The thing wasn’t just that I’d been priced out of my league by copies of Colour Haze‘s debut CD, Chopping Machine — I’d never even seen it for sale — online, in a store or at their merch table, either at Roadburn or at Emissions from the Monolith, when they played that. I mean, there’s “out of print” and then there’s “gone,” and Chopping Machine was most definitely the latter.
And then it wasn’t. Holding a permanent position on the shortlist of my favorite bands — there are four and usually a rotating fifth slot; ask me about it after I’ve had a few beers sometime (please!) — Colour Haze is a regular on my nightly eBay search rounds, and I couldn’t believe it was true when I saw the copy of Chopping Machine for sale. I had to look up what “NOS” meant. “New Old Stock.” The thing was supposed to be in perfect condition.
I wasn’t the only one who wanted it, but you’ve got to figure the field is pretty small. You’ve got Colour Haze fans. Then you’ve got those Colour Haze fans who use eBay. Then you’ve got the ones who search for the band at just the right time, then those willing to pay stupid prices for what — if the band actively didn’t want to disown it — probably would’ve been reissued already on guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek‘s label, Elektrohasch Schallplatten. I always imagine there’s one other nerd out there opposing me on these things. Just one guy (sorry ladies, but I credit you with more practicality; it has to be a dude) who wants all the same stuff I do. He beats me sometimes. This time, I wasn’t going to lose.
Warning was issued to The Patient Mrs. days ahead of time. It might have been a full week, or at least the six-day length of the auction. She rolled her eyes, wisely buried her head in the sand. It wasn’t going to go for more than student loans cost. It wasn’t going to go for more than gas for a month costs. It was going to be a lot for a CD, but I wasn’t going to let it get away, never having seen it before, and I felt she needed to know that.
Chopping Machine is 60 minutes long. I paid a dollar a minute, plus $16. I admit it’s too much. I know I could’ve just downloaded it, or looked it up on YouTube, or whatever. I could’ve done that. But then I wouldn’t own it. It wouldn’t be mine. It’s the same story as always: Owning it is half the appeal.
It’s more than I ever wanted to pay for a CD. More by half than I’m generally willing to spend for something rare. But you know what? Fuck it. The fact of the matter is this: I don’t have kids. My most major expenses are beer, wine and takeout. Shit, I don’t even pay rent. I’m 30 years old and (for a few months more, anyway) I live with my mother-in-law. I work a full-time job that I made more money doing five years ago, I have whole days where I don’t talk to anyone except my dog and last night when I came home and found the package waiting for me from Munich, it was only to drop said dog off on my way to the emergency room to see my mother, who — whoops — mixed codeine cough medicine and vicodin and didn’t remember why she was hazy when she woke up from her nap this afternoon. So fuck it. You’re god damned right I’m paying $76 for a CD. What else have I got? It’s Colour Haze or heroin. Comfort’s gotta come from somewhere.
What was I supposed to do, not buy it, agonize over not having bought it and then wait seven years for it to show up again and wind up paying twice as much later? Screw that. And whatever, the album isn’t that good. I knew it wouldn’t be. That’s not the point. The point is it’s mine. I give the band kudos for opening with the 14:25 semi-jam “Subversive,” but other than that, it’s pretty rudimentary post-grunge noise rock — too aggressive to give anything to indicate the brilliance that would come once Koglek calmed down a bit and replaced the rhythm section. I like that about it. I like the fact that it’s something that’s been kept hidden, a relic despite the readily available digital presence. Hell, I did my time chasing those ghosts.
Give me the real thing — I’m apparently willing to pay for it — and gawd knows I spend enough hours with mp3s on promo downloads. Every label these days, including Elektrohasch (my heart broke as I followed the link to the new Ararat record and saw jpegs of the liner and cover art), sends downloads, so I’m not short on fodder for my iTunes. Let me hold a CD. I promise I’ll give it the best home it can have, and while everyone else in the world, except that one other doofus on eBay, has abandoned the format in favor of vinyl, I’m more than happy to appreciate everyone’s castoffs.
Speaking of, if anyone knows where I might find a copy of Colour Haze‘s second album, Seven, from 1998, hit me up. Now that I have the first one, I’m in the market to see where they went from here before the genius really kicked in full-throttle.
Tags: Colour Haze, David Records, Germany