By Jaeki Cho (@JaekiCho)
Zac Ives and Eric Friedl are longtime friends who were both involved in the Memphis rock scene for years. Friedl started Goner Records, an indie record label, in the mid ‘90s, and when a local storefront became vacant in 2004, the pair immediately maxed out some credit cards and started their own brick and mortar shop. The result is a frequent favorite among Memphis music lovers, where they can check out close to 10,000 LPs, a similar amount of 7-inches, and an additional thousand CDs in a variety of genres—soul, funk, R&B, jazz, electro, indie rock, and local titles unique to the city. It’s part of a growing synergy developed by Ives and Friedl as the Goner Records imprint continues to churn out distinctive releases by artists (Ty Segall, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Quintron & Miss Pussycat, and the late Jay Reatard, who was a personal friend of the owners), hold annual music festivals, and operate both an online and physical operation.
Ives has played in bands for close to 15 years, but until recently the Oklahoma native's day gig was at an ad agency in Washington D.C. Even after the shop’s initial opening, it took him some time to fully get adjusted before he was able to quit his 9 to 5, and take on the indie record business with full force. Ives was kind enough to take time out from his burgeoning musical empire to take out Wax Nostalgic 7 Question Survey .
What’s the first record you ever bought?
Zac Ives: Men at Work’s Cargo in 1983. The lead singer’s sitting on [toilets] in the picture sleeve inside. I thought that was really cool. I was 7. I just got it at the mall for like $7.99 or something like that. That’s the only place you could go in Oklahoma until I got a little older, got a car, found Rainbow Records, and realized there was something outside of the radio.
What’s your favorite record of all time?
Zac Ives: Probably Static Disposal by a band from Oklahoma called the Debris. They’re from Chickasha, Oklahoma in 1976. It’s kind of crazy, schizophrenic, rock, protopunk record.
What’s the most valuable/expensive record that you own?
Zac Ives: I think I spent $75 for the actual copy of [Static Disposal]. I got a handful of collectibles. I mean we deal with that kind of stuff more because in the shop we carry a lot of jazz, a lot of soul, and stuff like that. We’re dealing with more of that stuff in the shop than I deal with it on the collecting side, since it’s become our business.
If you didn’t own a record shop, what would you do?
Zac Ives: I probably would still be working for the advertising agency in D.C. Before we opened the shop, and for the first couple years after we open the shop, it took two to three years before I could quit that job, and focus on this stuff. [The ad agency job] wasn’t great, but it certainly beat other stuff. I was on the creative side, so that helped.
Why should people buy records?
Zac Ives: I think CDs are dead in the water, and if you’re more comfortable listening to MP3s on a little player than good for you. For me, it’s a whole different experience. Holding something in your hand, throwing it down, and flipping it; the listening experience is different. So I just prefer the sound of music that comes off vinyl. That’s just me. Luckily, we got a good crew of people that agree with us here in Memphis and outside. We built a pretty good niche of what we deal with.
Vinyl will never die because…
Zac Ives: I don’t see any reason why it would die. Because if it didn’t die the first time, I don’t think it’s going to die now. I think people kind of figured out that record industry’s trying to take advantage of stuff, and if anything, vinyl’s back on some level. I think it reinforces the fact that people want to have a little bit more for their listening experience, and are willing to pay for a tangible deal that’s going to sound good. And it’s going to have artwork they can look at. To me, that’s the whole package, and always has been. It never changed when CDs came out for me, and I think that was for a lot of people. I think it’s also encouraging to see kids coming in now, and getting into it from the ground floor and up. It’s not just the older folks who are in here doing it. I think that speaks well on it living on.
Have you ever played a certain record and gotten laid?
Zac Ives: Nah, I don’t think so, man. Part of that is the fact that I’m not listening to stuff that’s going to do that. Like Teddy Pendergrass records don’t really come home with me. When I turn on the punk rock at home, the wife usually looks disapprovingly at me.
2152 Young Ave, Memphis, TN
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