For most of us, vinyl records are a thing of the past. But one man in Minnesota refuses to give up on vinyl. Reporter Todd Melby brings us today's Global Hit.
Christian Fritz works as an auditor at a big financial services company. So you'd think that when bonus time rolls around, he'd tuck that money into a retirement account.
Nope, the 35-year-old Minneapolis man spends his hard earned cash on records. Fritz runs Minneapolis Limited. It's a tiny music company he operates out of his house that releases new rock music on vinyl. But not just any vinyl.
They're singles...7-inch-45s with an independent rock band from Minneapolis on one side, and a European or Russian group on the other.
This is Hot Zex, from Siberia. They're featured on the first single Fritz released. Fritz has been a DJ in the Minneapolis underground party scene for about a decade. He got the idea to showcase international indie bands while visiting a friend in Moscow a couple of years ago.
FRITZ: "There was just so much stuff over there that was just so cool and people over here weren't hearing it and I wanted to get involved and just try to get people to hear it."
So he created the Super Split Single.
Super Split Single
FRITZ: "I think a lot of peoples' scope of what they listen to is too narrow."
Fritz has released four records so far.
In addition to Hot Zex from Russia, his singles feature Earworm from Belarus, Velvet Underwear from Belgium, and an Estonian band ... the Tartu Pop and Rock Institute.
Lauri Randveer plays bass guitar for the Estonian band. He says for a time, the group recorded songs in English because their musical influences were British and American. But they've stopped doing that.
RANDVEER: "There's no excuse for singing in English when you are an Estonian band."
In "A Journey Around the World," the Tartu Pop and Rock Institute sings about a fictional Estonian astronaut. He meets a woman just before he jets off to outer space, only to discover that she's the love of his life.
Tartu Pop Rock Institute
RANDVEER: "It's like a metaphor of traveling far away and realizing everything you are looking for is very close."
Christian Fritz is selling the records at independent music stores and online. Join the Super Split Singles Club at his website and he'll mail you the whole set.
One of the Minneapolis bands featured on the vinyl collection is Mercurial Rage. On their single, Mercurial Rage is paired with Velvet Underwear, the group from Brussels. Michael Digreggario is Mercurial Rage's lead singer. He says he loves Velvet Underwear's raw and dirty sound.
DIGREGGARIO: "You put it in your stereo and it's like the speakers are going to blow up."
The Minneapolis and Brussels bands have gotten to know each other through MySpace. They've exchanged instant messages on the website, but have never actually spoken.
MERCURIAL RAGE: "They're online right now? Tell them we're doing an interview."
I suggest we call Velvet Underwear using old-school technology: the telephone. In a few minutes, we're on the line with Yeti Popstar of Velvet Underwear. That's right. His name is Popstar.
YETI POPSTAR: "Hello?"
MERCURIAL RAGE GUY: "Hi."
MERCURIAL RAGE GUY: "Hello."
YETI POPSTAR: "Hello. Hello. What's up?"
Since they began listening to Velvet Underwear, Mercurial Rage has become infatuated with the mysterious Lizzie Stardust, the Underwear's lead singer.
I pop the question for them.
MELBY: "Is Lizzie as hot and sexy as these guys think she is?"
YETI POPSTAR: "Well, it's my girlfriend. Of course I think she's hot and sexy."
So much for that fantasy.
A more practical dream is to perform far from home. Thanks to the Super Split Single, Mercurial Rage is toying with the idea of a gig in Brussels. As for Velvet Underwear, they're planning a U.S. tour next year.
For the World, I'm Todd Melby in Minneapolis.