I’m sure it’s a dream shared by all record heads–your very own house filled with records! While some have made it a reality for themselves, the rest of us must be content to make the trip to Eugene, Oregon’s House of Records, our Record Store of the Week. Opened for business the same year that Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson and John Lennon’s Imagine were released (how’s that for perspective), House of Records is an Eugene institution and a must-see destination on your next NW record digging trip. It’s the blue house, down on the right. Just follow the smells of records!
Thanks to Fred Murschal and the House of Records staff for doing the interview!
What kind of folks frequent your store, and what sort of records do they typically buy?
We get all kinds, but most are “typical” Eugeneans: well-educated and a little off-center. We sell some of everything, but our best-selling genres are the biggies: rock, blues, soul, country, jazz, hip hop and reggae.
Is there a record you play that someone will usually buy/inquire about every time?
That doesn’t happen as much as it used to, but we still have some luck playing Daptone releases in the store. Also Fleet Foxes and The Obits (chapeau atilt to Sub Pop).
What is your favorite Light in the Attic release and why?
Greg & Martha: The Monks Black Monk Time because it rocks! An all-time favorite.
Katie: Karen Dalton In My Own Time: A nearly perfect record, each song superlative, singular.
Fred: The Free Design catalogue is still my favorite because of the band’s fearless vulnerability.
What’s your favorite record right now?
Greg: The Stairsteps Step By Step By Step (Buddah 5068 – You guys need to reissue this record!)
Martha: Robert Plant Pictures at Eleven
Katie: Ian and Sylvia, et al Great Speckled Bird
Fred: suddenly, tammy! Comet.Warner Brothers dropped the band (and a lot of other bands) in the mid 90’s and their third album was never released. It has finally seen the light of day as an MP3 download and it is brilliant! Beth Sorrentino is an incredible songwriter.
What’s the funniest/weirdest/strangest encounter you’ve had with a customer in the store?
Every day we field a phone call from an autistic middle-aged man with an East Coast accent named James. He wants to know what we are wearing down to the color of our socks, who else is working (Marilyn Monroe, Rumplestiltskin, etc.), and the price of 30 unspecified records (along with a litany of other enumerated formats). He always promises to bring a dollar and a penny more than the price quoted and to come in for them every day between tomorrow and Saturday! Trying to derail the trajectory of his inquiries in new and inventive ways is a challenging good time.
Greg adds: A guy with a knit cap and long white beard sold me some tapes. When I asked him for his identification he told me his name was Franz Kafka. Next time he came in I asked him to autograph my copy of The Trial. He signed it “To Greg, from the grave. May all your nightmares come true.”
What is the coolest/most prized record that has come into your store that you never thought you’d ever see?
Greg: Original pressing of Introducing The Beatles with the album ads back cover.
Martha: Chrome Half Machine Lip Moves with the poster!
Katie: Robbie Basho The Falconer’s Arm II
Fred: Big Star No. 1 Record white label promo (about 20 years ago).
What’s the scene like out in Eugene? Do you carry any local artists?
There used to be a “Eugene scene” in the 1980’s and early ‘90’s. Now there are lots of little scenes independent of each other. We carry LOTS of local artists, and they produce music of all varieties!
What do you love most about working at a cool independent record shop?
1. Seeing LP’s rise from the dead. It’s very romantic.
2. Talking to customers about music.
3. Working in the basement in the narrow aisles of LPs.
4. I get to deejay all day long!
5. Listening and learning.
6. Making suggestions and seeing people get excited about something I love.
7. The smell of records.
House of Records
258 E. 13th Ave.
Eugene, OR 97401
Monday through Saturday 10AM to 7PM
Sunday 11AM to 6PM