Looney Tunes goes “on the record” discussing Record Store Day, 2013

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“Record Store Day was started as a way for those [larger] record companies to realize the importance of independent record stores and give them a day where they give us special pieces that no one else has.”

–Karl Jr.


When:

Saturday, April 20, 2013
9:00 AM (If you sign up for a VIP Club Card)
10:00AM General Opening

Where:

Looney Tunes
31 Broovale Avenue

West Babylon, NY 11704

Author, François de la Rochefoucauld, once said, “The only thing constant in life is change.” It could be argued that in addition to change, music has nearly as much of a constant presence in life –and is always changing to boot!

One very special occasion showcasing the omnipresence of physical music worldwide, is Record Store Day. A festive occasion conceptualized by Chris Brown of Bull Moose Records, the event was founded in 2007 by the collective efforts of Eric Levin, Michael Kurts, Carrie Colliton, Amy Dorfman, Don Van Cleave and Brian Poehner and the first Record Store Day was held on April 3, 2008. It has since then evolved into a global brand with its own
official website.

Taking place this year on April 20th, approximately a month before the event itself, a cherished and long awaited list of rare titles gets sent out to independent music shops everywhere and consumers flock to the web to start making decisions about which albums they will chase after when the time comes. Looney Tunes in West Babylon is a big supporter of the brick and mortar music experience and a highly esteemed participant in the once-a-year phenomenon that is Record Store Day.

Now that the 2013 list has dropped, Looney Tunes is prepping for the imminent onslaught and LIB caught up with store manager, Karl Junior, to talk a bit about the significance of Record Store Day and what music aficionados can expect to find on the shelves and hear in the local mom and pop shop.

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LIB: So, Record Store Day is almost upon us once again. I know I’ve been a die hard fan of the event for a while now but even though it might feel like a second birthday for some music lovers, can you briefly sum up what it is for those few who have not taken part in the fun yet?

Karl Jr.: Record Store Day was started about six years ago, by a collective group of a bunch of independent record stores to try and get together and have a special day, where all the record companies can give us special exclusive pieces to just celebrate independent record stores. You have a lot of the big box chains like Wal-Mart, Target… They always have exclusive tracks or cool pieces that independent stores don’t have. Like, for example, this week Justin Timberlake’s got a new record out and if you buy it at Target, there’s two extra tracks on that record. They have a Target exclusive.

So the record companies are always working with the big boxes and giving them special pieces. Record Store Day was started as a way for those record companies to realize the importance of independent record stores and give them a day where they give us special pieces that no one else has. …A lot of bands understand the importance of those stores and they put out some really cool pieces just for those stores to sell that day.

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LIB: It’s really great that a long time, and well stocked, independent establishment like Looney Tunes still exists on the island. Family-run establishments like these certainly aren’t as common as they used to be. Having said that, what motivates you to bring in as much stock as you do, knowing that the music business is still struggling to keep physical and print items relevant and profitable?

Karl Jr.: You know, owning a record store, it’s an interesting dynamic. Every week…you know, besides Record Store Day…we celebrate Record Store Day 365 days a year. The rest of the world, you know, some people, they celebrate Record Store Day only once a year! Every day for us is Record Store Day. On a normal week, there are anywhere between 80-300 releases for that week. Now, every store is not going to stock every single piece that ever existed –I mean, it’s really physically impossible because there’s tens of thousands of releases every year. So you have to decide what you’re going to bring in and what you’re not going to bring in.

Most of the big chain stores…I was just in Hot Topic the other day, and they had maybe about 40 CDs. You go to Kmart and they might have 1,500 CDs or Best Buy has maybe 1,700 different selections. To us, because we’re a real record store, we’re not worried about microwaves or refrigerators or stuff like that to make our bread and butter. We decide what we want to bring in and we buy what we think anybody would want to have. We’re a full-line store. We don’t just have heavy metal or punk or hardcore. We’ll have the newest releases but then we also have the harder-to-find indie stuff that other people might want too. It’s difficult trying to decide what you want to take and we’re constantly trying to cram more stuff into our store but we currently have about 20 times the selection other stores have and we pride ourselves on that. When my dad started the store in 1971, there were always three things he emphasized: Good customer service…having a good, fair, discounted price and having the widest selection around.

