Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Furnace MFG Interview

A while ago, I did an interview with the people at Furnace MFG ( and we spoke of the vinyl revival and the process of cutting a record. One of my vinyl friends, Alan Bayer at has also done an interview with Furnace, let’s explore his results:

I recently interviewed a representative from Furnace MFG, a company that manufactures vinyl records (among other things)...We talk a bit about the market for vinyl, the manufacturing process, vinyl technologies, and the future of vinyl records. Enjoy!

1. Many of the vinyl enthusiasts of the world have speculated, and have been reading in the media that vinyl seems to be coming back. Is this true in your case?

We are absolutely seeing this trend. As a manufacturer of vinyl records, we often times are made aware of projects many months before they hit the retail stores. Through the course of 2009, we’ve seen increasing orders from clients. In the past, clients might order vinyl runs of 2,000 or 3,000 pieces and we’re now seeing that most of our orders for major titles are averaging 5,000-10,000 pieces. Smaller labels and bands continue to press between 1,000 and 3,000 records per order but we’re seeing more and more of those types of clients as well.

2. How much growth have you seen in the vinyl industry over the past year? Past two years?

Furnace’s volume has doubled in 2009 over 2008 and we have no doubt, looking at release schedules by our most loyal customers, that this volume will remain on an upward trend.

Looking forward, we’re forecasting a minimum 50% growth rate for 2010 as the sales of vinyl records continue to double year over year (like they are expected to do this year compared to last year).

3. Of all the vinyl you press, what seems to be the most popular? What seems to be the least popular?

Our most popular record that we press is a 180 gram audiophile quality record pressed through our partner, the Pallas Group out of Germany. The Pallas Group is known as one of the best vinyl pressing facilities in the world and Furnace MFG has an exclusive distribution and manufacturing relationship with them for North America.

Although we have the ability to do colored vinyl, picture discs 7”s and 10”s these are generally only for small or special projects and not the bulk of our business.

4. What percentage of new vinyl pressings feature new music as opposed to reissues of music released in the past?

Because of our market leadership in audiophile quality vinyl, much of what we have been doing in the past has focused on re-issues (or older titles that were never released on vinyl initially). However, we’ve been seeing an expansion of our clients requests to include new releases as well. Frontline titles typically tend to be pressed on lower weights (120 or 140g) and the bands and labels place less of a premium on the audiophile quality and more of a premium on lowest cost. We’re able to offer both.

5. Is it just the major record companies that are pressing more vinyl, or are you seeing increased demand from smaller labels and independent artists as well?

The last six months has seen an increase in the number of independent artists who are releasing their albums on vinyl. With margins disappearing on CDs and downloads, artists are doing a lot more touring to make a living. Vinyl is a perfect merch item for them because most of their fans do not have access to physical product anymore with stores closing or narrowing focus. Vinyl sales at live shows have exploding because of that reason. Also, vinyl is not easily replaced with a download or streaming radio. The collectible aspect of vinyl is attractive to labels that have seen their physical product diminished to the used racks and eBay like channels.

6. As the convenience of digital audio formats (MP3, iTunes) continues to attract new listeners, what is the biggest challenge for retailers to convince consumers to buy vinyl?

The biggest question that consumers have is whether will continue to be a supported format by music labels. They are quite right to worry that they will invest money to buy a nice record player, the fad will end, and music labels will stop issuing records like they did in the early 80s. While this is a valid fear, we believe that record labels are just starting to realize the potential for vinyl records. With the rapid deterioration in CD sales, and the large increase in digital downloads, the main revenue sources for record labels is under great threat. Vinyl records will never sell at volumes that CDs sell at. However, since the per piece profit is so much higher, labels are finally starting to realize that vinyl records represent a revenue growth opportunity in a declining market. Artists have always been fans of vinyl records for the purity of their sound and the ability to connect with their fans. Many of today’s record buyers are not reliving their past – they are young, influential music lovers that are discovering the joy of vinyl records for the first time. As more and more music labels realize the untapped profit potential in vinyl records, the trend will only grow.

