Yeti Records' co-owner and Gayngs member Jake Luck talks about his new venture
The Cities certainly have no lack of amazing record stores -- the Electric Fetus and Hymie's were recently included in Rolling Stone's top 25 -- and no scarcity of music fans either. There's plenty of love (and a slightly less plentiful amount of money) to go around we think, though it is indeed a dire time for the business of selling music.
Regardless of all this, Leisure Birds frontishman and Gayngs keyboardist Jake Luck and his wife are jumping headlong into the tumult. We sat down with the prodigiously mustachioed/talented guy to talk about how his new venture got started.
Jake Luck: [It was] about a year and a half ago. Lisa and I had always, probably joking, tossed around the idea. 'Oh yeah we'll open up record store and it'll be awesome!' Until one day you're sitting there...
Gimme Noise: ...And you actually take it seriously.
Yeah, we just decided that was the day we got fucking serious about it. From then on ever since it's been like 'it's happening.'
We both have more of an attitude that we both like music. More close to an average listener. Neither of us were totally loco about [collecting]. I wouldn't say we were "true collectors." When we first started we probably had a couple thousand records, but that's still not enough to open a record store. Records are so thin, when you think about what a thousand records look like, and you actually see it, it doesn't take up that much space.
It's like having a million dollars in a briefcase.
If Hymie's sells a copy of [Sabbath's] Paranoid, they have 20 more copies of it in the basement. Whereas me and Lisa have maybe two? Building the stock is a long, tedious process. We don't have a storefront where we can say "come sell us your records." When you're selling to a store the store can buy it for a reasonable price for them to survive. So if someone puts stuff up on Craigslist or whatever, they're just trying to make money on it. So because of that, it's been a much slower process than if we were open.
So you started buying up records immediately?
I mean it's kind of a dream. When you actually decide "any extra money I have after I pay my bills is going to records." It's kind of liberating because I've had that problem my whole life; you get your paycheck and go to the record store and spend $60, and you realize...
I had that feeling of being able to survive for about an hour and now I just spent it. But this way I can justify it to myself. It's all just a big justification to buy records. It's kind of cool now too, when I'm buying records I'm like...buying records for everyone. You get to hunt for records you like, you get to hunt for records other people like.
The six gradations of records store customers. I'm sure you have a pretty wide or eclectic taste in music, but have you tried to open it up more?
I have to be careful with myself sometimes because...I mean I like Herb Alpert. There's certain wacky shit from the '50s and '60s that I'm mega into but I can't get too excited about it.
You'll make five bucks on a Martin Denny record and 50 cents on your Herb Alpert record.
Everyone's got their thing, I'm still whittling down exactly what my thing is.
It's seems like you're going for heavy curation...you don't wanna have a wall of shit.
I don't wanna have a wall of shit and I'm trying to please everyone. And that may or may not be a good choice, I have a feeling. I don't know. I'll probably learn my lesson trying to do that with every type of person.
The hardcore kid, the indie spaz...
There's certain stores that specialize so so heavily, like Extreme Noise. I mean, I can't touch that. But I was talking to my Japanese friends the other day... I know all of these people from Japan. I want to minimize the amount of online sales that I do -- I realize the reality that you have to do some -- but get this: internet sales only to Japan.
You're being serious, right?
I'm gettiing serious about it in my head. The Japanese are totally loco about records! I'm excited about the prospect of that.
You should include a nine-foot American flag with your face as the stars with every purchase. Anyways, did you talk to any records stores while you were exploring this?
I do have to go into all the stores and be like "I'm the guy you may have been talking about..." Just let them know I'm not a dick or anything.
Like you asked his ex-girlfriend out to the prom or something.
I gotta figure out a way to break the ice! Most of these stores have such a specific thing that I'm not going to try and tread on at all. I'm not going to sell Bonnie 'Prince' Billy records.
Maybe you're nice-ing your way into a corner. Not wanting to step on people's toes...
I'm just not going to pretend I know anything about, like, Pitchfork or whatever. So if I were to start selling that stuff I would probably be like "people like The Arcade Fire, right?" I'm gonna try to please people but I'm not gonna -- I think my musical knowledge is pretty good. There are certain things I don't give a shit about.
Like the Bristol dubstep scene?
So I heard you guys are giving artists space to hang their work too?
I'm excited about that part.
Are you going to be selling the art too?
Just displaying it -- I feel like it makes it less sticky than me being a middleman. I feel like everything's healthier if there's not a middleman.
I'm also wondering about the boring parts of opening a record store, or just starting a business. I don't know much about it.
I don't know much about it. You know, I'm learning as I go. It's not about what I have to be doing at any given time, it's about what I don't know I'm supposed to be doing that I should be doing. If I figure out what to do I'll do it, it's not rocket science. I mean I get my experts -- lawyer, whatever...
Fire safety expert...
This is my financial expert, etc... but maybe there's some expert that I should be friends with that I'm not. I have people helping me on different levels, but that's the scary thing. I constantly feel like I'm doing something wrong, and some G-Man is gonna come get me. I know that it doesn't work that way, I know that if I do something wrong they're gonna fine me a hundred bucks or whatever. That sucks, it's fine, but it's hard to get it out of your head that "I'm gonna go to prison." It's just a different world. It's exciting and scary.
What about the shows you're throwing?
We're doing a show October 16th at the Turf Club. It's the "we're opening soon and we need your help" show. It's also Leisure Birds' record release show [you can find details on the show below]. I think we're gonna do that every couple months to start off.
The only fortunate place I'm in as far as opening a record store, the only thing I have going for me, is that I know the music scene very well. So these are the people I do know -- I don't know the hardcore collector guys. I'm calling in a lot of favors right now, and the benefit shows have been a very nice gesture. Life is totally crazy right now...
Yeti Records is tentatively scheduled to open on Saturday, October 16th at 3506 Nicollet Ave. S.
Mr. Luck will be touring with Gayngs next week across the
world country beginning in Milwaukee on Wednesday. More information can be found here.
Leisure Birds (you can hear their only released song here), Vampire Hands, Daughters of the Sun, and Marijuana Deathsquads will be playing Saturday, October 16 at the Turf Club for the Leisure Birds record release and Yeti Records pre-opening party, after which watch out! They're going to be selling you good good things.
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