By Jaeki Cho (@JaekiCho)
In 2002, Justin Sowers and Travis Searle were working at a pizza restaurant while attending Oklahoma University. Because they shared a similar record store vision, the two partners saved up some loot, cashed in some inheritances, and donated their personal collection to open up their first shop in July of 2003 in Norman, Oklahoma. The store's humble roots are reflected in its name, as Guestroom Records derived from their preconceived notion that they'll be so poor that they will be stuck living in the backroom of the shop. Luckily, that's not the case. The initial spark of the business gave birth to another location in Oklahoma City in May of 2007.
Compared to its sister store in Norman, the Oklahoma City location boasts a bigger space and caters to an older clientele, one with fatter pockets. With a wide variety of vinyl and CD (both used and new) offered throughout the shop, expect to find a more thorough selection of indie, but with classical rock as its strong point. Justin, who was busy running around the store, answered our Wax Nostalgic 7 Question Survey.
What’s the first record you ever bought?
Justin Sowers: The first record I remember buying was Metallica's The Black Album. It was used so I guess it was eight or nine dollars. I was like 11-years-old, maybe? I'm into Mellica, but that's not my main focus I would say. I was into grunge in those days.
What’s your favorite record of all time?
Justin Sowers: Probably Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane over the Sea? My business partner was playing it. It's really well put together. It's sort of a concept album about Anne Frank. It's very unique, great from front to back. It's indie rock. They just reissued the Queens of the Stone Age album, which came out in 1998, I think? It's been out of print for five or six years, and that's another personal favorite of mine.
What’s the most valuable/expensive record that you own?
Justin Sowers: Probably the most expensive record I own money wise is a record by a band called Gandalf. It's just a valuable record. It's rare, expensive.
If you didn’t own a record shop, what would you do?
Justin Sowers: I don't know. A liquor store, maybe? [Laughs.] I thought about opening up a liquor store. It'd be a lot easier and make me more money than a record store. I was a history major in college. I thought about being a teacher or a lawyer. But I don't really like teaching. I've done some teaching, and it was...
Why should people buy records?
Justin Sowers: Well, it sound better. That would be the main reason. MP3s are very disposable. Records are the best way to listen to music. Like, a well maintained record will stay that way forever.
Vinyl will never die because…
Justin Sowers: I mean, it's the same reason why people should listen to records. It sounds better. And it can last forever. And the collectible aspect maintains it. People like to collect things, and that's where they derive a lot of the pleasure from.
Have you ever played a certain record and gotten laid?
Justin Sowers: [Laughs.] Uh, I don't think it was just the record's fault. Velvet Underground was a popular one, maybe?