Lanning e-mail interview March 15, 2000
Kimber Lanning is probably best known as being the drummer for the now defunct moody pop band Half-String, but she also runs what is probably americaís best record store Stinkweeds, in Tempe, Arizona. I think they might have the biggest seven inch selection Iíve ever seen, the only thing that Iíve seen near to that size was in a discount Coconuts selling several thousand records that had been taken out of old juke boxes. She stocks Origami Republika. Back when the Alleviation CD came out I approached her about buying some & she already had gotten it somehow. Recently her store went online at www.stinkweeds.com
QRD – Do you think people in the Phoenix area realize that Stinkweeds is better than the good record stores in larger cities like Chicago & New York?
Kimber – I know some people, especially the ones whoíve traveled around the country, know this store is comparable to stores in Chicago and New York. Some kids donít get it, though. They save their money to go to Los Angeles to buy records and then are thoroughly disappointed. Phoenix has an inferiority complex. A lot of people who live here are sure it must be better everywhere else. Iíve been fighting that concept for 15 years!
QRD – Are there popular records (major label/top 40) that you don't stock because you donít think they belong in your store?
Kimber – Absolutely! The major label people think I'm insane. I wonít carry records that people wander in here and ask for on a regular basis. I say, "So what!" I'll send them to Tower or Target. I donít care. If I have to work this hard to sell a bunch of crap I donít believe in then I should just go manage a Tower Records or something. I mean, if nothing else, I still have the power of the veto! A little store can't compete with Target anyway, so why should I invest my money in things that they carry?
QRD – What genre of music would you like to have a bigger selection of?
Kimber – I'm such a perfectionist that I canít think of a genre I wouldnít want a bigger selection of. I guess jazz. Avant label. Tzadik, ESP, stuff like that. & experimental stuff, too. I wish more Phoenicians listened to noise.
QRD – What medium do you think will phase out first, cassettes or vinyl?
Kimber – Cassettes, definitely. I stopped ordering new cassettes about 2 years ago. Vinyl is starting to fade, but not nearly as quickly. I realize stores like mine are the exception, though.
QRD – You have live shows at Stinkweeds occasionally, do you see it as a legitimate venue or more of an option for bands you like that may have trouble finding a place to play in the area?
Kimber – I started doing shows here because I got tired of having bands skip Phoenix because they couldn't find a place to play. We have a good PA, so even though it's small, most of the bands have fun here. I started an art space downtown called Modified a year ago, and we do most of the shows over there now. Also we have art shows, poetry, film, and modern dance performances.
QRD – Have you been in any bands since Half-String &/or do you think you will be?
Kimber – I was in a band called Nepal, but we never released anything. Iím hopeful that we'll be able to continue once all of our lives calm down. I miss playing.
QRD – You do a review/release calendar zine (Milkbone), have you thought about expanding it to include interviews or other articles?
Kimber – Actually, I stopped doing Milkbone. With our new website, I'm trying to post all of the new release information quicker. Iím planning on adding a lot more reviews, but right now only the old ones are posted. Anyone out there interested in doing reviews for the Stinkweeds.com site?
QRD – Has your website significantly increased your sales?
Kimber – Yes, but we still have a long way to go.
QRD – Do you think you'll ever open a second store?
Kimber – No. I've had so many offers... franchise people, etc. But ultimately I love people, and I love working retail. I wouldn't be happy if I was sitting in the back adding up numbers or running around in my car. I'd have more money, yes, but I wouldnít be happy I donít think. My store is about connecting with people.
QRD – What's your favorite Swans' song?
Kimber Ė ďGod Damn the Sun.Ē (Depends on my mood, though.)
QRD – Whoís records would you like to see sell more?
Kimber – Personally: Do Make Say Think, My Morning Jacket. For the store: Any small struggling band or label that puts out good records/CDs.
QRD – Anything else?
Kimber – Thanks for asking me to do this
interview! I hope record stores will be around for years to come.
If you can find it in your local record shop, don't buy it online!
Support small stores! Down with major labels! Woo Hoo!