The other big question that consumers have about vinyl records is whether the quality has improved at all from what they remember 20 years ago. In the past, records were made of cheap recycled PVC and were pressed on thin vinyl. Today’s records are made of a much higher quality PVC and rarely is a record pressed at less than 120g. The heavier weights provide more durability and longevity to records and today’s mastering and cutting equipment, coupled with our outstanding galvanic process, makes a record sound better than it ever has been able to in the past. This is one area where record labels need to make sure they put out a good quality product. Nothing will kill the growth in vinyl quicker than record labels cutting corners and selecting plants based solely on price. If a new consumer of vinyl records gets a terrible sounding record in their first exposure, it’s going to be impossible to convince them to continue to invest in vinyl records. Our approach here has been, and will continue to be, to put the best sounding records possible. That’s why all our records are pressed in Europe by craftsman who’ve been working in this business for 30+ years. Record pressing is an art that takes a lifetime to master.

As far as retailers go, stores who have been selling vinyl are in it for life and they are the best salespersons for the format. The real question is whether online stores and big box stores will adapt to allow themselves to be successful. Insound, Mofi and other vinyl specialty online shops do a great job because they know how to properly handle, pick, pack and ship a vinyl record. But when you receive a vinyl record from Amazon and it’s laying flat on the bottom of a big box with no cardboard protecting it, its no wonder why they may get out of the vinyl game because their damage rate must be sky high. I was in a Best Buy recently checking out their vinyl selection (they are now carrying up to 200 titles in each of their stores) and because the employees don’t know how to display or care for the format, all of the jackets are destroyed and looks like garbage. These two scenarios can be avoided and both types of supply chains can be successful but it’s going to take someone that knows what they are doing to correct the obvious roadblocks in their way to long term success selling vinyl.

7. Do vinyl records really sound better than CDs? Is there any kind of scientific proof?

To this question, we would say that much like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, sound is in the ear of the listener. There is no debate that converting music to digital format results in some compression loss. Whether that degradation is noticeable or not is where the subjectivity comes into play. Many people would agree that vinyl records sound “richer” than CDs due to the fact that no compression is necessary for an analog format – and we would agree to with that.

There is no doubt that digital music provides advantages that vinyl records do not – namely storage and portability. But there will always be room for both formats depending on need and desire. It’s common for all new vinyl records to include a copy of the CD for this very reason.

Personally, I know there is a difference in quality when proper steps are taken. Being a musician that has released both CDs and Vinyl, the vinyl has always sounded better. Part of it is that we recorded in analog and kept the entire process analog to the cut. In those cases, you will never get better mass reproduction than vinyl playback. But if the recording is digital and already compressed, vinyl is just another format. Vinylphiles will say even a digital recording still sounds better on vinyl. I would agree with them on this point.

8. I have noticed that some full length albums are available in 45 RPM format. Do you think this trend will catch on, or will the 33 RPM format continue to be the norm?

That is a niche for high end music lovers. There is more room for the groove to breath when something is cut on 45 so the sound quality has the chance to be much better. I think there will always be a niche for this because there will always be 1000 people in the world that is going to want to listen to John Coltrane’s “Ballads” on the best vinyl format available. 2x12” 45 gives them the best opportunity assuming the mastering, cut and pressing is up to snuff.

9. Could you explain the process for manufacturing vinyl records?

Here’s a simplified step by step process:

