass of GoJohnnyGo reflects on a lifetime of record collecting

Categories: Interview
JOHN at stooges.jpg
Chances are, if you've been involved with or been a fan of the local music scene in the Twin Cities you've come across the cherubic music enthusiast John Kass. A man behind so many great finds in the used record bins that dot the Twin Cities record collecting culture, John has been a part of the music business and what's left of it for nearly three decades now.

In addition to running his own mail order business online, where he sells primarily used vinyl, he also continues to release local bands on CDs and cassettes. Recently, whilst digging through the mountains of demo cassettes John has received and collected through the years, he decided to share some rare bits and long forgotten moments in the Twin Cities music scene on his website and blog. In a section he's calling Johnny's Cassette Dungeon you can find vintage demos from local scene luminaries such as  Zuzu's Petals, the Hang Ups, and one of Ed Ackerson's earlier bands, the Dig, among many others.

It's hard to resist the history behind a lot of these tapes and records that John shares for no particular reason than it's fun to hear what emanated from the Twin Town's underground past.

In between dubbing cassettes, selling vinyl online, and another of his co-sponsored "Crate Diggers" record shows (one of which is happening again this weekend at the Carlton Lofts in Saint Paul) we had a chance to ask John about his background in selling records and his favorite prized pieces of his collection.

How long have you been "slingin' wax" in the business of music?

28 years. First job was at Music 2 record shop at Sunray Shopping Center in St Paul, 1982. It was Michael Jackson's Thriller, Prince's 1999, Minor Threat's Out of Step, Husker Du's Everything Falls Apart, Men at Work's Business as Usual. You get the picture. MANY years before CDs were introduced.

Do you remember the first record you ever sold to another person?

Willful Neglect's first self-titled 12" EP via mail order. A good review in Maximum Rock 'n' Roll's fourth issue caused a flurry of mail order business. I helped the band distribute that record- they were friends of mine since grade school. I sat up and took notice at the power of mail order.

What was the first record you ever bought?

With my own money? The Archies' "Sugar Sugar" 45 at Shopper's City at White Bear Ave & Larpenteur.  I have it on my jukebox in my living room.

Where have you gotten all these cool cassettes you been posting on gojohnnygo.com?

I worked for and owned record labels throughout the '80s and '90s. Bands would give me demos all the time, either in person or through the mail. I always kept them -- I realize how much work a band puts into their songwriting, performing, recording, and packaging of their music. I have great respect for the mountain of tapes I've aquired.
 
If you could release a record by anyone in the world, past or present, who would it be?

Good question! I wish I could have put out Lunar 9's "Prozac Melodie" on a 45, I'm glad I at least got it onto a compilation CD (Redeyed: Minnesota Shoegaze & Dreampop 1992-1998, on the Gojohnnygo label). I was able to put out a CD by my all-time rock 'n' roll hero Deniz Tek (Le Bonne Route, 1996, Prospective Records via Twin Tone), which was a thrill. I AM going to be putting out some weird local CASSETTES in the future, I have a newly-released Michael Yonkers' tape of home recordings out already (entitled "Weathermap").

What record would you never sell from your collection even if someone offered you a bizillion dollars?

My copy of Johnny Thunders' So Alone on vinyl LP. It is autographed "From Johnny, To Johnny-- Johnny Thunders."

Coolest musician you have ever met?

Ronnie James Dio. He said to me "Hey, Johnny, do you need another Heinekin? I'll get one for you if you want." RIP evil dwarf.

This weekend:

Crate Diggers Record Sale
September 17, 18, 19
Carleton Lofts Party Room
2285 University Ave., Saint Paul

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