Last Collector Standing: Ashley Hohman on Hunting Records, Riding in Cars with X's John Doe and Her Latest Band, Doom Town

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X, "We're Desperate"

Exene Cervenka of X lived for a time in St. Louis. Have you ever met her? [Editor's note: Cervenka actually lived a few hours away, in rural Missouri.] I meet her a few times. It was really nervewracking. I'm already a really nervous person. She actually came to a show that my old band the Vultures were playing at Off Broadway. I thought I was going to vomit before the show.

X played twice at Pop's. The second time John Doe did an in-store at Vintage Vinyl. Doormat [Mat Wilson] got asked to drive John Doe to the show. He asked me if I wanted to ride in the car. So we drove John Doe to Pop's. I had let Doormat borrow this CD of mine by The "5" Royales, who were this really amazing '50s doo-wop rock & roll band. Lowman Pauling the guitar player wrote all of their songs. He wrote all of these songs that people like James Brown and Ike and Tina Turner went on to cover, like "Tell The Truth" and "Think." He also wrote the original version of "Dedicated to the One I Love." That song came on while we were driving John Doe to Pop's. When it ended he was like, "That song's amazing! Can we listen to it again?" I was like, "Holy shit. He's never heard this before." In an indirect way, I showed John Doe something that he didn't know. [Laughs]

Your current band is named Doom Town. Is that named after The Wipers song? Doom Town got its name - Ben, who plays guitar and also sings, said "Look on the back of your favorite records for song titles." At first it was The Screamers, "Vertigo." So we were Vertigo for a while. I also [suggested] Wipers "Doom Town." We were going back and fourth between those two. Doom Town seemed like it would be a better fit for the band. That's how we came up with the name by looking on the back of [our] favorite records.

Do you think a band could find as much meaning from an album or song title they learned about off of iTunes that they would be dedicated to naming their group after it? The whole iTunes digital age is really new to me. It wasn't until a month ago that I had my first computer. I think that people who are into records - there will always be people who are into records. Now that everything is so accessible it's hard to say. I'm sure there are people who skim their iTunes looking for song titles and base something else of it. For me personally it will never be like that.

It can be frustrating because I feel like I have put so much of my time and energy going to record stores and finding out about music while it's in front of me, while I'm actually physically hunting for it. There are fourteen-year-old kids who know more about the records I own than I do and can tell me more facts about the music I love because they read about it on Wikipedia. It's frustrating because I put so much of myself into it. Music is my life and it really is important to me.

I'll ask the impossible question then: Do you have a favorite album in your collection? That's the hardest question anyone could ever ask. [Laughs] I don't have a favorite. I always think I have a top five, but that's not even true.

I pulled out this record because this is a record I'm really happy that I found. It's this Devo Be Stiff EP they put out around the time the put out Are We Not Men? It's got songs that weren't on the record but were on some of the singles they released. It might be some of my favorite album art ever. This is my current favorite.

Do men and women collect music for different reasons? I don't think so. There are probably more men than women who collect records, but I don't think they collect them for different reasons. People all relate to music. For me, that's how I relate to people through records and through music.

I guess there is a divide because there are people who collect records and there are people who don't. People who are interested in records aren't too different from one another.

[Doom Town will be playing March 19 at the last Godfodder show at Apop Records]

About The Author

Jon Scorfina

Jon Scorfina is a freelance writer for the Riverfront Times. Between 2010 and 2011, he wrote the weekly column "Last Collector Standing," which explored collecting physical media in the digital age. He continues to write pop culture related cover stories and features for the Riverfront Times.
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