Imagine this; four friends share a love of music, form a band, and carve out their own little corner of the audio-sphere to write, record, and perform over the next 30+ years. That’s the story of The Vinyl Goods.
The Early Years - Childhood's End
It all started out like any other band in 1988. The guys learned how to play other people’s songs with dreams of becoming rock stars someday. They called themselves Childhood’s End, after the Arthur C. Clarke novel of the same name. That founding lineup included Frank Marzano on lead guitar and lead vocals, Pete Pecoraro on rhythm guitar, Tim Moberly on bass, and Randy Flones on drums. Those early days were rough, as the guys were still learning their craft. At one memorable basement gig, a live cricket can be heard chirping in the background as it cut through the smattering applause at the end of a song. After spending a couple unsuccessful years trying to play cover songs, they realized that their future lie in originals.
They soon started writing their own songs and found they could play their own material much better than covers. Under the name Childhood’s End, the guys transformed into an all-originals band, wrote over 50 songs, recorded a couple demo tapes, and performed in bars with limited success. In late 1990, the group’s lead singer/guitarist and primary songwriter, Frank Marzano, decided to leave the band to pursue his career in academics. Frank’s departure dealt a blow to the others in the band, losing both a creative and talented individual. Nonetheless, they were determined to keep making music.
Starting Over - The Vinyl Goods
The three remaining members regrouped on August 19th, 1991 and renamed themselves The Vinyl Goods. Tim moved from bass to electric guitar, and the band found a new singer (Andrew Thies) and new bass player (Mike Mallo). They eventually produced a 16 song demo tape that was well received by fans, but the subsequent exit of Mike and Andrew in 1993 caused them to start all over again. Writing brand new songs as a three-piece band, the band created over 40 songs and entered the studio to records their full-length debut album, Coming Home, in 1994. Frank Marzano returned to the fold on bass for the recording sessions. Andrew Thies provided backing vocals on a few tracks as well, and both became permanent guests of the band for years to come.
Coming Home was a milestone for the band as a group and individually. They had produced their first professionally recorded and packaged album that included 16 original songs and a sizable 16-page booklet containing lyrics and artwork. The album was popular with their small circle of fans and hundreds of CD’s distributed in the following years.
Disenchanted with playing in bars, the band decide to focus their energies on songwriting, rehearsing and recording. A side project in 1996 found the band serving as house band for a community theater presentation of Godspell. Using the money they made on selling Coming Home CD’s, the band returned to the studio in 1997 to record several new tracks for a forthcoming follow up to 1994’s Coming Home. However, the project stalled when the funding was exhausted and the band member’s personal lives became more complex. Marriages, children, and divorce put the band on hold for a few years.
The Home Recording Revolution
With the rise of affordable home recording in the early 2000’s, the group put together a small home studio and self-produced the Bridges To Burn album in 2002. By leveraging the burgeoning online music site MP3.com, Bridges To Burn found a broad international audience and earned the band thousands of song downloads in over 20 countries.
With a large backlog of unrecorded material, the band spent a few years holed up in their home studio once again and put together 2006’s Long Live the B-Side. Initially planned as a collection of their lesser-popular songs, the effort ironically yielded their best selling single to date, “Pictures of Amy”. The unfinished tracks from a series of recording sessions held in 1997 were cleaned up and added as bonus tracks to the release.
For the next few years, the group focused on writing new material for a future release. In 2012, the band spent considerable time rebuilding their home studio. In an exercise to learn how to use the new studio equipment, the guys recorded 2013’s 8 Track Player album, a re-recording of songs from their original 1992 demo tape. They were pleasantly surprised when it sold out and became their fastest selling CD to date.
A New Day Dawns
In January 2016, the band released a new full-length album, The Light of Day, a collection of personal and original songs inspired by Christian values and bible stories. Released on CD, vinyl, and online, the album featured new bass player Bill Allen and several guest appearances. Local guitarist George McReynolds contributes lead guitar on several tracks and a spoken word "micro sermon" from the group's local youth pastor, Ryan Schiable. This new release was also a catalyst for the band to begin performing live again. Material from the new album and old favorites were featured in a series of community performances.
Inspired by a return visit to their home town of Bensenville, the group wrote, recorded, and produced a new song in early 2017 titled, "Back to Bensenville" to benefit the Bensenville and WoodDale Food Pantry. Sales of a limited edition CD single raised hundreds of dollars for the food pantry.
Another homecoming of sorts found the band digitally remixing and remastering their debut album, "Coming Home" in the summer of 2017. Carefully reconstructed from the original 23 year old master tapes, the new digital treatment resulted in the material sounding bigger and bolder than ever before. The remastered tracks were made available online and on a limited edition CD with all-new artwork.
The Singles Era
In early 2018, the band set out to release a series of newly recorded singles every few months. With the massive growth of digital streaming services like Spotify, the music industry trend started moving away from albums and towards singles. Starting in January, the group released a powerful studio recording of the song, "I'm Not Standing Still", a new faith song that had been part of the band's live set for several years (but never recorded until now).
The band's love of the game of baseball shown through with the timely release of "Opening Day", a celebration of the annual rite of spring. The new original song was made available just in time for major league baseball's Opening Day 2018 in March. Later in 2018, the band unearthed and remastered 4 songs recorded in the late 1990's and released them on the "Black Gold" EP.
The recording and release of singles continued through the remainder of 2018 and 2019 with the releases "Mother", "I'll Bend For You", "Pack Your Bags", and "Tailspin". The year ended with the release of a 4-song EP of original Christmas songs titled, "On the Road to Bethlehem".
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the group mixed and released the single "Meet Me There Halfway (Elbo Room Mix)" that was recorded prior to COVID. During the lockdown, guitarist and singer Tim Moberly self-produced a series of three singles where he played all the instruments: "Meet Me There Halfway (acoustic)", "I'll See You Again", and "Remember Me".
This period also prompted "virtual" songwriting sessions as the group continued writing new songs, eventually writing more new songs in 2020 than in any prior year since 1997. As the pandemic-induced lockdown restrictions eased later in the year, the group returned to performing with a few limited live socially-distanced events including the global "Play Music on the Porch Day".