Brian Coleman’s Stuff
by Kara Baskin
| July 09, 2012
Photo: MICHAEL DISKIN
Brian Coleman has a record collection that would make even the most well-stocked DJ swoon. The marketing maven, writer, and hip-hop fiend runs his own PR and event-management agency, Good Road, which works with artsy clients, especially musicians. It’s clear music consumes him off-hours, too. Coleman owns a collection of rare vinyl worth tens of thousands of dollars, stashed away in a subterranean man cave. He surfaced to discuss his favorite tunes, his high-school concert memories, and the Fat Boys.
Let’s say your home bursts into flames. Which records would you save? There are certain items that are trophies and certain ones that you play. Death Mix by Afrika Bambaataa is probably the one that I love the most because it’s both. It is an incredible record, and it’s rare. As a collector, the original I have is special to me: it looks rare, and it basically came out in 1983, when hip-hop was becoming more of a studio art form. But Death Mix is a cassette tape made at a live event that they put on vinyl. It presented hip-hop in its most raw and original form, as a live thing. Also, if you hold it, the vinyl is thick. It’s a hefty record to hold in your hand. I also love it because Afrika Bambaataa’s name was spelled three different ways; it’s hip-hop and all its warts.
What was your first concert? It was 1985 or 1986 — I was 15 or 16 at the time. There was a club in Trenton, New Jersey, called City Gardens. I believe it was Dirty Rotten Imbeciles. When you’re that young, your only social interaction is school. [A concert] is a clique of likeminded people coming together, a sense of community 180 degrees from anything I felt in social interactions. I didn’t like high school; I don’t think most people did. It was an escape. It was something very energizing.
What makes Boston a great music city? I think that Boston has an edge, and you’re kind of free. We don’t try to compete with New York or LA or any of the big music cities. It frees you up to be more independent and do what you want to do. Not the pressure of, “I want to get signed. A rep could be at my show at any time. Am I playing the right clubs?” There’s a working-class aesthetic: “I’m going to make the best music and the best art I can, and screw whatever else happens.” It’s less pretentious overall.
What are your favorite clubs? I’m a bit of a curmudgeon with clubs. The Middle East is my favorite; they have always been huge supporters of the scene. It’s an institution, and it’s still kind of a family-owned place.
How’s business? There’s one thing not up on my website [good-road.net] yet: I’m starting a record label. It will debut before September. We’ll be small-scale at first, vinyl only. I can’t talk about the artists on it yet, but the first couple of artists are established Boston musicians and groups who are presented in different ways.
Do people really still want albums? Yes! There’s a beautiful thing that I am thrilled about: a local company called Traffic Entertainment, based in Malden, and another label, kind of part of that orbit, called Get on Down — the people who run these labels are old friends of mine, and they specialize in really unique packaging. They have re-mastered the first Fat Boys album — remember them? — and done the liner notes with all these extra photos and old posters. It’s presented in a mini pizza box. As much as people find it convenient to have iTunes, it goes against human nature.
What’s your favorite song? “Bring the Noise” by Public Enemy. That record still blows my mind when I hear it. It certainly did in 1987. I get excited by the same music now that I did at 17. I prefer to think of it as, you know, “I liked it then, and it still has that same power and timeless quality.” You could also say it’s immaturity.