-Cutting – the recording is transferred or cut to either a platter of lacquer or copper (the latter is called Direct Metal Mastering or DMM).
-If a lacquer is cut, it is metalized and a father is plate is created. This is a negative)
-A reverse of the father is created called the mother. When cutting to copper (DMM), this is already a positive plate or Mother plate. Mother plates can played on special turntables and are what we listen to remove any ticks, pops or noise prior to making pressing plates
-Mother Plates are used to spawn pressing plates. The pressing plates are used on the presses and are what the vinyl is pressed between to create a record. Depending on the type of cut and the thickness of the pressing, we replace stampers every 500-1500 records to ensure the best possible quality of pressed record.
-Using the pressing plates, we set up a machine to press Test Pressings. This is normally a run of 5-25 records that we listen to for quality and then send to the client for their final approval.
-While the Test Pressing is out for approval, we will print and pre-bake the paper labels that appear on both sides of the record. Baking is required so the paper is cured before it goes on the press. If this process is not done correctly, labels will crack, bubble or blister due to heat and pressure from the pressing process.
-As soon as the Test Pressings are approved, we put the plates back on the press and start pressing records. PVC pellets are put into an extruder which creates a biscuit of hot PVC sandwiched by the a and b side labels. Two stampers (one for each side of the record) are placed onto a press and with tons of pressure at high temperature, the press closes on the biscuit and actually forms the records with the grooves. The records are then finished by trimming excess PVC and then put into the inner sleeve as it comes off the press. A heavy metal plate is put on top of every 4th or 5th record to ensure the stack is flat as it goes into the curing room where they will cool down for 48 hours prior to assembly.

10. What determines the quality of a pressing? How can a consumer know which vinyl is good quality, and which is poor quality?

It’s all about the sound quality. If you have two plants and give them lacquers cut from the finest cutting studio in the world and give them the finest PVC material in the world – you will often times get two completely different products. The galvanic process and the pressing formulas at our two facilities are the secret weapon to creating some of the best records in the world. If a plant does not put the care and expense into creating superior metal parts, you will hear it in the vinyl. If a plant treats each record the same and doesn’t factor in the cut and the other 9,000 things you need to consider when pressing vinyl records, you can have problems there as well. You also will get non-fill, poor tracking, etc when inexperienced people are running the equipment. Both of our plants have been around for decades and the experience on the floor is not something you can buy or learn overnight.

Most of the records that are marketed as Audiophile releases are pressed on heavyweight vinyl. 180g records, for example, are less prone to warp or dish. When pressed correctly, you will get a superior product from a heavyweight record.

11. Inevitably, better digital audio formats will come along that sound better than CDs, and possibly even DVD Audio or SACDs. Will vinyl records still be able to compete with these modern technologies?

Vinyl records will always have a core group of consumers that love them for the experience of listening to music that no other format can provide. Listening to a record takes a proactive set of actions and is often times the end goal. Listening to a CD or digital music can be more of an afterthought or a background activity to doing something else. The large format of vinyl jackets also provides artists a unique way to express themselves in addition to the music itself. For this reason, we believe that vinyl records will always be complementary to new technologies that might arise.

12. Tell us a little about what your company does.

Furnace MFG has been in business since 1996 and is a recognized leader in CD and DVD duplication, replication, and vinyl record manufacturing and packaging. Leveraging our two exclusive relationships in Europe, we are able to bring to the domestic market high quality vinyl records with world class assembly and finishing options. We have carved out a niche to work on complicated packaging and finishing for special projects and continue to increase our market share by providing a high quality product for a fair price.

Our CD/DVD/Flash Drive reproduction continues to grow with many major music, corporate, and educational clients. We can fulfill any customers order – whether they are looking for 10 or 10,000,000 copies made.

This article originally appeared on, a website about vinyl records and music.  My thanks to Alan for allowing the reprint!!

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne

I am continuing our feature: Ask "Mr. Music." Now in its 24th year of syndication (1986-2010), Jerry Osborne's weekly Q&A feature will be a regular post every Wednesday from now on. Be sure to stop by Jerry's site ( for more Mr. Music archives, record price guides, anything Elvis, buy & sell collectibles, record appraisals and much more. I thank Jerry for allowing the reprints.


DEAR JERRY: I just bought the vinyl edition of Deana Martin's new album, “Volare” (Big Fish 1005), and noticed your name among those thanked by Deana.

No mention is made as to specific contributions, so I am naturally curious about yours. Please tell us more.

Shortly before Dean Martin died, I lived in New York and recall watching a entertainment news show on television. On that day, Deana was the in-studio guest, and her famous father joined them from Los Angeles by telephone.

I thought everything was on the internet, but I have tried Bing, Google, Yahoo, IMDb and other search sources, but find no references whatsoever to this show.

Of special interest is my suspicion that this could have been the last interview ever for Dino.

