This is Dodgy in the mix, with the 10th Anniversary of Record Store Day less than one week away – I had the special privilege of getting to interview RSD co-creator Eric Levin. Eric who is a record store owner himself pioneered the event which originated as a mad idea based from on his love of comics and music, now we are looking into the first decade of Record Store Day!
Comic Crusaders: How did you get into music?
Eric Levin: My late older brother and my late father were both into music and were heavy influences on me. My father, in particular, had a massive LP collection that I was forbidden to touch. It fascinated me and I started collecting as far back as I can remember. My dad’s best friend owned a record store, I was pretty much weaned on the experience.
CC: What inspired you to create Record Store Day?
EL: As my own store, Criminal Records, is also a comic book store, I was inspired by the success of Free Comic Book Day. When a group of record store owners convened in Baltimore, led by the Dept of Record Stores’ Michael Kurtz, I was able to share my proud experience of participating in FCBD.
CC: How long did it take before idea was launched?
EL: We launched immediately after that gathering, I recall our first official RSD was seven months after that convention.
CC: And what were the challenges?
EL: It was hard to get the press interested that first year, they simply weren’t having it. This was at the height of iTunes and Napster and record stores just didn’t fit their narrative.
It took a few years to break through that editorial bias.
CC: Which was the first store to launch RSD?
EL: We had hundreds of participating stores the first year, we were really able to get the word out in a short time. Rasputin’s in San Francisco were ground zero, as they had an appearance by Metallica that really set the tone for future years.
CC: What have been your RSD highlights throughout the years?
EL: Our first year had an appearance by a then unknown Janelle Monae that was pretty momentous, but it was a special appearance by Rodriguez, our fourth year that remains my personal highlight. Getting to know him, prior to his breakout with the movie Searching for Sugarman, has been a career highlight.
CC: What music do you listen to?
EL: I’m a fan of most genres, but particularly love dub reggae, eighties harmony and jazz.
CC: What’s your favourite album?
EL: Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden
CC: One of the creators named of the aspiring new annual event Buy Indie Comics Day used Record Store Day as his inspiration, what does that mean to you and what bit of advice would you give to BICD?
EL: RSD has inspired a lot of events and that’s quite humbling. I’m always excited about fellow indie events, days that celebrate the local businesses and their communities. The best advice I could give would be to keep it local.
CC: Are you a Comic fan? And what do you read?
EL: I’m a life-long comic fan with a penchant for the indie and alternative press. Love and Rockets, Hate, Eightball, all the Fantagraphics line were formative for me and for Criminal Records. Currently, I look forward to Walking Dead and Saga.
CC: 10 years have passed, are you satisfied with the progression of RecordStore Day?
EL: RSD continues to shock and amaze, I’m incredibly impressed with the growth internationally.
CC: Where would you like to see RSD in the next 10 years?
EL: I’d like to see RSD continue to grow, it’s a great shot in the arm for the indie record store community and great fun.
CC: Why are vinyl records making a comeback?
CR: Vinyl represents a real experience in an age where a lot of music is ephemeral and unimportant.
Like comics and books, people like to get close to the things they love, they like to hold and collect.
If you’re in Atlanta, go and pay Eric and his team a visit at Criminal Records! Record Store Day is on April 22nd, don’t miss it!
Dodgy is a Senior Contributor for Comic Crusaders spanning from Comics, Music, Manga, Action Figures and more.. He is also the proud host of the Indie Comic Podcast Flipside Focus and Marvel Comics Podcast on No-Prize Podcastand and is also VP of the Undercover Capes Podcast Network.
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