The Vinyl Five:
Bob Haro

The Vinyl Five Concept Victrola's new monthly series features artists, authors, DJs, producers, athletes, and other cultural icons discussing their five essential albums on wax and beyond—an exploration of individuals' personal soundtracks and the music that inspires them.

Bob Haro

For the second installment of Victrola's "The Vinyl Five" interview series, we catch up with the godfather of freestyle BMX, Bob Haro.

Haro has left an indelible mark on extreme sports culture with his hard-charging riding style and, more importantly, his innovation of freestyle BMX. But beyond the ramps and accolades lies a man with a profound passion for music, both listening to and creating it.

Growing up in Southern Cal, his musical tastes vary from the expected to the unexpected. You might catch him cranking up some classic MJ or diving into The Smiths, but down deep, Haro is a synth-pop fanatic.

So let it rip, Mr. Haro; we want to know more!

Electronic: Electronic

One of my favorite albums that takes me back to simpler times of my youth.

Summer parties and dancing.

Surf trips in Baja with this on blast with tequila and beers flowing.

I'm also a huge Pet Shop Boys fan, so Neil Tennant's vocal collaboration on "The Patience of a Saint" is music to my ears.

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The Smiths: Strangeways Here We Come

Classic Smiths! What's not to love about this album - more great songs and youthful memories!

The band broke up after this album, so it's especially sentimental as this was the end of The Smiths' era and the beginning of the Morrissey phase, which was never quite the same for me.


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Michael Jackson: Thriller

This album pretty much sums up the legend that is Michael Jackson and his iconic sound. I'm stoked to have grown up with MJ as a kid with the Jackson 5 and later through his solo career—more good vibes of dance parties with friends and MJ on blast.

Sadly, gone too soon, but his music will live on!

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Erasure: The Neon Remixed

I will forever be a fan of Erasure and Vince Clark. Their sound has always been with me since I first heard their sound in the 80s at dance clubs when I was first on my BMX tours in Europe.

I also was smitten with the synth sound when Vince was part of Depeche Mode on their first Speak & Spell album. I've never been a fan-boy for Hollywood types, but I hung out in LA to meet him after a show and got his autograph. Vince was and still is my synth hero.

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Arizona: Arizona

These guys are a newer band I heard a few years ago and related to. The way they fuse their vocals with synths definitely has some 80s inspiration in there, and it just works.

I recently saw them in LA and was impressed with their live show. Their style feels like a fresh version of the music I grew up loving as a kid. 

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The Other Stuff:

Q: In a world of streaming and almost limitless titles available, why do you think people are going back to vinyl?

A: I think vinyl is coming back as a new generation has discovered this more organic way of listening to music. Holding an album cover and a piece of vinyl allows the user to experience where the music has come from or how it was generated more closely. When I was young, listening to the music and looking at the album cover, reading about the artist, or looking at their photos was always fun and enlightening. I also remember being a kid very young, and when the lyrics were included, you would sing along to the music. Putting on a vinyl record is an interactive experience that pulls you in and makes you listen more actively than just streaming a playlist.

Q: If you had (or have) your dream vinyl listening room, what would/does it look like? What would/does it sound like?

A: My dream room would have two large speakers and an oversized comfortable leather chair or couch and ottoman where I can put my feet up and listen to music as soft or as loud as I wish. I write and play music, so I had a similar setup at my office during the pandemic. I had my large 15-inch speakers connected to my system and the super comfy leather chair and ottoman that I found. I would turn the lights down low, have a beer or two, and immerse myself in the sound.

Q: What's your favorite record store?

A: Back in the day, it was Tower Records. I live in North San Diego County, so the go-to record shop is Lou's Records in Leucadia.

Q: When you shop for records, do you make a plan or just ransack the stacks and hope for the best?

A: I don't shop for records like I used to. When I was a kid, I used to go to dance clubs and listen to radio stations like KROQ in Los Angeles and 91X in San Diego. Alternative or new wave music had just come out, and I loved the sound. If I was at a club and heard a great track, I would go to the record store to try to find it. Sometimes, I didn't know the track's name, so I'd have to sing a little of the song to the person behind the counter. This was a little silly, but sometimes I found out what the record was!

Q: When listening to records, what's your go-to beverage? Whiskey? Wine? Beer? High-end mineral water? Nada?

