|« Decibelle Music and Culture Festival is Coming||Blue Notes from the Bandshell »|
Feature Fri Aug 22 2008
We always remember the person in our lives that first introduced us to the album that has stayed with you for the rest of your life. The parents who always played The Who in the morning. The high school best friend who insisted you immediately start listening to The Doors. That lifetime pal who casually brought up last year (don't be ashamed), "You know, I'm surprised you don't listen to more Rolling Stones."
Lance Barresi talks of his last two years as if he stumbled upon it like someone making him listen to Abbey Road for the first time. While it was of course not as simple as popping in what looks and feels like any other album, Lance treats it like waking up to a dream come true, rising with his first cup of coffee to find he is co-owner of both a record store and a budding new independent label, both sharing a name that makes you want to hug it for its sincerity, Permanent Records.
Permanent Records the store opened in October 2006 in its now prominent spot in Ukrainian Village. Co-owners Barresi and Liz Tooley stock the shelves with a range of everything a fan like them would want to see in their friendly neighborhood record store, from the newest indie releases no one else has to strange underground psychedelic that, well, you've been waiting for a friend to introduce you to. It's almost as if they treat the store as the reincarnation of the first time they stumbled upon The Wall, a tireless effort to ensure everyone who walks in actually enjoys the results of their time spent there as much as they do.
Permanent Records the label was coupled with the original idea of the store, and came to life only shortly after in the beginning of 2007. Their first release was a vinyl edition of a self-released CD by Warhammer 48K, a dark psychedelic group from Lance and Liz's hometown of Columbia, Missouri. The album, An Ethereal Oracle, was "something we really loved, and wanted to see it on vinyl," says Lance with child-like sincerity, more the passionate music savant with a skill than the entrepreneurial maven taking a snatch at an opportunity.
As real fans of the scene, Lance and Liz take their active role both seriously and appreciatively. The store and the label are the manifestations of their desire to not just accept what is released in the music world, even the small indie one, but instead actively ensure that what they want to hear and what is being released and sold are one in the same. Since before the label's inception, they have been driven by a desire to both document the local scene as well as bands they thought deserved a pressing. "You know, we sell bands from all over the world. There are great bands here we should be selling," Lance says of how it all came to be.
The label's projects come about with a smoothness of the "Come As You Are" bass intro that nonchalantly undertones Permanent Records' daily activities. The bands are less chosen as they are run into as the right project. The local aspect is invaluable to the owners, who meet with their bands anywhere from bars after hours to right in the shop itself. "When you're dealing with something as important and personal as an album," states Lance, working face-to-face with the artists means everything.
Current and future releases as of now all come from recent Chicago transplants from Columbia, Missouri, much like the label heads themselves. The label's second release from Cave, who already earned a 12-inch pressing from the label, is a split 10-inch with California Raisins, simply called Cave/California Raisins Split EP. It's set to be released early this fall. September also holds in store a special 10-inch EP with etching on the back from the band Cacaw called Get A Brain.
The store itself has grown from its beginnings to become more than just a store, but a self-described "community space," holding movie screenings and weekly in-store performances by both local and touring bands. Liz and James try in everything they do to provide outlets that don't already exist for the community. "The shows are early and all-ages, which is great because a lot of these bands play 18+ shows and bars." Every April the store hosts a listening party for Zaireeka, the four-disc set by The Flaming Lips intended to be played all discs simultaneously while a "crazy" video component is shown in the background. "We always love that," laughs James. And the in-house cat that shares its name with the album? Zaireeka is as chill as the store and its owners. "People can browse records here, listen to records, you know, shoot the shit, chat about music, records, politics... whatever."
And of course, the store itself helps with distribution. Permanent Records sells "a pretty big chunk" of their label's releases through the store. "The store gives us more credibility as a label, and the label makes the store more legitimate," Lance muses as he brings up other significant store/label combos such as Rough Trade, 99 Records, and formerly Reckless Records.
James and Liz come off as very content with their current position, not pushing too hard and not taking anything for granted, either. On where their sights are set for the future, Lance says, "We continue to keep an eye out for anything we think deserves a vinyl pressing," but they continue to love their sister projects equally. "That's like asking me which one of your children you love more." Always ready to roll with the next new chance that comes, if the label ever does take off and "if we started selling 10,000 records?" contemplates Lance. "Well, it'd be like any job promotion. You don't turn that down."
Permanent Records' next in-store is this Saturday, Aug. 23, featuring Partee Shark. That show is free, all ages, and starts at 5pm.