Jeffery Taylor is an art-school dropout. He put in time working for a local eye-patch-donning glass artist and playing in bands like Climax Golden Twins between stints as a record shop employee until, finally, spurred by the prospect of promising financial returns that small, independent stores are known for, he bought one of the best in the city: Wall of Sound. And while he slings the musical gems he's mined to people like Björk and Pink, people still try to sell him stolen meat.
Please introduce yourself and tell us what you do at Wall of Sound.
Hi, my name is Jeffery Taylor. I do a little bit of everything here. I am behind the counter, usually, but very little here is done "behind the scene." Maybe you should change the name of the column this week to "In Front of the Scene" or "Parallel to the Scene"?
What's the philosophy behind the shop?
To sell the best new (and old) music. We try and cherry-pick from a vast array of interesting new (and old) music and then offer it to our customers. It is a constant education; there is always something cool to discover.
When did Wall of Sound first open?
The first and only Wall of Sound started in May 1990. It was started by Mark Sullo and Eric Hoffman at the corner of Second and Bell. We are on Pine Street now. PINE street! Michael Ohlenroth and I took it over in 2000.
What spurred you to co-own a record store?
It's in the blood. That and the rosy economic prospects of running a small, independent record shop. Ha!
What did you do prior to buying the shop?
1. Worked in record stores!
2. Went to art school.
3. Worked in record stores.
4. Dropped out of art school.
5. Worked in record stores.
6. Started a band.
7. Worked for a famous one-eyed glass artist.
8. Worked at Wall of Sound.
9. Probably some other stuff, too.
What's the very first record you ever purchased?
I think it was the American Graffiti soundtrack. Rock and roll! My parents and aunties and uncles had a lot of 7-inch singles around, so I remember listening to the Beach Boys, Beatles, Stones, Roy Orbison, stuff like that. I don't think they had any Sonics record, though. Damn!
What's the rarest record that's ever fallen into your hands?
Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground," Columbia 78 rpm. It was given to me. It is certainly not the rarest of rare in the pantheon of rare 78s, but I treasure it. I've had rarer records, but I'll stick with this one.
How do you decide what records to stock?
We invented a patented electronic device called the "Cool-O-Meter" which filters hype machines and informs us as to what is good or not. Just kidding; we keep our ears and eyes open, read and listen a lot, hear what our customers are excited about, and we go from there.
What's the oddest request you've gotten?
Do you want to buy some meat? Usually some poor guy trying to sell you stolen meat. It's happened more than once.
Who's the most well-known musician who's stopped in to the shop?
Probably Björk. Although we've had a bunch of famous musicians stop in over the years; Pink, Phil Lesh, Aphex Twin, Henry Rollins, Nikki Sudden, Buckethead, Mutabaruka, Boredoms, John Zorn, and Thurston Moore, among others.
Did they buy anything?
Björk bought a bunch of cool stuff, but the only thing I remember was a Japanese import of the original Solaris soundtrack. I sold Pink a Dolly Parton LP (among other things) that came with an awesome poster.
Aside from your own, what's your favorite record shop in the world and why?
I'll stick with Wall of Sound. But, the basement of Records in Sacramento, Calif., is mind-boggling in terms of utter chaos. I hear they are moving soon, which will be an unenviable and Herculean task.
How do you spend your time away from the counter?
Playing or recording music. I play in Climax Golden Twins, Spider Trio (with Wally Shoup and Dave Abramson), Soul Food Pinata, and Liverburst (with Chris and Lucy from Kinski). That, or sleeping.
What are your top five records to listen to when trying to narrow down a list of the top five records to listen to while doing anything?
Impossible. But, here are five cool things I've been digging here at the shop lately:
1. Grails, Burning Off Impurities.
2. Kebnekajse, Resa Mot Okant Mal.
3. Stars of the Lid, And Their Refinement of the Decline.
4. Various artists, Trap Door (An International Psychedelic Mystery Mix).
5. Mammatus, The Coast Explodes.
A weekly peek behind the curtain of the Emerald City music world, Behind the Scene sheds light on folks you won't see onstage, but who make it all happen.