A: I start my day with music, and music is in the background as I work and throughout most of my day. I usually start out with very chill ambient or piano music as I have my coffee and go to the office to handle emails and correspondence. As the day progresses, so does the BPM and the volume. I write and produce electronic music, so most days, there is a track or two I'm working on in the background. For beverages, I like to have a nice IPA beer or a margarita or tequila on the rocks.

Q: What is the most important album in your current collection? What is the rarest? What is the weirdest?

A: I have quite a record collection that, unfortunately, is in my storage unit, but I still have it! I was the child of the late 70s and the 80s, so the 80s vibe is present in my record collection. I have many first-edition records from many iconic bands of that time! For me, one record stands out. It was the first demo record from the Pet Shop Boys of West End Girls produced by Bobby Orlando in New York. Bobby Orlando worked on disco records from the 70s, and he helped the Pet Shop Boys create their first hit song. In addition, this record means a lot to me because this iconic track, "West End Girls," was very rough, and it inspired me when I wrote electronic music. When I say rough, it was very unpolished, but the song idea was solid! Later, they were discovered and teamed up with bigger and better producers, and the sound became very polished. "West End Girls" became the hit that we all know today.

Q: On a 10-scale how much of an audiophile are you really (One: if it sounds ok, I'm ok. Ten: I'm extremely picky and need it to sound just so!)?

A: As an audiophile, I would rate an eight. I like nice speakers and have studio monitors in my office that I listen to daily. I'm not a purist, but I do like excellent sound quality.

Q: Did you make mixtapes as a kid? How elaborate were they? Did you deck them out with custom ink work? Fill them with rare grooves? Were they full of your favorites you wanted to share? Tell us.

A: Yes, I was big into making mixtapes! I had a dual cassette player that I would make tapes for my early Haro Bmx freestyle tours! Music was a big part of the experience of our freestyle shows, and at that time, as we toured across the US and different parts of the world, the alternative or new wave music scene was happening. In the Midwest, when we did shows, most of the kids were exposed to American rock 'n' roll and Americana music. We'd roll in playing Devo, Depeche Mode, New Order, Spandau Ballet, and more, and the riding and the tunes blew the kids away!

Q: If your career had a soundtrack, what artists would be on it and why?

A: Off the top of my head, it's something from the Pet Shop Boys or Depeche Mode. These bands represent my youth and a significant moment in my life and career! The two were the soundtrack of my demo tours Around the world.

Q: Any genres of music that are a hard pass?

A: Yes, that would be country music. I can't get my head around it, and I've tried. The twangy voices and sometimes kooky Americana lyrics make me crazy. Apologies to the country fans out there…

Q: Do you organize your records? If so, how?

A: They're in milk crates, so if that's called organizing, then yes.

Q: Besides vinyl or music, what else do you collect?

A: I'm not much of a collector, but I do have my records! I collect my BMX photos and artwork that I’ve created. It's nice to look back on these. As a former BMX rider, I had lots of gear and bikes that I made over the years. I either gave it away or sold it when I was on the road. I have a few things from my past that I have fond memories of. I have my old Haro Team jersey, original 1970’s BMX Action Trick Team number plate, and signature helmet. I did do a good job of digitizing and preserving my art and photos from back in the day!

Q: What new albums or artists do you have in your current rotation that are flipping your lid right now?

A: Like many, I listen to music via Spotify or YouTube and have channels that I listen to, so lots of the tracks that I like, I don't know their names. I know that sounds terrible, but it's true.

Q: Is there any specific person, place or moment that minted your love of music?

A: Music has always been with and in me and as a kid in junior high and high school, I was a band geek and played trumpet. Even younger than that, I was always into music. I have an older half-sister and brother who had the Beatles and Rolling Stones records, and I remember playing them and signing along with them. As a kid, I had three other siblings, and I was the oldest. Our parents would buy us records like the Beach Boys and others of that era - we would all sit on the couch with the album open to the lyrics and sing to the music. From this, I would listen to a song and try to dissect how it was put together. This is how I first learned to write music. Other times, I'm just happy to be home alone or sing to a tune when I'm in good spirits! Which, thankfully, is most of the time.

My music:

Listen in Hi-Res

As part of our Vinyl Five series, we ask our esteemed participants to play their thoughtfully picked records on a premium Victrola Hi-Res turntable while sharing their thoughts and feelings. Using either wireless aptX™ Adaptive Bluetooth connectivity or wired with a switchable preamp standard RCA outs, Hi-Res turntables provide vinyl listening in stunning clarity.

Learn More about the Hi-Res Series