Might you use your contacts to obtain the name of the show I recall, as well as any other fascinating details?
—Marla Givens, Owensboro, Ky.

DEAR MARLA: Vinyl has really enjoyed a resurgence in 2009, and “Volare” is yet another example where the rich and full reproduction found on vinyl outshines its digital counterpart.

I assisted Deana and John, her manager, producer, and husband, in numerous ways, from consulting on cover artwork and track sequencing to offering late-night moral support.

Fortunately I caught up with Deana and John just as Deana was about to be a guest on the Bonnie Hunt Show (Dec. 16, singing “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow”). They both recall the program you speak of, and here is the information you seek:

The date is November 25, 1994, and you watched “The Geraldo Rivera Show,” also at times known simply as “Geraldo.”

According to Deana and John, that Geraldo interview is indeed the last for Dean, who died exactly 13 months later: December 25, 1994.

DEAR JERRY: Whether you know it or not, collectors of novelty break-ins regard you as the official source for identifying those mysterious song clips.

Even though nearly all the song samples are from hit records, some can be very difficult to name. Hopefully my flattery will motivate you to help me identify three such tunes.

One is a clip in “Buchanan and Goodman on Trial,” one of their many “Flying Saucer” follow-ups. It contains no actual words, and there are two clips from this same song. They sing something similar to “papa cow cow.”

Another is a sax riff in “Frankenstein of '59,” with some shouts from some male singers. Played while “the monster is dancing on Bandstand,” it sounds a bit like King Curtis.

Finally, “Flying Saucer Goes West” includes two clips in Italian, both of which seem to be from the same recording.

My agony has diminished just knowing you are on the case.
—Randy Callahan, Pittsburg, Calif.

DEAR RANDY: Consider me sufficiently motivated.

In “Buchanan and Goodman on Trial,” the “papa cow cow” segment is from “I Promise to Remember,” a 1956 hit for Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers (Gee 1018).

The sax break in Duane Eddy's “Cannonball” (Jamie 1111) is what you hear in “Frankenstein of '59.” It seems this piece of “Cannonball,” especially with the screaming voices, better suited the script than Duane's twangy guitaring.

“Flying Saucer Goes West” borrows two Italian language clips from Lou Monte's “Lazy Mary (Luna Mezzo Mare)” (RCA Victor 7160), a huge hit in 1958.

IZ ZAT SO? Hundreds of novelty break-in records exist, yet very few sell well.

Only three have reached the nation's Top 10, the biggest being “The Flying Saucer” (Buchanan and Goodman) (1956) — the classic that spawned the genre.

The other two are “Mr. Jaws” (Dickie Goodman) (1975) and “Convention '72” (Delegates) (1972).

Even if we stretch the list to include ones landing in the Top 40, only two more qualify: “The Flying Saucer the 2nd” (Buchanan and Goodman) (1957) and “Moonflight” (Vik Venus) (1969).

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column. Write Jerry at Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368, e-mail:, or visit his Web site: All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.

Copyright 2009 Osbourne Enterprises- Reprinted By Permission

Music News & Notes


Celebrated punk rock heroes, Alkaline Trio have announced the release of their forthcoming album, This Addiction, on February 23 via Epitaph Records/Heart & Skull. Recorded and produced by the band with help from longtime cohort Matt Allison at Atlas Studios in Chicago, This Addiction marks Alkaline Trio’s first release on their imprint label Heart & Skull and first with their parent label Epitaph Records.

The album also finds the Trio revisiting their punk roots while moving forward creatively.

“This record is a rock record but our punk rock upbringing definitely shines through, more so than our last few records,” singer/guitarist Matt Skiba recently told “The vibe is similar to our humble beginnings. It’s a step forward but I also think it has glimmers of our past in it.”

Beginning January 5, fans can visit where they will have the opportunity to stream the title track and first single “This Addiction,” in exchange for a Twitter or Facebook posting. A metaphoric crowd pleaser, “This Addiction” is “about a relationship gone bad and, for some reason, you just can’t quit it,” Skiba told The single is also currently available for sale on iTunes and at other digital retailers.


