Rockers Geek Out About Indie Record Stores in New Documentary

Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, Fugazi's Ian MacKaye and more speak out in 'I Need That Record!'

May 5, 2010 11:56 AM ET

With limited-edition releases by Bruce Springsteen, Beastie Boys and R.E.M. — plus live in-store performances by everyone from Smashing Pumpkins to Against Me! — this year's Record Store Day offered a much-needed financial boost to ailing independent music retailers. Sales were up 10 percent, making Record Store Day the biggest sales week for vinyl in history, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Still, one marquee retail event won't keep indie shops in the black, although a fascinating new documentary titled I Need That Record! may convince music fans to head out to their favorite local music retailers. Directed by up-and-coming filmmaker Brendan Toller, I Need That Record! maps out the rise and fall of indie music stores and features interviews with everyone from Thurston Moore and Ian MacKaye to philosopher Noam Chomsky and Talking Heads' Chris Frantz chatting about the importance of supporting indie outlets, the negative impact digital-music sales have had on retailers, plus their favorite memories hanging with music geeks among stacks of vinyl and CDs. (Watch a clip by clicking the box above.)

"Sure, you can find any music on the Internet," says Toller, who made the movie for his thesis project as a student at Hampshire College. "But there's a part of that experience that's lonely. For music fans, going to stores is the center of your social universe. It's the same community of people that sit in sports bars or bookstores. We're social beings but it's harder and harder to support local business if prices aren't affordable."

I Need That Record! was available on DVD in indie retailers for Record Store Day and Toller says most copies flew off the shelves. "I tried to find a copy of my film but it sold out everywhere," he says. Still, the movie will get a wider retail release when it hits major chains on July 27th. The irony of selling his anti-big-box-retailer documentary isn't lost on Toller. "It's definitely conflicting," he says. "But if Best Buy is going to sell it and think that it's not taking shots at them, I like that contradiction!"

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »