Smile Politely

The year of Error Records

The first thing that caught my eye as Nathan Landolt lead me from the front of his record shop to the all ages venue in the back was the twelve foot fire-breathing shewolf rising from flames behind the stage. The painting was done by local artist Langston Allston and embodies the culture of cool that Error Records has built around itself after one year of operation.

The shop is more than just a place to buy music; Landolt has turned the inconspicuous storefront into a one stop destination for all artistic talent. In addition to the 8 or so music events put on every month, Error has also held a number of poetry and zine readings. The shewolf is actually leftover from an art showcase the store recently hosted.

Organizing so many of these events seems like it would require a fleet of busy workers rushing to keep up with their own responsibilities. Booking bands, selling tickets, and promoting shows are just a few of the many tasks demanded by the venue, let alone the actual store. Despite this high demand of hard work, Nathan Landolt has taken on the challenge himself and is the sole employee of Error Records. During our interview, he explained to me how he manages to keep it all together and continue to pump out excellent events like the one coming up this Saturday.

I have interns and volunteers. There’s usually someone running sound and someone collecting money at the door. It’s usually me at the front working the register or sometimes I’ll have someone else doing that to.

Enlisting the help of these volunteers has helped Error’s events run much more smoothly, but the bulk of the responsibility still falls on Landolt’s shoulders. While most people his age are having trouble even finding jobs, it is remarkable to see someone as young as Landolt operate a thriving business. In the interview he explained to me how his previous experience helped prepare him for this new challenge.

I’ve always played music since I was like 15 or 16. I’ve toured in bands, I’ve toured with bands that I haven’t been in. So I have experience working with bands and the DIY mentality. As far as booking shows, I’ve always kind of done that. I’ve had a label since 2008 which is also Error Records and I had an online store for about a year before I opened this. So that’s kind of how all of this came together. I wasn’t brand new to all of this but it was still new to me to run a business.

Opening a vinyl record store in the midst of the digital revolution sounds like a risky idea. The internet has become the main method of distribution for all media, music especially. Storing your entire music library on a cell phone was too convenient of an idea for the market to pass up and most people adopted the technology without giving much thought towards how it would affect the sound of music itself. To Landolt, selling vinyl and cassettes isn’t about nostalgia or going against the grain of convention. In his opinion, it is simply better. He explains:

When it comes to vinyl, it’s just a different format. Its something you can appreciate more. I mean, you can send a track to a friend online, but if you hand them a 7-inch or a tape and say ‘check this out I really think you’ll like it,’ I think that’s appreciated and it gets more consideration. They’re more likely to say ‘oh Im actually gonna listen to this” instead of just skipping over it in an email. So it’s more of a collectors thing I guess, but I’ve noticed a lot of the younger generation now is getting into it, just because they still want to physically hold something. Why not pay basically the same price for a much larger format that sounds better most of the time?

The public seems to be asking themselves the same question and in the one year since its opening, Error Records has become a staple in the Champaign music scene. Landolt credits this success towards the duel business of running a record store and Champaign’s only all ages venue. He explained to me why he wanted to open this type of establishment:

The reason there are so many venues that serve alcohol is because that’s how they make most of their money. I don’t want to own a bar. I dont want to get into that realm any kind of food or drink service or anything like that. I just thought that if I actually wanted to make a venue work here that was geared towards the younger generation, that I’d have to have something to kind of front that. Records made the most sense, they go pretty hand in hand. It seems to work.

To celebrate it’s first trip around the sun, Error Records will be hosting a well earned birthday bash this Saturday starting at 11 a.m. Free food, free drinks, a live DJ, and the store’s biggest sale yet are just the beginning of the celebration. At 5 p.m., WPCD will begin a live broadcast from the store which will lead into the 8pm show where you can catch Single Player, Hundred Heads, The Fights, and Grandkids all for only $5.

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