Rev. Robert Sinewave

Calling all vinyl nerds, crate-diggers, wax heads, and discophiles! Geoffrey Wilson a.k.a. Rev. Robert Sinewave is a music obsessive but has no music gear, except for two 20-year-old turntables and an affordable Numark Scratch mixer. When he DJs, he uses the house equipment, and when asked how he feels about his at-home setup he says, “It’s whatever. It’s easy. The reason why I don’t get new mixers is because I’m always buying records.” With anyone else, “always buying records” would feel like an exaggeration, but when you walk into Wilson’s space, filled with boxes that are all packed with vinyl, it’s clear he means it. Recovering from the loss of several thousand records during a flood, his new collection is going around 3,500 strong, plus a few thousand 45s. Our four-and-a-half hour interview became a listening and educational session. We discussed the music itself, the mastering of the vinyl, the quality of packaging, original pressings, reprints, remixes, compilations, bootlegs, picture discs, colored vinyl, and all the minutiae that make a collection magical.

How do you keep a record collection this size organized?
I keep my records in alphabetical order in terms of record company. Within that, if you’re an indie, numerical order. If you’re a major, alphabetical order.

And if an artist has been signed by more than one label throughout their career?
Separate! I have old Beck under Bong Load for the vinyl, Geffen for the singles. This happened because when I was starting to collect records I had a lot of soul: Tamla, Motown, Stax. Then I discovered Art of Noise, New Order, and Joy Division. At that time, I just went, “Well, if Art of Noise is on a specific label that must mean that everything else on that label is gonna be really fucking good.” So I just started collecting by label. Please come with me…

Are we going on a journey through ZTT [The British label that released most of Art of Noise’s work]?
Propaganda from ZTT, the only thing I could find was the Island Records versions of their record. At a certain time, ZTT was distributed by Island Records. Then they got out of that contract and started getting pressed in Germany. When it’s a band from overseas, I try to get the overseas pressings.

Are German pressings the best quality?
Unmatched. Everything that’s pressed over there is usually better quality and a better mastering. German pressings hold up so well, and they kept the plastic on the inside of the inner sleeve. I try to get sleeves with the plastic inserts when I can. During COVID, they stopped making them. They’ve just started making them again now but they’re really, really shitty. Something like that is important because I’ve got a lot of original pressings. Sometime in the late ‘80s I finally found the Zang Records [ZTT] version of the Propaganda album.

Is this whole stack ZTT?
It is. But my Frankie Goes To Hollywood collection alone is actually out of control. I got this first one during Live Aid. My parents were out of town—the people who were babysitting me took me to The Ridgewood Mall in New Jersey and I found it. This is the second pressing of “Relax” because the first mix was 13 minutes long (This one is only eight). Beautiful art! Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s first record, Welcome to the Pleasuredome—I’ve played the shit out of that record. You could order all their clothing on the back. I had a couple “Frankie Says” T-shirts in high school. A couple weeks later they did a picture disk of the same record. Then we have the originals, the remixes, the alternative remixes, the other picture disks… This is a sampler that ZTT put out so that you can buy all these records. I bought it first and then I was like, “OK! I need to go buy all these records.” That led me to Anne Pigalle, Andrew Poppy, Propaganda. The Poppy music is surprisingly great, almost classical. Years later, a guy named Max Tundra comes along and samples it. You can hear it hiding in his mix. You gotta listen to Children At Play. It keeps getting better. Since we’re on this, I want to play you some difficult stuff. How do you feel about free jazz?

Anxious but willing!
One of the great free jazzers is Archie Shepp. He’s a teacher. I met him in Portland. This is his deconstruction of Duke Ellington. Are you ready? Free jazz was basically an answer to a lot of the white jazz that was happening in the ‘60s—very safe, very chart topping. Archie went on to do some of the best funk in the world. Miles did too but Archie did it first. Attica Blues is one of the best albums. It’s about the prison riots. Stuff like that, to have players who freak the fuck out and then do something like this is absolutely amazing.

Your genres are all over the place, so what draws you to certain music?
I think soul is always gonna be the base for me, and then music that pushes boundaries is the B part of it. Because I became a DJ, I had to do a lot of dance music, so Kraftwerk and Trax Records from Chicago, and house music, that was all in my MO. I had a lot of those records (I don’t have a lot of those anymore). When I started collecting 45s it was just because I couldn’t bring all the 12” records with me DJing. It hurt my back.

Have you been able to rebuy everything you lost in the flood?
No! I lost all my Impulse! [Records] collection: mono John Coltrane, mono Archie Shepp, mono Ray CharlesA Love Supreme right now, as a mono record, goes for $1,000. I had a copy. I lost a lot of things on Zang, a lot of things on Mo’ Wax, all the Chocolate Industries, I lost all of my records that I put out. I literally had to go and buy the shit again on my own.