With Record Store Day, it’s hard. It’s all about independent record stores and now you put out a list and you have 388 new titles coming out that day. Now, if you’re a smaller store, –let’s say someone smaller than Looney Tunes– financially, it is very, very difficult to purchase a lot of product for just one particular day because when you buy vinyl records, they are non-returnable, one-way sales

You buy 10 copies of the Phish release and no one comes in to buy it and that store is screwed. What I’m worried about is, as this grows and grows…if you have a store that buys all the stuff God forbid no one comes in to buy it that day, they may have to go out of business because they committed so much money. The money I spent, on buying the product for Record Store Day is astronomical. You’re talking tens and tens, almost 100 thousand dollars in stuff. Some things we might have more or less of but you might have that one person that wants it. So at Looney Tunes, we buy EVERYTHING. We try to have the most stock of all the stores on the east coast for all the Record Store Day titles.

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LIB: Are there any particular international-only releases that you wish could be stocked here as well?

Karl Jr.: That’s a very good question. There are always a lot of international stores that have a lot of these special pieces: Australia, Japan, England, France, Switzerland, Netherlands…everywhere and the Europeans [in particular,] have a lot of different pieces that sometimes the domestic, the United States stores, don’t have and vice versa. Like, last year, there was a Beatles piece that was only available in Europe, that everybody wanted but just literally couldn’t get it. Looney Tunes’s own record label, Brookvale Records has a release ready –Porno for Pyros’s first record on red and gold swirled vinyl– and we’re creating a piece exclusively for the European market and one for the domestic market. [To be honest though,] I haven’t really seen the [international] list yet. We’ve been concentrating so much on our own stuff I haven’t really seen what else is coming out that we’re not going to be able to get.

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LIB: I know there are many high-demand releases that sell out at nearly identical speeds (a.k.a. As soon as the doors open!) but which items do you think will sell out first –the top three most universally sought after?

Karl Jr.: There’s a Trey Anastasio, you know, the guy from Phish? He has a 7-inch picture disc coming out. I think that’s going to be one of the most sought after pieces. There’s a David Bowie 45 coming out that I think is going to be really popular and there’s a Cream box set. There’s also a Pink Floyd box set that I think is going to do very well. Uh, Mad Season is putting out their album called “Above,” on vinyl for the first time. I think that’s going to do pretty well. There’s a Mumford and Sons piece, “Live from Bull Moose Records” that I think is going to do great…there’s a Phoenix piece…and of course we’re thinking and hoping our own Porno for Pyros release does really, really well.

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LIB: Looney Tunes runs a pretty tight ship when it comes to efficiency and orderliness on Record Store Day but the question begs asking: When it comes to all these desirable products, what’s the craziest thing that a shopper has ever done to try and get that one thing they had to have? Ever seen people bartering in line? Ever any actual tiffs? Begging?

Karl Jr.: There was a Phish piece that came out last year,“Junta,” that they pressed only a few of and it was just so sought after. …I think Phish fans on Record Store Day come out the craziest. You know, we had people from, Connecticut passing nine other record stores because they knew we would have a lot and they were just camping out in front of our store. We got a call from somebody out in California, wanted one of the Phish pieces, heard we had like two left and they literally said, “We will tattoo “Looney Tunes” on our bodies if you can hold us one” but, it was already sold out and gone. I wish I had it because I would have given it to them! They were sending us pictures, saying, “Here, I’ll tattoo it right on my arm…” I told them, “Hey, that’s a cool idea, thank you, but, they’re gone.” That’s how fanatical some of these people are about these releases.

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LIB: Can you give us any heads up on special events or live bands that Looney Tunes will be hosting during the day?

Karl Jr.: We’re working on about three or four different bands playing that day. The only one we can confirm right now, is Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed. He’s a cool, soul, bluesy singer, good guy, He kind of looks like a young Elivs-type of guy –sorta hipster. He’s going to be playing that day I know for sure and that’s going to be really cool. He’s a big artist and he has a Record Store Day release coming out that day [as well.]

LIB: Well, there’s certainly a lot to look forward to. I’m already prepping to make my list of choice picks and set aside the “necessary funds!” Thanks for chatting with me today. See you in a few short weeks!

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You can see the official RSD release list, showing everything Looney Tunes plans to have in stock, HERE. Note that the item list is subject to change and that online orders cannot be placed with Looney Tunes until the day after Record Store Day.

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