Furnace Record Pressing's John LaPrade on vinyl and supporting the Washington Capitals
Founded in 1996, Furnace Record Pressing is primarily known for making high-quality vinyl records. This includes recent titles by the likes of Metallica, Foo Fighters, and Led Zeppelin. Further notable about Furnace is that its logo was designed by Shepard Fairey, who not only designed the infamous Barack Obama "HOPE" poster for the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, but also the André the Giant Has A Posse (OBEY) sticker collection.
There are some major sports fans on-staff at Furnace Record Pressing, as based in Alexandria, Virginia, and I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Production Manager John LaPrade. Mr. LaPrade is a big fan of the NHL's Washington Capitals, while also supporting some of the Boston pro teams as a result of his Massachusetts upbringing.
More on LaPrade and his Furnace cohorts -- who generously sent me a care package that included vinyl-related supplies and a bobblehead of the Furnace mascot known as "Furny" -- can be found online at www.furnacemfg.com.
When in your life did you become a Washington Capitals fan?
John LaPrade: Sometime in the late 90's, probably around '97-'98 when I was in high school and moved to Northern Virginia. It was right before the team's first Stanley Cup appearance.
Around how many games a season do you go to?
John LaPrade: Up until last season I attended 5 to 10 games a year and maybe 1 or 2 playoff games. I was at the game 7 loss to the Penguins in 2017. Last season, I didn't make it to any games at all due to scheduling conflicts, so of course, that is the year they win the Stanley Cup. So now I may never be able to go to a game again! I definitely watch every game on TV.
Do you have a favorite food vendor or stall at Capital One Arena?
John LaPrade: There are lots of great food vendors at Capital One Arena, but I tend to stick to simple stuff like popcorn and sometimes I'll grab a coffee from Dunkin' Donuts.
What about a favorite player on the Capitals?
John LaPrade: I'll go with the obvious answer and say, Alex Ovechkin. Watching him evolve as a player and a leader of the team over the last 10+ years has been really awesome. Also, he lives near me and I've seen him in the grocery store a bunch of times. Hi Alex!
Is there a team that you feel nearly as strongly about as you do the Capitals?
John LaPrade: I lived in Massachusetts outside of Boston from the ages of 8 to 12, so I've been a [New England] Patriots and [Boston] Red Sox fan since then. When I was a kid, neither of those teams were good at all, so things have changed a lot...
How do you think the 2018-2019 season for the Capitals is looking?
John LaPrade: I think it looks pretty good, they have almost everyone from last season returning so all the great chemistry from last year will still be there. I was really impressed with some of the things the GM was able to do over the summer. I wouldn't be surprised if they have a slower start from partying all summer, but I think they'll be fine and it'll all come together when it needs to.
Sports aside, what's the latest and greatest with Furnace Record Pressing?
John LaPrade: We're growing really quickly and are always up for a challenge. We're tackling one of the biggest projects we've ever done as a company all while simultaneously starting a pressing plant. It's really exciting to be part of such a huge turning point for the company. Everyone that works at Furnace is invested in our success, contributes to the culture, and is proud of the work we do here. Not many people get to say that about where they work, so it feels special and lucky, for sure.
How did Shepard Fairey wind up designing up your logo?
John LaPrade: The Furnace logo has evolved a lot over the years. Shepard Fairey designed our logo/mascot "Furny" back in 2001 before he was as well-known as he is today in the mainstream. Eric had seen his "Obey"/Andre The Giant wheat-paste tags popping up on walls in various cities and liked his style. He was able to reach out to him to design a logo and the rest is history.
How did the tradition of Furnace hiring drummers start?
John LaPrade: Well, it starts at the top. Eric [Astor] the boss man is a drummer, our Warehouse and Operations Manager Mark [Reiter], is a drummer and the list goes on. I'm one of the only people NOT a drummer at Furnace actually. (laughs)
I've heard theories like the drummer is typically the band member that's arranging the shows and booking tours and knows where everyone is supposed to go and load their gear etc., and that makes sense to me. They're the ones keeping time and making sure everything is steady but also wild and creative and I think that definitely rings true for Furnace.
Finally, what do you wish more people knew about Furnace?
John LaPrade: We care about your record almost as much as you do, we're a team of people that are passionate about music, about vinyl and this is our life. We love making cool things and we want to help you make your cool thing.