Behind the Counter: Goner Records (Memphis, TN)

Each Tuesday, Behind the Counter speaks to an independent record store to ask about its recent favorites, best sellers, and noteworthy trends.

Memphis, Tennessee’s Goner Records specializes in punk, soul, blues, funk, and heavy-metal LPs and 45s, with a label that is home to some ALARM favorites. What other record store can boast its own annual rock-‘n’-roll festival exhibiting bands from all across the globe?  Shop owner Eric Friedl (of The Oblivians) spoke with ALARM and shared the story behind Goner.

Goner Records co-owner Eric Friedl holds Junkpile Jimmy: Alberhill (self-released)
Goner Records co-owner Eric Friedl holds Junkpile Jimmy: Alberhill (self-released)

Store manager John Hoppe holds James Arthur: Manhunt (Aarght Records)
Store manager John Hoppe holds James Arthur: Manhunt (Aarght Records)
Zac Ives holds NoBunny: Love Visions (Goner Records)
Zac Ives holds NoBunny: Love Visions (Goner Records)

Give me three great albums that you’ve enjoyed lately.

Bill OrcuttWay Down South (Palilalia, 2010)
Travis WammackScr-Scr-Scratchy! (Zu Zazz, 2000)
Soft BoysUnderwater Moonlight (Armageddon, 1980)

Which albums has your store sold the most over the past month?

The new NoBunny LP on Goner, the Cheap Time live LP, and the Personal & The Pizzas’ Raw Romance LP have been the best-selling over the last month.

What’s the worst album that you’ve had to special order?

Hmmmm…the only bad records are the ones you don’t want to order and then never sell.  We ordered a KC & The Sunshine Band greatest-hits CD for the owner of our favorite fried-chicken place in Memphis (Uncle Lou’s) and then never got it to him…but that’s not that bad. Maybe a Tool LP? We ordered a Tool LP for a tool and he never bought it. That’s pretty bad.

Why do people choose your store over major or Internet retailers?

Prompt service, strange stock, individual taste in what we have in the store, good prices — I think a little bit of all of these.

Ty Segall is one of our favorites. Who are some of the newest people you’ve released on your label?

Ty is great! [He’s] hard-working, and he recently seemed to get to a whole new level of intensity live! His band killed it at our last Gonerfest.

The latest Goner releases have been Limes (Memphis oddball, strange-country-ish rock), King Lee with Quintron (tire-shop salesman talking about his coworkers over a synth jam created by Mr. Quintron in New Orleans), and NoBunny (bunny-masked, sugary-pop, garage-rock genius).  Next up is John Wesley Coleman, an eccentric guitarist/songwriter from Austin, TX. He’s also in the Golden Boys. He is great. He has a song about basketball called “Oooh Basketball.” You’ll love it.

What’s Gonerfest?

Gonerfest is our annual festival in Memphis, TN where we invite a bunch of bands from all over the world to come and play and eat over an extended weekend.  This past year we had bands from Ireland, Japan, and England, three bands from Australia, and 36 other bands from all over the United States. It’s small, it’s sweaty, and it’s fun. Plus Memphis has fantastic food and the best barbecue in the world.

Our first festival had Black Lips and King Khan & BBQ Show and progressed from there. Bands who have played over the years include Jay Reatard, Oblivians, Guitar Wolf, Ty Segall, Oh Sees, Pierced Arrows, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, NoBunny, New Bomb Turks, and hundreds more.

We just held Gonerfest 7 at the end of September. After a complete recovery, we’ll start planning our next one, which will be held September 22-25, 2011.  Hope you can make it out to Memphis!

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