Booze and Vinyl | André Darlington and Tenaya Darlington
Booze and Vinyl
By André Darlington and Tenaya Darlington
Suzy Chase: Welcome to the Cookery by the Book podcast with me, Suzy Chase.
Andre: I'm Andre Darlington, this is Tenaya Darlington and we're talking about our new book, Booze and Vinyl.
Suzy Chase: In Booze and Vinyl, you wrote, "in the semi-darkness, the amp and tuner of our father's hifi glowed like the dashboard of a car on a dark highway."
Suzy Chase: Talk about memories of listening parties at home.
Andre: Our father was a musician, so he would have other musicians over and the turntable really played a central role, almost like a fireplace in our household. Some of our earliest memories were lying on the carpet in the living room listening to mostly classical music.
Tenaya: Yeah, I can remember our parents having friend over. Our parents had us when they were pretty young, and so we didn't have a lot of money for going to movies and things like that. Their friends would come over in the evenings. I can remember guys coming over with records under their arms. Our mom and dad making gin and tonics. Candles coming out; the lights would go down, and the adults would all kind of sack out on couches in the living room and listen to records all evening long. Because our parents were musicians, they met in an orchestra, and all their friends were musicians. These were deep listening sessions. (laughs)
Andre: Multiple versions of Mahler or Brahms.
Suzy Chase: Wow.
Andre: Recorded in different years with different conductors, argued over.
Tenaya: We really grew up only with records, and we also listened to records every night with our parents when we cooked and ate dinner. It was like a ritual.
Andre: That's when the Ravi Shankar came out.
Tenaya: Yeah, Ravi Shankar, I forget. Simon & Garfunkel. Our mom had a brief affair with John Denver, not literally, but she heard him on Johnny Carson. (laughs)
Tenaya: So records came into the house pretty regularly. And, of course, Andre and I would go to the library and we'd get rock and roll records. We'd play them when out weren't home. (laughs)
Suzy Chase: So your parents were okay with the rock and roll records? Were the stuck in a genre or were they fine with everything?
Tenaya: They were not fine with everything. Our dad hated anything that was slightly out of tune or anything that he called, "to raucous."
Suzy Chase: "Raucous."
Tenaya: So we could only play our own music when he was out of the house, which was pretty regular because he was traveling a lot. He'd work in the summers.
Andre: I think, like most people, it was a rock and roll self-education. (laughs)
Tenaya: Yes. It was rock and roll self-education. We spend time at the roller rink; we'd be like "Oooh, Another One Bites the Dust, what's that?"
Suzy Chase: What was the criteria for the albums that you chose for the book?
Andre: We really wanted to make sure that, for one, the vinyl was available. There was a lot of albums that we love that still haven't been reissued, and when we looked they were in the $100, $200, $300 range. We had to cull some of those. Some of those have actually been re-released since we put this book out.
Andre: And then, we wanted to have really good diversity, but overall it was albums that are still really selling on vinyl. We really took an eye to what are people really gravitating to? Which, surprisingly, are albums like "OK Computer," which is not from the vinyl ear but is one of the most purchased albus on vinyl. And ACDC...
Andre: ...which is the perineal top-seller, if not the number one seller always. It seems if somebody goes and gets a turntable, they put ACDC on it first thing.
Andre: So there's some attention to that, and we just wanted good albums. There are so many albums that are great albums but they have three or four songs in a row that are real dogs and that you just don't want to listen to. So we wanted to make sure that they were albums that were really listenable as well.
Tenaya: We also gave a lot of thought to the huge number of people in their 20s and their 30s getting into vinyl with the great resurgence that's underway. We wanted to help people build a collection, so that's why we organized the book according to chapters, and we really do include everything from jazz to a little bit of country to dance music to great women vocalists because we wanted people to be able to seed a collection from this book.
Suzy Chase: Give us a few tips for hosting a boozy listening party.
Tenaya: We do this all the time, so (laughs).
Andre: I always like to have a drink in peoples hands first thing, so if that means batching a cocktail or just throwing bubbles in a glass for people, it makes people more comfortable. And, it makes people willing to bring out that weird album that they brought that they weren't sure if they were going to bring out or not. (laughs)
Tenaya: That's right, and that means chilling your glassware before they come over. We just keep our glasses in our freezers at this point, so there's always a party on the verge of happening. Fashioning some ice a night or two before hand so your ice is fresh. Going to the store and picking up fresh...
Andre: Garnish. Citrus.
Tenaya: ...garnish, some mints, some lemons, oranges, squeezing those or making it really easy for your guest to do that. And then just kind of setting the scene. For each of the albums in the book, we imagined a listening party for it, and we offer tips. If you're going to have a boozy brunch, we suggest cocktails but also what you eat with them.
Andre: It's really "choose your own adventure," and you can be as fussy as you'd like. It can be everything from just making sure you have clean glassware and ice, which is a nice base-line to setting a certain mood with pillows or whatever.
Tenaya: Absolutely. You don't need to have all the proper cocktail tools even. We always say a mason jar and a chopstick will get the job done.
Tenaya: But if you are building your own wet bar or bar cart, this can be a really fun time to test drive it.
Suzy Chase: So the musical categories that you covered are rock, dance, chill, and seduce, and I wanted to through one album in each category. Let's kick it off with rock, and I chose Sticky Fingers 1971 from the Rolling Stones.
Tenaya: First album in the book.
Andre: This is really a louche album, from its cover by Andy Warhol with the iconic zipper. It's basically a crotch-shot with a zipper, and the music follows through with that. The lyrics are kind of sleazy and sexy. This is sort of what we consider "peak Stones," just a great listening album, a great drinking album. This obviously could have gone in the "seduce" category as well, like so many of the other not hard and fast rules. But, we did want to have a rock sections, where people could dance and know what kind of albums were going to be in there.
Tenaya: This is one of the first albums that we agreed to put in the book. We had so much fun thinking "Sticky Fingers...do you want cinnamon rolls? Is this a breakfast album?" And we did end up choosing the theme of a boozy brunch because we've often brunched with Sticky Fingers. This is the sort of album where we'd imagine people getting up, putting it on on a Saturday or Sunday, making some pancakes or heating up some cinnamon rolls, and then pouring a tequila sunrise for Side A, which you've got our orange juice, you've got your tequila in this beautiful red and gold drink...
Andre: The story goes that Mick Jagger had a tequila sunrise while they were on tour for this album, and they never left his hand after that tour. He was obsessed with them.
Tenaya: I'd forgotten about that.
Andre: So they call this the "tequila sunrise tour." And, our other cocktail is just a simple Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola and Coors, which were, for whatever reason, the three brands that got into Keith Richard's hands, and there's multiple pictures of him on stage with all three of those lined up on the guitar amp. We just thought that was fun; those were kind of the iconic things that he was drinking and were kind of breaking into mainstream at the time, certainly Coors, Jack and Coke for a long time. And it turns out it's a pretty good combination.
Tenaya: Yeah, you've got your Side A cocktail and your Side B cocktail, or you can let guests choose with one the want, or you can do the Jack and Coke and Coors throughout the rest of late morning while you're cooking with other records.
Andre: (laughs) Just have them on hand.
Tenaya: Yeah, just have them on hand.
Suzy Chase: And this also was the album that debuted the red, black, and white logo, with the tongue and the lips.
Andre: Yes, which is a version of Kali. They had seen the Indian goddess and decided that they wanted to have something like that, and it became a famous icon for them. This is one of those albums where a lot came together for them and, of course, it was recorded at Muscle Shoals, in Tennessee, which is maybe where Keith got his pension for Jack Daniels.
Tenaya: That would make sense.
Andre: We just love this album. It's got Andy Warhol. It's got the Kali lips. It's got Rolling Stones singing away.
Suzy Chase: It's a little country-ish too. You could tell that it was recorded at Muscle Shoals.
Andre: Yeah, they really had this obsession, I think it started in the album before this, this kind of obsession with that Tennessee, Muscle Shoals sound. I think it was such a perfect move for the Stones to go away from the rit, boy-band to kind of mature into this country-Americana sound.
Tenaya: Plus, we were just down there in Nashville for and event, and it just permeates the air, permeates your skin, the sound of honky-tonk music rolling out onto the streets at night.
Andre: It's a great place to get inspiration, to make an album.
Tenaya: Exactly. We couldn't stop listening to old-time country after we went to the Johnny Case museum and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Even if you don't like country, I think if you go down there and...
Andre: Get the Jesus.
Tenaya: (laughs) You get the Jesus.
Tenaya: I ate the wafer. (laughs)
Suzy Chase: For the dance category, I chose Thriller 1982, Michael Jackson.
Tenaya: Such a great album. I can remember hearing this in a friend's basement on vinyl, full on shag carpet and everyone wearing parachute pants. This was a no-brainer for us. It was another one of those easy to choose albums.
Andre: Yeah, really the watershed album of a whole generation.
Andre: It really changed music, I think.
Tenaya: When you think of all those kids in the 80s with the little turntables that were plugged into the walls because turntables were...
Andre: Parachute pants.
Tenaya: Putting this on there...
Suzy Chase: (laughs) Parachute pants.
Suzy Chase: I have this on cassette.
Andre: Oh yes.
Tenaya: Do you really?
Suzy Chase: And I listened on the dock of my dad's lake house in Texas. And, I wore that cassette out, so I had to buy another one.
Andre: Yeah, just...
Tenaya: That's how good it is.
Andre: Everything about it just came from another planet.
Tenaya: It really did. It really did. These cocktail pairings wrote themselves, because, of course, you have to have a zombie. If you've watched Michael Jackson videos you know the importance of zombies, so that's our Side A cocktail. And then, our Side B cocktail is a moonwalk, which is a really fun cocktail to be able to include in this book because it's not very well-known, but it is a classic drink. It was invented at the Savoy Hotel in London, and it was actually created in honor of Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon. But it tied into Michael Jackson perfectly. It's a delicious drink. It's a little bit like a very glamorous mimosa. It's Grand Marnier, fresh grapefruit juice, a few drops of rose water, and then you stir, and you top it off with champagne and add a grapefruit peel on the side. You can serve this in a champagne flute, or you can do it in a glass. It's really just a spectacular drink. It's so delicious.
Suzy Chase: It's pretty too.
Tenaya: It really is. It really is.
Suzy Chase: For the chill category, I chose the Eagle's 1975 Hotel California.
Andre: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Great chill album. That a lot of people from younger generations think is overplayed and the song comes on too often.
Suzy Chase: No!
Andre: Put the vinyl on, and it's just to amazing. It has a really, really unique sound. I mean, it almost defines a whole genre of chill Americana, I guess, in a way. It's just an amazing album. It really was one of the albums that we fell in love with all over again writing this book.
Tenaya: And it just says "summer." It says, "get out your Batik blanket, hang those paper lanterns in the trees..."
Andre: Cowboy boots, no socks.
Suzy Chase: (laughs)
Tenaya: There's a weeping willow or a palm tree nearby. And then, make some of those delicious summer drinks with parasols and cherries and pineapple wedges on the side. We have a beachcomber cocktail for Side A and a classic mojito for Side B. It just gives a listening party around the Eagles a whole new level of nuance.
Andre: What's fun about this album is, like Thriller, and like the Frank Sinatra album and a few other albums, they're really thought of as concept albums. I think that the Eagles thought of this as telling this story. The albums kind of tell this cohesive story. It tended to make it into this book because, not only are they among the greatest things ever recorded, but that story telling keeps that similar vibe throughout the entire album, from A Side and B Side, and makes a really good hanging out and drinking album.
Andre: You can kind of go into the Eagle's world, the same way you can go into the Michael Jackson world or go into a Simon & Garfunkel world or go into Frank Sinatra world.
Tenaya: Right, and it's almost discussing a piece of literature because you listen to it and you think, "What is going on?" I listened to Hotel California as kind of reading …
Tenaya: "What is this really about?" (laughs)
Suzy Chase: What do you think it's about?
Andre: Well, they say that they were headed into the Los Angeles basin and that it sort of came to them...the idea of being in this house, and American pop access at that time references drugs and greed and just all of these really negative things, which is kind of fascinating because this is such a beautiful song. But, you know, it's a weepy song. It's a song of melancholy, I think or lost innocence. You can read a lot into it.
Andre: But you can hear these young gents sort of getting eaten alive by Los Angeles and what they see there.
Suzy Chase: Last summer, I went to the Classic East concert here in New York city and saw the Eagles with Deacon Frey.
Tenaya: No way!
Suzy Chase: And he looks just like Glenn, and everyone was just crying in the audience.
Tenaya: What drink did you have in your hand?
Suzy Chase: I had a $15 can of Stella.
Suzy Chase: (laughs) Because you know it's so expensive.
Andre: (laughs) I hope it was great.
Suzy Chase: (laughs) It was the best Stella I've ever had.
Tenaya: No doubt.
Suzy Chase: So for the seduce category, I chose Marvin Gaye 1973 "What's Going On."
Tenaya: Oh yeah.
Andre: Has to be that.
Tenaya: This is breakfast in bed. The last chapter in the book is seduce, and we just wanted those mellow morning vibes, where you feel like "I just want to stay in bed and flip records." Or, it's the record you put on when you bring somebody home at the end of the night and you're like "Yeah, let's just hang out on the couch and listen."
Tenaya: But Marvin Gaye seems like the classic seduction album. His voice is so rich and buttery, so we imagined bringing in a tray of breakfast with a mango avocado toast and a couple of drinks. Our Side A pick is Soul Kiss No. 2, which is a whiskey drink. It's a little heavy. It still keeps you in dream land.
Andre: I think we both secretly hope that every day you wake up and it's Marvin Gaye.
Tenaya: (laughs) And a Soul Kill No. 2. A Soul Kiss also has freshly squeezed orange juice in it, so it's like a more masculine mimosa.
Andre: And there Velvet Hammer...
Tenaya: That's Side B.
Andre: ...is just a milkshake for adults.
Andre: (laughs) Essentially.
Tenaya: Yeah, the Velvet Hammer is just three ingredients, so it's very easy to keep this on hand. Or, you could batch it the night before. It's Cointreau, coffee liqueur, and half-and-half, just equal parts. Very simple drink to make, and it's like a lot of drinks in this book. We try to keep you in the zone of listening rather than spending all your time prepping in the kitchen, so a lot of the drinks in this books are two or three ingredient books just like the Velvet Hammer.
Suzy Chase: The two guys that were engineering this album accidentally mixed Marvin's two lead vocals together and produced a multi-layering effect that you can hear throughout the album, and I think that's what makes it good too. He's kind of harmonizing with himself.
Andre: It's one of the amazing accidents that I'm not sure happens any more with digital recording, but back in those days, when they were on tape and somebody was a little drunk and little stoned, you get these stories of, "Well, I don't know! I actually hit the wrong button and it was amazing!"
Suzy Chase: Yeah, you don't get that anymore.
Andre: You don't get that anymore. You know, if you don't go flipping through vinyl records, you're not going to find that vinyl album that you pick up just based on the cover. That's one of the things that was fun about doing this book too is just how the vinyl stores and these social spaces and that it has accidents like that that analog has that digital just doesn't. You get suggestions from Spotify and whatnot, which is really helpful, but it doesn't have the same magic, I think. Some of my favorite albums were just albums that had a great cover and you can buy them.
Tenaya: Absolutely, I feel like a record store...you go in and it engages your senses. There's the smell of dust. There's the visual allure of an album cover and then there's the sound of what's ever playing and people flipping around you. I always feel like they are maybe church-like. They're like one of these holy places.
Andre: They're like an apothecary for the ears.
Tenaya: (laughs) Yes, totally!
Suzy Chase: And I spent hours reading the liner notes.
Tenaya: Oh, right?
Andre: It's so fun when you get an album and the art drops out and you just think...all of these kids, when they were growing up and having vinyl, us included, living in the middle of nowhere, socially isolated, and even if you're not socially isolated you could be in the East coast and your parents are conservative...you buy one of these albums and have these liner notes fall out of these pictures of these crazy, kooky dressed up people...
Tenaya: (laughs) Yeah.
Andre: ...and you're like, "I don't know what this is, but it's amazing coming into my world," and the album art is amazing.
Andre: We got really lucky that our graphic designer for this book really knocked it out of the park and really was a vinyl person themselves, really holds the visual vernacular from each book, making these pages for this, for Booze and Vinyl. It's just a beautifully done book.
Tenaya: It's so many albums at the set or the photo shoot, and we did a four day photo shoot in a couple of AirBnb spaces, and it was so much fun between the shots to just sit on the bed and flip through albums that people brought in. We were swapping albums. We were playing music.
Tenaya: It was one-forty a listening party.
Andre: We were DJ-ing the whole shoot.
Tenaya: It just takes you back. Yeah.
Suzy Chase: Well, I grew up in Kansas, and I would get all sorts of soul music albums. They weren't playing this on the radio, so it was only in my albums. I would sit there and read it and flip through and sit on the floor. You have to sit on the floor, right?
Tenaya: You do. (laughs)
Andre: You do. (laughs)
Suzy Chase: Tell me about your book tour and the Crosley Record Truck.
Andre: We had reached out to Crosley, and they had done a tour with Dogfish Head last year just before Record Store Day. Our publisher moved the date of the book to capture Record Store Day. We really wanted to be a part of Record Store Day, which is, for listeners, I'm sure all your listeners know, but it is basically Christmas for small, independent record stores. It's such and important days. When we were on this tour, we'd be in record stores. Basically, we went on tour in a 30-foot, mobile vinyl van. What is it? A mobile listening station, maybe?
Tenaya: It's an old bread truck that had been rehabbed.
Andre: Converted so you can...
Tenaya: Full of a jukebox, turntables, and couches.
Andre: So you can go inside and listen to all the albums. We went from New York City to Nashville. Stopping all along the way, we did a number of various record stores in the United States from New York to Nashville, and they all said how important Record Store is and what a huge draw that keeps many of them in business or at least in the black.
Andre: So, we really wanted to be a part of that, and Crosley had been a part of that with Dogfish Head before. We thought Crosley is making these, I think they start at $60, suitcase turntables, which really is a great way to get people engaged in vinyl. When I was growing up, you had to have a very expensive hifi system, so you'd go in a record store and ask, "How do I get into vinyl?" And they're likes, "Well, its $200 for the turntable, $300 for the amp, and then you have to spend about $500 on your speaker." But nowadays, there's a number of companies selling these kinds of lower-end turntables that are just magnificent to experience vinyl on.
Suzy Chase: Where can we find you on the web and social media?
Tenaya: We're on Instagram at "WithTheDarlingtons," and then we also have two websites: withthedarlingtons.com, which is sort of our general website for all of our books, and then BoozeandVinyl.com is our splash page for the book, and that includes upcoming tour dates.
Suzy Chase: I just adore this book because my whole childhood was literally sitting in front of the record player for hours on end, and I also DJ in New York City, so thanks for coming on Cookery by the Book podcast. This was so much fun.
Tenaya: Love your podcast. Thank you for having us on.
Andre: Thank you so much for having us.
Suzy Chase: Follow me on Instagram at Cookery by the Book. Twitter is IamSuzyChase, and download your Kitchen Mix Tapes, music to cook by, on Spotify at "Cookery by the Book," and as always, subscribe at Apple Podcasts.