Via John Andrews

Talking John Andrews’ New Album & Not-So-Coincidences with Record Stores & Bidding Wars

What do you do when you see your work being sold by an online reseller?

Before you entertain an answer to that question, let us rephrase.

What do you do when you see your unreleased work – something you spent time, money, effort, and emotion on – being sold by an online reseller right in your own city?

John Andrews & The Yawns are set to drop Love For The Underdog on April 28. It is a cozy and folksy sounding fourth album, and, for better or for worse, is their first release with strong New York roots. You see, the culture hub shares in the performer’s DIY approach to artistry and cinema-angled musicality so much so that it just had to get its hands on this new record… before anyone else.

Multi-instrumentalist Andrews is a New Jersey-born singer-songwriter who has drifted around the Northeast for some time, settling in rural areas of New Hampshire and Pennsylvania before ultimately grounding himself in the Big Apple as of late. He shares in his music, as well as the following conversation, about how making a splash in a small town is one thing, and tip-toeing around a big city is another. Nevertheless, NYC has welcomed him with open arms – something that only happens to the best of us A.K.A. those who grapple with an off-the-wall, “only me” moment and come out of it laughing and, in this case, with a chance to talk to The Aquarian about it.

Alright, John, so you and someone you know finds your new album on eBay, but it’s so
new that it is not even out yet. What unfolds? How did it happen? What came next?

I was so confused. I asked my label and the distributor, but no copies had been mailed out yet, so
this seemed impossible. I assumed that someone had stolen it from the record plant and was flipping it on eBay. I decided to buy it under my friend’s account so the seller wouldn’t see my name. We did local pick up in Manhattan. We met at 2:00 p.m. outside the Barnes & Noble at Union Square. It felt like a covert sting operation. My friend Willy came with me and pretended to FaceTime on his phone across the street but he was secretly filming. I was so nervous. I had no idea what this person looked like, but they, theoretically, knew what I looked like. I made sure to wear the same outfit that I’m wearing on the album cover. Sure enough this guy walks up with the record in his hands, sees me, and gives me this quick, funny look. I was going to ask him where he got it, but I honestly got so nervous. We never really talked. I just said “Hi” and “Thank you,” then he just walked away and here I had my own record in my hands… that I just spent $30 on.

A few hours later I was so upset with myself that I didn’t ask him, so I messaged him and asked on eBay. He eventually got back to me and said, “I found it with a bunch of other sealed records in the used section of a record store uptown.” This makes more sense. Someone would have to be so stupid if they stole it themselves and then listed it on their personal eBay account. I told this to my label. They said it could have been someone who stole it from the plant and sold it to the record shop. However, the label did mail the record to one New York writer, who will remain nameless, who writes for a specific online music publication, which will also remain nameless. I’m pretty sure this person didn’t even listen to the album and just immediately sold it to a record store. Honestly, it’s totally fine if he didn’t want it, but he could’ve just said no. It’s hilarious now, though. I’m kind of glad he did… if he did.

With the record back in your hands, you’ve actually relisted it on eBay yourself. Why is
that? And why not wait until the actual record release date in two weeks?

Honestly? I was just bummed that I spent $30 on my own record. I’m pretty broke living in New York and I’m not trying to throw out $30. I thought it’d be hilarious if I then listed in on eBay again to get my money back, so I did, and I’m really surprised with how many people are bidding on it. It’s currently up to $137 after a bidding war, which is absolutely insane to me. I sell the records for $25 at shows! I did sign it, though I don’t think my signature is worth that much, so it seems more in line with the novelty of owning this specific record since it has such a funny back story.

You took to Twitter to share this, which is actually how we connected. What has the
response been like?

I knew it’d be funny if I bought my own record, but I didn’t think it’d get this much of a response. I think it’s the closest to thing to going viral that I’ve experienced. People just love weird stories like this. It is funny though some people are trying to say I’m a liar and this is a fabricated story for album marketing. It’s not at all. It’s just the perfect, weird thing to have happened right before my record release. I’m just taking lemons and making lemonade.

On the topic of vinyl, but not your own unfortunate scenario with it, are you yourself a
collector, actively seeking out copies, new or used or sentimental, of albums via record
stores, eBay resellers, and merch shops?

I used to collect records, but after moving so many times I got rid of a bunch. I’m more about quality over quantity. I probably have about 150 records that I’m really proud of, but I rarely buy records at this point.

Except you own on eBay! Now, less on the physical music and more on the actual music: Can you tell us a bit about the album at large and what you want fans new and old to get out of this collection ofsongs?

The new record is sort of about my experience as an artist moving from a small town to a place
like New York City; trying to find comfort in the hole in the wall restaurants, theaters, and cafés… or what’s left of them. I wanted it to feel cinematic because, upon moving back to New York, I re-discovered my love for film. I’m a film school drop-out and I kind of avoided watching movies for 10 years or so, but my friend Michael Stasiak starting bringing me to Film Forum and other small theaters. The album is dedicated to everyone who left their small towns and moved to a city to try to “make it.” I just love the idea of someone wanting to move to New York to “be a star.” It’s so romantic and beautiful, yet sometimes so sad and heartbreaking.

To sum up the last few days of prepping an album release and meeting up with pseudo-
sketchy strangers on the streets of New York, how are you feeling?

Somedays I’m well. Somedays are hell. Somedays it’s just plain hard to tell.