OK! Back to happier things. What is this black on black album?
This is the first record ever done by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark in 1979. It was designed by Peter Saville, on thermographic paper. It’s a beautiful goddamn record and Saville has been Factory’s designer ever since. I have the first record the label ever released. I’ll grab it for you. Back in the day, since I was collecting the label I would see “Factory” and just buy it. That’s how I got into The Durutti Column, Section 25. This one’s cool. It’s Joy Division’s Komakino—this is a flexi that they put out right after Ian [Curtis]’s death.

That looks insane! An entirely flexible cardstock-thick record? How common are these and do they sound good?
They play well! They used to come in magazines. I’ll play you one. This is a Biz Markie cover of “Benny and the Jets.” It came in a copy of Grand Royal magazine. I used to have every copy.

You’re wearing a Def Jam shirt.
Yes! This was their first release, It’s Yours [by T La Rock & Jazzy Jay]. It was Rick [Rubin]’s first time working a drumbeat, before he met Russell Simmons—it’s what got his attention. Rick started Def Jam Recordings in his college dorm room. It has his NYU dorm address on the back of the sleeve. Did you know that Slayer released two albums on Def Jam? When I said I collected records from a label, I collected records from a label. The idea for me, with Def Jam, back in the day, was youthful music; and at the time, punk rock and hip-hop and metal were the most punk of everything. Danzig’s first record was supposed to come out on Def Jam.

What are these illustrated vinyls and does that affect the sound?
That’s a picture disc. They play well. This is the first single DJ Shadow [as DJ Shadow and the Groove Robbers] put out on Mo’ Wax. There’s a lot of information on it. One of the coolest picture disks I have is a compilation called Quality Electronic Music, put out by this label out of England called Ai [Records]. Every one of these [colored rings on the vinyl] is a separate track. I’ve always been a fan of art and design: whether it’s the people who did Impulse!, the people who did Factory Records with Peter Saville as their art director, the people who designed all the Zang stuff back in the day, early electronic labels like Schematic and Chocolate Industries with Cody Hudson [as their art director].

Tell me about your record label, The Consumers Research & Development Label!
Consumers was born out of: I was living in Chicago and my friend, Jodi [Williams], and I were getting drunk at our favorite bar, Hopleaf, and I was like, “We should start a record label,” and she was like, “OK!” And then she asked me again, the next time we were really drunk, and she was like, “You sure you want to be doing this?” and I was like “YESSSSS LET’S START DOING IT!!!!” A lot of my aesthetic came from Chocolate Industries ‘cause he was another Black guy who had his own label. I was inspired by Schematic. They put out this thing called Lily of the Valley—they took electronic artists and asked them to make “love songs.” It’s an awesome comp. It’s a little bit cold but there’s still a warm feeling in there. The first track is by this fucking nerd named Richard Devine. He changed a lot of things in the game. He’s a sound designer now.

With my own label I made this: It’s the first pressing of Del Rey[‘s] Speak It Not Aloud. Marshall Preheim did the art and it was printed at Erika Records. It’s got an old school paste. At the end of the run, I got 50 of the albums on blue [vinyl]. This one’s pressed at United in Nashville. I did a lot of colored vinyl. The quality is a little less than regular black (audiophiles will tell you that) but a lot of times I wanted to have something a little more fun, and it was worth it.

Most of our sleeves were designed by my friend Chris Eichenseer who has a company called Someoddpilot. He was my guy. I’ll show you the progression. This Miles Tilmann record Over and Through is the first record cover that I actually designed, with Miles, then Chris put it together. At the time, I was being distributed by Southern Records. Then here’s Signaldrift. It’s so beautiful. We’re probably going to reissue my favorite album by him, so hold tight.

Is this–?
A first pressing of Joy Division Unknown Pleasures! It was pressed at CBS with a textured cover. For the longest time I only had the U.S. pressings. They were just crappy and inferior in every way possible. This Kraftwerk album here is the second pressing, all in German. I fuckin’ love that record. I’d rather have Kraftwerk in German than in English sometimes. I think it’s better.

Why is there a “Reverend” in your DJ name? Are you ordained?
I’m a reverend of the Universal Life Church. I married my ex-wife’s sister to her wife in Arizona. I can still do weddings! In ‘99 this guy Reverend Billy asked me and a couple of guys who were working at Map Room in Chicago to create a beer, but he was like “You have to get ordained first.” So we all did and we made a 12% Imperial Stout called “4 Reverends Stout.” We barreled it and we won an award for it.

Have you ever been the officiant, bartender, and DJ at a wedding?
Not yet!

For more info, check out and on Instagram: @rev_robertsinewave.

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Photos by Sabrina Stone

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