Good Records' Chris Penn: "You Can't Roll a Joint On a Digital Download"

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Kevin Hamm
Chris Penn
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.

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Penn with the new Preteen Zenith album
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.


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