The road to Third Man Records.

Posted: October 7, 2013 in Random Rant
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

A vinyl-junkie’s journey from the coldness of Melbourne, Australia to Jack White’s wax wonderland in Nashville, TN.

A goal of mine for a while has been to visit Third Man Records. Having been a huge fan of Jack White’s music and his many projects that he has been and is involved with, it was only just that on my recent trip to the USA that I head to Nashville, TN and see what all the kafuffle is myself. Arriving at Third Man on a Monday morning, before me stood a building that was much bigger than I had anticipated. The building is quite large and besides the record store houses a live music venue, a photography studio and offices out back where Mr White himself, I assume, does his business signing bands and coming up with more crazy, wild and wacky looking vinyl releases.

After posing for photos outside this lovely establishment, it was time to head inside. The shop itself is not large by any means but it works. Upon walking in the front door I was greeted by the friendly and quite pretty lass behind the counter and suddenly that feeling hit my stomach of knowing I will not be leaving the store empty handed. There was no point in trying to fight it. I was doomed! I was going to be handing over my credit card to indulge myself in vinyl goodies.

Lining the walls behind the counter are countless rarities of Third Man releases including the legendary triple decker record; an ingenious 12” single by The Dead Weather that you need to crack open to get to the 7” record that sits inside it so you can hear the unreleased song that is on it. There are also limited coloured vinyl pressings, Third Man Vault editions (I suggest you sign up now, trust me, it’s pretty damn cool!), and there’s more White Stripes memorabilia than you can poke a stick at. For those who like art, there are also posters to buy and the counter is filled with Third Man knick knacks from stickers to record cleaners to 7” adapters and slipmats.

For those who have a vinyl addiction, the shelves of Third Man are packed full of 45s and LPs for you to purchase. For a label that has released over 300 releases since its inception, there is no shortage of great releases for you to buy with new music being dished out to the public regularly. Keep in mind that if you are going there to pick up the latest album by whatever band you are currently listening to, the records on sale at Third Man Records are Third Man releases only. There is no used vinyl section either so if you’re looking for those rare punk / hardcore records, or if you are like me and enjoy buying shitty 80s metal records, you will come up empty. I recommend for these items you head to Grimeys which is only a five minute drive away.

One of the stores main star attractions is the infamous Third Man Novelties Lounge; an area of fun and games that to use requires the purchase of Third Man tokens that will set you back around $1 a piece.

The lounge features a Mold-A-Rama where you can make your very own wax mold of Jack White’s classic airline guitar for a measly 3 tokens. These machines are usually found at museums and the like across the USA and the Third Man one is probably the coolest one yet. Just be careful handling it as soon as it’s made because it’s hot for a minute or two. Not hot as in you’ll burn yourself but hot as in it’s a tad too hot to just hold onto straight out of the machine. Basically, treat it like a fresh cup of coffee.

There’s also the Third Man Monkey Band; a machine that plays a song while a motorised monkey band plays along – guess the song and you go in a draw to win a prize. It’s kinda silly but it’s amusing to see.

Want some memories of your time at the store? Why not jump inside the photo booth for some old-school snapshots?! These photo booths are always good times so get in, take some snaps and cherish your memories of your time at Third Man. Note: Make sure you adjust the seat to the correct height because you don’t want to be taking photos of your forehead or your torso. Or do you?

One of the lounge’s most impressive attractions is the Scopitone that features over 30 actual 16mm films of Third Man music videos. This ain’t no DVD video jukebox, this is a real deal Scopitone packed with all the quality, beauty and uniqueness of film but with the audio awesomeness of your favourite Third Man bands.

Want to hear a Third Man release that you haven’t heard before? Why not request to hear a record on the Third Man listening station? A turntable set up alongside a jar of complimentary White Stripes candy that spins Third Man releases while you gaze up at the wall displaying a whole bunch of Third Man t-shirts at $25 each.

Last but not least and no doubt their most prized possession is the Third Man Record Booth; a telephone booth-like device that seems too good to be true. A place where people can record 111 seconds of themselves and press their very own vinyl record. A genius idea and one that no doubt sees endless traffic passing through the store. In fact, Mudhoney’s very own Steve Turner recorded his own record there recently. There is a tambourine and an acoustic guitar for you to use if you wish to get creative. The machine presses to acetate within minutes and will set you back a measly $15 which is a pretty good price for the enjoyment and fun that comes with your very own voice on record. Why not record a song for someone and send it to them in the mail as a surprise? Well, you’re in luck! Third Man also has postage paid envelopes for $3 that allows you to do just that! The hardest part is giving up something that you know there is going to be only one copy of. Note: If you are making the trek to Third Man just to record in the booth, I’d suggest that you phone ahead first. When I went back to the store on the Wednesday, the machine was out of acetates to record to.

Inside the record booth, I recorded an acoustic track of a song I had written with my band back in 1999. Whilst I didn’t get through the whole song before the timer ran out, it was done for kicks and that feeling of accomplishment was enough for me to not care. You can hear my acoustic rendition of Muscle Car’s song, Sandra Sully, below to give you an idea of the sound quality:

And you can hear the actual recorded electric version of that song here:

All of these things combined has made Third Man Records more than just another record store; it’s a Nashville tourist attraction. While I was in the store I saw people making a stop just to have a look inside. A sign that you can still get people interested in the love of vinyl. As the store says, your turntable is not dead. So when in Nashville why not pop in and grab yourself a slab of wax and enjoy the love of vinyl’s warm and perfect sound. If you don’t have a turntable, don’t stress because Third Man sell them as well. Of course they do.

If passing through Nashville, TN, stopping in at Third Man is a definite must. Sure, you won’t find any Taylor Swift merchandise there but you will most definitely walk away with something cool. It’s hard not to, the shop exudes huge amounts of cool.

Third Man Records is located at 623 7th Avenue South, Nashville, TN. The shop’s hours are 10-6 Mon-Sat and 12-5 Sun. For more information call 615.891.4393

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