Record Store Day 2019 is upon us! To celebrate, today’s episode features an interview with Easy Street Records founder and owner Matt Vaughan, a local legend in Seattle and torchbearer for independent music stores. In our conversation with Matt, we talk about the role Easy Street has played in the music scene up in Seattle, as well as the special relationship the store has with 2019 RSD ambassadors Pearl Jam, which was sparked by a chance experience with Eddie Vedder manning the registers on an overwhelmed afternoon at the shop. It’s a good one, and it’s the last piece of the puzzle before the next episode, which is all about Pearl Jam.
Growing up before the rise of Spotify, before file sharing, before the internet really took hold, independent music stores were these coveted and potentially fantastic little nooks full of wonder and discovery. They were a cultural hub, an escape, a place to meet with friends or make new ones through a shared common love of music and the legend surrounding it. Everyone had their favorite, the one you’d travel three towns over to visit – even if you werent buying anything. Just to be in the room with that scene, especially in towns where there WAS no scene, meant everything to us as kids.
But formats and technology have changed over the years, access and convenience means more than the hunt these days. It’s getting harder and harder these days to find the local record stores we grew up with- the ones where show posters line the walls, beautifully alien sounds blare from the speakers, where inked & pierced employees with encyclopedic knowledge of the most abstract musical history imaginable mock your every un-cool move and curiosity. That High Fidelity shit was real, it was part of the sacred element of it all, part of what made it fun.
For musicians like Reignwolf or Pearl Jam or Macklemore or countless others, there’s a special relationship between the artist and the store itself. This is due in no small part to Matt Vaughan. Back in the late 80s he was a teenager working in two record stores, both of which were about to go out of business. He bought them both, consolidating what was left into one store in 1988. By the turn of the century it not only had a full-service cafe, but was a central hub for the Seattle rock scene.
In-store performances by everyone from Lou Reed to Jurassic 5, Steve Earle, Regina Spektor, John Doe, and many others. But Easy Street is a huge supporter of the local scene, and has hosted in-store performances by Mudhoney, The Shins, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Brandi Carlile, and many others, including Pearl Jam, who recorded their Live at Easy Street record – which you’ll be able to pick up on Record Store Day this year. It’s the single best-selling piece of vinyl Easy Street Records has ever put out, and fittingly so. The band and the store’s histories are interwoven now, and there’s a section of the store devoted almost entirely to Pearl Jam music & memorabilia. It’s where you’d go if you were in town for a Pearl Jam show, knowing there would be a few dozen like-minded fans doing the same thing. That spirit of comradery is important, and undoubtedly playing a part in the Record Store Day celebrations underway in record shops around the country.