August 6th, 2014 by Amelia
Robert Collins is a Bay Area character — you may know him from numerous bands he’s been in or tours you’ve spotted him on. I first remember him from Chaos in Tejas in 2009 when I bought a Judgment shirt off him in a sea of punk buying frenzy. Mr. Collins has reviewed many cassettes for MRR and has uploaded many of them to his tape blog. I know I was honored when my old bands’ tapes got posted and I’m sure you felt the same way when yours was or you were just stoked to discover a new gem band that never made it to vinyl or sounded way better in their demos days. Here is MRR’s very own Robert Collins of Terminal Escape…
How long have you had a tape blog, Terminal Escape? Sorry to call it a “tape blog” that makes it sound like a trendy cheap experience.
I started Terminal Escape in June 2009, and Escape Is Terminal about two years later. No need to apologize — I mean, they are tape blogs after all. If it’s a trendy thing then so be it.
The initial motivation was perhaps different than the current one…I received a vault of ’80s cassettes and demos, the result of an old(er) friend’s trading over the years and he no longer wanted to deal with them. There were countless bands I had never heard of and couldn’t find any info about, and the blog seemed a logical way to share the sounds. Through that initial blast I ended up corresponding with members of LUMPS OF MERDE, CONVULSIONS, SNAPPIN’ BOGSEATS…heaps of bands that never released vinyl during their relatively short existences. Punk got passed around like this, on tapes, for twenty years pre-internet, and there is definitely something special about the medium.
Now, however, I kinda view tapes and records as the “things,” the tactile objects that we like to hold so that we feel closer to the sounds and the artists that make them. Simple economics says that if people are going to primarily digest your music digitally anyway (and let’s be honest, much more efficiently) it makes sense that punks in lesser known bands would gravitate towards the cheapest way to have a “thing” that makes your music “real.” You make 50 tapes so you have a “release” then put the fukkn shit on the internet, it’s a lot cheaper than making a record no one is going to buy. It’s a bit fatalistic, and I’m dodging the fact that the cassette is considered a retro and/or hip format, but for bands who can’t afford to dump cash into vinyl and think CD demos are utterly disposable, then the format works.
But why do I stick exclusively with cassettes? I’m five years in, I suppose it’s my thing now…
Do you consider yourself a bit obsessive?
Obviously. But mostly I would consider myself enthusiastic, often to a fault.
How do you record tapes to MP3 format?
Tape deck RCA output –> 1/8″ computer mic input –> record and edit in Audacity (free software) –> dump into iTunes –> convert to MP3 and zip via BetterZip –> upload to Opendrive, Box and/or Zippyshare.
Why a tape blog? Why not just make bootlegs and send them to the other 5,000 punx worldwide? Or is the internet more effective?
Effective is a trick term. Efficient? Yes. But face to face is way more effective than a bunch of files. Why? I just started the ball rolling and haven’t decided to quit.
What tapes do you put on your blog?
Whatever tapes I want.
Is it only punk?
Definitely not. It’s mostly punk, but there are artists and labels outside of that realm that I find extremely compelling and it seems that visitors to the blog appreciate occasional detours.
How do tapes get into your hands? It always seemed mysterious and like an underground movement, the Robert Collins connection…
I buy a lot of them. Sometimes people give me old collections that are taking up dust hoping that the sounds will be eventually shared and not be merely stuck on a shelf (these are always welcome, of course). I do get submissions from time to time, and they are overwhelmingly good ones…though I confess that I feel really bad when someone says “Man, I dig your blog and want to send you my band’s tape because I’m really proud of it and would love to see it on Terminal Escape” and then it’s total crap. I have been a demo reviewer for MRR for years, so that’s an obvious source as well.
How do you feel this supports underground punk?
That’s tough. Does it? Or does it just stroke my ego and the ego of the bands I like? I’m not sure. I know bands that have been “discovered” by labels via the blog, I know bands that have had tour offers after I shared their tapes…but does it support underground punk? Terminal Escape is a way for people, regardless of geography or scene affiliation, to have access to (what I humbly think of as a) wealth of new and old music that they might not otherwise hear. So I guess it encourages underground punk. And hopefully supports it as well.
Why not CDs?
Because I do not like CDs. There are still places where the CD (and, sadly, the CD demo) are still utilized, but thankfully my home is not one of them.
Do you only collect tapes?
No. I like records. A lot.
How many tapes do you think you have?
Too many. I live in a pretty small flat and I am constantly purging, if only out of necessity.
Do you consider your collection an archive?
No, though the UK collection I got that prompted the start of Terminal Escape would certainly fit that description…and that stuff is in my collection, so maybe it is? It will be someday, but it’s hard for me to think about things I’ve accumulated through my own time going to shows as archival — even if many of them are, by now, rather old.
Where will it go when you die?
To the thrift store. Someone is gonna be stoked.
Do you still do mail trades?
No, and I never have done so with any efficiency. I am really bad at mail, really bad at correspondence. Really bad at selling stuff. I am a terrible person to trade things with.
Any last words, wizard?
Not really? I’m ripping a live YOUTH RIOT tape right now and it’s pretty awesome, so that’s cool.