Madonna to take rap/rock direction on her next album

Madonna is working with both rap producer A-Trak and rock producer Brendan O’Brien – who has previously worked with Pearl Jam - and attempting to merge the two genres on the follow up to her hip-hop influenced 2008 LP, 'Hard Candy’.

A-Trak, real name Alain Macklovitch, told the Daily Star newspaper: 'It’s my production, turned into song structure – halfway between rap and electronic and whatever else I listen to.'

Madonna, 51, is said to be set on making a track to match the success of Run DMC’s groundbreaking 80s hit 'Walk This Way’, which defined the rap/rock genre – and went on to spawn acts such as Korn, Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock in the 90s.

Madonna has a long history of working with hip-hop producers, including Pharrell Williams and Timbaland on 'Hard Candy’, but she is also keen to play up a more guitar-heavy sound after spending time mastering the instrument and insiders say she’s working on perfecting a balance between the two.

The resulting album could be released this year, should be interesting.....


Ronnie James Dio thanks fans for support

Ronnie James Dio has issued the following statement thanking fans for their support:

"Happy holidays everyone, I'd like to take the time to thank everyone for the most wonderful gifts I have ever received. The list includes your good wishes, your prayers, your support, your tears and laughter, your anger and rejoicing, and most of all the unwavering love you've bestowed upon me.

"I guess I've always felt that we were one person and that you've allowed me to be our spokesman, but until this time of my greatest peril the truth was perhaps slightly hidden. It is hidden no more. Together we shall face the foe and live on to climb higher mountains and explore greater magic. Together we cannot fail. Please accept my never ending love and dedication to you all.

"So it is written, and so it shall be."


MGMT, John Frusciante On New David Bowie Tribute Album

There were rumors floating around that acts like Radiohead would be performing on the upcoming David Bowie tribute album, but that's now been unveiled as false information as the tracklisting for the disc has been released.

A post on Duran Duran's official website states the band has recorded a cover of Bowie's "Boys Keep Swinging" for Manimal Vinyl's tribute record. Other artists that are scheduled to appear on the album include MGMT, Carla Bruni, Chairlift, Lights and John Frusciante.

MGMT's track has yet to be revealed but the tracklisting can be seen below. The release is scheduled to be available in May 2010 and 100 per cent of the net profits will go to War Child UK.

Full tracklisting for tribute album (not in particular order):

Exitmusic - "Space Oddity"
Vivian Girls - "John, I’m Only Dancing"
Megapuss, aka Devendra Banhart - "Sound + Vision"
Carla Bruni - "Absolute Beginners"
Lights - "World Falls Down"
VOICEsVOICEs - "Heroes"
Duran Duran - "Boys Keep Swinging"
Charlift - "Always Crashing in the Same Car"
Aska w/ Moon & Moon - "African Night Flight"
A Place To Bury Strangers - "Suffragette City"
The Polyamorous Affair - "Theme From Cat People"
Keren Ann - "Life on Mars"
Swahili Blonde feat. John Frusciante - "Red Money"
Marco Benevento - "Art Decade"
Corridor - "Be My Wife"
Aquaserge - "The Superman"
Warpaint - "Ashes to Ashes"
Rainbow Arabia - "Quicksand"
We Are The World - "Afraid of Americans"
Laco$te - "Within You"
Ariana Delawari - "Ziggy Stardust"
Pizza! - "Modern Love"
St Clair Board - "Secret Life of Arabia"
Caroline Weeks - "Starman"
Amanda Jo Williams - "The Man Who Sold the World"
Mick Karn - "Ashes to Ashes"
Soulwax - "TBA"


Iron Maiden May Not Release New Album Until 2011

On January 1, Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain told Eddie Trunk — co-host of the VH1 Classic television program "That Metal Show" who has a long-running radio show, "Friday Night Rocks", on New York's Q104.3 FM — that the band will enter the studio in a couple weeks to start work on a new CD. According to Trunk, Nicko "said there was about eight songs written so far so the band would probably need to come up with a few more new songs while recording. [He added that] the material was a little different than past albums and they were taking their time with the recording schedule." McBrain also stated that the "new CD probably won't come out until 2011," according to Trunk.

Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers revealed to BBC News in November that the band was on its way "to Paris for three weeks to work on some new stuff." He added, "The most important thing for a band is to create new music, otherwise you're not valid — you become a parody."

Iron Maiden will headline this year's edition of the UK's Sonisphere festival, which will be held Saturday, July 31, 2010 and Sunday, August 1, 2010 at Knebworth.

Maiden became the first outfit in history to travel round the world in a customized jet during their "Somewhere Back In Time" tour, as detailed in award-winning movie "Flight 666".


Pavement Announces 'Quarantine the Past' Best-Of Album

Pavement is one of the latest bands to capitalize on the ‘90s reunion bandwagon trend. The slew of live dates announced by the band have been selling out fast, and now the inevitable "best-of" album is set to follow.

Quarantine the Past: The Best of Pavement will be released by Matador on March 9, and will be available as a mid-priced double LP, CD and digital release. No unreleased material is included on the record, but songs spanning 1989-1999 will feature, and Matador is re-releasing the band’s back catalog on low priced vinyl to coincide.

The track listing for Quarantine the Past hasn’t been announced yet—and for good reason. Matador is running a competition to guess the 23 tracks that will be included, and has various prizes on offer, including tickets to see Pavement, complete with flights and hotel rooms, at Central Park in New York in September.


Nada Surf Readies Covers Album, Sets Spring Tour

Never shy to take on songs by other artists, Nada Surf will release a full album of cover songs this spring. In support of the 12-song disc, titled 'If I Had a Hi-Fi' and boasting takes on tunes by Kate Bush, Dwight Twilley, the Go-Betweens and Depeche Mode, the group will launch two-month tour of North America and Europe on Mar. 25 in New York.

"We really just wanted to do it organically," frontman Matthew Caws said in a release. "Whatever we felt like covering in the moment, rather than trying to sum up our influences or something. It's whatever we were excited about in the months before making it. And I think we got everything we wanted to."

"The material came together spontaneously," Caws added of the disc, which was recorded last September at Resonate Studios in Austin, Texas. "We'd get together and kick ideas around and soon we had an A list, a B list, a C list." As for the finished product, fans who attend the group's shows will have first crack at owning 'If I Had a Hi-Fi,' which also features renditions of songs by the Moody Blues, the Soft Pack, Mecromina, Bill Fox and Arthur Russell, among others.

The trek gets underway with a series of special NYC gigs, which will see the band perform its three most recent original albums, 'Let Go,' 'The Weight Is A Gift,' and 'Lucky' in their entirety, before it starts globe-hopping.


Chrissie Hynde Promises 'Incredible' Solo Album

Chrissie Hynde is making some big promises these days as the Pretenders frontwoman says she is working on her "best solo album to date." Speaking to the UK's Daily Star, the 58-year old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer asserted, "This record is going to be incredible."

"I'm working very closely with producer JP Jones, who is such an inspiration for me," she says.

Hynde, who recently collaborated with the Kinks' Ray Davies, her former flame, on the Christmas single 'Postcards From London,' hopes to have the project out in 2010 but says she's not rushing it. "There's no time limit so it'll be out when I feel ready, hopefully sometime this year, though," she said.

Earlier this year, Hynde's friend, actress and singer Sandra Bernhard told Spinner about Hynde's solo effort.
"I was just in London performing [and] I got to hang out with her quite a bit," Bernhard said in July. "She got together with [JP Jones] and wrote this album in a week, and recorded it on Garage Band. I don't know what they're going to do with it but it's just the most amazing album. So, I'm saying, 'Please get it out, Chrissie. It's beautiful.'"

The Pretenders -- who celebrated their 30th anniversary last year -- released their ninth studio album, 'Break Up the Concrete,' in October 2008.


Sir Paul Guests As Bass Player

Paul McCartney is playing bass on one track of Fran Healy's upcoming album. Healy is a member of the British group Travis.

The singer wrote on his blog, "One of the biggest coups was getting Paul McCartney to play bass on a song. I'm not sure what non-McCartney songs he's played bass on but I couldn't think of many. Anyways his bassline is brilliant."