Good Records' Chris Penn: "You Can't Roll a Joint On a Digital Download"
Christopher Todd Penn was a just a kid when he was held at knife-point in the bathroom of an Iron Maiden concert. He shouted "NO" and ran for his life, instead of giving up the goods. Later, after relocating to the area, he became more of a Tripping Daisy fan. Then he did merch for them.
Now he's a partner in Good Records with Tripping Daisy/Polyphonic Spree/Preteen Zenith frontman Tim DeLaughter, selling records, ordering collectibles, working with artists for Good Records Recordings, booking their in-store performances, working various roles in Polyphonic shows, and somehow also finding the time to be a dad and husband.
In other words, Penn is living the dream. But he could probably use a weekend off, if he wasn't so busy having fun.
Seems like it would be pretty cool to have Tim DeLaughter as a boss. Is it? Tim DeLaughter and Julie Doyle are my partners under the Good umbrella. We like to call ourselves the think tank. It is definitely fun having Tim around. You never know what to expect. When we moved locations, he showed up with a killer sno-cone machine and all the supplies for us to use on special occasions out of the blue. He came up with the name, the aesthetic. He has great ideas and a good vision of where we need to be. He also is a great dumpster diver. The benches outside the store he found on the side of the road. We had them painted, cut in half, and mounted on the outside of the store.
It's great to see Good Records also being treated as a straight up music venue by local press. Are there disadvantages to having a live music venue that also happens to be full of rather delicate and expensive collector's items? We love the unknown at Good Records. We always encourage the bands to play however they see fit. It could be full blown, acoustic, or improvisational. We see an in-store at Good Records as a means to not necessarily do the norm for the artists. In over 12 years, the only "bull in a china shop" moment was with the Riverboat Gamblers, as Mike Wiebe broke a light bulb that adorns the top of our racks. It was in the name of rock and roll so all was good. We have had Mooney Suzuki's guitarist solo atop the glass counters as we rang people up, Bob Log play in a filled kiddie-pool, and Rick Lee from Enon make his way to the middle of Good-Latimer street mid-performance.
By all accounts, you seem to be a member of the local music community who is truly living the dream. By that I mean, having the time of your life doing what you're doing. True? I graduated from Texas A&M in 1993. I have worked solely in the music-related field since then. I guess you could call that living the dream or, some days, nightmare. I find it rewarding to place a great album in someone's hands on all levels, whether selling them the CD or LP or helping have a hand in the behind the scenes of making a project come to fruition for a band and/or label. I have been fortunate to be involved with the music world on many levels.
Speaking of placing the music in their hands, we're all aware of the hurdles for a store like this, wonderful as it may be. Is the chatter about tangible, hold-it-in-your-hand music pretty dead-on, or exaggerated? There is something about holding a piece of art in your hands. We like to say, "You can't roll a joint on a digital download." I am sure my wife will bury me with some of my albums... if she hasn't thrown them out of the house by then.
What about the pet peeves? I guess my biggest pet peeve would be people taking things for granted. I understand the economic times we are in and the music industry not doing anything to help itself out at the onset of filesharing. I think there is still a need for human interaction and physicality when it come to music. Anytime I am in another record store, I am hard pressed not to walk out with something. I have always loved record stores since I was in middle school in San Antonio. There is just something about them.
Are you able to make ends meet simply working for Good Records? Or is it a labor of love on the side? It is a labor of love. A lot of times I think we should restructure as a non-profit organization. Seriously, I love what I do and I think of what we do at Good Records as almost a community service.
Tell us about your musical youth as a fan. I grew up in San Antonio. It was the "heavy metal capital of the world." At least that is what 99.5 KISS told me. My dad and step-dad pretty much took me to at least one to two concerts a week growing up. My first concert was Rod Stewart's "Blondes Have More Fun" tour. I also remember walking around the third balcony at a Black Sabbath show on the "Mob Rules" tour and getting a contact high, although at the time I thought someone had unleashed a skunk in the building. I was also held up by knife in the bathroom at an Iron Maiden show on the "World Piece" tour. Funny thing is, I was so stupid, I told the guy "NO" and ran out of the bathroom. I was going to take off my Texas-specific Maiden shirt with camouflage sleeves. Thank God I didn't get stabbed.
I had one of those shirts! So, I understand you gave playing a music a crack once? I am a VERY AMATEUR drummer. I once formed a supergroup called Supergoose to open for one of my favorite bands, Enon, who had John Schmersal from Brainiac in it. We have Carlos Jackson from All In The Golden Afternoon, Mark Pirro from Tripping Daisy and Scott Fuller, who later went on to become Magic Cyclops from American Idol fame. It was a trip. I think we played 23 minutes and I don't remember a minute of it. I was nervous as hell and had an out-of-body experience. We did okay but it was crazy, as I would have to do stuff like to count to 48 to remember when to change in a song.
Local music all-time faves? My all-time favorite Dallas band is Tripping Daisy. They are the reason I moved to Dallas to work with them. I began by doing merch and worked my way up through the ranks. Each of their shows was an event. The best was yet to come.
Many of your customers (myself included) will also visit Bill's on the same turn that we do Good. It's quite a different experience over there. Not bad, just different. Any candid thoughts on Bill and how he does business over there? I love all record stores. We especially love Bill. We invited him over one Record Store Day, which is also right around his actual birthday, to introduce Erykah Badu.
I'm thinking you'd make a pretty good choice as mayor for the local music community. I would decree as mayor, if you don't have a family, that you must visit a record store AT LEAST every two weeks and see a live show AT LEAST once a week. If you have kiddos at home you can maybe spread that to three weeks for a record store and a show at least every two weeks. I think we do have a good music community but there is always room for improvement. There is something to stumbling upon something local that raises your skirt out of the blue that you didn't read about online somewhere.
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