Al Milman (Alan Milman Sect) talks Vagrants and “The Long Island Sound” with LITA!

Alan (L) and Joel (R) of The Alan Milman Sect. Live at CBGB's 1977. Photo courtesy Paul Blaccard.

Alan Milman is a NYC transplant living in Seattle where he used to co-own (with Moshe Weinberg) the much missed record store Bedazzled Discs.  It was there that Light In The Attic’s Matt Sullivan (then an employee of Al’s) first heard about the Vagrants (and a ton of other records). It was then that Al first planted the seed in Matt’s head for doing a comp of the Vagrants singles…fast forwrad 10 years, and here we are. Just yesterday Vagrants I Can’t Make A Friend 1965 – 1968 finally hit the streets. This week Al was kind enough to tell us a bit about growing up in NYC / Long Island during the time of the Vagrants and about his own place in NY’s punk history.

Tell us about the New York scene during the era of The Vagrants.

The top group in the area at the time was The Rascals who got “discovered” playing at the Barge in South Hampton.They were epitome of The Long Island Sound (blue eyed soul with Hammond B-3 organ and a dose of stretched out danceable hard rock). The other practitioners of this brand of blue eyed soul on Long Island were The Vagrants who became the top group after The Rascals went national. In their wake were groups like Denny Bellini’s Rich Kids, The Hassles (with Billy Joel on the B-3) who rehearsed in a judo studio on Grand Ave in Baldwin, The Vanilla Fudge (bassist Tim Bogart hailed from my hometown and lived on Oceanside Road in Oceanside at the time), and the first ‘hair band”, the ultra rhythmic group The Illusion to name a few!
When was the first time you heard The Vagrants? What caught your attention?

I’ll tell you the first time I heard of The Vagrants, was when they were on the cover of The Long Island Press. The headline was “Longhairs Meet In Principals Office And Form Rock And Roll Group”! Their name was on every marquee from The Action House in Island Park to all the beach clubs on The Lido Strip. I was too young to get in to these places to see them at that time. I heard their “Respect’ single on the radio in ’67. I heard all the other great singles collected on The Great Lost Vagrants Album in the 1987 0n Arista which are now on the Light In The Attic Vagrants comp.

After all these years what is it that makes The Vagrants sound so vital today?

The Vagrants had a very seminal garage band sound which has a huge impact on today’s groups going back to the basics, combined with vocal and instrumental chops topped off with great songs that stand out and have proven to be timeless!

The Alan Milman Sect

And getting a bit personal, tell us about your band The Alan Milman Sect. In our book “Stitches In My  Head” is one of the greatest punk 45′s of all time.

The Alan Milman Sect was originally together in the NYC area 1977-1978. Our first single “Stitches In My Head” has had about half a dozen cover versions including one by Urge Overkill. Our record Nicotine Caffeine is featured in syndication at this time on the TV series “House” (Season four; Episode “Games”). Both “Nicotine Caffeine”,”Stitches In My Head” and many more are featured on The Alan Milman Sect Stitches In My Head comp available at www.flotationrcords.com! I am currently doing some new AMS recordings with the 2011 line up in Seattle.

What’s it like being a native New Yorker living in Seattle?

I’ve been here for 20 years and dig living here in Seattle. Unfortunately NYC does not have the same atmosphere anymore.There are not enough book stores and record stores because of the high overhead, and the price of concert tickets is twice as much as here! At this point in time I think Seattle is the best city in America to live in!

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Special thanks to Al Milman for sitting down with us and to Matt Sullivan for arranging the interview. Vagrants – I Can’t Make A Friend 1965 – 1968 is available NOW!