We recently were invited to participate in Record Store Day with a live performance at Repo Record in Charlotte. For those not aware, Repo and ANTiSEEN have a long standing relationship dating back over thirty years. Jimmy Parker, aka Jimmy Repo, has employed members of the band at different times and was responsible for releasing the 'Raw Shit' album and 'The Destructo Years' compilation. So when he asked if we would come play we were more than happy to do so.
I first discovered Repo in the summer of '89. Back then the store was located in a tiny little strip of shops nestled in an embankment off Central Avenue you'd scarcely notice if you weren't looking. Somehow I spotted it and wandered in one day. It was awesome; a cramped room so full of records you barely could move in the place. I found a copy of KISS 'The Originals' there. It was and is a rare find. I paid $18 bucks for it and it remains in my collection to this day. Back in those days Repo also had a large selection of bootleg albums. This was long before the internet; finding live recording and lost studio outtakes weren't as readily found as they are today. So it was a really cool treasure trove of stuff. I was at Repo at every opportunity, sometimes just browsing endlessly, absorbing the atmosphere and wishing I had more money.
Of course it was at Repo I first bought ANTiSEEN records. I remember they had a little display on the counter with copies of the 'Blood Of Freaks' EP. I went for the LP instead; 'Honour Among Thieves'. Eventually I discovered Joe Young was working there. Sometimes there would be three or four other fans sorta hanging around while Joe held court. Of course it was good for business - we always left with an armful of records.
I was with a friend once when Clayton came in. We were pretty impressed to see him; he was like a bona-fide star to us. My friend said "man - there he is! Go talk to him!" Jeff has always cut a pretty intimidating presence. There was no way I was gonna approach him. "You go talk to him", I said. My buddy shook his head and said "no way!" So we just stood off to the side, gawking like the fanboys we were.
Eventually Repo outgrew its location and relocated to it own freestanding building just down the street. In the spring of '91 GG Allin was released from prison and came to Charlotte to record the 'Murder Junkies' album. Repo hosted an autograph signing with him while he was in town. They set him up in the stockroom. I was ushered back and there he was - dressed in all black with a leather jacket and wearing a toboggan. It was almost surreal. Clayton manned another table filled with stuff GG was selling while GG signed stuff and told stories. It was memorable afternoon.
Repo later expanded with the addition of two other locations. One was a store that only carried CD's, no vinyl. It was run by Joe Young. The other was more of a bargain/junk shop. It was run by Jeff Clayton. After a couple of years the stores were all consolidated into one location out on South Blvd before quietly closing. Repo Records sorta fell into legend after that; a place spoke of with fond remembrance in an era when anything seemed possible.
At some point in the early 00's Joe Young and his brother Jeff opened a record store of their own up in their hometown of Lenoir. It was also called Repo, but wasn't necessarily related to the old Repo, as Jimmy wasn't partnered in it. Meanwhile Jimmy was involved with record shows that popped up around the region. At some point they worked a deal out with Jimmy where they sold him their stock and returned to Charlotte to re-establish Repo Records.
The store remains a vital stop in Charlotte, a place where treasures are still found for those willing to search. I've pulled quite a few scores there. In this age of internet instant gratification, there is still something emotionally rewarding in searching thru piles of old records for an illusive title, oddball pressing or rare insert.
Fast forward to Record Store Day, 2017. I arrive about ninety minutes before our scheduled performance time. My son Cody has come along, which is always a good thing. Jeff, Barry and Gooch are already there and setting up. We've commandeered the rear corner of the shop where a large garage bay door opens to the outside. The weather is nice and everyone is in a great mood. I set up my rig and tune my guitars.
We are promoting the release of our new reissue, 'The Complete Drastic Sessions'. 'Drastic' was the first ANTiSEEN record, released way back in 1985. This reissue features the full EP on one side and a second side of unreleased outtakes from the same session on the other. Jeff contacted the bands original bass player, Bill Cates to come and sign copies. When Bill arrives I'm pretty stoked to meet him. Although "out of the loop" all these years, he looks like he could walk right out on stage and still fit right in. I take him to the stockroom where Jeff is preparing for the set. It's a cool moment to witness; they haven't seen each other in over thirty years.
People start to gather around the area where we are set up to play. We launch into a set mixed with a cross section of songs that cover all eras of the band. Although somewhat more laid back than a normal show, the crowd seems into it. There is a small spillover crowd outside the bay door as well. It's a great turnout. Soon sweat stings my eyes and I can no longer see anything. We blitz the set, it feels really good.
After the set a table is et up for Jeff and Bill to sign records. The rest of us sign a few things as well. My pal Brian Hase has driven down from Arlington, Virginia. He has recorded a tribute song to the band, called simply "ANTiSEEN". It's pretty badass! We take some group photos with Bill and then Brian as well. It's sorta like bridging the past with the future. ANTiSEEN endures.
It has been three years since we lost Joe Young. Actually, we never truly lost 'lost' him; we still carry his spirit with us. I unapologeticaly emulate his sound, while hopefully injecting it with a little bit of style and energy of my own. And the legacy continues on the new album 'Obstinate', which is close to being pressed. I don't know the time frame yet, but I suspect it'll be out before you know it. We are putting together some travel plans for shows this summer, so make sure you keep your eyes open. Oh and dont forget the 'The Complete Drastic Sessions' and 'Honour Among Theives' reissues - these are beyond killer!! As always, everything is available at www.antiseen.com so get on it!!