AN INTERVIEW WITH TODD FROM ROCK N' ROLL LAND

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Submitted Date 10/14/2019
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What is your history with music?

I've always been a music lover. I have about 5000 records in my collection.

We opened the store in October 2011, we've been open for 8 years. We are coming up on our 8 year celebration and have a week long sale. It's crazy, we left pretty good jobs to open a record store, but it was now or never. It has its ups and downs. The surge of vinyl has it going out as fast as it comes in. I have a business partner but I'm a one man show, taking care of everything.

I've been going to record stores my whole life. We are more than a record store. We have instruments here, clothing, hair products, patches, the whole rock n roll thing. We consider everything rock n roll, every genre is rock n roll to us. We try to appeal to everyone.

Were there any record stores that inspired you?

The biggest record store that inspired me was Exclusive Company, that was the most accessible one around here. They are more of that cookie cutter record store. They have the stock, put it out, and keep on going. It's a good concept, but we wanted to be more than that.

Some record stores are a cluttered mess. I hand clean everything and we pride ourselves on selling nice material. There weren't that many record stores when we started. There's always room for improvement, I'm always thinking of how we can get better. We've had 8 of those record bins originally and we have added 20 more. We packed every inch of space with vinyl.

What is your history with vinyl?

]I grew up with vinyl, the first records I bought were Kiss records. My mom would take me to whatever the record store was nearby. By the time I got to be 12 or 13 I was riding my bike to record stores. I often went to Total Eclipse in Menomonee Falls. I wanted everything on the shelves, everything on the walls. I see kids doing the same thing today. That was my first experience with record stores, I would go and see what I wanted and save up for it.

I still have all my records from back then, all my Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd. There was a time there in the 90s when vinyl tanked. I jumped ship to CDs and I could kick myself for not buying records during that time. The records were secondary but I saved mine. About 15 years ago I got a record player again. My kids were younger and they were baffled, how does this even work? And now they are 28 and 25 and both have record collections of their own they are building. Both got turntables and listen to vinyl constantly. It's good to pass on.

I don't take stuff home from the store. A rule that we made was whatever comes here we have to sell it. I go to record stores, My oldest son lives in Minneapolis and I go to Mill City Sound. They've been open for five years and they have the same concept as us. They got a killer used section. It's one of my favorite stops.

I recently went to Milwaukee and went to Bullseye and Rushmore. Eroding Winds is one in Oshkosh I go to. There are a lot popping up in that 3 to 4 year old period.

You started out with Kiss records. How old were you when you bought those?

I was 8. I had a cousin who was a year and a half older than me. At Christmas time he got the Kiss "Alive!" record brand new. He took the new copy and gave me his old one. Then I got Kiss "Destroyer." That's the first one I bought with my mom. I got every new Kiss album on vinyl from then on. I also backtracked and got the old ones. I was a huge Kiss fan, my walls were decked out in Kiss posters.

What were some of the ways you found new music?

Having an older cousin and friends that had older brothers I always had my ears open for music. If it sounded like something that was cool to my young brain I wanted to know what it was. In eighth grade I shifted gears from classic rock to punk like The Ramones. Then I got into the angry punk rock. I still have a lot of that in my collection but as I'm older now I think, I don't know if I like this anymore. It doesn't resonate as much now that I'm not an angry teenager.

It takes me a lot to part with older records. I try to purge a little bit because I get so full. I'll take out like 3 records and think, oh it's not even worth it and put them back. If someone asks for something that I haven't seen or something they are looking for I will bring it in and sell it. For example, Black Flag is still good but it's teen angst stuff, I'd rather get a different record.

With the internet you can find whatever you looking for but I"m a digger. I'd rather go to the record store and find it. I still have a couple records on my want list, there's one Tom Waits record that I'm still looking for. It's going to be a tough one, but it's out there I'll find it. I'll be at the right place at the right time, it'll happen.

There's so much new music , I listen to what younger people are listening to and order that. The popularity of the Queen movie was so huge that I couldn't keep a Queen record for five minutes. Rocketman is coming out with a record on purple vinyl, which is cool, makes it desirable. There is the collectible aspect and then there are die hards that just want to listen to music. I'm kind of both, I collect and play.

There are some records I would never get rid of even though they are valuable.

Tell me more about what you did in the entertainment industry.

Before I worked at Oneida Casino and I worked on the entertainment team. We worked with Velvet Revolver, Cheap Trick, Joan Jett, Social Distortion, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, B.B. King, and bands like Devo. In the summer we used to do these summer pavilion nights and we could do whatever. We had Sammy Hagar, Goo Goo Dolls, Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, all kinds of genres.

Some of those connections we made carried over here. We've had some of the same people play at the store. Dale Watson to Slim Jim Johnson of the Straight Cats. We always try to promote local bands here too.

A lot of times this will be the first stage people play on. We also do national acts like MotherShip. If I can find a spot for them I will bring them to Green Bay. Other than that I peddle records every day. I keep the stage clear that was coming through the area and they did a free acoustic show here last minute. They were able to sell some merchandise.

We've always been advocates of music and pushing artists. If someone catches wind of them they could get to the next level and who knows.

What were some of the experiences you had with the musicians?

We booked Buddy Guy, get that in, get his rider. They'd fly in and Buddy Guy always requested a private car to pick him up. I got to pick him up quite a few times. There's some sticklers out there that want specific things. He wanted a rare kind of cognac. We've had guys that wanted armed security or the gym.

My funniest meeting was Jerry Lee Lewis. He came in on a private jet, he missed the day he was supposed to come, but he came the next day. He was flying in, do the show, and fly out. I was in charge of taking him back to the private plane field. The limo took off on me and I walked back in and Jerry asked if something was wrong. I told him that our ride had left without us. He ran in place and asked if he wanted him to run and fetch them. I was laughing pretty hard at that, here's this rock star doing a quirky thing.


 

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  • Robert Mitton 4 months ago

    So is the name of the store, RockNRoll Land or what? Where is this store located? Just curious. There was a time when I worked in the largest (by volume) record store chain in the world, Peaches Records and tapes.

    • Amy Kirsling 4 months ago

      Hi Robert, It is located in Green Bay, WI. Rock N' Roll Land is the name of the store.