You may know Nicholas Rouley from his “Best of” tee shirt in the Chicago Reader, or his band Loose Dudes. Here at Busy Beaver we know him as “Nick,” and here’s an interview with him about his extensive button collection.
BB: Why did you start collecting buttons?
Some of the first buttons I can remember picking up were Mad Magazine buttons I bought from flea markets when I was still in grade school, but at the time it was more of a Mad thing than a button thing. I started seriously collecting buttons in junior high when I started getting into punk rock. It was a cheap and easy way to broadcast the bands I was into, despite living in the Chicago burbs and no one realizing what they represented. At least I thought it was cool. Once I started going to see bands at the Fireside Bowl my button collection really sky rocketed.
BB: How many buttons are in your collection?
I probably have a couple hundred buttons scattered around my current apartment in Palmer Square and back at my parents house. I actually lost most of my old buttons in a house fire my folks had several years ago. I’ve always been a bit of a collector and lost several collections in that one blaze. Luckily I didn’t keep them all in the same place and even now a handful of buttons will resurface if I dig around enough. One of the cooler buttons I thought I lost was a hand made button I drew that Christen pressed for me at a WLUW record fair that reads “Chicago’s fattest ass.” That was about eight or nine years ago, so I’ve been a supporter of Busy Beaver for some time now.
BB. How do you store and display your buttons?
It really depends on my attachment to said button. I have a rather large glass bowl that I keep filled with the buttons I like to wear on the day to day. Before I leave the house I’ll finger around the dish and find something that suits the day / night. On the other hand, I have certain buttons that I won’t even wear because I’m afraid of losing them. I’ve let a few slip away after having them fall off on exceptionally rowdy nights. My girlfriend Claire actually found some old vintage frames which she then modified with a homemade cork backboard, so that I could mount and display my buttons upon. It’s hanging up in our hallway and looks pretty choice.
BB: What is your favorite button?
I honestly don’t think I could pick just one. All of them! I’m rather fond of the David Shrigley buttons from the Button-O-Matic series 5 (Fall 2004). That “DIRT” one is too cool. Most of my favorites are vintage ones I find in old record shops. I found this hilarious “Good Smoke For Good Folk” button from the 70s that has a weird hologram image of a pot leaf. That button actually inspired the roach clip button for the band I’m in. It’s so funny to me when people go out of their way to promote smoking grass, like it needs a street team or something. A lot of the buttons I’m into probably aren’t really appropriate for this blog because they’re really dirty. I’m not sure what that says about me, but whatever. Lastly, I got this old Penthouse “I Met The Pet” button that was probably a weird promotional button given out to questionable men at an adult themed convention. To think of the beautiful women or overweight losers with hairy palms that touched this thing at one point in time. I prefer to only think about the babes and not the depths from which it was eventually surfaced from.