Bidding war for John Andrews' new album after pre-sale copy sold to him by random dude on eBay 1
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Bidding war for John Andrews’ new album after pre-sale copy sold to him by random dude on eBay

John Andrews & The Yawns‘ new record  Love For The Underdog is out a week today. To add to the specialness of the occasion, an idle Google self-search – hey, if you’ve got an album coming out – uncovered a pre-release vinyl copy blatantly flogged on auction site Ebay. A combination of mischief and curiosity led to a local pick up from the seller in a New York street, where Andrews – who has played in Woods, Quilt, Cut Worms, Purple Mountains – took custody of the album after paying $30 for it. He decided to add some low key drama into the mix and in a further twist, rocked up in the exact same outfit he wears on the album cover. To see if it fired up a reaction, a sense of realisation maybe. Slide some bittersweet irony in there at least. Risky behaviour, but he went with it. ‘If I learned anything from this it’s that I am a psycho,’ says John. The seller was not disturbed or shaken by this decidedly low-key confrontation. ‘He just gave me this funny look that sort of said it all. I had a million things I wanted to ask him but I got so nervous and totally froze. I just said “hi” and “thank you”.  Other than that we didn’t even speak. Then he just walked away, and there I am, holding my own record in my hands that i just paid for.’ 

A few hours after the exchange happened, John was kicking himself for not asking questions – we all have questions at this stage, do we not – so messaged random dude man.  ‘He told me he found it at a used record store uptown, along with a bunch of other sealed records and he’s just flipping them on eBay.’ 

There are, John analyses, two potential scenarios at play here. 

‘Scenario one is someone stole it from the record plant and then sold it to the record shop. Scenario two is a music journalist (who will remain unnamed), received a copy of the record from my label. They were supposed to listen and possibly review it for an online music publication (which will also remain unnamed). However they clearly didn’t even open it and immediately sold it to the record shop. I have a feeling that’s what happened. It would have been totally fine if the journalist just said “no thank you”.  It’s such a weird move to accept it just to sell it. Especially weeks before the album’s even released.’ 

john andrews pick up
Random dude pitching John his own album (photo credit: John’s friend from across the street)

To heighten tensions further, the ’hot’ copy was boomeranged back on the auction site once more, put there by the Andrews himself – but not before he signed it first. Just to see what happens. It made $137.50 in the end (£110 pounds sterling), meaning our hero turned a tidy profit albeit with stress levels somewhat raised.

‘I thought it’d be hilarious and meta to sell that copy on Ebay. I was honestly just bummed that I spent $30 on my own record and wanted my money back.’ Although he stresses, he bears no ill will to random dude. ‘It’s such a strange situation. He seemed like a nice enough guy. I’d probably have a beer and talk about the Velvet Underground with him.

An amusing tale it may well be – ‘Truly taking lemons and making lemonade’ John quips – but an independent artist paying for his own damn album is an absurdist, surreal 2023 version of pay-to-play that’s not too far from reality. Viewing the scenario through a more sober lens, for so many artists the challenge in making a buck or even breaking even is an ongoing struggle, chuck in Spotify and other streaming services pay rates and it doesn’t seem so crazy.

One can’t help but view the Ebay farce as a metaphor for the music industry right now, artists paying for the very privilege of being creative?

‘Definitely. There are some weird lessons in this that I dont even really understand yet. It’s like inception. To be honest though, I’m glad it happened. It’s hilarious to me that the possibility of music journalist not wanting to review my album, ended up creating a situation on Twitter that has gone semi viral, and bringing more attention to it.’

john a
John Andrews liberates his album from random dude.

John Andrews’ hi-jinks could not be a bigger contrast or antidote to UK Record Store Day taking place this Saturday, a day bulging and bloated with over-priced obsessions around muti-coloured-splatter-with-whistles-on editions of Atlantic Crossing and The Best of Bread (or similar, it’s too bleak an exercise to explore the list), original vinyl of which are typically found in a charity shop near you no matter what side of the Atlantic one resides, for 50 pence tops.

Andrews himself putting the album up for the highest bidder in a mood of protest reminds of Scottish band The Sexual Objects led by Davy Henderson – formerly of Fire Engines, Nectarine No. 9, Win, Port Sulphur – back in 2015 selling the sole copy including full rights to second album Marshmallow on eBay. It was bought for £4k (that’s about £70million in today’s money surely, the cost of living the way it is). The buyer eventually released 300 copies of the album, each cannily snaffled up by collectors and enthusiasts soon after. Regular copies of Marshmallow now sell for the best part of £100. Goes to show, there’s some ker-ching in there somwhere. It’s just a case of exhausting yourself to find it.

john andrews album art
Love For The Underdog album cover

Back to John Andrew & The Yawns, a good few people were bidding against each other for  Love For The Underdog, something John views as ‘weird’. ‘My record release show is next week…they could just buy it for $25 then. I think it’s the novelty of owning this funny record with a backstory though. I hope they enjoy the music at least.  I might message the original seller on Ebay and tell him about all of this. I sorta like the idea that he doesn’t even know though.’ 

Love For The Underdog by John Andrews & The Yawns is released 28 April on Woodsist Records.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.